Well, hello. It’s been a few weeks, I know. I really have no excuse other than gross laziness. Though, I have been working a great deal on the book I’ve been writing for the past several years so… that’s good. Awhile ago it got to the point where I was starting to reach the end and my work on it all but completely stalled. Why? Because finishing a book is about the scariest thing I can imagine. Because what do you do with it then? Then it’s time to start editing, which is insanely daunting, and then you have to start wondering about a publisher, which is horrifying because I can post all the most embarrassing things that have ever happened to me and broadcast how lame I am up and down all over town, but somehow my fiction is way more personal.
I have been doing a relatively decent job of reading my non-fiction at Loganberry Books once a month, which is good, obviously. But I really need to start being more proactive in getting myself to submit short fiction to literary journals. Especially since I know I can expect a great deal of rejection [I worked at a literary journal, I know how these things work]. I suppose in a lot of ways I am sort of terrified of the rejection, but being stagnant is hardly the answer. Of course, I have always been way better at longer things than short fiction.
In the meantime I’ll just work on finishing the in between cracks of the book and finally letting the characters go. Oh, and posting a weekly round up.
Also, how amazing is this?:
Reading: Is it Just Me? by Miranda Hart
Miranda Hart. Ah, Miranda Hart. You are hilarious. Or, I suppose, hilaire as your eighteen year old self frequently says within the pages of this glorious tome. Perhaps you’ve seen Ms. Hart as Chummy on Call the Midwife. Perhaps you don’t know her from Eve. But you should, because she is 100% hysterical.
Her autobiographical television comedy series, Miranda, aired intermittently on PBS and I used to watch it with my mother. Whenever we’d see a new episode had recorded we’d get all excited because we knew we’d be laughing absolutely hysterically within the next half hour. Her book, Is It Just Me?, is more of the same. Like on the show, Ms. Hart probably never met a situation she couldn’t flub somehow. Flirting with a man? Ends up hiding in a cupboard until 4:00 in the morning only to emerge right when the host has woken up to use the bathroom. Job interview? Starts rambling about body hair then loses her skirt when she stands. Miranda Hart manages to be even more awkward than even the most awkward of your friends. And has the great foresight to remember it all so she can share it with the world to amuse us all. As I always say, especially that time the work toilet backed up and bideted me in the ass, what’s the use of having pain if it can’t make people laugh?
Throughout this riotous memoir Ms. Hart takes us on a very funny ride through such subjects as Health, Dating, Weddings, and the long conversations we have with our pets. With illustrations. I’m… not sure that I could ask for more.
Listening to: Scott motherfucking Joplin
Can we just pause a moment to remember that this dude exists?
Listening to one of his rags is like peeling an onion. Every time you think you’ve hit the bottom of the melody there’s more to listen to. Plus, I’m convinced it really requires about fifteen hands to play the Maple Leaf Rag properly. Sometimes I put it on in the car and rock out like I’m listening to 80’s Guns & Roses. Yes, I’m that lame. But seriously, listen to this.
Watching: The Lizzie Borden Chronicles
Well. So, Lifetime made this. Which is simultaneously absurd and sort of brilliant. After 2014’s successful original film Lizzie Borden Took an Ax apparently the network felt like it didn’t quite have enough crazy pants, even with the Flowers in the Attic movies (more on that later), so they extended their tale of the accused but acquitted ax murderer into a mini-series. When discussing whether or not my friend should watch this I described it as the Bates Motel of 1892. And it’s not as if that description isn’t apt, both are about notorious characters in times when we don’t naturally see them. Borden, of course, was a real person while Norman Bates obviously is fictional, and Bates Motel tells the story of a teenage Bates before he’s become the killer we know and… hope gets plenty of treatment while The Lizzie Borden Chronicles focuses on Borden after she’s been acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother, but the comparisons are still there. Especially when Borden inevitably thinks up more ways to kill people and get away with it. Because that is this show’s stance; Lizzie Borden took an ax and she never put it down again.
And let’s be clear, while this bares no resemblance to anything that happened in real life, Christina Ricci was born to play this role. She’s like a grown up Wednesday Addams if all that shit she did to Pugsley actually killed him. With slightly more facial expressions. She looks, as others have said before me (though I have no idea where I read it so please come forward if I am stealing your words) like the cat who got the cream. She swans around enjoying her notoriety and telling little girls they should be afraid when one brave soul claims she’s not. And that’s true, given how Lizzie seems to leave quite the body count behind her of whoever crosses the diminutive brunette. But Lizzie is also a master manipulator, which is where the most amusement comes from. Sometimes even the audience believe her.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this series is completely and utterly ridiculous, but it is enjoyable as all hell. To be honest, there’s not much better than watching a Victorian woman in enormous leg-o-mutton sleeves finding new ways to kill people without getting a drop of blood on her pretty outfits.
While we’re on the subject of Lifetime I suppose I would be remiss not to go further into their V.C. Andrews adaptions. Why? Because last week I sat down for the laugh of my life while watching Seeds of Yesterday, the final installment of Andrews’ seminal Dollanganger series. I read these books way back when I was a hormonal teenager and couldn’t get enough of the high drama that is Andrews’ work. Or, rather, the work under her name as the only of her books she actually wrote were the Dollangangers and My Sweet Audrina. But we’ll just leave that oever there where it really doesn’t matter since the rest of her boks are really just rehashings of the Andrews penned novels anyway. Though always amusing, there was always a familiar pattern (my favorite was Landry, what can I say, I’ve always enjoyed twins, especially when one is diabolical).
But even as a teenager reading them obsessively in every second I could steal, I knew they were awful. Really, just trash. But, sometimes you want some trash. It had been long enough since reading the Dollangangers’ saga that there was plenty to make me full on bust out laughing and even though Flowers in the Attic is probably the installment with the best story (if we can say that about any of them) it was undoubtedly Seeds of Yesterday that was the most entertaining.
First let’s run down the basic plot of these pieces of crap: Corinne Dollanganger is the mother of four lovely children who are all beautiful and blonde and happy, but when her husband dies in a car accident she brings her children to her childhood home where they are sequestered away in the attic since her father was pretty peeved about her marriage since her husband was her uncle (or half brother I guess, I can’t remember if that’s ever revealed in the movies or not). He’s dying so, why not just keep the kids hidden until that happens? Meanwhile Christopher, Cathy, Cory, and Carrie are whiling away the hours in the attic with their weirdly religious grandmother who seems convinced they’ll start banging each other up there. It never seems to cross her mind to alleviate this fear by letting them out of the attic. Eventually Cathy and Chris start banging in the attic. And they find out that their grandfather has died and their mother is still keeping them there because he put some caveat in his will that if it was ever discovered that she had children from her marriage then she loses her inheritance. Because that’s a normal thing. Eventually the kids escape, but only after Cory dies after eating a poisoned donut. Yep.
The story continues in Petals on the Wind where Cathy and Chris keep banging, even though they’re out of the attic. Eventually she moves to New York with some ballet dancer who promises her the big time (which she easily achieves, obvi). She, of course, get’s preggers but then Julian, the ballet dancer, dies in a car crash. Carrie commits suicide because she’s obviously scarred for life after being locked in an attic for a couple years, and eats a poisoned donut (yep). Cathy, bent on revenge seduces her mother’s husband and gets pregnant with his child. After a giant showdown where the house with the attic basically explodes Cathy runs of to California with Chris and they pretend to be married.
We pick up the action like ten years later in If There Be Thorns when Corinne moves next door to Cathy and Chris and her two children who they’ve been raising together. The children obviously don’t know that their parents are siblings, but meh. Corinne then meets Cathy’s youngest, Bart, and starts trying to turn him against his parents. At the same time Corinne’s butler (?) attempts to turn Bart into a religious freak. A bunch of stuff happens but basically in the end Corinne dies in yet another fire, Bart gets locked up, and Cathy’s son and the girl they just adopted all live happily ever after doing their best to forget that their parents are siblings.
And then we get to Seeds. Oh Seeds of Yesterday. You. Were. Hysterical. Set I don’t even know how many years later, we get a grown up Bart who is free of the asylum and has taken over Foxworth Hall (the house with the attic) and fixed it up. He immediately shows signs of crazy, he has a creepy prayer room and is almost violently antagonistic about Christopher being there, even though he’s been living with Cathy in incestuous bliss since the end of Petals, in other words, all of Bart’s life. So then, of course, as soon as Bart leaves them Cathy and Chris start getting it on, because it’s so appropriate and apparently their dead mother’s swan bed really gets them in the mood. Bart then paralyzes his half brother, who’s a ballet dancer (because when both your parents were ballet dancers, even if one is retired and the other is dead, what choice do you have?), seduces his, now paralyzed, brother’s pregnant wife, has some serious sexual tension with his adopted sister (who he tried to drown in Thorns but obviously he needs to keep it in the family), and insists upon calling Christopher “Uncle Chris” which, to be fair, is more accurate than “Dad”.
My mom always complains about things being too “soap operaish” when they get complicated and involve romances. I usually think she’s nuts since every show basically implements these things, but then… I watched all four of these films so my standards are clearly not the same. I think we can all be aware of how I feel about this franchise; it stinks, but I would watch a hundred more volumes. And let’s be real, I can’t believe Lifetime didn’t think about adapting V.C. Andrews before now. For god’s sake, it’s a match made in heaven (which, incidentally, was an Andrews series I never read). Deep dark secrets? Check. Revenge and plotting? Check.Love children with every single person a character sleeps with (though surprisingly not always immediate family members)? Check, check, check. They’re like the Lifetime movies of yore but with a built in audience. A lot of people came of age reading Andrews novels, so it’s really a wonder how the world remains populated when our first taste of the sensual came with these levels of dysfunction.