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DeWitt Henry was the founding editor of Ploughshares. He’s published a novel, two memoirs, a story collection, and several anthologies. He is a Professor Emeritus at Emerson College and serves as a contributing editor to both Woven Tale Press and Solstice magazines. Plume Editions will publish a collection of his lyrical essays next year. For details see www.dewitthenry.com .

 

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER 

Sure, sure, we’ve got the star personalities of Kerr and Grant for starters (both English, both elegantly mannered, with a distancing wit perfectly poised with whole-hearted passion: Grant here will play the same charm he played in, say, Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief or in Bringing Up Baby with Katherine Hepburn; Kerr will play her repressed yet passionate King and I self).

Now for situation. We want the tension of adultery, of socially forbidden love, but a 1950’s mass audience will not celebrate adultery. We will tease the idea, to be sure, by using the word “affair” in the title. But let’s try this set up: both characters are engaged to publicly known rich fiances, while both themselves are relatively hardscrable and incompetent to earn a living (let’s make them both talented, but shy artists, she as a singer, he as a painter). We won’t press the matter, but both are freeloaders, planning to marry for money, social status, and security. The conflict, then, is that they fall in love, partly thanks to their ability to see through each other; two charmers charm each other; but if they indulge their love on ship board, like adulterous lovers, they will be witnessed and judged by society and lose their rich fiances and marital prospects. Let’s have them choose to pursue their true natures, not impetuously, but passionately. They will separate for six months, break with their fiances, and work hard as artists to separately earn a living. In other words, they give each other the purpose and confidence to fulfill their individual natures. Then they are to meet, compare notes, and marry. But, let’s see, what larger, O’Henry-ish obstacle can we contrive? Got it! How about if just as She is going to meet Him and is “looking up,” She is hit by a car, so He is left with the idea that she has decided against their marrying and has broken her promise. Yeah, yeah, the story can get away with this; cheap shot, yeah, but we’re not talking witty reparte anymore, we’re talking Love in the Hands of Fate (or perhaps an Angry God). (more…)

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Hanging out on the Virtual Verandah with Memphis Earlene and the gang, recuperating from Labor Day festivities, which involved Single Malt Scotch. Now I’m drinking penance–unsweetened cranberry juice. In a gesture of patriotism, Memphis Earlene has renounced White Russians and come back home to Southern Comfort and Coca Cola. She remains a beacon of clarity […]

via Boomer Geezer Blues — Memphis Earlene

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Savage battle cries mix with thunderous cheers. Supporters in the live audience pump their fists. Barbed insults fly.

Is it one of Donald Trump’s over-hyped rallies of a few thousand fired-up faithful in a deep red state? No, it’s the other, funnier ‘Resistance Rallies,’ the ones that happen not every few weeks but every night, on live TV.

Everything else may be going to Hell under Trump, yet satire is thriving.  Nightly comic monologues from Stephen Colbert ‘rally’ millions of anti-Trump troops, plus millions more who just like a good laugh. Bold, bracing anti-Trump humor keeps many of us going.

Political comedy is soaring to new heights of what Colbert instructed doomed target Anthony Scaramucci to call ‘#sarcasm.’ Trump and co. always ‘make much’ of the boisterous response this failing President still draws among live crowds in selected states.

What about the equally boisterous and much more frequent cheers and jeers that arise nightly for Colbert and co.? Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Seth Meyer, Trevor Noah, Bill Maher and more lead the charge before rally-rowdy crowds- plus millions like me, pumping our fists in our pajamas.

Unlike Trump, these leaders get results. Melissa McCarthy’s brilliant comic takedown of Sean Spicer on SNL contributed to his rapid demise as surely as the gleeful group skewing of Scaramucci— that ‘human pinkie ring’ (Colbert) whose brief reign was likened to Jesery Shore’s “The Situation Goes to DC” (Maher)— led to the Mooch moving in and out of the White House “faster than Taco Bell” (Maher again, last Friday).

Of course there are live old-fashioned Resistance Rallies too, and I’ve attended several. They have their impact. But while oblivious narccissic Trump ignores his serious critics, he can’t take a joke.

Those of us who find the sick joke of his Presidency ‘hard to take’ turn our yearning eyes and ears to Late Night TV.  We’ll get the last laugh.

(Photos: GoogleImages, CBS.com, NBC.com, SamanthaBee.com)

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DeWitt Henry was the founding editor of Ploughshares.  He’s published a novel, two memoirs, a story collection, and several anthologies.  He is a Professor Emeritus at Emerson College and serves as a contributing editor to both Woven Tale Press and Solstice magazines.  For details see www.dewitthenry.com .

ZUZU’S PETALS by DeWitt Henry

IT’S A WONDERFUL SCENE: You know the one. Six-year-old Zuzu is upstairs in bed with a fever. It’s Christmas Eve. The doctor has come and gone. Downstairs her mother is cooking, her eight-year-old sister Janey is practicing on the piano, her three-year-old brother Tommy making vacuum noises, and her nine-year-old brother Pete decorating the tree: everyone waiting for the arrival of her beloved father, George Bailey. Zuzu is sick because she won a flower at school and left her coat unbuttoned on the way home, fearing to crush the prize. She holds the flower now in bed, as Daddy comes upstairs and tip-toes in. She tries to get up, to give her flower a drink, but he tells her to stay. He sits beside her (in the background is Tommy’s crib, with a big flower painted on its railing), and asks for the flower, so he can give it water, but Zuzu shakes her head, pressing it close and causing petals to fall off.   She picks them up and asks George to “paste it.” The script reads: “She hands him the fallen petals and the flower. He turns his back on Zuzu, pretending to be tinkering with the flower. He sticks the fallen petals in his watch pocket, re-arranges the flower, and then turns back to Zuzu.” He tells her it’s good as new and she believes him. He puts it in a glass of water beside her bed and assures her: “just go to sleep, and then you can dream about it, and it’ll be a whole garden.” Of course, he then goes back downstairs, where his despair over losing the Savings and Loan breaks out as rage. He shouts at his loved ones, wrecks his corner workshop and slams his way out, heading for his suicide attempt off a bridge. Clifford Odets had a hand in writing this scene, surely the movie’s best. George can’t sustain magic tricks and protect the innocent from despair. Life’s petals have fallen. It will take an angel to convince George otherwise and Frank Capra to convince us. Zuzu would have been forty-six by the time a literary magazine called itself “Zuzu’s Petals Quarterly,” but “Zuzu’s Petals” could also have served as a fit title for the film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dGubS4VVxM

It’s a Wonderful Life–George visits Zuzu

FOOTNOTE from BOOKSLUT: ”The list of literary journals reviewed in Library Journal that are no longer in publication could fill a full magazine itself. Included in the list are … Zuzus Petals Quarterly (1992-1994), only to reappear later as online-only publications by decades end.”

photos: GoogleImages, YouTube

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SOAP OPERA CONFIDENTIAL: Writers & Soap Insiders on Why We’ll Tune in Tomorrow as the World Turns Restlessly by the Guiding Light of our LivesCo-Edited by Elizabeth Searle & Suzanne Strempek Shea

Out Now from McFarland Books!  Featured in The Reminder newspaper and in SOAPS IN DEPTH national magazine!

 

In this new Soapy anthology, writers and ‘soap insiders’ discuss their shared love of Soap Operas!  This book features authors like bestsellers Elinor Lipman and Ann Hood and Leigh Montville and Suzanne Strempek Shea, author-actress Marianne Leonne, soap icons Thorsten Kaye and Soap writer/actress Louise Shaffer, editors from Soaps in Depth plus Celebs in Disgrace blogger, me!

Check out our Facebook Page, our recent Book Launch on April 30th at Newtonville Books near Boston and our other upcoming readings in Northampton, MA; Portland, ME and Washington DC.  Soap fans and book readers, STAY TUNED!

(photos: Helen Peppe; Thorsten Kaye: GoogleImages; CBS.com)

Elizabeth and Suzanne are co-editors and Soap Fan soul sisters

Thorsten Kaye, star of The Bold & The Beautiful and contributor to SOAP OPERA CONFIDENTIAL

 

 

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We welcome back star blog commentator Penny2, who highlights an under-reported aspect of a true and rapidly unfolding national disgrace. THANK YOU Penny2, truth-teller.

1000 Targeted Bots in 3 States
by Penny2
The three states invaded by the 1000 bots were Michigan, Pennsylvania and
Wisconsin.  Faced with a new scandal every day–who bribed Hillary and how
she has Parkinson’s disease–she may never have had a chance, even if she
had camped out in those three states.

Then Trump spent the Sunday before the election in Wisconsin and
Monday in Michigan (and the more obvious Pennsylvania).

I am a Facebook friend of a woman named Amy Siskind who has been an
articulate Hillary defender for a long time. She posted several times on Thursday as each new development came in.

And I found one comment posted on her thread particularly compelling.  A Michigan resident explained
how she saw people go from quite persuadable to “never
Hillary” in just a couple of fateful days. Of course Comey changed
everything with his press conference too.  I wonder if there was ever a
consideration to turn that into a “fair and balanced” press conference
maligning BOTH Trump and Hillary?  Or to not hold it at all because he was
never allowed to publicize the Russia investigation?  This was probably one
of the most significant decisions ever made by the FBI with world-altering
results.

I also found an essay from Rachel Maddow particularly compelling a few
days ago too.  She painted a picture of what it was like to post
pro-Hillary, to be responded to with vitriol and pornography. As a woman
who carries her phone around at work all day, the pornography would be
particularly terrifying. Not that you’re such a shrinking violet you can’t
see it yourself, but that a coworker or client might see it over your
shoulder and what they might think of you.

It’s quite obvious why the Pantsuit Nation women went private, removing
Pro-Hillary posts from the general populace who were instead receiving fake
news story after fake news story after fake news story about who was
bribing this ‘bitch.’ She never had a chance.

Some famous early internet person was recently quoted as saying that
there’s a wonderful system of rating the truthfulness of travel sites. He
commented that they should be used for news sites. It’s an interesting
concept, but one that people who subscribe in their hearts to fake news
will never buy into because, you know, who gets to decide what the truth
is? There is no trusted Walter Cronkite anymore.

It’s interesting to imagine being a person on the other side right now.  On
our side we’re seeing the internet as a powerful enemy of the truth in the
last days of the election and we’re seeing it as a useful tool for
mobilizing the resistance right now, without which Obamacare would not have
been protected. But if you’re a person who was taken in by one of the
Thousand Bots, I wondering what you’re going through right now.  Buyer’s
remorse?  Embarrassment that you were taken in by stories planted by a
Russian who wanted to pull us out of NATO?  Or do you double down and say
it was the truth that you believed and now it’s fake news that it was never
true in the first place?

~~~~~

photos: GoogleImages— slate.com; vancouversun.com; pcworld.com

 

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Jen George is a Midwestern kid who grew up and followed her heart to the ocean. Her first novella, Bufflye, appeared serially in Silver Pen’s Youth Imagination online literary magazine in 2013. Jennifer currently resides with her husband and two children on the coast of Maine and studies in the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program.

TOMMY PAGE by Jen George

This week, I found out that my junior high celebrity crush, Tommy Page, committed suicide.

 

Tommy popped up on the Billboard Hot 100 with his first single, “I’ll Be Your Everything,” in 1990. It was love at first listen. I bugged the DJs at my local AM radio station until they picked up the song. I dreamed about Tommy, discussed him with my friends, and sang along to his albums at the top of my lungs. I scoured magazines like Teen Bop for photos of him. When I was twelve, I wrote the poor guy a hilariously awful poem that was cleverly crafted to contain the titles of all of his songs. In 2001, I joined the message board on his website and sat there biting my nails and hoping the dial-up internet would work enough for me to participate in his AMA (ask me anything) session on AOL. I seriously adored the guy.

 

Eventually, Tommy stepped behind the scenes of the music industry. He spent a bit less time on stage and a lot more time making music happen for others.

Tommy Page (Rex Features via AP Images)

(Thank you, Tommy, for bringing us Michael Buble, Josh Groban, and Green Day!) He moved on. I moved on, too, meeting and marrying the real love of my life and starting a family.

 

This is not the time to fangirl. This is the time to show respect for those who are hurting. Not everyone is comfortable telling the public at large that they are considering suicide. If a person has a large following, a well-intended but intrusive outpouring of love might cause more problems than it solves. Wanting space to heal is not weakness; it is a personal preference. We have HIPAA laws for a reason. Celebrities are no different in their desire for privacy. They are, however, at a disadvantage as they attempt to maintain it during personal crises. (more…)

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