sovay: (Rotwang)
Of course, on the day when [personal profile] rushthatspeaks and I had plans to visit the MIT Science Fiction Society, we had a thunderstorm. I managed to leave the house with an umbrella, but somehow it did not make that much difference. I think my shirt dried out three times over the course of the evening. There was some very attractive pinkish lightning over the skylines of Kendall Square and Rush-That-Speaks brought me a snickerdoodle. The rain had almost tapered off into misting by the time we left the student center with a year's membership apiece and our book haul carefully bagged in convenience-store plastic; we tried out Naco Taco for dinner and I can report favorably on the cabrito (lamb instead of goat, with mint crema and a slight heat on the tamarind glaze), the duck confit (with pomegranate molasses and fried strings of sweet potato), and the cochinita pibil (real heat and no problem deleting the onions). Then I came home and passed out for about an hour on top of [personal profile] spatch because my head had been hurting all day and Autolycus was already asleep on my pillow.

I looked at the news in time to find out that Stephen Miller had, in Rob's words, well, actually'd the Statue of Liberty. Remember when I wanted Trump-supporting Jews to be haunted by their disappointed dead relatives? I'd like to redirect the majority to Miller personally. Or maybe just the ghost of Emma Lazarus. She could be pretty intense.

[edit] I said it better over at [personal profile] cmcmck's: Miller with his nativist, white supremacist, anti-immigrant rhetoric is Jewish, the great-grandchild of immigrants as I am. I hope he's haunted. I hope he has the dybbuks of relatives and refugees coming out his ears. I hope he sleeps even less than I do.

I am delighted by this 1984 interview with Elisha Cook, Jr. He's about eighty at the time. I'd never seen him out of character before. He's a charming storyteller, with a necessary but not over-deprecating sense of humor about his track record of getting croaked onscreen. I'd heard his story about sticking to small parts so that no one could blame him if the film bombed (I still have no idea if it's true, but he tells it well), but I had no idea he'd lost a thumb to making a movie with John Ford. I admired his hands in The Killing (1956) and I never noticed. That's Harold Lloyd levels of hardcore. Now I guess I can decide if I want to watch Submarine Patrol (1938) and wonder where he might have fit into Ford's stock company (in the timeline we actually live in, Ford never worked with him again). My favorite bit is about three minutes in: asked about his typecasting as fall guys, Cook answers, "Of course, I think John Huston had a lot to do with it, when I did Maltese Falcon for him, you know, when I played Sydney Greenstreet's—boy?" He flirts his eyebrows and all of a sudden flickers younger, teasing, playing the boy. Just in case you somehow thought the whole cast wasn't in on the subtext. "It was a fun show."

I feel very fragmentary. I hope it will help if I get some sleep. I'm dubious.
sovay: (Jonathan & Dr. Einstein)
Today was my brother's birthday observed, so I gave him an IOU for a set of automatic transmission brackets and levers that are on their way in the mail. (He's doing some car restoration.) My niece kept dragging me by the hand to come and look at her Brio trains until she decided it was more fun to have me sit on the couch with my feet up on the glass-topped table and provide a bridge for her to drive the trains beneath. I would take her to see the construction on the Comm. Ave. Bridge except that, if all goes well, the major replacements of this phase will be done in the next couple of days and then my brother and his family are going out of town. I might just have to go by myself. I don't think of it as being a very distinctive bridge, but it's been there all my life. Also, I like cranes.

1. Paul Harfleet's Pansy Project plants the flowers as memorials of and resistance against instances of homophobia and transphobia. The artist started his work in the UK, but it's an open-source, international project; he just asks that you follow the guidelines if planting a pansy for yourself or someone close to you. I don't have need of it myself right now—the last time someone harassed me in the street was based strictly on appearing female in public—but I really like the idea, both as art and ritual.

2. I know I'm in the wrong country, but maybe I'll get lucky and BBC America will show Queers (2017) and I can ask someone to tape the series; the actual BBC's streaming service just apologizes to me. This looks like the most interesting thing I've seen Mark Gatiss do since the time I watched The Cicerones (2002) and The Tractate Middoth (2013) in the same month.

3. The official video for "Stronger Than You" involves Estelle and a plaza full of Steven Universe fans and it's wonderful.

4. Courtesy of [personal profile] gaudior: "Judeo-Christian." Yep.

5. Does anyone know how far back the idea of ghosts as recordings on time actually goes? I think the earliest I've encountered it in fiction is Margaret Oliphant's "The Open Door" (1882), with the key conceit of a ghost—unlike the self-aware kind with unfinished business—trapped in endless reenactment of a moment of its life until it can be known and named and someone break the pattern. "Lord, let that woman there draw him inower! Let her draw him inower!" This question brought to mind earlier tonight by watching William Castle's House on Haunted Hill (1959), where Elisha Cook, Jr. believes firmly in the exact opposite kind of ghost: conscious, malevolent, and increasing in number with each death that occurs within the Mayan exteriors of the Ennis House, which [personal profile] spatch recognized at once from The Rocketeer (1991). He's the spooked host of the film, the house's reluctant owner who claims that spending one night inside left him "almost dead" and agrees to a rematch only because there's $10,000 in it, though he doesn't expect to survive to collect—he closes out the evening like a macabre Eeyore, sighing, "What's the use of saying goodnight?" He may be in worse shape than Roddy McDowall in The Legend of Hell House (1973), which is saying something. To the other four guests, invited for a Halloween-scare party that rapidly complicates into something more authentically lethal, he gives a lugubrious tour of the corridor where a girl's stabbing still bleeds through the dry ceiling, the basement where a husband dissolved his wife in acid that still burbles under the floor. He tells the story of his own brother's murder while holding the carving knife it was done with and keeps a drunken, self-appointed vigil over the body of the house's latest apparent victim, insisting to her incensed husband that he "didn't want them to take her away—they will if you don't watch her!" We are meant, I think, to suspect him as a pint-size psycho killer as much as trust him as a guide to the house's gruesome history, but there's such real panic in his voice when he cries, "Your wife isn't there anymore! She's already joined them!" that for a moment we expect the body to have vanished when the camera—along with Vincent Price, who was distracted by choking Cook—glances back. The real supernatural potential of the film runs on his unwavering, terrified conviction, not on the jump scares, although there are several good ones. I'm not sure it all pays off in the end in a way that doesn't leave plot holes even ghosts can't plug, but it's a great showcase for Price's barbed, silky, never quite parodic style as the playboy millionaire with $50,000 to burn and motives that are so obviously ulterior, they're successfully opaque, and its low-budget combination of gross-out and suggestion ("Funny thing is, the heads have never been found . . . You can hear them at night. They whisper to each other, and then cry") is actually at points disturbing. Human plotting and violence is one thing, but unappeasable ghosts seeping out unstoppably from the epicenter of whatever started the haunting in the first place is a much more modern horror motif than I was expecting from a movie with dripping ceilings and acid baths, especially when there's not the least implication that knowing what happened in the house could put an end to it. Cook seems to know all the stories: all it does for him is provide more reasons to drink. Even when the last act pivots through almost as many genres as plot twists, there's something unsettling left over. And the rest of it's fun. I might have to check out more of Castle's gimmick horror now. A plastic skeleton did not fly out over our heads at the climax, as in selected theaters during the original run, but I don't hold that against anything I watch off my laptop. This really haunted house brought to you by my restless backers at Patreon.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
My poem "On the Day When Dumuzi Comes Up" is now online at Mythic Delirium.

It was written almost exactly a year ago, at least by the Jewish calendar: it's the ninth of Av again. There are extensive notes at the magazine (including translation from Ištar's Descent to the Underworld), so I'll just say here that the poem is dedicated to Torger Vedeler, who taught me to read Akkadian in the first place. It is a summer poem and I am glad it has seen print in season.
sovay: (Otachi: Pacific Rim)
Rabbit, rabbit! I recognize that this sculpture by Gosia is named "Evening Glow," but it sure looks like coral growing over a face under sea to me:


I'm here for it. I still think Davy Jones and the crew of the Flying Dutchman are some of the most beautiful things a big-budget summer blockbuster and its shapeless but mythologically powerful sequel have ever unexpectedly handed me.
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
When I finally fell asleep last night, I had nightmares about not sleeping. How unnecessary is that?

1. Yesterday at my cousins' letter-writing party we were talking about how weird it feels to be nostalgic for the twenty-four-hour news cycle. The revolving door has just hit Scaramucci on his way out. At least we will be spared further self-aggrandizing references to "The Mooch," since everyone in this household knows that honorific is reserved strictly for Autolycus and his appealing, sidling, innocent advances on other people's plates, but even so. That was a lot faster than I'd expected.

2. Jeanne Moreau and Sam Shepard have died. For years he looked to me like Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983); I saw her first, of course, as Catherine in Jules et Jim (1962). I will have to find something to watch for the memory of each of them. [edit: I just saw someone on Facebook refer to The Right Stuff as "definitely a guys' movie." Oh, come on. I loved that movie as a child: I think any kid who wanted an astronaut costume for Halloween in fourth grade would. All I can think of is Silverberg, describing another author's style as "ineluctably masculine." Do you want Tiptree? Because that's how you get Tiptree!]

3. I am reposting this picture of Billy Haines because I think it's amazing. Circa 1932, according to Getty Images:

My entire head feels jumbled. Maybe I will test-drive this concept of napping on the couch.
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks and I just successfully jumpstarted [personal profile] teenybuffalo's car, which had died on the street outside their house. We had jumper cables, two sets of instructions, and no previous experience. Both of us expected the car would growl a bit, we'd check to make sure we hadn't clipped the cables on wrong, eventually we'd call a garage.

It totally worked. Teeny Buffalo has just driven away. (To find a garage, but still.)

I feel a ridiculous sense of accomplishment.
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
On my list of things to post about, I am approximately a zillion movies behind, but I have to make a note of Way Out West (1930), a Western comedy-romance directed by Fred Niblo for MGM, because I have finally seen William Haines in a talkie and I was not expecting the way it turned out to be pre-Code. I wish I had some kind of seminar about Hollywood treatments of queerness to screen it in. I should just watch The Celluloid Closet (1996) already, shouldn't I?

I discovered Haines a couple of years ago with King Vidor's Show People (1928), a delightful piece of late silent Hollywood meta starring Marion Davies as a natural comedienne who gets derailed by her studio into becoming a phony tragedienne and has to be rescued by a stiff spritz of seltzer in the face and the down-to-earth fellow-feeling of true love; Haines plays her baggy-pants co-star and was one of the more lively, naturalistic, and charming actors I'd seen from the silent period. He has great playful chemistry with Davies, a clown's limber body and the kind of fresh face that can flip from good-looking to goofy—or vice versa—with a grin. Van Heflin can mime fish-catching like nobody's business, but Haines remains the only actor I have ever seen loop-the-loop a bite of spaghetti or make his eyes pop like a Tex Avery wolf with a pair of hot dog rolls and it's sweet. He plays what Mary Renault calls "the standard boy-meets-girl manœuvres" with tongue lightly in cheek, as if inviting the heroine to join him in the masquerade; he plays the emotional connection for real. I left the Somerville desperately curious to know what he was like with sound. When one of his talkies came around on TCM, I seized my chance.

Way Out West is a classically pre-Code combination of not much to write home about and unfiltered id. Most of Haines' starring features revolved around a wisecracking anti-hero who needed to be taken down a peg before he could get the girl; here that's "Windy" Windermere, a sideshow talker slick enough to fleece the crowd of heavy-breathing cowboys he enticed backstage for a few minutes of private time with cooch dancer "La Belle Rosa" ("She's too hot to handle with bare hands and it's against the law for her to sleep in a frame building") and too full of his own cleverness to twig when La Belle pockets the take herself and skips town. With no way to repay the $200 when his suspicious marks circle back and catch him packing up his rigged roulette gear, Windy finds himself shanghaied to the ranch to work off his theft through a regimen of menial and mocking tasks, as the different hands take their turns "riding herd" on their tenderfoot toy. I'm sorry, this premise comes with kink goggles built in. As the weeks go by, the hard-rode Windy begins to pick up the responsibilities of ranch life despite his best intentions; he falls in love with spirited boss Molly Rankin (Leila Hyams, one of Haines' silent co-stars) almost the same way. Initially as unimpressed as her men, she's the first to notice that their captive con man is "taking his medicine without a whole lot of kicking" even when it almost actually kills him. The knockabout slapstick of the early scenes eases off in favor of the real possibility of Windy proving himself—not to the still-sore cowboys, Molly's protective brother (Charles Middleton) and would-be boyfriend (Francis X. Bushman Jr.) included, but to himself, with the challenging encouragement of Molly who believes he's better than chiseling and weaseling and running away all the time. Of course, dramatic tension being what it is, he chisels, weasels, and runs away at least once each before the heroic denouement, but anyone who thinks he won't come through in the clinch has not been paying attention to Hollywood. All throughout, Haines is as charming as I'd hoped from Show People, his breezy, boisterous voice translating as easily from intertitles as his physical expressiveness from silent comedy. He is also playing with masculinity in ways that I find fascinating even while I feel I can only parse about half of them. Put it this way: I had sort of gotten the idea that the major exponent of camp in pre-Code Hollywood was Mae West. On the strength of Way Out West, it may have been Billy Haines.

It is not quite the same phenomenon as Edward Everett Horton in RKO's Roar of the Dragon (1932), although it's in the ballpark. The difference is that Horton is a character actor, a supporting player with the latitude to depart from the conventional virtues of his gender and station, so that while we can be treated to the extraordinary sight of his maiden-auntish hotel clerk courageously manning a machine gun while wearing more eyeliner than a Cure concert, the A-plot still presents Richard Dix as the actual hero, a two-fisted riverboat captain with a rugged jaw and one of those macho drinking problems to overcome. There's no actual hero in Way Out West. Or there is; it's Haines, with the looks and voice of a leading man, convincingly playing a late-breaking mensch with more spine than he thought and depths he's a little embarrassed to admit to. He saves the life of the woman he loves at the risk of his own, he holds his own with his fists against a man he previously lost a fight to, he stages a shootout and braves a sandstorm with the best of them. His specialty at the start is the quick grift and the quicker fade; by the credits there's no doubt that he can face all comers head-on. That's heroism by the book. And it's performed by a hero who is snarky, slippery, and frequently, deliberately, camp. Actual lines spoken by Windy include "No, sir! I ain't flirting with no bull's wife" and "Well, I'm the wildest pansy you ever picked," not to mention the subject header, spoken in reference to Bushman's six foot four of well-built cowpuncher. He cuts his eyes sardonically at the ranch hands, who whistle at him and call him beautiful when he appears dandily modeling his carnival duds, cane and boutonnière and crisp straw boater and all (right before they send him to muck out a stable). A similar catwalk ensues when he turns up to dinner in the full Western rig he swindled out of Cliff Edwards' doleful Trilby, announcing that he doesn't just have the clothes—ten-gallon hat, dudely neckerchief, and woolly chaps out to here—he has "the figure to wear them" (right before they send him to scrub out the kitchen). Reluctantly facing a corral of surly longhorns with a milk pail in his hand, Windy gives his tormentor of the day a dirty look and then sallies forth with saccharine daintiness: "'A-milking, sir,' she said." Flirting with Molly over breakfast, he sticks an unpeeled banana in his mouth like a stogie and then tells a racy joke with it, just in case you thought it was maybe just a cigar.

It's all diegetic. This is what keeps the movie from turning into a 71-minute pansy joke: Windy uses camp exactly as it is used in the offscreen world, for self-defense, for subversion, burlesquing his position as citified sissy among the butch cowpokes, for self-assertion and survival. Narrowly escaped from the lynching that was the cowboys' first inspiration for dealing with their "thieving galoot," he coughs off his near-death experience with bravado petulance: "I don't want to play with you kids—you're too rough!" That provocative line about inhaling another man comes out when Windy's facing a fight that he knows he's going to lose, so he might as well get pasted saying something that was worth it. Even his silent responses are eloquently theatrical: realizing that he's dressed in his best for the benefit of a pile of horseshit, he checks his cuffs and tie as meticulously as if he's about to step in front of an audience and starts shoveling; when Molly rolls up in her jalopy to see how he's getting on, he makes a production of arranging the last wisps of hay on top of the heap like a prize entry in a flower show. He always does the work—he doesn't have a choice about it—and increasingly he does it well. Damned if he's going to do it on their terms, though.

It's not the only note in the character's repertoire, either. He has serious moments and some of them are startling. We don't see him lose his fight with Bushman's Steve when they step outside at the eve-of-roundup party; we watch an unruffled Steve come back afterward, dismissing the incident as "one wallop and he was through." Cut to Windy outside in the darkened yard, looking rather more grazed and bruised than one wallop would seem to account for. It feels like a pre-Code touch that he has the kind of busted nosebleed that makes a mask of his face; he's trying to clean himself up and stop the bleeding with the same overmatched handkerchief when he sees figures emerging from the house and takes cover in the brush, from which vantage point he observes and misinterprets Molly's gentle but firm letdown of Steve—complete with platonic parting hug—for its exact opposite. The camera closes on his face after the other two have gone. He looks hurt and he looks cynical with himself for being hurt. Molly's the boss; Steve's her best friend since childhood, not to mention her best hand. Windy's as weightless as his name, the "coyote" who clowns his way through the scut work, the flim-flam man who got caught. He helped Molly decorate for the party, but was informed by her brother in no uncertain terms that his "kind" weren't welcome among the guests (carnies, con artists, Easterners, queer men, whatever: this means you). Getting knocked down by a bigger, tougher man doesn't surprise him. Losing out romantically because of it shouldn't. But it still hurts. And his nose is still bleeding. And I hate misunderstanding as a plot device almost as much as I hate love triangles, but Haines' wordless acting makes this one work. The one that drives most of the climactic action, I'm sorry, not so much. The last lines are still cute.

These days, Haines is almost certainly less famous for his pictures than his place in Hollywood history as the never-closeted gay silent star whose career snapped off short in 1933 when he refused to trade his longtime boyfriend for a beard at the express request of Louis B. Mayer; he never made another movie after 1934 and he lived openly with Jimmie Shields until his death in 1973, the two of them making a name for themselves as successful interior designers and "the happiest married couple in Hollywood." This was the only thing I knew about Haines going into Show People, where it's enlightening but not vital information; it's impossible for me not to see it in Way Out West. On the one hand, this is a movie about a swishy city slicker who builds character through hazing and finally comes out on top by doing a bunch of manly stuff even better than the manly men. On the other, it's a movie in which the hero's bravest act is to walk into a party with the person he loves on his arm and start waltzing together in full view of a crowd of very straight, very hostile men who have promised to beat him up for it—one of whom actually will. "I don't stand a Chinaman's chance around here and you know it. But that ain't saying I'm yellow. Do you want to dance?" Sure, Windy's asking a woman. But Billy and Jimmie were inseparable from the moment they met in New York City until long after Mayer's cold feet about Depression finances and impending Code enforcement had kicked them both off the red carpet and it's not difficult to draw a line from one kind of courage to the other: they must have walked together into similar rooms many times. On the third hand, even if you take the plot at face value, I find it pleasantly anti-heteronormative to watch a leading man flame through a movie and still get the girl in the end, never quite straightening out along the way.

I have plans to meet my mother for a different movie entirely, so I should put this post to bed before I start doing research. The fact that Way Out West exists still kind of amazes me. It can't be the gayest thing I've seen from the pre-Code era, but it's up there. The use of camp and the relatively open in-jokes make it feel as though it must have been linked to the short-lived but nationwide "pansy craze" of the early '30's, when drag performers were trendy and flamboyant queerness was a box-office draw rather than a bridge too far, but it was a bust financially, which is fair, because I'm not actually sure that aside from Haines (and Hyams, with whom he has real chemistry when the script stays out of their way) it's much good. Cliff Edwards has a nice musical number with his ukulele, after which [personal profile] spatch pointed out that I'd have recognized him immediately if he looked like Jiminy Cricket. The opening scenes in the sideshow are glittery, seedy, and just business as usual for the performers. I'm not sure how the Hopi village got into the third act, but at least the stereotyping was kept to a minimum. If you want to track this one down, do it strictly for Billy "The boys wouldn't let me go if I wanted to" Haines, but I can tell you that at least for me he was worth it. This crack brought to you by my wise backers at Patreon.

sovay: (Default)
We have a couch! We finally have a couch! It is grey-green and comfortably springy and fits into the space between the windows at the front of the apartment and there was an exciting hour when we weren't sure if it had been lost in transit because the tracking website listed it as delivered and it was definitely not in the apartment and the warehouse couldn't get hold of the drivers to ask where on earth either they or the couch were, but it arrived and was carried upstairs by two very pleasant and competent people who took all the packaging away with them afterward and then I sat on the couch in my living room and talked with Matthew until he had to leave to catch his train, although he took a picture of the couch first:

Hestia set the first claw in it, of course. Now she crouches on the back like a demon rabbit, staring out into the world with wide gold eyes. Autolycus leapt onto the cushions, prowled, sniffed carefully all around, and then took possession of a stack of displaced boxes of slightly greater elevation. I am sitting on it with my computer like a sensible person. I could sit on it and read books. I could drag the coffee table over and watch a movie without being at my desk. I could, some afternoon, fall asleep.

Yay, having furniture.
sovay: (What the hell ass balls?!)
I made a new icon. I'm not sure how much I'm going to use it, but something about the ongoing politics seemed to call for it. I believe I have [personal profile] choco_frosh to thank for introducing me to the original context in Questionable Content. Anybody who finds the icon useful should feel free to abstract it.
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
In today's political news, I would like to introduce the man in the White House to the Greek hero Kaineus (m.), born Kainis (f.), whom it took the entire Centaur side of the Centauromachy to defeat, his invulnerable body hammered all the way down to Hades with stones and piled pine trees. We can argue about what the United States should be doing with its armed forces, but not about who counts sufficiently as people to continue serving safely in them.

1. On the very crowded Red Line around five-thirty this afternoon, I saw two girls—late high school, early college, one white-looking and one not—practicing what they called "subway surfing," keeping their balance without recourse to poles or hangers or fellow passengers as the train rocked and bucked between Harvard and Davis. I appreciated what they were doing; the car was so sardine-packed that I couldn't get near a handhold myself, plus I was carrying a couple of books from the dollar-sticker carts outside the Harvard Book Store (I sense a theme) and a halva brownie from Tatte's that was trying to melt through its paper bag. It was a miserable commute experience and they were making the best they could of it. I did not appreciate the male commuter about my age who turned around as he got off the train at Porter to yell at the girls for "screaming in [his] ears." They stopped subway surfing after he left. They separated and found different poles to hang on to and did not try to talk to one another across the thinning space of commuters between them. The thing is, the guy had not even been their neighbor. He'd been standing right in front of me the entire time, holding on to the pole I couldn't find room on. He could legitimately have yelled at me for breathing into the nape of his neck, but even had the girls been shouting at the tops of their lungs, thanks to our respective positions their conversation would still have had to travel through me before getting anywhere near his ears. So when the train ground to a halt between stations—because there was another train on the line, because the T never has enough money, because Charlie Baker would rather privatize public transit than allocate it any reasonable amount of public funds and incidentally fuck the unions—and there was a brief lull in the racketing noise, I attracted the attention of the nearer girl and told her that she and her friend were great subway surfers, that I'd seen and appreciated them, and that the guy had been completely out of line. I hope it didn't weird her out. I wanted to give them a reality check. The guy annoyed me. Congratulations, you don't like being on a sardine car at rush hour—neither does anyone else, but at least those girls were getting something fun out of it. They weren't losing their footing and banging into people. They were laughing. Don't yell at people when they're trying to make the world better. I feel this lesson can and should be generalized.

2. I did not expect to find myself explaining the technicalities of 70 mm to a completely different set of kids at the door of the Somerville Theatre, but they all bought tickets for Dunkirk (2017) and showed interest in the upcoming 70 mm festival—they wanted to know not just about the format itself and whether it would look different from a DCP of the same movie (spoiler: yes) but the system on which the film would be shown, which I could at least explain was not a Hateful Eight retrofit but a pair of Philips Norelco DP70s designed for just this format, installed in this theater well before Tarantino started shooting in Ultra Panavision, lovingly maintained, and capable of magnetic rather than digital sound. Then I got asked how it was possible to show 70 and 35 mm on the same machines and at that point my knowledge of down- and upconverting degenerated into "I'm not the projectionist! I don't even work here!" (After the conversation was over, I promptly went upstairs and bugged David the projectionist about the specifics just in case this ever happens to me again. I hate being asked technical questions for which I have only partial answers; it makes me feel worse than having no answers at all.) Mostly they seemed concerned that they wouldn't be able to appreciate the beautiful information density of the format if it was filtered through a system that wasn't built to handle it, the same way the high fidelity of a recording is immaterial if all you can play it back through is some crackly laptop speakers. I could reassure them that was not going to be the experience at the Somerville. I realize that programs for movies are not so much a thing anymore, but I'm thinking for this one maybe it couldn't hurt.

3. I like the photograph of this person who looks like they are wearing a spell of the sea: Taylor Oakes, "Rhue."

4. I am delighted that I have now read multiple poems employing Wittgenstein's concept of language-games, also specifically this ambiguity: Veronica Forrest-Thomson, "Ducks & Rabbits."

5. In unexpected and welcome writing news, Clockwork Phoenix 5 is a finalist for a World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology. I have a story in it, so obviously I hope it wins, but the rest of the list is full of extremely cool people and the extremely cool things they have written and I wish everyone luck!
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
So, yes, we got home tonight and saw that John McCain waited to take life-saving advantage of the ACA before he voted, along with fifty other Republican senators whose careers I hope will be even shorter-lived than it seems they want their constituents to be, to proceed with killing it and quite a lot of other people. These are highlights of the day I had before that.

1. [personal profile] spatch met me after my doctor's appointment this afternoon; we walked up the Esplanade to Back Bay (willows, cormorants, a blue reflected hollow in the overcast rippling in the river's wind-waves; I climbed a tree and developed a hole in my sock) and had dinner at the Cornish Pasty Co., where the chicken tikka masala pasty was approximately half the size of a human head and the toffee pudding with crème anglais arrived in a crucible. These are both endorsements. We had not planned on a book-gathering trip, but first there were the book sale carts at the West End Branch of the BPL and then there was Rodney's. I now appear to own Jack Weatherford's The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire (2010), Jean Potts' Home Is the Prisoner (1960), Derek Jarman: A Portrait (1996) edited by Roger Wollen, and Cicely Mary Barker's The Lord of the Rushie River (1938), which I freely admit I bought because "Traveller's Joy" appears in the text as a folk song. The clouds had broken up by the time we were walking back over the Harvard Bridge and the Charles was full of white and pink sails, including a small flotilla circling one another and then crocodiling back to the MIT boathouse. Rob took a couple of pictures of me on the Esplanade. I am not all right with photographs of myself right now, so I am trying to make a point of them.

And the gunner we had was apparently mad. )

2. [personal profile] yhlee and [personal profile] telophase have developed a hexarchate Tarot. Specifically, a jeng-zai deck of the era of Machineries of Empire. You can ask it things. There are no illustrations as yet, but I ran two spreads from different factions and even allowing for the pattern-making capacity of the human brain it gave me scarily decent readings both times. Fair warning: it comes from a dystopia. I'm not sure it knows how to advise on light matters.

3. Courtesy of Michael Matheson: from the archives of Robot Hugs, Gender Rolls. I'm not sure why we don't seem to own any dice, but fortunately the internet provides. I got non-binary femme-type dandy. I . . . can really live with that, actually.

We bought food for the cats. We bought ice cream for ourselves. I guess tomorrow I make a lot more calls.
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
There is now a Blu-Ray of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953). And it's region-free.

Well, I'm delighted.

(I have to thank Cine Outsider for the tip-off; I had no idea until I was scrolling down as I do about every month or so and then what? I still have dreams of seeing an actual print someday. The film was shot in Technicolor. It may have been chopped to pieces by Columbia, but what's left should still look good. Besides, I have always had the sneaking suspicion that even the most faithful digital transfer cannot properly reproduce the full effect of Dr. Terwilliker's hat.)
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
So I had a completely miserable night with a lot of pain and zero sleep and only managed to nap for a couple of hours in the afternoon and woke up to grey rain and some potential medical news I'm going to want a serious double-check on, but as I made my intermittent rounds of other people's Tumblrs I saw that [personal profile] selkie had just tagged me for a gifset of twenty-year-old Jeremy Brett as some kind of uncredited beautiful student in Noel Langley's Svengali (1954) and that does help, thank you.

sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
I do not think after all that I have read Nicholas Stuart Gray's The Apple-Stone (1965); I think I have just read a lot of E. Nesbit, Mary Norton, and Edward Eager, all of whom are obviously in the DNA of a novel about five children—the English narrator and his two sisters plus their Scottish cousins who are known collectively as "the Clans"—who find a strange, ancient, sentient power that brings magic into their lives for about a week and then moves on, leaving mostly memories and just a few things changed for good.

"One touch from me animates the inanimate," boasts the Apple-Stone, the "small, bright, golden ball, about the size of a marble" that assisted in the birth of the universe and gave rise to the myth of the Golden Apples of the Sun; the children find it on the highest bough in the orchard, like a Sappho fragment come to life, and they make enlightening, foolish, dangerous, and kind use of it over the next twelve chapters until it returns to the earth to sleep and restore its power and find another apple tree to bloom from, decades or centuries hence. Most of their adventures have a comic slant, as when they animate the decrepit hearthrug to settle a bet over what kind of animal it came from and never find out because they spend the day having confused their "Lambie" with an actual escaped leopard prowling the moors, or have to play detectives for a lost glove weeping bitterly over being separated from its beloved right hand ("I'm deeply attached to it. I love it"), or create an intelligent, talkative, opera-loving sheep about twice the size of a Great Dane for reasons that make sense at the time. Sometimes the comedy turns spooky, as when they accidentally animate a feather boa and get Quetzalcoatl, who not unreasonably expects a sacrifice for incarnating when called, or an episode with a formerly model rocket triggers an international incident and science fiction, or the narrator discovers an unexpected and unwanted affinity for night flight on a witch's broom. An interlude with an effigy of a Crusader constitutes the kind of history lesson that would fit right into Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill (1906), as some of the children have their romantic illusions punctured and some come away with an interest in astrology and medicinal plants. And the two weirdest, most numinous chapters are the reason I can't be one hundred percent sure that I didn't read this book a long, long time ago: the life and death of the Bonfire Night guy that is partly the sad, passionate ghost of Guy Fawkes and partly a pyromaniac patchwork of the five children whose castoffs and imagination gave it form (as it explains in one of its more lucid moments, "Everyone is a mixture, you know, and I'm more so than most") and the introduction of new magic when the weeping gargoyle off a nearby church turns out to be the stone-trapped form of a medieval demon named "Little Tom," a wild, ragged, not quite human child in tricksterish and forlorn search of a witch to be familiar to. Both of them gave me the same half-echo as Eleanor Farjeon's The Silver Curlew (1953), again without any of the language coming back to me. I might run it by my mother to see if she remembers bringing it home when I was small. On the other hand, it might just be that I know [personal profile] ashlyme and [personal profile] nineweaving.

The Apple-Stone is the second book I've read by Gray and The Seventh Swan (1962) almost doesn't count, since I know I read it in elementary school and all I can remember is that it upset me more than the original fairy tale, which I suspect means I should re-read it. I like this one a lot, non-magical parts included. We learn early on that the parents of the English family are the puppeteers behind the popular TV show Ben and Bet Bun and absolutely none of their children think once of bringing the Buns or the Foxies to life because they find the whole thing desperately embarrassing. (The Clans' parents are rocket scientists and the narrator envies them deeply. "We're fond of our Mum and Dad, and hope they may grow out of it in time.") The children as a group are a believable, likeable mix of traits and alliances, differentiated well beyond obvious tags like Jo's academic crazes or Nigel's artistic talent or Douglas' belligerence or Jemima's imperiousness or Jeremy's daydreaming. They fight almost constantly with one another—the Clans especially, being composed of one Campbell and one Macdonald, are engaged in the kind of dramatic ongoing feud that is half performance art and half really blowing off steam—but close ranks immediately against outsiders, even supernatural ones:

"But I must tell you straight, gentles, that I can't do much of the true Black Art," said the gargoyle. "I'm not one of the great ones. I was never aught but a very little 'un. Horrid tricks I can manage," it added, boastfully, "like makin' folks squint, or muddling their minds, or twisting their tongues so that they stammers and stutters—"

"I c-can do that without your help!" snapped Nigel, going red.

"And I'm muddleheaded enough for everyone," I said, quickly.

"No, you're not!" said Jo, fiercely. "And Nigel only stutters when he's away from his home." Then she turned on the gargoyle. "You'll do no horrid tricks, do you hear? We're not sorcerers. We brought you here to help you."

The creature was still changing during all of this . . . Its hair was long and black, and tangled. Its ears were still pointed, though not as huge and batlike as before. It gave us a scornful grin, and said, "Many sorcerers don't care to admit to it."

If you have not read this novel, you can probably tell by now if you're going to like it. The Nesbit it reminds me of most is The Enchanted Castle (1907), but it feels like itself and it feels like its own time, which is equally important. I am actively sad that the near-fine UK first edition I saw at Readercon cost sticker shock—the library copy I just finished reading is the American first edition and the illustrations really didn't work for me. (I'm sorry, Charles Keeping! Your work for Alan Garner, Mollie Hunter, and Rosemary Sutcliff was great!) Maybe sometime I'll get lucky at the Strand. In any case, the text is what matters most and that I recommend. It is good at the strangeness of things that are not human and it never risks making even the cute ones twee. It's good at children's priorities and the ways that not being an adult doesn't mean not seeing the world. I didn't quote much of a descriptive passage, but I like its language. Anyone with other favorite novels by Nicholas Stuart Gray, please let me know.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
I did not make it to the last day of Necon due to circumstances falling through, but fortunately [personal profile] handful_ofdust was flying back to Toronto from Boston, so I took the time-honored Sunday combination of very slow buses, trains, and shuttles out to Logan Airport and had a splendid time hanging out for two hours before her flight, even if I still miss being able to walk people to their gates and wave them off onto the plane. We had dinner and talked about everything from neurodiversity to Orson Krennic, Imperial Poseur; I came away richer by a binder of DVDs (through which [personal profile] spatch is happily poring as we speak: "We could watch Moana! You know you've also got Deathgasm? Ooh, Night of the Comet. Logan, that's good") and a Gemma-made necklace of amethyst, pearls, gold and amber glass beads, and a frosted-glass pendant that used to be an earring. Coming back, I foolishly thought it would be faster to cut over to the Orange Line at Downtown Crossing and that is how I spent forty-five minutes asleep in a sitting position on a bench at Sullivan Station because there were no buses and I was very tired. The air was cool and smelled like the sea. The cats came and curled up with me in the last of the sunlight when I got home. Worth it.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
I don't know if I saw relatives of mine this afternoon.

My grandfather's father was born in Lodz. He was the eldest of six siblings, three sisters, three brothers; the family owned a textile mill in the city and the father was a Talmudic scholar of some repute. My great-grandfather was expected to continue in his father's religious footsteps; instead, after a stint in the Imperial Russian Army (from which he must have deserted, because he sure didn't serve twenty-five years), he became what my grandfather once memorably described as a "Zolaesque freethinker" and emigrated to America in 1912. One of his brothers followed him; though we're no longer in contact with them (a little thing about declaring my mother ritually dead when she married my father), his descendants live in Florida. Another brother is buried in Israel, though I'm not sure how or when he got there—his older children were born in Lodz, his later ones in Tel Aviv. None of the sisters made it out of Poland alive. The middle one I have almost no information about, except that Lodz is listed as her place of death. (Her children survived: they too turn up later in Israel.) The eldest and the youngest died—as far as I know, with their families—in Chełmno and Auschwitz. These are the cousins who feel like closer ghosts than they should, dying in 1942 and 1945, because their descendants would have been no farther from me in blood than [personal profile] gaudior. They are loose ends, like other family stories. I don't know what there is to be known of them anymore.

Because the exhibit is closing in a week, my mother and I went to the MFA this afternoon to see Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross. If you live in the Boston area, I don't say it's a light day out, but it's worth your time. Ross was one of the few survivors of the Lodz Ghetto, a staff photographer employed by the Judenrat. He was supposed to take the nice pictures of the ghetto, to document how productively and well the Jews were getting along under Nazi supervision; he used his license to take the ones that were not so nice, dead-carts instead of bread-carts, chain-link and barbed wire, the sick and the starving, the broken walls of a synagogue. He documented the resistance of living, which sometimes looked like defiance and sometimes like collaboration: the slight, quietly smiling man who rescued the Torah scroll from the smashed-brick ruins of the synagogue, the young wife and plump child of a Jewish policeman like the ones seen—perhaps he's among them—assisting a crowd of Jewish deportees aboard the boxcars that will take them to Auschwitz. Pale Jude stars are so omnipresent in this black-and-white world that even a scarecrow wears one, as if to remind it to confine its trade to non-Aryan fields. Ross took about six thousand photographs total; in the fall of 1944, as the ghetto was being liquidated, he buried the negatives as a kind of time capsule, not expecting to survive himself to recover them. He was still alive and still taking pictures of the depopulated ghost town the ghetto had become when the Red Army liberated it in January 1945. His face cannot be seen in the photograph of him reclaiming his archive because he's the figure at the center of the grinning group, the one bending to lift a crusted box from the dug-up earth. Groundwater had rendered about half the negatives unsalvageable, but rest could be developed, warped, nicked, bubbled, and sometimes perfectly clear, their damaged emulsion showing scars and survival. He published some in his lifetime. He never arranged the complete series to his satisfaction. My mother would have seen him on television in 1961 when he testified against Eichmann. The MFA has a clip of an interview with him and his wife Stefania née Schoenberg—his collaborator and another of the ghetto's 877 Jewish survivors—eighteen years later in Israel, describing how he took his covert photographs hiding his camera inside his long coat, how just once he snuck into the railway station at Radogoszcz to record the last stages of a deportation, the freight train to the "frying pan" of Auschwitz itself. He died in 1991. It is said that he never took a picture again.

(I know there are philosophical questions about photographs of atrocity: how they should be looked at, what emotions they may have been intended to evoke, to what degree it is or is not appropriate to judge them as art. I'm not very abstract here. They were taken to remember. You look at them to make sure you do. What you feel is your own business; what you do with the knowledge of the history had damn well better concern other people.)

My great-grandfather's sisters would have been deported from the Lodz Ghetto. Their death dates even match the major waves of deportation to their respective camps. I have no idea what either of them looked like. I have seen maybe two photos each of my grandfather's parents: aunts and uncles, nothing. I'm not saying the photos don't exist. My grandfather had a sister; she may have inherited a better pictorial record. But I haven't seen it. And looking for people who look like my grandfather is no help; Henry Kissinger went through a period of looking like my grandfather and that was awkward for everybody. Any older woman might have been either one of them, any older man one of their husbands, any young people their children, any children their grandchildren. None of them might have been my family. Maybe theirs were among the images destroyed by the winter of 1944, as unrecoverable as their bodies. Maybe they were never captured on film at all. I wouldn't know. I don't know. I pored over faces and thought how beautiful so many of these people were (not beautiful because of their suffering: bone and expression, the kinds of faces that are beautiful to me), how many of them looked like both sides of my mother's family. Almost no one was identified by name. Maybe no one knows these people by name anymore. I hope that's not true.

You can look through the contents of Henryk Ross' archive yourself. They are, like most photographs, historical and modern prints both, better in person. We left the museum and had dinner at Bronwyn both because we lucked out parking two blocks from the restaurant in the middle of a street fair and because it was Eastern European food and it felt symbolic that we were here to eat it, even if I am pretty sure that a Hungarian-inflected chorizo dog is food of my people only in the sense that I personally would order it again because it tasted great. I did some badly overdue grocery shopping and caught the closing performance of the PMRP's Murders and Scandals: Poe and Doyle and spent nearly the entire cast party upstairs reading the scripts for the second through the fourth seasons of Babylon 5 (1993–98) and as much of the fifth season as doesn't suck. Autolycus fell asleep on my lap almost as soon as I sat down at my computer and I haven't been able to move from this chair for hours. I can't imagine what the world looks like in which I have so many more cousins of the degree of Gaudior, although I know that I am tired of fictional versions in which neither of us would even be here (the same goes for other atrocities, imagined worse for purposes of entertainment). Maybe in that other world, we have more family photographs. Maybe we're not in contact with them, either. Maybe I still don't have faces to go with the names. It doesn't matter if they were all strangers, though, the people from this afternoon and more than seventy years ago: they were alive. They are worth remembering. Especially now, they are worth remembering why.

sovay: (Claude Rains)
A Facebook friend asked: "For my film-loving friends: what are films you hope to see in the Criterion Collection someday? Not just films you love, but films that fit the aesthetic and would make sense as Criterion films." So I posted the following textbrick in reply and figured I might as well reproduce it here, now with (occasionally really old) links:

The complete Derek Jarman, Super 8 shorts and music videos included. Herzog's Fitzcarraldo (1982), because it has always confused me that you can get the documentary from Criterion but not the film itself. Anything by Ulrike Ottinger, but especially Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia (1989) and Taiga (1992), which one could and should pair. Some kind of box set of Dennis Potter, making sure not to leave out the long-banned original TV version of Brimstone and Treacle (1976). Wayne Wang and Paul Auster's Smoke (1995). Some reasonable amount of Peter Greenaway, but The Pillow Book (1996) and Prospero's Books (1991) in their proper aspect ratio should head the list. Fred Zinnemann's Act of Violence (1948), a knockout noir about memory and atrocity with far less of a reputation than it deserves. Max Ophüls' The Reckless Moment (1949), one of the most devastating—and feminist—noirs I've ever seen. John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), Eugene O'Neill's favorite film realization of any of his plays. Ben Wheatley's A Field in England (2013). And while I'm dreaming of ponies, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953).

—There are other movies I'd like to see from Criterion, of course. Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (1973), especially considering the plethora of versions that have existed over the years (and may still be buried under the M4). I don't know if they'd go for Roy Ward Baker's The October Man (1947) unless it was part of a set of British noir, but seriously, how bad would that be? If they can announce an upcoming release of Agnieszka Smoczyńska's The Lure (2015)—the day after my birthday, I appreciate it—surely they could provide me with a nice edition of Marcin Wrona's Demon (2015). I'm sort of confused they've never done anything by Dorothy Arzner. I'm really confused they haven't already done the Wachowskis' Bound (1996). And so on. Some of it is the definitive home release idea, but a lot of these movies I would just like to be able to show people more easily than 35 mm or unpredictable flybys on TCM.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
My poems "A Death of Hippolytos" and "The Other Lives," published last October in The Cascadia Subduction Zone 6.4, are now free to read online with the rest of their issue. The first was inspired by Jules Dassin's Phaedra (1962) and especially by this afterthought, the second was written for Rose Lemberg after discussing Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). [personal profile] gwynnega has poetry in the same issue.

I had heard absolutely nothing of Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water (2017) until this afternoon, but the trailer makes it look like something I should very definitely see in December. It looks like William Alland and Jack Arnold's Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) retold through Jane Yolen's "The Lady and the Merman," which has haunted me since elementary school when I first read Neptune Rising: Songs and Tales of the Undersea Folk (1982). It looks sea-deep.

Speaking of oceanic things for which I may existentially blame Caitlín R. Kiernan: Delphine Cencig, "Poulpe Fiction."

In fact, I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
Second doctor's appointment in as many days, coming up. First, links.

1. [personal profile] spatch sent me this handy-dandy list: "Times Doctor Who Was Ruined Forever." The site is snarky and some of their tags are jerkass, but the article itself is gold. "21/03/1981 – The best Doctor ever is replaced by a vet. Doctor Who dies."

2. Following my belated discovery of Jack Buchanan, I am pleased to see that the HFA will be showing Ernst Lubitsch's Monte Carlo (1930) on Friday. I wonder if I have ever actually seen Jeanette MacDonald.

3. I had no idea one of the performers of "The Grass Is Always Greener" was Lauren Bacall (and I think I had forgotten the song came from a musical by Kander and Ebb, although listening to its brassy swing, I don't know who else it could have been). Standing Room Only on WERS used to play it all the time. I like how her voice softens on the repeated line That's wonderful, but her unimpressed What's so wonderful? could pass for Elaine Stritch. This makes me desperately sad that Bacall never recorded "The Ladies Who Lunch."

4. This is a gorgeous photoset, but I would love to see the on-set photos from the shoot. Like, the backstage stuff. People just standing around on snack breaks, being Klimt paintings.

5. This was true last weekend as well, but I was at Readercon and couldn't do anything about it: [personal profile] spatch swapped in for one of the hosts of the PMRP's Murders and Scandals: Poe and Doyle at the last minute, so I'll see him this weekend on one of the nights I'm not seeing Jack Buchanan.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey)
Van Heflin's first starring role and the feature debut of director Fred Zinnemann, MGM's Kid Glove Killer is not a lost classic of crime cinema, but it is a fun little procedural of a B-picture with some sharp dialogue and more forensic detail than I've seen in this era until John Sturges' Mystery Street (1950); its technical tickyboxes include ballistic fingerprinting, fiber analysis, spectrography, endlessly labeled slides, and the first-rate chemistry in-joke of mocking up a reaction with dry ice so that the flask looks like it's got something really fancy going on inside it. The film's heroes are a pair of underpaid scientists working for the crime lab of the Chicago-ish city of Chatsburg, which has lately suffered the shocking double loss of both its crusading DA and its sincerely incorruptible mayor, neither of natural causes unless ropes, ponds, and car bombs can be filed under acts of God; despite the necessarily painstaking nature of their work, Heflin's Gordon McKay and Marsha Hunt's Jane Mitchell find themselves expected to deliver miracles on command, conjuring a killer's name out of the stray threads and burnt matches and dog hairs that might as well be so many oracle bones as far as the impatient police, press, and public are concerned. No one outright suggests railroading the small business owner seen loitering around the mayor's house the night before the explosion—furious that the new DA's vaunted crackdown on crime didn't extend to the hoods shaking him and his wife down for protection—but there's a lot of official pressure to connect the dots to Eddie Quillan's hot-headed innocent. In the meantime a sort of love triangle is progressing between the two scientists and one ambitious lawyer, although the viewer can't invest too much in the romantic suspense since our privileged information includes the identity of the murderer. I confess I'm not sure where the kid gloves came into it.

It is rare for me not to like Heflin in a film, even when he's playing kind of a dick, and he makes an engaging proto-nerd here, a slouchy, grouchy smart-ass in a lab coat who has managed to figure out that he's in love with his educated, attractive coworker but not yet that flirting by insult only works for Oscar Levant. (His eventual apology is legitimately adorable.) Hunt as Mitchell is nicely, unequivocally competent and has little time for her colleague's negging even as it's clear from space that she'd reciprocate his interest if he were only a little less schoolyard about it, but her character feels like a conservative compromise when she insists repeatedly—despite sufficient aptitude for chemistry that she has a master's degree in it—that forensics is "no career for a woman." I do appreciate that heteronormativity is defused at least once by McKay conceding wryly that it's "not much of a career for a man, either. No prestige, no glamour, no money. People holler at you when there are no miracles." I suppose it is also sociologically interesting that the script's anxiety about science and gender runs both ways—unless it's to prove that spending nine-tenths of your life behind a microscope doesn't make you less of a man, I have no idea why McKay is apparently incapable of confronting a suspect without a fight scene. He is otherwise not very macho, which I am fine with. He can't throw a dart straight to save his life. If the human heart were located in the right elbow, though, that firing-range target would have totally had it.

The extremely spoilery original trailer suggests that Kid Glove Killer was intended as the start of a series and I'm almost surprised it didn't happen—if Thin Man stand-ins Joel and Garda Sloane could get a trilogy, I don't see why we couldn't have enjoyed more McKay and Mitchell. As it is, the one film is all we've got. It runs 72 minutes and they are worth it all for the scene in which Heflin performs a precise, self-annotated mime of catching, cleaning, preparing, and then jettisoning a trout, all with the serious concentration of the slightly sloshed. He handles plain air so confidently, you can see the glint of the butter knife he's cleaning on the tablecloth and want to hand him one of those modern-day rubber grips for the ketchup bottle with the sticky cap. I have no idea if it was part of the original script or improvised on set or what on earth, but now I want to know where I can find more Van Heflin doing mime. He and Zinnemann would later reteam to superb and less comic effect in Act of Violence (1948). I appear to have seen Hunt as the Broadway-bent eldest of Frank Borzage's Seven Sweethearts (1942), but I don't hold it against her. Ava Gardner cameos as a cute married carhop. I hope to God mineral oil salad dressing is as much a thing of the past as the constant chain-smoking in chemically sensitive laboratory conditions. [edit: WHAT THE HELL IT'S NOT.] This investigation brought to you by my scientific backers at Patreon.

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