I am delighted that my kids and their friends are feeling the Bern. I am optimistic that, for some of them, this will develop into the kind of political engagement that means becoming or volunteering for or at least voting for their local real life Leslie Knope. Because that is where the power to change the world comes from.
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In 1982, Deathtrap came out. It's a comedy-thriller by Ira Levin, author of Rosemary's Baby, and it's not surprising I I fell for it hard. Ira Levin was a prolific author—he also wrote The Stepford Wives, Critic's Choice, Sliver, The Boys From Brazil, A Kiss Before Dying, Dr. Cook's Garden, No Time for Sergeants, and he ghosted the screenplay for Bunny Lake Is Missing.
He wrote other things, too, but those are the ones that became movies. I've seen them all.
I always thought my introduction to Ira Levin was through The Stepford Wives. It was first published in two parts in The Ladies' Home Journal, which my mother subscribed to and which I read. I was lucky—I happened to read the first part just the day before the next month's issue arrived, so I didn't have to wait long. It's a good thing; I was on tenterhooks. I loved it so much, I bought it in paperback as soon as it came out. I still love it. And I love the movie—the first one, with the screenplay by William Goldman. That man really knows how to write a buddy flick, and he does as well for women as for men.
But I only just found out about him ghosting the screenplay for Bunny Lake Is Missing, a movie I have loved since I was six years old. It is definitely not a children's movie, but I was so crazy about it, I told my mother I wanted to read the book it was based on. I don't know if it was my mother or my father who read it. I do know it is really, really not a children's book. My mother didn't tell me I couldn't read it, but she did tell me it wasn't much like the movie, which was enough to discourage me. I did read it when I was in high school.
Next came No Time for Sergeants, which I saw on TV. Andy Griffith was nominated for a Tony for his performance in the play, and he reprised his role in the movie. That was also where he met Don Knotts, and how Don Knotts got his role as Barney Fife. It's also where they got the idea for Gomer Pyle. It's hilarious movie, and for people who are used to seeing Andy Griffith as the straight man, it's a joy to watch him being funny.
I don't remember when I first saw Critic's Choice, but I'm sure it was on TV. I just watched it again yesterday, and it's still just as funny. You wouldn't expect the man who wrote Rosemary's Baby to write such marvelous humor. And even if you're not a fan of Bob Hope movies, you'll like this one. It's not typical Bob Hope.
I don't remember when I first saw Rosemary's Baby, either, but again I loved it. He's so good at grounding his horror in reality, and for me that makes it so much scarier.
I liked the book of Sliver, but I didn't care much for the movie. I actually watched it again fairly recently—and still didn't like it. I saw The Boys From Brazil on DVD a couple of months before Pat died, and I liked it well enough. I'm almost positive we saw the remake of A Kiss Before Dying at the drive-in, and since I have only the vaguest memory of it, I think it's safe to say I didn't have a particularly strong reaction to it.
I had wanted to see Dr. Cook's Garden for years and years. It was a TV movie, and it's pretty obscure. But it's on youtube, and I watched it a few months ago, and I really liked it. It is not a comedy.
And now back to where we started: Deathtrap.
I don't know how many times we saw it in the theatre. We both loved it—that much I'm sure of. Pat and I had the same sense of humor. Our favorite line was, "Do you know what this play would net its author in today's market? Between three and five million dollars. And that is without the Deathtrap T-shirts." And being us, we took the next logical step: we had Deathtrap T-shirts made.
The newspaper ad was a Rubik's cube with the faces of characters peeking out the top. So we had T-shirts with a Rubik's cube on them. It came with the words I KNOW THE ANSWER on top, and we had added underneath: DEATHTRAP. I seriously doubt if anybody who saw us wearing those shirts had any idea what they meant.
We didn't care. We had Deathtrap T-shirts.
me: DIDN'T YOU JUST SAY OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM IS A MESS?!??!!?
I saw from links on File 770 (fourth item down) that Sherrilyn Kenyon is suing Cassandra Clare. The article headline claims it’s a copyright thing, but the text of the article seems to me to indicate mostly a trademark dispute (which is quite different) with a probably unsustainable copyright complaint tacked on. Kenyon is basically saying that her books, the Dark-Hunter series, came before Clare’s Shadowhunter series and that there are enough similarities between the series that people might reasonably mix them up. Kenyon also says that Clare obviously read Kenyon’s books and deliberately took plot elements from them.
The trademark issue may or may not go Kenyon’s way. Trademark stuff is weird according to everything I’ve heard, and Kenyon says that Clare has used 'symbols and merchandise' that are similar to Kenyon’s stuff which, if it can be proved, may well be enough. Funimation changed the name of the anime series known in Japan as Detective Conan to Case Closed for US release due to 'legal considerations’ which, by the rumors I’ve heard, seem to boil down to fear of infringing a trademark (Conan the Barbarian? Anybody know?).
I’m not convinced that the similarity of plots thing will go anywhere, except as support for the idea that people could confuse Dark-Hunters with Shadowhunters. Kenyon is not, as far as I can tell, claiming that Clare lifted actual text from her books (which, you know, many of us would believe given Clare’s history), just that the plots are similar. I’m pretty sure that, if Kenyon could show that Clare had lifted text, verbatim, that would be included in the complaint, and the article doesn’t mention anything of the sort.
To the best of my knowledge, nobody can own the general idea of "an elite band of warriors that must protect the human world from the unseen paranormal threat that seeks to destroy humans as they go about their daily lives." I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have to work very hard to come up with half a dozen other things that share that premise. Even Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series would more or less fit that description.
The cynic in me is wondering if Kenyon is hoping that Disney will pay her to settle so that the Shadowhunters TV series doesn’t get disrupted.
ETA: Author Courtney Milan seems to have gotten her hands on and posted the actual documents filed. It's interesting reading once one gets into the body of the complaint.
That being said, I continue want to see The Huntsman: Winters War, after the new one.
Lose a baby, build an army. But who the hell was she intending to fight?
And there was no mention of a sister in the older movie?
Also: awwww man. the first trailer gave me the impression that the sisters were gonna be a unit. Bahh.
and all the bullshit the peoples of that kingdom had to put up with cause one powerful woman had self esteem issues...
I’ve got a couple of leads on boxes, but they have to wait until tomorrow at the earliest because of Scott’s after work meeting tonight. One woman has two printer paper boxes at work, but she only works until 5:00. Barring overtime, Scott can get them tomorrow. There’s a woman in Ypsilanti who recently moved who’s willing to give us boxes, and she’d probably be up for a pick up tonight, but I’m not sure if Scott would be (and, unless he calls me, I have no way to check with him). Someone else mentioned that UHaul sells the sort of boxes I want, so that’s the fallback if the less expensive options fail.
My query about furniture repair didn’t get many responses. One person recommended the folks with the terrible website (flashvideo on landing page that can’t be bypassed so that there’s no way to get contact information without watching it). Someone else recommended two folks, but one is an upholsterer who requires all furniture to be brought to her shop, and the other does fine woodwork. It’s possible that one of them might be willing to do the job, but I’m not optimistic. I’ll try the folks with the terrible webpage because I can get their phone number without going to their website. After that, I’ll probably try handymen instead of furniture repair people. I don’t know that this job requires particular expertise with furniture (I’m pretty sure it doesn’t, actually).
My sister called this morning. She’s pretty sure, at this point, that there’s no option but more breast surgery. That will mean paying the cost out of pocket, most likely, because it’s optional from the point of view of the insurance company (also, they have a huge deductible).
I washed Cordelia’s old coat in hope of getting some of the dirt off, and most of it did come off. The bottom edge, however, especially right near the zipper and pockets, is still very, very grungy looking. I guess the dirt is so ground in that there’s no getting it out. I decided to let the coat air dry since there’s no hurry. We aren’t going to donate it in the next twenty four hours. We might donate it this weekend, but even that is fairly unlikely. Moving the coat uncovered Cordelia’s old, black, faux leather jacket. I’m pretty sure that’s for donation, too. Cordelia also brought out a handful of pairs of shorts and pants last night, saying that they no longer fit. I had her put those in a trash bag. I was hopeful that that meant she was working on her dresser and that she’d have more clothes to get rid of soon, but nothing materialized. From what she’s said, I might be safe in assuming that she no longer wants anything in the larger drawers, but I really don’t want to do that and risk getting rid of something she cares about.
I wrote up a few books that need pre-approval before Books By Chance will take them. I’m giving them as much information as I can, but who knows? There are nine of them, and that seems few enough to be reasonable.
Five of them are simply older than their 1970 cut off (anything older requires pre-approval), but two are romances, and two are published by Scholastic. One of the romances is going for, as the lowest price listed under that ISBN, $48 on AbeBooks, so I think it’s worth selling. The other is iffier, but it’s one I never opened and that has no damage at all that I can see, and new copies of that book start at $15 on AbeBooks, so I’m hopeful that 'like new' could be at least $8. I’m pretty sure that the ban on romances is because they’re not generally worth very much for resale and so sorting through a box of them is only likely to yield one or two books actually worth the trouble of listing.
I think that the prohibition on Scholastic books is likely to be flexible because I got the impression they were wanting to avoid the dime a dozen skinny paperbacks. One of these is a hardcover from the early 1990s that’s going for over $10 once one gets past the former library copies and copies without dust jackets on AbeBooks.
Down in the basement, I found a book that I bought entirely for the title— Mastering Mary Sue. It’s porn, and it’s terribly, terribly written (and not even hot), but it was a bag sale, $4 or $5 a bag, and I had space, and the title made me laugh. I mainly wanted to have it in hand so that I could prove that it really exists. Huh, looking at AbeBooks, that particular edition seems to start at $17. I’d never have thought it would. It’s really, really terrible.
I saw, of all things, a font*, while idly glancing at a website I found through a link in someone's Network post (the website's kind of bewildering; I still don't know what it's about). I haven't seen the font in about 10 years. But the second I saw it tonight my brain lit up. Because it was like the font one of my favorite bloggers used in her blog title who quit blogging and deleted every last word of it 10 years ago.
So on a snowball's chance of surviving in hell, I typed in her old URL and there she was*.
Now mind you, she hasn't updated since shortly after restoring her blog, which wasn't until late last year, and considering how most delete-and-restore bloggers tend to operate (just let's talk imnotmarah for a second, or rather let's not, because that ate me up; I've noticed since his underwhelming, yet somehow spine-chilling performance that quite a few bloggers tend to operate in similar ways) I'm going to bet, thanks to having seen too many things, that she probably won't update and her blog will be down by next week/month/four this afternoon or whenever.
Because that's the only safe bet I can make.
I have no faith in what's online anymore: thank you, Internet, for your all-too-easy camaraderie and total lack of honesty. I've been around it so many times with so many writers who just can't do the thing, for whatever reason they decide they can't do it, that I'm not going to bother feeling something beyond whatever little crumb of gladness this post might convey.
Because I'm tired of feeling it for nothing.
But it's still nice to see she sort of brought her writing back.
**If you're of a certain age go read her (she'll probably do nothing for Millennials unless her archives are up, in which case you might get a kick out of them; the writing she did in her 20s and 30s is timeless). She was immensely popular in my day for a certain kind of interpersonal blogging that was often hilarious. She's smart, with an interesting life and an even more interesting way of discussing it.
*No, she doesn't use that font now. But I'd recognize it - and it would still make me think of her - wherever I saw it.
And teh days after i do surprisingly large word counts, just aim for the official word count which is 410. I can make 410. And if I dont make it, fine whatever. Just write some amount. That way the chain is unbroken, and the stress and pressure is off.
1. On January 15, 2016, a post went up on Kirkus Reviews blog. That post was about celebrating diversity. It also contained this extremely troubling claim: “I rarely get romances to review that are written by or include characters of color. So even when I actually buy a book, or a publisher sends me an author I really want to read, I usually don’t have time—reading that book takes me away from titles I get paid to read.” Let me translate if you’re not seeing what’s wrong with this: This says that Kirkus and NPR (the entities this author works for) by and large do not review books by diverse authors. The author of that post vowed to read more diverse romances in her spare time, but did not say anything about trying to change the conversation at her institutions.
2. These are major review sources. Librarians and book sellers rely on these publications to decide who to purchase. Not being reviewed by these sources, ever, makes it materially difficult for an author to have a break out career in traditional publishing.
[my note: the usual tired ass racist ass tactics of white people being called out ensued. But I just wanna talk about this part:]
This isn't white privilege, even. This is white supremacy.
In the middle of ursulav's The Raven and the Reindeer under the pen name T. Kingfisher (book launch post here), a re-telling of Andersen's "The Snow Queen". I don't really like Amazon's description of this as a "sly retelling", which is the only thing I don't like about this book. Everything else is excellent. There's a solidness and maturity about the writing that is really satisfying to read. It's the first time I enjoyed reading about Gerta and adventures in snowland with raven and bandit girl friend, as it were. (Always got annoyed with Andersen when halfway through as there was no follow-up with the little robber girl.) This re-telling, though, is lovely.
I woke up today to see my boy was back, sitting in a fancy red paper bag up on the dresser across from my bed.
I recall sucking my breath in at the sight and thinking of the rage I was driven into by what the receptionist, an extremely rude, thoughtless girl of perhaps 17-20 years old, told me about the "beautiful presentation" which she ordered me "not to worry about" because cardboard boxes and plastic bags are always the most respectful way to memorialize your loved one's life, are they not?
This was five minutes after the vet tech took his body away - which was only seconds before the same ridiculous girl burst into the room, saw me crying, shouted "Oh!!!" at the top of her lungs and almost made me jump out of my chair. Once she collected herself (she acted like she'd seen a ghost, so this took her a few seconds) and without a drop of sympathy in her way-too-cheerful voice, she said I ought to go pay for Stuie's services "right now" and "just get it over with" (which was probably her making a lot of assumptions about my ability and willingness to pay, or she wouldn't be trying to rush me, which was another extremely angering thing to have to deal with at that moment).
Would you be driven into a nearly homicidal rage by her words, timing and actions? God forgive me, I know I was.
The only thing...the only thing...that stopped me from totally losing my mind, that kept me quiet and my reactions rather slow and blunted, was realizing she's still young and was proving it through her words and actions, proving she knows nothing of life, nor death, nor grief. I've had to jump this damned turnstile so many times; she's apparently never had to jump it at all. Because if she had, she'd know how to act, and it would not be the way she acted.
On top of that she's probably not trained well (perhaps not at all). So even while I was in a rage, I had to force myself to understand her situation and forgive her for how she was making me feel. But it was hard. I was in shock now, in addition to all the grief and misery. But I had to think of her, of what she can't know, what I wouldn't really want her to know if it was up to me.
That aside, my stomach was in knots today as soon as I saw the bag over what she told me moments after he died about how he was coming back. Maternal guilt: I want the best for him, but box in a bag or bag in a box was all I was getting and I knew it and even as I poured my first cup of coffee and went back in the room to be with him it was making me sick.
After more coffee and crying, I opened the bag and peered inside it to see a small rectangular box wrapped in a thin layer of white tissue. I felt my blood rise, pulled the accompanying leaflets and booklets out and walked away from the box before I could get even more upset. The papers included a small book full of grief counseling tips, with a few pages I found helpful - or at least sort of comforting.
At the end was a poem about the Rainbow Bridge. I never knew what it was so I decided to find out. The last few lines tore me up because they're part of the grief of having lost someone - that is, wondering if you'll ever see them again. The poem speaks to that and offers a way to envision it, instead of treating the topic like it doesn't exist or matter.
Yes, it does exist and it does matter. A lot.
Anyway, I'm moving again (the house I'm in is nice enough, but having housemates is so unmanageable that I'll be joyously wandering off soon to live without them); because of that my room is stuffed with all the things I'll need to pack shortly, so it's not like I looked around today and saw a lot of room for Stuie's...bag. I got so upset at having to put his bag up after reading the grief book, I couldn't go through with it.
Finally I made room on a wooden shelf next to the TV and nestled him up on that. A truly awful place to put him, but until I get situated elsewhere there is nothing better. Once the bag was up, I just looked at it for a while. Finally, morbid curiosity took over: I had to know what was in the bag. I put the bag back up on the dresser. I took the box out of the bag. I undid the tissue around the box.
The box was not made out of cardboard.
The box is made of strong, heavy cherry with a nice hasp on the front. Inside, along with the keys, were his ashes inside of a black velvet bag with a golden pull-string; inside of that was a heavy plastic bag sealed with a rubberband, with a dog tag around that with the name of the crematorium on it. Through my tears, I began to smile.
Outside of the innermost bag (because I want it airtight - but we have a vacuum sealer, so I might just go ahead and take care of that myself) it was a beautiful presentation, after all.
After putting it all back together and putting the amazingly not-cardboard box back up on the shelf, I spent another half hour deciding if I should file a complaint on the receptionist and how - should I call the vet? The girl in question will answer the phone. Write a longhand letter? I'm sure she gets all their mail.
Even assuming I could route the letter directly to the vet and be assured by somebody that she won't be allowed to open it, it would take so much time and energy to write, and I'm not trying to make her lose her job, so I hesitate to complain. Ideally I'd only want her to be retrained, for them to show her how to do Human Being correctly around other suffering, much more unhappy human beings.
And for them to make her describe the box correctly so people don't think she's pulling a fast one by telling them not to worry (which is an obnoxious and rather trying way to put it - of course I'm going to worry!) as it's such a "beautiful presentation" when what she was describing is as ghetto as you can get outside of them dumping his ashes on the floor and making me sweep them up myself.
Anyway, it's done, and thankfully it was a beautiful presentation, in spite of how she put it.