Archive for the ‘Model Citizens’ Category

Heinlein Month — Daily Batman: Play nice with kitties

July 17, 2011


The lovely and talented Alessandra Torresani as le Chat.

If you would know a man, observe how he treats a cat.

(Robert A. Heinlein, The Door Into Summer. 1957.)

I guess. I’m not much of a one for cats, and I don’t think that speaks poorly of me. I think the one about how someone treats the waiter is probably a better indicator of personality. I think that’s especially true of women. The kind of woman who sends food back or says, “Hope he doesn’t want a tip,” is going to put you through Some Shit. Depend on it. I don’t know, I’m awful at figuring people out, so don’t listen to me, maybe.

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Garbo writes

July 17, 2011


Cecil Beaton photograph of Garbo, 60, in Greece. Late 1965.

Letter from Greta Garbo to Grace Kelly, 1965.


via.

Being “upside-downy”: Garbo gets it.

Heinlein Month: Healthy exercise

July 11, 2011


via.

Sex without love is merely healthy exercise.

(Robert A. Heinlein)

When I first found this quote, I thought, “Where did that come from?” I couldn’t place it and still can’t: I cannot find a source for this quote. Being as we sci-fi geeks keep pretty meticulous track of our heroes’ writing, the lack of traces to published work makes me suspect this pearl of wisdom is ascribed to Heinlein inaccurately.

But the quote itself is accurate. Yes? To my dismay, I’ve found it to be very true.

Flashback Friday — Advice: Marilyn edition, “The few remaining earthbound stars”

July 8, 2011

This post originally appeared on May 19, 2010 at 3:53 p.m.


I am involved in a freedom ride protesting the loss of the minority rights belonging to the few remaining earthbound stars. All we demanded was our right to twinkle.

(Telegram from Marilyn Monroe declining a party invitation from Bobby and Ethel Kennedy. June 13, 1962.)

You got to fight for your right to twinkle. It is difficult and discouraging and at times seems insurmountable, but in the end, you are raised up to the sky to shine forever. Please try to help each other out and let’s none of us lose heart.

Take-two Tuesday — The Way They Were: Egon and Wally

July 5, 2011

This entry was originally posted March 1, 2010 at 11:50 am.

Yesterday I was reminded that I had a bunch of these “Way They Were” entries planned and had only followed through on one (Jayne and Mickey). That’s cowardly. I’m going to try to motor through more in the coming months.


“Sitzende Frau mit hochgezogenem Knie”/”Seated woman with bent knee”, 1917.

Although artist Egon Schiele had been separated from Valerie “Wally” Neuzil and married to Edith Harms for two years by the date of this painting, most everyone agrees this is from an earlier study of Wally. It looks too much like her not to be, and he uses the colors that are associated with the Wally work. It’s my favorite work by him. It was on the cover of the Schiele book that my husband, who is a painter, had at our house in Portland, and was the entire reason I found myself opening and reading the book one day. I was interested in Schiele’s work, which is provocative and weird and has many shockingly modern features, all things I like, but, because his life was tragically cut short by disease, his career arc is brief. Coming away from the slim book about his life and art, I felt that his work was dominated by the chief feature of his life, which is to say in a nutshell his time with the real love of his life, which he royally fucked up, and it was the story of that, of Egon’s eventually jacked-beyond-repair relationship with Wally Neuzil that really sucked me in.


“Das Modell Wally Neuzil”/”The model Wally Neuzil.” 1912.

Artist Egon Schiele and his model, Valerie “Wally” Neuzil, were together from 1911 to 1915. He met her in Vienna when she was seventeen and he was twenty-one. Supposedly they were introduced by Gustav Klimt. Supposedly she had been Klimt’s mistress before she got together with Schiele. These things are all conjecture because everyone involved is dead, and they happened before the Great War, which so influenced the German-speaking art world in the years just following it that anything which contributed to or influenced an artist’s work before the War kind of fell by the wayside until later generations resumed their scholarship of turn of the century artists. That’s fair. Such radical changes happened during and after the War that I imagine it seemed crazy, outdated, and irrelevant to really consider too deeply the little emotional outbursts and criminal trials that came before the dramatic political events of the 1910’s and 20’s that literally reshaped the landscape.


“Rothaarige hockende Frau mit grünen Strümpfen (Valerie Neuzil)”/”Crouching figure with green stockings” (Valerie Neuzil).” 1913.

Egon and Wally left Vienna because they considered it too oppressive. They sought an inspirational, romantic, and bucolic lifestyle of freedom in the countryside, moving to Krumia — which also had the more practical benefit of much cheaper rent than Vienna — where, though Schiele’s mother was born there, they were summarily run out of town not too long after for being a little too inspirational, romantic, and bucolic: they’d been using the town’s teenagers as “models”. There’s a Schiele museum there now, so I guess that, like cream cheese, their hearts eventually softened to a spreadable cracker topping. That analogy got out of control in a hurry. It’s almost time for me to grab lunch, sorry.


“Wally in roter Blouse mit erhobenen Knien”/”Wally in red blouse with raised knees.” 1913.

Essentially fleeing the angry mob in Krumia, Egon and Wally moved again, this time north to Nuelengbach, where it was apparently same shit, different day, as they were not there even six months and Schiele was arrested for seducing a minor. Once in custody, they dropped that charge (apparently the young lady changed her tune when the absinthe wore off?) and an abduction charge the parents had insisted be levied originally, and instead tried and found him guilty of displaying inappropriate art in a place where minors could see it. He was released from prison after serving twenty-four days in April 1912 — are you getting the idea of what an awesome prince he was? such the lucky girl, that Wally — and they moved back to the Vienna area.


“Auf einem blauen Polster Liegende mit goldblondem Haar (Wally Neuzil)”/”Reclining female figure with gold blonde hair on a blue pillow (Wally Neuzil).” 1913.

Settled with Wally in Heitzing, a Viennese suburb, Schiele wrote to a friend in early 1915 that he was going to marry one of the Harms sisters, two locksmith’s daughters named Edith and Adele who lived across the street from his studio, for money. I guess running around for three years painting erotic pictures and pissing people off while sleeping with teenagers and doing jail time had not turned out to be the lucrative life of luxury he’d anticipated; the cash flow was getting low, and, despite that he considered Wally his partner and soulmate, marrying for money was Schiele’s timeless solution to their financial woes. He followed through on this, marrying the older of the daughters, Edith, on June 17, 1915, exactly 91 years before my own wedding day.


“Frau in Unterwäsche und Strümpfen (Valerie Neuzil)”/”Woman in underwear and stockings (Valerie Neuzil).” 1913.

A few days after his wedding, Schiele was called to the war, but managed to always serve in Austria, so he was able to continue with his art and stay close to his ties in Vienna. Wally had broken up with him when he told her he was getting married. Schiele wrote to friends expressing shock and grief: he’d actually expected her to understand and stay with him. He wrote a letter to Wally asking her to meet him at a billiards parlor that he liked to go to. There he gave her another letter, proposing that every year they go on an extended holiday, without his wife. She did not write back or respond positively to this. Instead, she left him and never saw him again.


“Frau mit schwarzen Strümpfen – Valerie Neuzil”/”Woman with black stockings – Valerie Neuzel.” 1913.

I was furious when I read this. I still remember sitting in my little house in Portland and my jaw dropping, and my blood boiling, all this anger and resentment simmering in me, directed at people I never met who’d been dead nearly a century, but I couldn’t help it. I hate him for marrying someone else, I hate him and I hate the story of how they were because it reveals that through all that time they spent together, Schiele must have considered Wally lower than him, and though she stood by him , asshole though he could be, he thought her to be the unimportant one, expendable and suppressable, and he literally threw her away like garbage even though she was the best thing that had happened to him; his drawings of her are the best things he did. But that is how some stories are, and I deserve to feel angry because I need to accept that, I have to work through my sadness about the fact that nothing and no one has ever been perfect not even for a day or an hour or a moment, every joyful thing is secretly riddled through with the knowledge that this is so good now because there will be pain later and every lucky penny has a tail side of the coin, and if I have to search my soul and see if there is any gold in the dross of this love story that I in my infantile understanding of human nature found so devastating than I guess I must say that I do love that Schiele really loved Wally in an incredibly broken way, and had that time with her in which there must surely have been good moments.


Photograph of Wally and Egon from the Schiele Museum online.

Schiele died only three years after his breakup with Wally, on Halloween 1918, in an influenza epidemic which had several days earlier killed Edith and their unborn child. He passed away completely unaware that Wally Neuzil had herself succumbed to death from disease around Christmas of the previous year. She’d become a nurse for the Red Cross and, stationed at Split in Dalmatia, she caught scarlet fever from one of her patients and died in the same hospital at which she’d been working for over a year.

edit 7/6/11. Question for discussion: on a large enough timeline, aren’t we and all our petty passions and tragedies truly sound and fury, don’t we signify nothing after all? I want to think not — likely only because of vanity and childish fear of my own meaninglessness — but it seems so true.

Heinlein Month: Intelligence is a misdemeanor

July 5, 2011


Vnixie by PaperMoon, via.

Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.

(Robert Heinlein, Time Enough For Love.)

What? She looks smart.

Movie Millisecond: La Piscine

July 4, 2011

La Piscine (Jacques Deray, 1969).

Jane knows the way of it.

Music Moment — Nicole Atkins, “Brooklyn’s on Fire!”

July 4, 2011

Portions of this post were originally published on September 26, 2009. And again on July 4, 2010. I’m phoning it in. What could be more American?

Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans, and, to those international friendohs from countries overseas to which our states once belonged as colonies — well, thanks for the memories. Days commemorating war always make me pray for peace. Here’s hoping that all nations can, in the words of the Beatles, come together. Also, twist and shout.

“Brooklyn’s on Fire!”, Nicole Atkins, Neptune City. I like this video here because it is made by someone in Brooklyn who likes Nicole Atkins and the 4th of july and baseball and likely all manner of things on which we could sit around and agree all day. Thank you, stranger! Your video’s view count has been dramatically affected by me since I found this last month!

Nicole Atkins is someone I stumbled over last year or maybe the year before after hearing one of her songs in a commercial and googling adtunes for days to find it. She has a really great, unique sound. She calls her music pop-noir.

She is a lion face, one of my favorite face types (all people look like an animal to me, or a blend of animals). I adore leonine women and I really love that she has a schnoz. It gives a woman character to have a big nose or a gap in her teeth, you know? It puts them that extra step past adorable into asymmetrically one of a kind, infinitely loveable. This goes for all of you. Love what you think are your flaws cause that’s probably the one part of you I seize on and fetishize most. I’m off topic. Back to this song.


Friday nights on the seventh floor
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)
Paper backs on the corner store
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)
Looking over the ledge,
the sidewalk traffic starts to spread


Summer’s begun across the Bay
And no bit of silence remains


Oh, Brooklyn’s on fire,
and fills July hearts with desire
Sleep will not come, until the morn
Cause tonight your memories are born
La dee da, la dee da


And the band’s not begun just yet
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)
Fifty names you’re bound to forget
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)
Black and blue on the lakes
Wear badges from happier days
Late in the night, in ’84
Walked in through the old out door


Oh, Brooklyn’s on fire,
and fills July hearts with desire
Sleep will not come, until the morn
Cause tonight your memories are born
La dee da, dee da, dee da


This would be my favorite movie if Cameron Diaz and Leonardo di Caprio hadn’t done their best to fuck it up. Bill the Butcher FOREVER.
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)
(FOURTH OF, JULY, BROOKLYN’S, ON FIRE)


I’m caught in the way,
of tears from much happier days
When we were young and unafraid,
of stupid mistakes that we made


Oh, Brooklyn’s on fire,
and fills July hearts with desire
Sleep will not come, until the morn
Cause tonight your memories are born
Ladeeda, la dee da, dee da, dee da, dee da

Heinlein Month: This just in — kissing girls better than pinochle

July 3, 2011


The lovely and talented Alessandra Torresani.

“Kiss girls all you want to — it beats the hell out of card games.” — Jubal Harshaw.

(Robert Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land. 1961.)

I don’t know. Uno is pretty fun.

Daily Batman: Talk nerdy to me, “Grok this” edition

July 1, 2011


Photograph by mandysparky on the d.a.

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”

(Robert A. Heinlein.)

Grok it, dudes.

A whopping happy FIFTIETH FUCKING BIRTHDAY to Stranger In A Strange Land. Can’t believe Valentine Michael Smith has been rolling through the cultural landscape for half a century. R.I.P. to wonderful Robert Heinlein, who died on a May 8th, by the by, in case you’re keeping track of my apocalyptic ramblings.

You are only an egg. Now get out there and make some water brothers in Heinlein’s memory.


This is what the cover of my copy looks like.

You know what? This was going to be Bradbury Month but let’s bump that to September: that’s nice synchronicity anyway because that’s my birthday month and he’s my fave-ohs. July is now officially Robert Heinlein Month! Balloons and confetti just fell on us all!

John Milton June: The world was all before them

June 30, 2011


LifeVol. 73, No. 25. 1972. via.

The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand with wand’ring steps and slow
Through Eden took their solitary way.

The End.

(John Milton. Paradise Lost. Book XII, 646-49.)

I hope you enjoyed John Milton June, and sorry I was such a slug about regularly posting. Maybe next year we’ll try Milton May all over again. Thanks for coming on the ride and what willll Julyyyy beeeee….? (I’m open to ideas.)

Playmate Revisited: Shannon Tweed by George Hurrell, with bonus Classic Hollywood photography blatherings

June 28, 2011


Lovely Ms. Tweed gets the Veronica Lake treatment from a celebrity photographer.

Backstory: In the still-building comments on my sadly meager original Shannon Tweed entry, from the heady days of NSFW November when I was still relatively new to this game, reader Jed Leyland* suggested this morning that I chase down and post up what I could find from a shoot Shannon did with the legendary George Hurrell.

Here it is!


The new actresses don’t have the sense of posing that the old stars did. There’s no one around to train them. That’s why Hollywood seems less glamorous. But Shannon is different. She knows how to pose and what to do with herself. What surprised me more than anything was her nice personality — the kind of personality that has an intellect to go with it. I was quite impressed with that.

(George Hurrell on Shannon Tweed.)

The lovely and talented Ms. Tweed posed for Playboy Italia in February of 1984. Her spread was photographed by George Hurrell, on whom the article mainly focused.


«George Hurrell, famoso fotografo statunitense, non ha perso il pelo (dei suoi cappelli, della sua barba), ma nemmeno il vizio — che nel sui caso e senz’altro una notevole vurti — di roncorrerre con l’obiettivo il fascino femmininile, per catutrarly e renderlo fermo nel tempo, assoluto.»


«Nelle fotographie di questa paging potete vedere , attualissima playmate degli anni ottanta. Hurrell l’ha ritratta, nella sua inquieta e moderna bellezza, come trenta, quarant’anni fa andava a caccia del fascino segreto, quasi raccolto in una cornice antica del sex-appear, appena accennato ma no nper questio meno pruriginoso, di attrici che sarebbero restate nella storia del cinema. Anche per merito sui, occhio discreto e innamorato che chon le sue “ispiratrici del momento” sapeva creare un sodalizio, quasi un legame sentimentale, queste foto riescono a uscire dalle pieghe del tempo per restituirci un fascio che credebvamo di allora e che invece e anchi de adesso, incredibilmente attuale.»

What’s that? Unlucky enough to have grown up without smatterings of Italian and a certain gameness for descrying cognates? No sweat. Let’s hit the babelfish, shall we? I love living in DA‘s future.


«George Hurrell, famous American photographer, has not lost the hair (of its nails head, of its beard), but not even the defect — that in on the case and senz’ other a remarkable one vurti — of roncorrerre with l’ objective the femmininile fascination, for catutrarly and rendering it firm in the time, absolute.»



«In the fotographie of this paging you can see, most current playmate of years eighty. Hurrell it has ritratta, in its restless and modern beauty, like thirty, forty years ago it go huntinged of the secret fascination, nearly collected in an ancient frame of the sex-appear, as soon as pointed out but not nper questio less pruritic, than actresses who would have remained in the history of the cinema. Also for merit on i, discreet and fallen in love eye that chon its ” ispiratrici of the momento” it knew to create a society, nearly a sentimentale tie, these photos succeed to exit from the folds of the time in order to give back a bundle to us that credebamo then and that instead and anchi de now, incredibly they puts into effect.»

Clear as mud now, jes? Honestly, you get the gist, I wager. Thanks, babelfish! I had originally intended to show the above pictures as proof that Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed were still going strong and sometimes folks get it right, isn’t that affirming?, but in the interest of accuracy I gave “gene simmons and shannon tweed” a quick googly-moogly, and apparently they’re having problems. So that sucks. Different direction required.

George Hurrell was one of the premiere Hollywood photographers for the glamour portraits and studio stills of the 1930’s-40’s. He is particularly famous in classic Hollywood portraiture for his “north light,” seen here applied to Anna May Wong.


Anna May Wong, photographed by George Hurrell.

He achieved this dramatic effect chiefly with the use of fresnels (which we’ve defined and discussed before in the 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies post on my fave-ohs, Twelve Monkeys) placed on a boom well above and only slightly in front of the subject.


Joan Crawford photographed by George Hurrell for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1932.

This bright, diffuse key light, along with some artsy post-treatment of his negatives, created the glowing planes with deep contrasting shadows and illuminated, heroic facial lines in his shots that basically define Art Deco photography and made his name. Joan Crawford adored him (above and below) because his luminous portraits revealed — or maybe created — a softness in her that few other still photographers were capable of capturing, which ran as a nice counterpoint to the brassy, hard women she played, to say nothing of her reputation as a handful on set.


Joan by George, 1933. By applying the north light and having Joan cock her forehead with her hand, probably to break up the imposingly symmetrical lines of her face, Hurrell creates a sort of softer, aw-shucks face that catches the light and interests the eye. I think, at least.

Hurrell preferred his subjects wear as light of makeup as possible, to avoid cakey, pale faces from the fresnel key lighting, which tends to magnify pores and unevenness. As his technique progressed, he especially liked the subjects to be rubbed with a thin, consistent layer of baby oil. The baby oil gave a uniform, glossy surface for the fresnel lights to suffuse, creating a burnished glow when combined with the contrasting natural shadows from the planes of the face.

See how shiny Jean is? Otherworldly, thanks to the north light, the oil, and Hurrell’s radical retouching techniques. This became the defining “look” for MGM’s glamour publicity shots of their stars. Hurrell’s contract with MGM didn’t last long despite the support of Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg; a fallout with a publicity department head resulted in Hurrell dramatically leaving the studio after serving there for three years. Though he continued to photograph almost exclusively for MGM throughout the next decade until contracting with Warner Bros in 1938, Hurrell mainly worked as a freelance, independent contractor.

The look wasn’t flattering on everyone — check out Greta Garbo above. While Anna May Wong’s baby oil-rubbed features work beautifully with the north light, Garbo looks harsh and washed-out. Not surprising that she fomented a close working relationship instead with Hurrell’s gentle contemporary, Clarence Sinclair Bull, who was “head” of the publicity still department at MGM for over four decades.

Maybe another day I’ll do a post comparing Bull, Hurrell, and … I don’t know, Leo Fuchs? I just dig this kind of thing. I mean, I did all this shit completely from memory and it seems crazy not to start using this knowledge for, like, a book or something.


Goofy girls — we are a Thing! (outtake from Shannon’s PMOY shoot, 1982).

Anyway, I’m over all this. I want to go eat a sandwich and watch the Giants game. Probably why I will never write that book: too much of a goof who keeps better track of eating sandwiches and watching ball than using her education for her profit. While I was writing this entry, I was drinking Diet 7-up from a licorice straw the entire time, but different straws every 5 minutes or so because when they start to get hard I like to eat them. This is all true. Super-mature and put together. Call me!

*Joe — “Of course we’re speaking, Jedediah. You’re fired.” Kane? Yes? Do I get a gold star?

John Milton June: Unseen spiritual creatures

June 28, 2011


via.

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep.

(John Milton. Paradise Lost. Book IV, 677-8.)

John Milton June: Incensed with indignation Satan stood

June 27, 2011


“Don’t” by crayonboxx on the d.a.

Incens’d with indignation Satan stood
Unterrify’d, and like a comet burn’d
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In th’ arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war.

(John Milton. Paradise Lost. Book 2, 707-11.)

Fury.

Girls of Summer: Susan Denberg, Miss August 1966

June 26, 2011


Photographed by super amaze-balls Peter Gowland!

Miss August 1966 was the lovely and talented Susan Denberg, a cult hottie of yesteryear who is somewhat obscure today but still beloved by vintage sci-fi and Hammer horror film fans. Who do I know who is in to that stuff? It’s on the tip of my tongue …

Oh, right. Me. Let’s do this!

Ms. Denberg was born Dietlinde Zechner in Bad Polzin, Germany on August 2, 1944, nine months and seven days before V-E Day, when the Allied forces accepted the Germans’ surrender on May 8 (an inauspicious date in my book if you remember my apocalyptic ramblings).

I’m saying it was probably not the best of times to be born in Germany, what with how the country was going to be totally defeated and carved up in, like, a year. The Zechner clan beat feet to Austria (…better?), where Ms. Denberg grew up working in her parents’ appliance stores in Klagenfurt.

In her Playboy write-up, she is cited as being “born and bred” in Klagenfurt. The discrepancy could be due to a misunderstanding or wanting to downplay her German heritage for some unguessed-at reason. I think most likely she was Austrian to begin with and moved to Klagenfurt so young that it was not a big deal.


Suspect is wigless, I repeat, wigless.

Susan Denberg, our striking Miss August, joins a long and lovely line of Playmates whose centerfold appearances have preceded their cinematic debuts — a comely clan that includes such gatefold delights as Jayne Mansfield (February 1955), Stella Stevens (January 1960), Donna Michelle (December 1963), Jo Collins (December 1964) and Sue Williams (April 1965).

(“Picture Playmate.” Playboy, August 1966.)


Susan, a honey of a blonde, will make her filmic bow this fall in the celluloid version of Norman Mailer’s recent best-selling novel An American Dream.

No. Not a best-selling novel. Considered the least of Mailer’s fiction works, actually. A misogynistic bundle of bullshit — and that’s coming from me. So I’m not just whistling “Dixie.”

An American Dream is a 1966 movie based on a 1965 novel based on a series of installments in Esquire about a man and the women he kills and screws before he slouches off in to the sunset, perhaps to mine the meaning of existence, perhaps to die of an overdose of modern society. Its one mercy is that it is short. I may be oversimplifying to avoid talking about it more. Sorry.

An American Dream is a Mailer-adapted picture, sadly too crappily, or perhaps too quickly, executed to be called camp, about Stephen Rojack, a former war hero – turned also-run politician – turned call-in talk show host who murders his rich-bitch wife and basically goes on a postmodern movie-length bender with Janet Leigh (story as old as time — we’ve all been there). He spends the film in a pingballing search for the meaning of existence via sex, drugs, murder-rap evasion and jazz, pissing off underworld gangsters along the way. The story does not so much end as “halt” in what amounts to a lot of, to quote a deservedly better praised writer, sound and fury, signifying nothing. Mailer’s original source material has marginally greater depth — but only marginally.

Ms. Denberg plays Ruta, the luckless harpy Mrs. Rojack’s German maid. In his March 14, 1965 New York Times review of the book, Conrad Knickerbocker said of Ruta’s character that she “must have attended charm school with Ilse Koch.” For those who don’t know, Ilse Koch is the “Red Witch of Buchenwald,” an infamously horrible Nazi war criminal on whom Ilse, She-Wolf of the SS is super-obviously based (except Koch was not hot — and she has spent way longer burning in hell).

Koch was a fat, genuinely evil brunette who tortured and murdered interred Jews for pleasure at one of the most horrible concentration camps the earth has ever known. Ruta is a slightly mercenary, lithe blonde sexpot who is willing to screw her boss’s husband if it will get her ahead. Absolutely nothing in book or film merits Knickerbocker’s sensationalist comparison, other than both women being German. Disgusting and not at all funny, if that was the attempt. Bleah.

But then what do I expect from a rave review of a randomly constructed crock of self-indulgent shit? Knickerbocker praised the book as a modern masterpiece and said people who didn’t like An American Dream wouldn’t like it because they wouldn’t want to admit that it speaks to the true soul of America and what-have-you. All like, J’accuse, bourgeois pigs! You don’t like it because you’re judging it, and you’re judging it because you don’t understand it, and you don’t understand it because you’re afraid to.

Cool story, bro.

Yeah, there’s always been a lot of so-called values getting touted around that are hypocritical at best and hollow, tarnished, destructive compulsions at worst. But that’s not my soul, and it’s not the soul of most people I know. Most people weren’t and aren’t rich, disaffected, murdering alcoholics — most people were and are just trying to hold a job, find some love, and eat dinner. Like, Jesus. What a hopeless and lackwitted thing to assert. Not to mention, if you do want a story about rotting American dreams and rich, murdering, alcoholics, why don’t you just pick up a little timeless piece of exponentially greater writing called The Great Gatsby?

In the book, Rojack sleeps with Ruta after killing Deborah, then pretends to discover Deborah’s body and tells Ruta she must have committed suicide. In the film, Ruta tries to seduce Rojack after his initial fight with Deborah, but he doesn’t go for it. Then he returns to the bedroom to fight with Deborah again, which is the fight that results in her death.

I assume the change in “he-did,” “he-didn’t,” with Ruta from novel to film is an effort to make Rojack’s character seem more sympathetic in the movie, in much the same way that making Cherry (Leigh’s character) in the film be Rojack’s fallen-on-bad-times childhood sweetheart from before he “made it” — versus her role in the source material as a trashy torch singer that he just meets that night — is supposed to make Rojack’s affair with her, begun the day after he murders his wife, more reasonable. There is also the little matter of Rojack allowing his wife to slip from the balcony of her own drunken accord, falling to her death only to then be further run over by a mafioso’s limo in the movie, rather than Rojack strangling her and throwing her body over the railing himself, the corpse falling to the street only to then be further run over by an et cetera’s et cetera, in the book.

Ugh. I spent forever talking about a thing I don’t like. I guess spite is as strong a writing motivator as enthusiasm. So let’s get back to enthusiasm. Fun fact follows.


For a while … it appeared as though Susan might not be Susan at all by the time [An American Dream’s] release date rolled around. As part of a nationwide contest to find a nom de cinéma for its latest ascending starlet, Warner Bros. offered a $500 award for the winning entry and received 5,000 name suggestions from cinemaphiles throughout both hemispheres before wisely deciding to leave Susan — name and all — exactly as they’d found her.

“Some of the names submitted were pretty far out,” recalls Susan. “But the funniest entry of them all was Norma Mailer.”

(Ibid.)

She just doesn’t look like a Norma.

The main thing of it is, on the set for An American Dream, Ms. Denberg worked with Star Trek‘s George Takei (Sulu), Warren Stevens (Rojan, “By Any Other Name”), and Richard Derr (Commodore Barstow, “The Alternative Command” and Admiral Fitzgerald, “The Mark of Gideon”). Plus An American Dream’s director, Robert Gist, was involved as a director for TOS.

Ms. Denberg subsequently appeared on the then-fledgling sci-fi series Star Trek as Magda Kovacs, one of the three mail-order bride hopefuls voyaging to Ophiucus III with honey-tongued con man and Venus drug purveyor Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd (Star Trek: TOS. “Mudd’s Women.” Season One, Episode 3. Originally aired October 13, 1966.).

On their way to Ophiucus III and being tailed by Kirk and co., petty criminal Mudd pushes his little class J ship too hard and breaks down in the middle of an asteroid belt. The pursuing Enterprise has their own shields up and throws them hastily over Mudd’s ship as well, but three of their lithium crystals are destroyed by this shield extension. Scotty beams Mudd and his passengers aboard the Enterprise just as the ship is struck by an asteroid and obliterated.


Eve McHuron (Karen Steele), Ruth Bonaventure (Maggie Thrett), and Magda Kovacs (Ms. Denberg).

The Enterprise plots a course to mining planet Rigel XII to replace the lithium crystals. It is revealed that the alluring women are being made more beautiful by the illegal Venus drug, which Mudd doesn’t want Kirk to find out. Mudd further wants to screw over Kirk and get back to peddling wives on Ophiucus III so of course the logical solution is for hot chicks to seduce Kirk; first Magda and then Eve. (Neither bid succeeds in the final aim but he gets flirty action in the short run.)


Magda without the apparently beauty-enhancing Venus drug. Rough.

Long story short, Magda and Ruth marry miners from Rigel XII over subspace radio (and you thought internet hookups were risky), who are concerned when it turns out they’ve been fleeced by a con man and druggies, and Eve marries their boss, Ben Childress. It is also discovered that the Venus drug’s efficacy lies completely in the mind of its imbiber: the ladies appeared more beautiful because of their confidence in the drug and not any transformative elements of its composition, which is a good thing because the scenes of them not under the influence made them look pretty deliberately rough. Also, the miners don’t negate the marriage as a fraud when they find out the chicks are hot again, plus they like companionship or whatever. Still waters run so deep.

Ms. Denberg next appeared in the 1967 Hammer horror film Frankenstein Created Woman, alongside perennial Hammer favorite Peter Cushing. The film is lucky number four in the production company’s Frankenstein series.

Frankenstein Created Woman finds Baron Frankenstein (Cushing) awakened from a sort of cryogenic sleep by companion Dr. Hertz and his lab assistant Hans, the latter of whom is shortly executed by guillotine for murdering an innkeeeper following an altercation with local toughs.

Distraught over his gruesome death, Hans’s disfigured and paralyzed ladyfriend Christina (Ms. Denberg), whose father Hans was wrongly convicted of killing, kills herself.

Baron Frankenstein resurrects Christina’s body in the same way he was resurrected by Hertz and Hans, but gives her Hans’ soul and not her own. See, Frankenstein has become concerned with the question of whether the soul leaves the body at the moment of death, and if not can it be separated from a body, and if so can it be preserved and transferred to a different body after being divorced from its original corpse, and what would the consequence be for consciousness, and all sorts of similar metaphysical things pondered over as only Frankenstein would do. (The guy is simply a maniac for severing and swapping stuff around. You cannot stop him.) You get the gist.

The resurrected soul of Hans in Christina’s body results in a confused consciousness, driven by compulsions of revenge against Christina’s father’s actual killers (the three local toughs with whom Hans had fought earlier on the evening of Christina’s father’s death), for Christina’s part to avenge her father and for Hans’ to avenge himself. This is of course inexplicable behavior to the good doctors because the actions are based on information only Hans and Christina technically know, but which Dr.s Frankenstein and Hertz could have easily found out if they weren’t constantly playing God.

The struggle of living with an infant consciousness and two memories of bad shit and all the rest, and probably also Dr. Hertz’s cooking, drives Christina to kill herself again — but not before all three of the men who beat her father to death and pinned it on her lover have been murdered in return. The End.

It’s one of the most critically acclaimed Frankenstein Hammer movies because of the concern with metaphysics and the fairytale-like revenge structure, or so says the wiki. Later this week I’ll show you one of my most critically acclaimed Hammer flicks. It has nothing to do with Frankenstein, I’m afraid.

Ms. Denberg was the victim of a very weird rumor circuit beginning in the 1970’s. It was said for, like, two decades that the excesses of the Hollywood life were too much for Susan and that she either a) moved back to Klagenfurt with her parents but then killed herself, or b) took too much acid and was in a mental institution. These rumors were probably based on some stuff Susan said in the National Police Gazette in 1968.


“[I became] hooked on LSD and marijuana. It calmed me down, and I made such wonderful love. I needed LSD every day, almost every hour. I took all sorts of drugs when I was in Hollywood… I used to do wild, nude dances at parties held by big-time Hollywood stars.”

(The National Police Gazette. September, 1968. qtd. in Susan Denberg Biography.)

However, she did not die and is not in a mental institution conversing freely with invisible sentient orange juice (again, we’ve all been there).

These days, the 66-year-old Ms. Denberg is alive and well and presumably acid-free back home in Klagenfurt, where she is back to being good old Dietlinde Zechner. She has happily settled in to family life after her brief splash in films and television.

John Milton June: As stars to thee appear

June 26, 2011


Andre de Dienes.

A broad and ample road, whose dust is gold,
And pavement stars, —- as stars to thee appear
Seen in the galaxy, that Milky Way
Which nightly as a circling zone thou seest
Powder’d with stars.

(John Milton. Paradise Lost. Book VII, 577-581.)

John Milton June: Endowed with all their gifts

June 25, 2011


via.

In naked beauty more adorn’d,
More lovely than Pandora, whom the Gods
Endow’d with all their gifts.

(John Milton. Paradise Lost. Book IV, 713-715.)

Oh, that Eve.

John Milton June: Poor, poor, pitiful me.

June 24, 2011

Satan is a little black raincloud, hovering over the honey tree.


Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev’n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;


But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of Nature’s works to me expunged and razed,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.

(John Milton. Paradise Lost. Book II, 40-50.)

cf.: Faust. Don’t you think?

Flashback Friday: Pricklypear li’l G and couch fort bravado

June 24, 2011

This entry originally appeared in slightly different form on October 28, 2009 at 1:45pm.


Photographed by Sally Munger Mann.

Me, she had dispensed from joining the group; saying, “She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation, that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner — something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were —– she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy, little children.”


via.

“What does Bessie say I have done?” I asked.

“Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent.”

(Charlotte Brontë. Jane Eyre. Cornhill: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1847. pp. 3-4.)



Worst. Christmas. Ever.

Do you remember the positive indignation of adult severity in the face of your early self-expression? I think the knife really twisted because you knew they were just flying by the seat of their pants, arbitrary jerks running scared, threatened by your stabs at mastery. They had no more particular power or experience than another kid facing you down in a play war.


Another by Ms. Mann.

Don’t forget that. Every person who attempts to wave some type of banner of authority in your face is probably prickly-sweaty under the arms and hopped up on 90% couch fort bravado. Poke their pile of cushions with a stick and see if it tumbles down.

John Milton June: The best society, sometimes

June 23, 2011


For solitude sometimes is best society,
And short retirement urges sweet return.

(John Milton. Paradise Lost. Book VIII, 249-250.)

I have actually not had a great deal of solitude whatsoever lately, but I have been hustling my sweet ass from Hell to Kansas just about every day with this and that, and I do plan to try and take some alone time soon. Maybe just a drive and some photos or something. I’ve enjoyed my flurries of activity, but you can’t drift away from your center, and I find my center in stolen, quiet moments here and there. Got to capture me some of those.