stories, some that are still being formed, some that went over the transom in the last century
The "Brit a Day" series
What does a months-long parade of attractive British men have to do with fiction, you might well ask? These gentlemen have inspired some lovely scenes, part of the life I live in my head. Over time, some of these scenes reach out to one another and begin to form a story. For the present, each one of these pictures provides a writing prompt for me, a way to keep me writing with a sense of passion and narrative, even when the stories are not yet fully formed.
Sometimes I'd like to write about someone in ABAD who is not known to be British, and then I find that they are. I've immersed myself in noir fiction this holiday--Raymond Chandler [raised in England, btw] and Dashiell Hammett--and where Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe tread, images of Humphrey Bogart aren't far behind.
I've always been fascinated by the marriage of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. She was 25 years younger than him, and I'm usually kind of judgmental if the age gap exceeds 17, the age difference between my maternal grandmother and grandfather. [My grandmother was widowed fairly young, and her second husband was also 17 years older than she was.] Anyway, age gap notwithstanding, the Bogarts seemed to have had a very loving marriage, and they stayed married until he died.
It turns out, lucky for me, that Humphrey Bogart had English relatives on both his parents' sides, and in fact, he was Episcopalian like his mother. The picture below caught my eye this morning for a number of reasons, but mostly, who could pass up such an adorable shot of boxers on Boxing Day, right?
If you are interested in reading about the Bogart/Bacall wedding as Lauren Bacall wrote about it in her memoir, grab a hanky and go here:
Merry Christmas! Today's Brit is Hogwarts itself, site of the greatest Christmas chorale ever, and our Brit comes bearing gifts. We have a couple of lovely 2 page spreads from a tremendous book as well as an awesome Snape wallpaper. Remember to open the big stuff in a new window so you can get them full size!
When winter scenes and Christmas cross paths with thoughts of Dan Radcliffe, my mind runs straight to images from HP & the Goblet of Fire. It had that fabulous Yule Ball and the scene where Snape catches a couple in a subtly rocking carriage [or was that in the deleted scenes?] And Dan had all that luscious, warm hair.
My daughter is reading 'The Scarlet Letter' right now, and--I've said it before, and I'll say it again--the first time I saw this character my mind screamed 'Arthur Dimmesdale!' There is so much repressed sexuality communicated by those slivers of white collar and cuff...by all those buttons.
I had been hanging on to a DVD copy of Ken Russell's 'The Devils'--the version with the censored parts restored--and it remained unwatched as I waited for the confluence of events [read: kids out of the house and husband at home] that would allow us to watch it without locking the doors. I'd seen it just once in graduate school--the cut up version because that's all there was then--and for anyone who has ever seen it, you know the word 'unforgettable' is just not enough, not nearly, no way, no how.
Then a couple of weeks ago, Ken Russell died, and that made the DVD box on my desk begin to smolder and burn laser beams at me. So I began watching it in installments during my lunch break. I finished it yesterday. Still unforgettable, especially Oliver Reed who was clearly put on this earth to play the man 'worth going to hell for.' I can't wait to watch it again with my husband. He is a big fan of the Richard Harris-Vanessa Redgrave 'Camelot.' Can't wait to say, 'What do you think of your Guinevere now, honey?'
This old picture of Eddie Argos is like the root of all Anglophenia: serious young man fingers a pint while sporting mod hair and a 3-button suit against a backdrop of solid ancient pub fixtures. Life is good.
If I were casting the role of Philip Marlowe today, I'd choose Henry Ian Cusick, especially as the older, edgier Marlowe of 'The Long Goodbye'. In the only film adaptation of that novel that I know of, Elliot Gould played him. Humphrey Bogart, who was cast by God Himself, only played Marlowe once, in the original film of 'The Big Sleep.'
This is the most adorable of the caps I posted at Henry Ian Daily today in a post titled 'Now That You've Waked Him Up, Whatcha Gonna Do with Him?' I posted today in the absence of the beloved Miss Ida. She had a scheduled surgery this a.m. Let's hope that her recovery from unconsciousness is a little less traumatic than Desmond's!
My family are not big fans of ABCFamily except during the ABCFamily 25 Days of Christmas when you and your family can turn on the TV and be guaranteed some degree of nostalgia or traditional holiday viewing. Tonight we tuned in just in time for the final Legilimency/Occlumency lesson of HP5, our first glimpse into the mind of teenage Severus Snape.
Abandoned by her husband, Raymond Chandler's mother moved her family to London in 1900 when Ray was 12 years old. He became a naturalized British subject [and thus eligible to be today's Brit] and remained so until he regained his US citizenship in 1956.
Chandler's life story makes your heart ache, and that ache is evident in his masterpieces of fiction. Joyce Carol Oates said
“The prose rises to heights of unselfconscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action-tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision … The reader is captivated by Chandler’s seductive prose.”
I'm reading 'The Long Goodbye' right now. But nothing may be as moving as the last chapter of his life which ends right here in San Diego--
In 1954 Pearl Eugenie (Cissy) Chandler died after a long illness. Heartbroken and drunk, Chandler neglected to inter Cissy's cremated remains, and they sat for 57 years in a storage locker in the basement of Cypress View Mausoleum.
After Cissy's death, Chandler's loneliness worsened his natural propensity for clinical depression; he returned to drink, never quitting it for long, and the quality and quantity of his writing suffered.
After a respite in England, he returned to La Jolla. He died at Scripps Memorial Hospital of pneumonial peripheral vascular shock and prerenal uremia (according to the death certificate) in 1959.
Raymond Chandler is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, San Diego, California. As Frank MacShane noted in his biography, The Life of Raymond Chandler, Chandler wished to be cremated and placed next to Cissy in Cypress View Mausoleum. Instead, he was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery because he had left no funeral or burial instructions.
In 2010, Chandler historian Loren Latker, with the assistance of attorney Aissa Wayne (daughter of John Wayne), brought a petition to disinter Cissy's remains and reinter them with Chandler in Mount Hope. After a hearing September 2010 in San Diego Superior Court, Judge Richard S. Whitney entered an order granting Latker's request.
On Valentine's Day (February 14) 2011, Cissy's ashes were conveyed from Cypress View to Mount Hope, and interred under a new grave marker above Chandler's, as they had wished. About one hundred people attended the ceremony, which included readings by the Rev. Randal Gardner, Powers Boothe, Judith Freeman and Aissa Wayne. The shared gravestone reads "Dead men are heavier than broken hearts", a quote from The Big Sleep. A video of the ceremony is available at http://raymondchandler.info/reunite. Chandler's original gravestone, placed by Jean Fracasse, is still at the head of his grave, while the new one is at the foot.
My friend Donna and I received a joint-custody gift from a friend who saw Dan Radcliffe in 'How to Succeed...' on Broadway--the original cast recording CD. It's my turn to have the CD, and I can't wait to hear it. I haven't seen 'How to Succeed...' since high school, and it was a high school production. Donna suggests the next musical outing for Dan should be a 'Guys and Dolls' revival with Rupert and Emma!