What Are You Working On?

Standard

hand-truck-564238_960_720

(www.pixabay.com)

This last month has been a lost one for me in terms of writing. The need to find a new place to live, to pack, and to move has dominated the life of my family.  Now, however, I can return to writing, and I am very excited about it!

I will continue to work on the first draft of my latest horror novel, and I hope to have that draft complete by the end of October.

So, I ask all the creative people out there: what are you working on?

(www.pixabay.com)

paint-591564_960_720

(www.pixabay.com)

How Is Everyone Doing?

Standard

clouds-5368444_960_720

(https://pixabay.com/)

The last couple of years have been turbulent, to be a bit understated, and I hope everyone is finding their way through all the difficulties we face.

I simply wanted to wish everyone well.

Please try to be kind and to find joy at least once a day.

I want to ask everyone: how are you doing?

tree-2916763_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

Favorite Science-Fiction Films: 3: Frankenstein

Standard

frankenstein-394281_640

(https://pixabay.com/)

The movie that I will discuss in this installment is Frankenstein.  This 1931 film was directed by James Whale and produced by Carl Laemelle, Jr. Universal Studios was following up its huge success with Dracula earlier in the year, so this film seemed like a natural choice to make. I have posted on Frankenstein before in my series on horror films, but like its namesake novel, it can also been seen as early science-fiction.

While the title and characters come from the 1818 Mary Shelley novel, it is a loose adaptation of the text.  Interestingly, the sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, is a much more faithful treatment of the novel than this first film. This movie, one of the most important in horror film history, introduces Boris Karloff as the Creature. Karloff gives an impressive performance as the lost and lonely being who is unsure of who he is and his place in the world.  This sounds like so many teenagers and young people, and while frightening, Karloff also gathered empathy from viewers in his nuanced performance.

Bela Lugosi had been offered the part of the creature but apparently turned it down because of its lack of speaking lines.  Lugosi made a terrible career choice, because Karloff would supplant him after this film’s success as the top box office star and would continue to dominate Lugosi’s subsequent film career.

boris-karloff-399188_640

(https://pixabay.com/)

The movie is powerful and atmospheric and is highly influenced by the artistic movement German Expressionism that had a stylistic impact on cinema especially in the 1920s and 1930s. Whale used large Gothic structures in the set and deep slashing shadows in creating the atmosphere of the film.

Jack Pierce designed the Creature’s distinctive makeup, which was an ordeal to apply and remove from Boris Karloff each day before and after filming. It is a work of design masterpiece, but it is completely different from the Creature’s appearance in the novel.

For those familiar with the novel, it is significant that not only the Creature’s appearance but also his personality and level of intelligence are vastly different from that of the character from the book. In Mary Shelley’s work, the creature is one of the narrators and is both intelligent and self-educated.  Both of those characteristics are missing from the inarticulate and not very bright film Creature. This kind of vastly different portrayal of characters and themes is something that is, unfortunately, typical of many horror films, or should I say, many film adaptations of books. That, however, should be the topic of another post.

mortality-401222_640

(https://pixabay.com/)

This movie incorporates the stuff of science-fiction, and we see Dr. Frankenstein and his then advanced technological equipment as he attempts to capture the essence of life. In fact, there is more such machinery in the film than exists in the book. So, is Frankenstein horror or science-fiction? I argue it is both.

The film was very successful financially for Universal Studios.  It is also considered by many cinema historians and critics to be one of the most important films made. It spawned numerous sequels and parodies, not limited to movies.  From Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein to the character of Herman Munster in The Munsters to Young Frankenstein, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creation have been fertile ground for satire and spoofing.

Dante’s Divine Comedy–A Post For The U.L.S., The Underground Library Society, by Robbie Cheadle

Standard

copy-of-roberta-writes-independent-pub-2-theme.

Thank you to Robbie Cheadle, a long time member of the U. L. S. The Underground Library Society!

uls-logo-11

Dante’s Divine Comedy

Background

Divine Comedy is a narrative poem, written in Italian and translated to English. Dante Alighieri spent twelve years writing this poem which was completed in 1320. The poem is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

The poem starts with Dante, the protagonist of the poem, finding himself in a dark and wild forest at night. The road towards the sunshine on the other side of a hill is guarded by three beasts which Dante cannot pass. He is in despair when Virgil, a pagan soul from the first circle of Hell, appears and tells him that the beautiful and good Beatrice, a woman who died young and was an object of admiration and desire by Dante, had arrange for him to journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven in an attempt to redeem his soul and return him to the path of virtue.

The first part of the poem, comprising of 33 cantos, depicts Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell which is structured like an upside-down cone. Each circle is smaller and contains more depraved souls and more suffering.  Each circle is devoted to a different kind of sin and the sins are in order of their seriousness according to Dante’s hierarchy. The first circle holds the unbaptised and the pagans who were born before the coming of Christ. The order of the other circles and sins is as follows: lust (circle 2), gluttony (circle 3), greed (circle 4), wrath and depression (circle 5), heresy (circle 6), violence (circle 7), deception (circle 8), and betrayal (circle 9). A three-faced Satan, trapped in the middle of a frozen lake, pays for his sins in the deepest region of circle 9 and chews on the worst betrayers in history, Judas, who betrayed Christ, and Brutus and Cassius, who betrayed Julius Caesar.

The second part of Divine Comedy, Purgatorio, tells the tale of Dante and Virgil’s journey through Purgatory. This is the place where penitent souls endure punishments to cleanse themselves of their former sins before entering Heaven. It is also a place where souls reflect on their sins.

Purgatory is described as a mountain with seven layers aligning with the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, wrath, slovenliness, covetousness, gluttony, and lust. The souls in Purgatory embrace their punishments, unlike the souls in Hell who continuously fight against theirs, as the purging fire is making them holy and readying them to ascend to Heaven.

When Dante and Virgil reach the top of the mountain, Virgil disappears and is replaced as Dante’s guide by Beatrice.

Paradiso is the third and final part of Divine Comedy. The first level of Heaven is the sphere of the Moon and houses souls who broke their vows. Beatrice explains vows in terms of absolute and contingent human will. The second phase is Mercury which contains souls who were just but motivated by fame. Venus (3rd phase) teaches Dante how and why sons end up different to their fathers. Sun (4th phase) explains to Dante the source of the blessed souls’ light. Jupiter (6th phase) explains to Dante the concept of Divine Justice and God’s Mind. In Saturn (7th sphere) Dante sees the golden ladder and meets St. Benedict. The fixed stars (8th phase) is where Dante is examined on faith, hope and charity and Dante goes blind. In the Emphyrean (10th phase), Dante sees the illusion and the real Celestial Rose. Beatrice disappears and is replaced by St. Bernard.

Finally, Dante investigates the Eternal Light and sees the image of the Holy Trinity. God bestows the answer to the mystery of the Incarnation on Dante and his soul is finally at one with God’s.

How did Dante influence the modern world?

Dante played a significant role in developing humanism, the use of language as spoken by ordinary in people in literature, and challenged the dominant role played by the church in society and politics. His ideas helped to generate the cultural and intellectual changes known as the Renaissance, which changed the world.

Dante’s poem also remains an important piece of literature in exploring the implications of human life choices regarding good and evil and makes it clear there are consequences for these choices.

Finally, the Divine Comedy has influenced writing, music, and art for 700 years.

Here is a YouTube video about why people should read Dante’s Divine Comedy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbCEWSip9pQ

Quotes from Divine Comedy

“All hope abandon, ye who enter here.”

“O human race, born to fly upward, wherefore at a little wind dost thou so fall?”

“If the present world go astray, the cause is in you, in you it is to be sought.”

“What is it then? Why do you hesitate?

Why do you relish living like a coward?

Why cannot you be bold and keen to start?”

“They had their faces twisted toward their haunches and found it necessary to walk backward, because they could not see ahead of them. …And since he wanted so to see ahead, he looks behind and walks a backward path.”

uls-logo-31

robbie

Thank you to Robbie Cheadle!

Please be sure to visit Robbie Cheadle’s wonderful sites:

Robbie Cheadle Books/Poems/Reviews

Robbie’s inspiration

Favorite Horror Films: 9: The Mummy

Standard

In 1932, Universal studios followed up on its enormous success with Dracula and Frankenstein with the release of The Mummy. Riding the crest of his popularity at the box office, Boris Karloff starred, Karl Freund directed, and Carl Leammle Jr. produced the film. The movie was another financial success for the studio and further solidified its power and standing in the cinematic and entertainment world.

Freund-Karloff-The-Mummy-1932

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

The plot of the film featured a curse on an Egyptian tomb and the resurrection of Im-Ho-Tep who had been buried alive as a mummy in ancient Egypt.  The film capitalized on the public awareness and excitement about the discovery of the tomb of King Tut and the supposed curse on that burial ground. We see Karloff in the full mummy makeup and costume for only a short period in the film, then he appears as the mysterious character Ardeth Bey who is searching for the reincarnation of his lost love.

Boris_Karloff_The_Mummy2

(commons.wikimedia.org)

The film is atmospheric and an excellent story, but it is distinctly different from the barrage of sequels that were very loosely based on this particular movie. In those films, a monster, often not very bright, and always in full mummy costume and makeup, would trample around and cause terror and destruction until it is stopped.  This film focuses on the characters and the story more than overt horror. Additionally, along with The Bride of Frankenstein, this film is arguably one of the finest examples of creative cinematography of all horror films. The influence of German Expressionism, with its strong use of heavy dark and lights and clearly defined shadows is evident and important in The Mummy.

Jack Pierce created the makeup and continued to establish himself as the finest and most important makeup artist in all of Hollywood. His dual creation of the mummy in costume and full monster makeup and of Ardeth Bey is powerful and visually compelling.

If you have never seen this movie, you should put it on your viewing list.

movietheate

(pixabay.com)

Weathering Old Souls by James J. Cudney & Didi Oviatt: A Review

Standard

56709730._SY475_

The two authors, Didi Oviatt and James J. Cudney  of Weathering Old Souls have created an excellent tale, in which they combine a thriller about a serial killer and a spiritual exploration of a woman who is trying to understand the impact of her past lives on her present existence.

This kind of story is a formidable task, one that could easily get muddled, but they do an extraordinary job of clarity of narrative lines in their writing. They do a fine job of creating and exploring the compelling characters, and they interweave their writing seamlessly.

This is a book that kept me captivated and completely pulled me into the narration. If you enjoy a novel that combines a variety of issues, both of the thriller genre and of an exploration of religious and spiritual concerns, then this book is for you! I found this novel to be wonderful, and I give it my highest recommendation.

Read it, and enjoy the ride!

I give this wonderful book five stars!

335-3351409_5-stars-film-rating-clipart-png-download-5

A Wish For A Happy Writing Day!

Standard
machine-writing-1035292_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

This is a simple wish for a happy and productive writing day for all the writers out there!

I hope you are able to reach your daily goals and keep your WIP going forward!

So, Happy Writing Day! (This is an unofficial declaration!)

Torn Between Worlds by Nancy Blodgett Klein: A Guest Post

Standard

This post by Nancy Blodgett Klein is the first of the guest posts on my blog by authors promoting their books.

between worlds

My book is called Torn Between Worlds: An illegal immigrant’s journey to find herself.

This is the story of Isabel, a 12-year-old Mexican girl who comes to the United States illegally in search of a better life with her father. A story common to many Mexicans. She has to leave her mother behind and this makes her sad. People demand she speak English, a language she doesn’t know well. She doesn’t feel welcome living with her uncle and his family and is very lonely. How will she cope?

Her kind sixth-grade teacher suggests Isabel keep a journal, where she can pour out the feelings she used to share with her mother. She encourages her to take home the newspaper to read to improve her English and learn about world events and politics. Isabel is horrified by the events that take place on September 11, 2001 in the US, witnesses a political demonstration in Oaxaca, Mexico where people are killed, and is forced to flee to Madrid, Spain to keep her and her mother safe from harm. Will all this chaos prevent Isabel from finding a way to feel connected to the world around her?

This coming-of-age story is written in journal format, spanning three years and three countries. Follow Isabel as she grows from innocent child into confident young woman through turbulent times.

I used to be a bilingual teacher to many Mexican students, including some immigrants who had crossed the border illegally with one or both parents. When I was a teacher, I noticed there were very few books that told the story of these students so I felt compelled to write this novel for them. It is geared towards young adults between the ages of 12 to 18. However, adults have read this book and  enjoyed it. Published in February, the book currently has five reviews on Goodreads and all of them are five stars! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56912602-torn-between-worlds

Here are three of them.

  1. I love reading stories written in journal format as you really get to know the main character. Young people especially are very honest about their feelings and thoughts when writing in their journal. The author has done a great job of writing from the point of view of a young illegal immigrant girl sharing her innermost thoughts as she deals with trying to fit in, a new language and frightening current events. Isabel is living in the United States at the time of the 911 attacks. A scary time for all young people but even more so for immigrant children. She documents her fears, joys, ideas and hopes as she moves between Mexico, the US, and Spain. We learn about her friends, her first kiss and how she deals with her parents failing marriage. Growing up is never easy, but for Isabelle, it’s especially difficult. I highly recommend this book.
  • Torn Between Worlds tells the story of a Mexican girl who leaves her homeland to live in the United States and Spain. Told in journal entries, the girl’s story pivots around the economic and political realities that necessitate her moves. She must adapt to different lifestyles and languages as she grows into young womanhood. Her strength and insightfulness make her a heroine girls can look up to.
  • I loved this very unusual story. Spanning three countries, very informative. I most enjoyed the latter part, where there was so much history of Spain and its heritage.

It can be ordered on Amazon.com by clicking this link. Available in paperback and as an e-book. https://www.amazon.com/Torn-Between-Worlds-illegal-immigrants-ebook/dp/B08QZRTRSS.

About the Author

Nancy Blodgett

Nancy Blodgett Klein worked as a journalist as well as a magazine editor in the Chicagoland area for much of her career after receiving a Master’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. Later on, she went back to college and earned a Master’s degree from Roosevelt University in Education. Then she worked as a public school teacher for 12 years. This included eight years as a bilingual teacher to mostly Mexican students. In 2016, she retired to Spain with her husband Rick Klein. They are the proud parents of two adult sons named Alex and Andy. While living in Spain, Nancy keeps busy with yoga, singing in a choir, volunteering in a charity shop for hospice patients’ care and participating in a writers’ group and three book groups. She also writes a blog covering a wide variety of topics called spainwriter.home.blog.

Favorite Holiday Movies: Part One!

Standard

This season is one of my favorite times of year, and I love doing this series on Christmas movies. Throughout the month of December, I will post on several of my favorite Christmas films.

white_christmas

https://images.google.com/

White Christmas, the 1954 film about two former soldiers who turn song and dance men and who help their former commander as he attempts to run a floundering ski resort, has special meaning to me. It stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney and was directed by Michael Curtiz. It features the songs of Irving Berlin.  As a major piece of American film history, that would be enough to be of interest to me, but it has a much more profound connection.

usmc

My parents were both of “the greatest generation,” which is a description with which I agree. They were born and raised during the depression and were part of the multitudes of America who fought and supported World War II. My father was a Marine, and my mother worked in the Signal Corps.  This group of Americans had a toughness that was forged in the fire of great tumult, both national and international. They understood that the connection to country meant service and a willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.

US_Army_Signal_Corps_Frontpiece

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal_Corps_%28United_States_Army%29)

My mother loved this movie, and it was a tradition in our family to watch it when it aired on television, which was, if I remember correctly, every Christmas Eve. If not that night, then it was always on a nearby night. Of course, as a child who was born a while after World War II, it was all ancient history to me then, but for my mother and father, it spoke directly to their lives and to their hopes and dreams.

Both of my parents have been gone for quite a while now, over 20 years–they were married for 48 years and died within 2 years of each other. As I have become older, I have learned to appreciate what my parents did for us, which, I have to admit, when I was young and stupid, I did not. To paraphrase Mark Twain, –it is amazing how smart my parents got as I got older. And I appreciate and try to continue some of the family traditions, including watching White Christmas, but now with my beloved wife. And now my granddaughter is old enough to begin to appreciate and enjoy these films. I still feel the connection to my Mom and Pop when I watch this movie.  This movie speaks to the connection of people, of hope, of joy, of happiness, and of the power of music.

And I wish we would have a white Christmas, and I hope it will happen this year.

snow-616319_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)