Thursday, April 15, 2021

POSTCARDS AND WHATEVER

Inspired by one of Myra's
recent blog posts, I had planned to do a BIG post about postcards. I have over three hundred postcards that I've collected since I was a kid. And I have at least a hundred cards that my father got during WWII when he was in Europe, Italy, and Africa.

I was excited about my potential endeavor...
....until....I realized that pictures of the postcards would only look good if they were scanned. Unfortunately, my printer/scanner isn't working.

I tried to take photos of the cards and they turned out horrible - - fuzzy and blurry (kind of like my mind...). 

So, I'll only share a few, and save my Big Postcard Post for another time (when I have a working scanner).

Have you ever seen wooden postcards? I got these when I lived in the Missouri Ozarks. They're made of real (thin) wood.


Here's the verso. There's a caution that they should be hand-stamped if mailed. And there's still an Osco sticker on it, which is obviously where I bought them.

Ever see a round postcard?

My cousin Nancy's parents (Aunt Ann and Uncle Jack) sent this when they went on a skiing trip to the Austrian Alps. Can't read the postmark so I don't know what year it was. 1970s or 80s.



I got these postcards in Mexico when I was about fifteen. The dresses on the senoritas are made with real fabric.



Sorry for the inferior quality of the photos.

My entire life has been inferior quality lately - I'm plagued with problems and health issues, but I'll spare the grim details. Some days I'd like to just crawl into bed and never emerge again.....

One the bright side (assuming that there might be one) - - I'm seriously thinking of getting a new computer. My laptop is working fine but it's over six years old and won't last forever. I saw a computer that I really like in Walmart. It's a sleek desktop HP that doesn't have a cumbersome old fashioned "tower" or thousands of connecting wires. I'll be able to finish writing my memoirs
(I'm sure you're waiting with breathless anticipation).

I have been so SERIOUSLY depressed over the messy clutter in this small house that I FINALLY did something over the Easter weekend. 

Junk was haphazardly piled up to the ceiling in two of the bedrooms (I have three bedrooms). I cleaned up everything, got rid of all the clutter, and made the rooms look decent.
This long-overdue task lifted a weight off my shoulders.

I'm now in the process of doing my bedroom (the largest of the three). I plan to paint the walls and get some new "throw" rugs.

When I'm finally finished (soon I hope) the house will look completely clean and decent.

BUT
(there's always an inevitable "but")
next I have to completely clean out the garage - which is an absolute nightmare.

Here's Kitzee enjoying the front porch yesterday (some white blossoms in the background).
Bosco was out of camera range.


 


Sunday, April 11, 2021

WANTON WOMAN

 


 My latest video - - which should enchant and enthrall you......and help you forget my previous post.

 

Theda Bara (1885 - 1955)

Hollywood's first official sex symbol. Vamp. Femme fatale. Seductress. Wanton woman.

The publicity department at Fox Studios went overboard to promote Theda's forbidden allure and devious intent. They claimed she was born in the Sahara - the daughter of an Arab Sheik and a French actress. She was raised in the shadow of a pyramid and her name was an anagram for Arab Death. She was known as the Serpent of the Nile.

There were unusual restrictions in her movie contract, intended to increase her aura of mystery: she could only go out after dark. Her face had to be veiled. She must perpetuate an interest in mysticism and the occult.  

The truth was much less intoxicating than the myth. Theda Bara was in fact Theodosia Goodman, a Jewish girl from Cincinnati, Ohio. Her parents were of Polish and Swiss descent. 

During her career, Theda Bara made over forty films. She became Fox Studio's biggest star and at the height of her popularity (between 1915 - 1919) earned over $4,000 a week.

Her first films, starting in 1914, were made on the east coast at Fox Studios in Ft. Lee, New Jersey. She moved to California in 1917, when Fox decided to feature her in the epic Hollywood film Cleopatra.

Unfortunately, Theda Bara's acting ability and on-screen allure can never be fully critiqued or appreciated, because almost all of her films are lost. They were destroyed in a 1937 fire at the Fox film archives in New Jersey. To date, only six of her films have survived (none of which were her most popular).

The titles of some of her best films are an indication of the delectably devious  characters she portrayed:
Destruction (1915), Sin (1915), The Devil's Daughter (1915), The Serpent (1916), The Rose of Blood (1917), The She-Devil (1918).

Tired of being typecast as a vamp, and never really comfortable with her sexually-charged fabricated image, Theda left Fox in 1919. She only made a few more films before retiring in 1926. 

Perhaps the biggest secret about Theda Bara is that, in her personal life, she was a virtuous woman - a genuine Miss Goody Two Shoes. There were never any scandals connected with her, and she was never a part of the seedy Hollywood scene.

She married film director Charles Brabin in 1921 and, after her retirement, they moved out of California and lived a quiet life. Theda Bara never had any children. She died of cancer at age 69 in 1955. 

 

video best viewed full-screen 

Note:
I wanted the music to be hauntingly bizarre, 
so I chose a composition by Erik Satie.

Friday, April 9, 2021

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

 


 

 Okay, the title of this post is click-bait. Devised to pique your interest.

I'm actually talking about writers - - the authors who influenced me and my style of writing.

Without a doubt, reading has always been the greatest pleasure of my life (music is also a great pleasure, but one which involves enormous work and dedication).

I was a voracious reader from a very early age. Books were my escape, my inspiration, my salvation. I can honestly say that nearly everything I ever learned was from books. 

This literary addiction was most likely inherent. My mother read constantly and had an insatiable appetite for learning. She never forced me to do the same, but always encouraged my literary quest which came naturally.

My father wasn't particularly keen on reading. Whenever he saw me absorbed in a book, he'd curtly say "Why the hell don't you go outside and get some sunshine?"
In my very early teens I used to climb to the  top of the tree in our front yard and read there - undisturbed.
Dear old Dad once admitted that in his youth he read Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell. That was perhaps the extent of his literary pursuits.

When I was eight years old I read the unabridged editions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. When I was eleven I read everything I could find by the Bronte sisters. I remember how astonished the librarian was when I requested Jane Eyre.
"Are you sure that's the book you want?" she asked. 

Now, a thousand years later (or so it seems), I still think Jane Eyre is one of the greatest novels ever written.

I'm glad I devoured the classics when I was young, because I probably wouldn't have the energy or incentive to do it now. Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Thoreau, Edith Wharton, Edgar Allan Poe....
In my early teens I discovered D.H.Lawrence, Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck (I loved The Pearl for its exquisite simplicity and The Grapes of Wrath for raw realism).

My favorite writer at that time was Taylor Caldwell, and I still think she was one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century. I read A Prologue to Love when I was thirteen and liked it so much that I wrote her a letter (and she graciously answered it). It's still one of my favorite novels.

I first started writing short stories when I was ten - - and I actually wrote a novel when I was twelve (good Lord, I hope it doesn't still exist).

So, what authors have influenced my "style" of writing the most? Many. Many. But I have to say the top two would definitely be John Rechy and Raymond Chandler. 

I've read all of Chandler's novels and stories. Without a doubt, his unique and appealing style of writing is much more interesting than the stories themselves. I've always loved his semi-sarcastic descriptions:

"She has a mouth made for double-decker sandwiches."

John Rechy might seem like a strange influence - but his writing style inspired me more than any other author. His novels are predominately gay-oriented and very often pornographic - but it is his raw, realistic, and unobtrusive way with words that mesmerized me.

His first novel City of Night (1963) had a profound influence on me. Undoubtedly because I could strongly relate to the subject matter (the dark underground world of anonymous sex and male hustlers) and was living it during the first time I read the book.
Rechy wrote about all the notorious places in L.A. and Hollywood that I actually knew (especially in his semi-documentary book The Sexual Outlaw).

When I was a brash twenty-year-old, I wrote John Rechy a "fan" letter saying how much his writing influenced me. He answered, told me that he was working on The Sexual Outlaw, and gave me his Los Angeles address.

I never met him, although I had the opportunity. Perhaps it's best. Illusion is often preferable to reality.
Last I heard, Rechy is still alive at age ninety.
Ninety! Where the heck did the time go?

This blog post is probably of little interest to anyone other than myself, but I had an urge to unleash it anyway.
It could have been much longer, but I was merciful.