Tune in and let me know what you think.
If you’re looking to win a copy, it’ll activate on Friday March 31. Here’s the link:
If the enthusiasm has been too much for you, then you’ll be happy to know the day has arrived! Local folks, I’ll be dropping off copies at Audreys mid-morning, then I’ll be having an interview for VUE Weekly, our local indie paper. I’ll be home later to answer questions, FB, and tweet with everyone.
Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend, and that you e-readers settle down with Clara and Daisy for a little while during that time.
See you soon!
I just listened to my new finished podcast with Dean Karayanis at The History Author Show, and it came out great. Dean has one of those mellifluous voices that’s perfect for radio/podcasting and always makes you feel so at ease. Plus, he’s a fantastic cheerleader!
He’ll be posting it to his page not too long after The It Girl and Me is released. Stay tuned…
If you’ve been saying “Laini, come on. I’ve been patient. I need some more of that sweet, sweet Hollywood content to savor. You know, like the Grenadine of Beef at Musso & Frank!” then your time may have come at last.
See? Clara’s excited…
In case you didn’t know, pre-ordering creates a big wave of sales that go live on the official release date, which I’ve set for the book. This increases the book’s ranking on its release day, which helps its visibility, and also its sales.
The hard copy release date is March 25, but I’ll have to pull the trigger a little early to be able to order my own copies for my appearance here in Edmonton on April 2 (mail delays and such).
So for everyone who’s been waiting, it won’t be much longer!
Ta-ta for now…
I owe a great deal to my wonderful friend Martin Turnbull, who has been a mentor to me in so many ways, but his latest coup was introducing me to Babelcube, where I’m in the process of having books turned into international magic.
This past weekend, I spent innumerable hours teaching myself some of the ins and outs of InDesign, to make the German version of The Forgotten Flapper just as beautiful as its English counterpart. Already 16 chapters in, and I’m so excited about its success! My translator is doing an amazing job.
I’m hoping for French, Spanish, Italian, and a few more languages as well, but German and I just happened to get it together first. There is also a Portugese translation of Love Lies Bleeding happening as well.
I also did plenty of other make-ready for The It Girl and Me, as release date is only a little over TWO MONTHS AWAY! I’m pretty excited about my 3rd release. It’s hard to believe that only 7 years ago, writing was just a lark to help me cope with being a fish out of water, unable to work in Canada. Now, it’s fast become the most important thing in my life.
Here’s hoping for a successful 2017!
Well, I won’t show you the stacks and stacks of older drafts and trunked manuscripts, but I can show you the pretty new outside.
In order to keep myself sane during the writing process, I have to do things other than write from time to time, and one of the things I love doing is decorating. In my office, I invested in a huge trunk from JYSK, that looks something like this:
Only mine has a London Flower Show theme instead of African safari. I keep trunked manuscripts in it, or older copies of stuff that I like to hold onto, just in case (call me a packrat).
I decided, with all the other silent movie content that I have in my office, that I should decoupage it with silent movie stuff instead. And here’s how it turned out! What do you guys think?
I have so much more fun working in my office now that it looks more like me. My next project is to create papier mache’ letters of the Hollywoodland sign to put on top of my bookshelf. Stay tuned!
If you found me based on my recent BookBub deal, welcome to my page!
If you’re wondering why Barnes and Noble was not included in the deal, it was. Only with my crummy luck, their page had not yet updated by the time the deal was posted Tuesday morning (July 12).
The good news is that Barnes and Noble will also be featuring the 99 cent deal in the next day or so. (It will eventually update). Don’t worry, the deal is running at least until July 23, so you have plenty of time!
In the meantime, sit down, look around, and get comfy. I’m happy you’re here, and hope you like my books!
I’m pretty sure I discovered the Marx Brothers first– when I was around 10 or 11. I happened by the living room as my parents watched Harpo on his harp, and I was enchanted. A Night at the Opera led me to MGM Musicals, and I must have watched That’s Entertainment a kajillion times.
Showboat came first, at around age 12, but it was quickly supplanted in my pantheon of favorites by Kiss Me Kate when I was thirteen.
It’s brilliant when you think about it. It was first a hit on Broadway, with the book by Samuel and Bella Spewack, and who else but Cole Porter could have possessed the wit, the magic, and the artistry to turn Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew into these musical gems? Plus, MGM included the impossibly deep-voiced Howard Keel and the impossibly lovely Kathryn Grayson (even with a bad red dye job) as our stars. How could I resist?
At the time, I knew nothing about Cole Porter, I just thought it was a fun plot with hilarious songs. It’s only been since I’ve gotten older that I’ve really been able to appreciate the genius that was Cole Porter. Who could rhyme “flatter her” with “Cleopatterer” or “heinous” with “Coriolanus?” (both from “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”).
My feminist sensibilities these days make me cringe at some of what goes on, but the good vibes from my youth remain.
Our main characters are Fred Graham (Keel) and Lilli Vanessi (Grayson), a divorced couple. They are former co-stars onstage as well as off, and as the movie kicks off, Fred and Cole (Ron Randell) are trying to sweet talk Lilli into being in their new production. they play So In Love so Lilli can hear some of the tunes, and you can see there’s still a little attraction between them, even though they snipe at each other (mostly Lilli at Fred).
And then complication #1 arrives, as Lois, Fred’s new girlfriend arrives (Ann Miller, in an abbreviated costume since she’s between gigs at the Copa). She insists on performing “Too Darn Hot” for everyone (even though Cole whispers to Fred that it’s been removed from the show). Ann Miller is my least favorite thing about the movie. Yeah, she can dance, but her personality GRATES on me, calling him “sweetie” every three seconds.
Although she’s nervous about the role interfering with her honeymoon (to wealthy cattle baron, Tex), Lilli eventually decides to take the role as Katherine, since she’s the star, and Lois is slated for Bianca. But as rehearsals begin, and Fred gets harsh with Lilli because her bows aren’t deep enough during curtain call, she utters her first “you LOUSE,” and you know things won’t be going as smoothly as hoped.
At the theater, we see Bianca with her real-life boyfriend, Bill Calhoun, and we see that she’s two timing Fred. Mostly just so she can work at something other than nightclubs. She’s convinced Bill, a chronic gambler, that this show is the key to them finally hitting the big time. Unfortunately, he’s just lost a couple of G’s. Only he signed Fred’s name on the IOU. She sings “Why Can’t You Behave.”
Fred sends flowers to Lois, but his butler, seeing that he’s used the same flowers that were in Lilli’s wedding bouquet, has them sent to Lilli by mistake. Lilli is enchanted, and sings a reboot of “So in Love” (before reading the card).
As their show gets underway, (after a brisk “We Open in Venice”), we get into the meat of the story. If you know the play, there’s this rich merchant in Padua who has two daughters. Bianca, the younger, is beautiful and sweet and has tons of suitors. She and the fellas sing “Tom, Dick or Harry” to show that she’s open to just about anyone. But according to the familial rules, the elder sister has to marry first. Unfortunately, Katherine (called Kate) is a bit of a bitch, so that means Bianca’s destined to stay single forever unless somebody brave steps up to the plate.
That brave soul turns out to be Petruchio, who while a bit of a womanizer, has decided to settle down. But only if that means a serious amount of coin for him (“I’ve Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua”). But then we get to see just how nasty Kate can be when she sings “I Hate Men.”
“Oh you may call it love, the doctors call it rheumatism….oooooh I hate men!”
But Petruchio sings “Were Thine That Special Face” to Kate, and Lilli is so moved, that she decides to read the card for the flowers, that she had stuck into her dress. Uh oh. When she says “You louse!” this time, she’s not acting. HOW could Fred send HER wedding bouquet flowers to Lois?! When they begin to scrap onstage, Lilli is out for blood, and throws in a couple choice words that aren’t in the script. Fred’s so annoyed that he tosses her over his knee and wallops her onstage (not very feminist of me, I know).
Lilli is so annoyed that she calls Tex to come pick her up. She’s leaving the production. But at the same time, two goons (Lippy and Slug) show up to collect on the debt that Bill Calhoun so kindly left in Fred’s name.
They of course don’t believe him when he tells them it’s not his signature, so he tells them “I don’t have the money. But there’s a way I can get the money– this show has to go on.” Unfortunately, he says, it won’t be able to go on because his star is quitting. And Lilli won’t be bulllied, so the logical thing to do, is have Lippy and Slug dress up as extras in the cast and stay onstage with her so she can’t sneak out, which is one of the funniest things about the film. Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore are my favorite!
As the play progresses, Petruchio won’t let Kate sleep (at least anywhere comfortable), won’t let her eat, and is generally abusive to her until he wears her down and she begins singing a different tune. But in the meantime, he misses catting around (“Where is the Life That Late I Led”). The combination of women’s names and exotic Italian locales make this one of my favorite songs. Another of Porter’s funniest.
Tex arrives to take Lilli away, and when he gets there, Lois recognizes him, pissing off Bill. It turns out that Lois has a thing for rich men, and even though she loves Bill, she likes dates with guys who have the money to show her a good time (“Always True to You in My Fashion”), with lyrics like “Mr Fritz invented Schlitz and that ain’t hay!”
While Lippy and Slug are on the phone with their gangster boss, they hear him being unceremoniously dispatched by machine gun fire, so Bill/Fred’s debt is automatically forgiven. Lippy and Slug commiserate with Fred about his women problems and tell him that dames like classic verse, and that he oughta “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”
“If you can’t be a ham and do Hamlet, they will not give a damn or a damlet…”
The guys leave on good terms, wishing Fred the best, and he tries to figure out how to make do with an understudy. But Lilli surprises him by coming back. As the play concludes, Bianca ends up with Lucentio (Petruchio’s friend), and her other suitors end up with attractive ladies as well. they all sing “From This Moment On,” and then Kate/Lilli enters and gives her speech about how women should bow to their husbands (and all that crap that I haven’t believed since I quit wearing pantyhose about 1985) (“I’m Ashamed That Women Are So Simple”). When things wrap up, it looks as though Fred and Lilli are going to reconcile in real life as well and they all do the finale’ (“Kiss Me Kate”)
Now imagine a 13-year old me seeing this musical and finding my mom’s soundtrack album (yes, vinyl- that’s what we did back then), and listening to it over and over again. I memorized the lyrics. And as an even bigger geek, I even tortured my junior high classmates by playing “I Hate Men” when I volunteered to provide my stereo for our 7th grade dance. Because I was madly in love with Joe S., and he only tolerated me, kind of like a mosquito you keep swatting at but can never quite get rid of. Every once in a while, he’d throw me a bone and ask me to dance to a slow song, because there were only about 30 kids in our class, and we were all friends (it was a Catholic school, and that’s what you did back then). So this whole musical reminds me of those carefree days of yore, because back then, the most important thing in life was that Joe ask me to dance (or skate, because these were the roller disco years, after all). When he didn’t, I’d once again play “I Hate Men,” (and bang a pretend tankard on a table), and then everything would feel better.
Not long after my “Kiss Me Kate” period, my father died, and then everything changed radically even more than I thought they could. This movie takes me back to a much more innocent, much more happy time.
I chose Cherry Chocolate Chunk for my ice cream flavor because it reminds me of the cherry-colored dress that Lily wears when she’s singing “I Hate Men.” This one is taken from a magazine I picked up a year or so ago, Matthew Mead’s Backyard Style. It’s only called Cherry Ice Cream in the mag, but it’s like your own homemade Cherry Garcia. Yum!
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 T. sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 t. salt (they missed this in the ingredients list, but this is what I used, and it tasted OK)
2 egg yolks
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 pound fresh cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I like using our lovely Canadian Bernard Callebaut variety…)
This is my post for the Movie Scientist Blogathon, sponsored by Silver Screenings and Christina Wehner. Thanks for having me, y’all (and sorry for running a bit late on “Mad Scientist” day. My pick is the version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the one and only John Barrymore.
For years, I had thumbed through my father’s dog-eared copy of “A Pictorial History of Horror Movies,” and I was thrilled to finally watch my first Barrymore. After hearing for years about “The Profile,” this was going to be a treat.
The Profile as Dr. Jekyll, Chronic Do-Gooder
Most people know the story– Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel about a doctor intent on separating the aspects of man’s personality: the good, and the not-so-good. It was turned into a stage play that made the impetus behind his transformation more of an external one as opposed to Stevenson’s original, more internalized reasons. This was one of the first filmed versions (the first was Thanhouser’s with James Cruze in 1912, available here), and it captivated the nation. Barrymore had needed a hit, and he had it.
Directed by John S. Robertson (who also helmed a few other flickers for Barrymore and Mary Pickford), this version stars John Barrymore (of course), Martha Mansfield (as his sweetheart, Millicent Carew), Louis Wolheim (as the music hall owner), and Nita Naldi (as dancer, Miss Gina).
“Don’t worry, Milly. Lemme just get some ya-yas out, then we can get hitched, mmmkay?”
Henry Jekyll is a philanthropist and all-around good guy who manages a “human repair shop” for helping the poor with various ailments (a euphemism for today’s type of free clinic). He’s got a pretty fiance’, Millicent, and a bright future. But when Sir George Carew (the father of Millicent), finds Jekyll’s altruism something to poke fun of, he unknowingly plants an idea that begins to obsess Jekyll. He can’t believe that one man would deprive himself of so much in his constant service to others. Jekyll defends himself in saying that it is in service to others that one develops himself.
“Which self?” Carew scoffs. “…a man cannot destroy the savage in him by denying its impulses…”
And so begins Jekyll’s experimentation with a formula– one that can separate man’s baser natures into a different personality. He calls his Mr. Edward Hyde.
Ask us about our economical and convenient orthodontia packages…
Hyde digs bars and opium dens and other nasty places, and he’s turned on by skanky women like Miss Gina, a dancer at a nearby club. She’s exotic and earthy, and she turns him on in ways poor Milly couldn’t even think of. So much so that he takes rooms in the ‘hood to be more within that element when he’s Hyde-ing. Oh and one more thing about Gina? She’s got this cool ring that opens up to hold poison (<–foreshadowing).
Miss Gina got A’s in Scarf-Waving 101
Jekyll actually has the forethought to tell his servant Poole, essentially, “Oh, buddy, there may be a complete stranger hanging around the house. Chill and let him do his thing. He’s a friend of mine. ”
He has also had the forethought to create a potion to turn him back into his milquetoasty original version, but as these evil alter ego changeover things go, it isn’t the best remedy. In fact, each time he takes his evil potion, the counter potion returning him to Jekyll status isn’t quite as effective. He looks more evil and acts more evil than the time before.
But of course, the supply of the drug to turn him back Jekyll-ish is soon gone, and now he has to try to figure out how to get more, when London is having a run on Jekyll-drug supplies.
How the heck can he make a Walgreen’s visit when he could spontaneously Hyde at any moment? Why is his future father-in-law so concerned about his freaky friend, Hyde? Why is Gina’s ring missing?
These questions and more are answered in the movie, and it can be fun at times– when Hyde is around. Barrymore is the man to watch here, and his transformations are remarkable (the first one knocks your socks off). The long hair, the shadows under the eyes, and the closeups of his hand turning arthritic and clawlike– the personification of evil.
The directing is also quite good. There’s a scene with a spider that is seriously creepy. But quite frankly, when Barrymore wasn’t onscreen, I found my mind wandering. The other characters seem like they’re sleepwalking by comparison. I’m a silent film fan, but was really disappointed in most of the other acting.
Poor Martha Mansfield (she of the hoop skirt disaster from the Warrens of Virginia) smiles and looks pretty but doesn’t have a lot to do overall. It’s a shame she was never given a chance for more of a career.
And Nita Naldi, in one of her first roles, while pretty and earthy, is supposedly a “dancer.” Her pre-Isadora Duncan dancing looked curiously like Prissy’s lollygagging in Gone With the Wind (at about 0:06-:07). Blood and Sand is a far better vehicle for her. Although she does a good take as the post-Hyde, used up version of Gina.
I give it three stars, based solely on Barrymore.