Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Judy Holliday

Big oops on my part! I forgot to post something yesterday. I've been so involved with revising my new novel, blogging slipped my mind, so my apologies.

With all the talk of sexual harassment in Hollywood (and everywhere) coming to light, it reminded me of a story I'd read about actress/comedian Judy Holliday and her run in with Columbia Pictures studio head Harry Cohn. When he grabbed her in a tight embrace, falsies popped out of dress, to which she remarked, "These are yours anyway, Mr. Cohn." I think that "dampened his enthusiasm" and she was able to get away.

For more about the talented Judy Holliday, check out the article below from Turner Classic Movies

This spirited, intelligent actress of stage and screen played variations of the squeaky-voiced 'dumb blonde' role in a number of breezy comedies of the 1940s and 50s. Under her own name, Judith Tuvim, she formed a comedy troupe called "The Revuers," with Betty Comden and Adolph Green. This led to bits in the films "Winged Victory" and "Greenwich Village" (both 1944) and "Something for the Boys" (1945). But it took two Broadway shows, "Kiss Them for Me" and, notably, as the intellectually ambitious moll in "Born Yesterday," to make the newly-renamed Judy Holliday a star.

She returned to films with a memorable supporting role in the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn comedy, "Adam's Rib" (1949), then vaulted to stardom the following year when she recreated her stage triumph of "Born Yesterday" in George Cukor's film adaptation. As the airheaded mistress of a shady and rather dull-witted tycoon who turns the tables on him once she's educated, Holliday won an Oscar as Best Actress of 1950 (beating out Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard" and Bette Davis and Anne Baxter in "All About Eve").

For the rest of the 50s, signed with Columbia, Holliday made a handful of films, delighting audiences as ditzy but surprisingly shrewd types in "The Marrying Kind" (1952), the delightful media satire "It Should Happen to You" and "Phfft!" (both 1953), "The Solid Gold Cadillac" and "Full of Life" (both 1956). Holliday's last film was recreating her stage role in the musical "Bells Are Ringing" (1960). She returned to the stage in the straight play "Laurette" (Taylor) and the musical "Hot Spot" (1952). A heavy smoker, Holliday died of throat cancer in 1965 at the age of 43.

I'm a movie buff, but I've never seen a Judy Holliday movie. Have you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Nathan "Nearest" Green: Ex-Slave/Master Distiller

I found this interesting article that appeared in the Washington Times about Jack Daniel's master distiller. Thought I'd post it today.

Nathan “Nearest” Green was a slave whose services as a distiller were rented out to a Tennessee preacher, Dan Call, in the 1850s. It was Green, research by black author Fawn Weaver shows, who mentored Call’s protege, Jack Daniel, in the making of the famous spirit that would bear his name.

While he went on to serve as Jack Daniel’s first master distiller and, as a free man, became prosperous in his own right, Green’s contributions have largely been missing from the company’s success story, even as they remain common knowledge in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Ms. Weaver said.

“To this day I don’t know how Nearest ended up being hidden. I really don’t,” she told the Mail. “Because when Jack was alive he never hid him. When Jack’s descendants ran the distillery, they never hid who he was or what he did. The relationship between Jack’s descendants and Nearest’s descendants were one that was rare between blacks and whites. They would’ve stood out. In Lynchburg, they always knew.”

Ms. Weaver said that her research shows that Daniel and Green’s business relationship was remarkable for its mutual respect across racial barriers, particularly for the time. “His family was fully integrated after the Civil War. Jack and his family did not see a difference between Nearest and his family and their own,” she told the Mail.

Indeed, the closeness between the Green and Daniel families is recognized in the name of the new whiskey label, Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey.

The name refers to a southern tradition of “referring to teachers, mentors or others close to a family as ‘uncle, aunt or cousin’ out of respect,” the Mail reported.

“If you are in Lynchburg, everyone calls each other uncle, aunt, cousin so and so, whether you’re black or white,” Ms. Weaver said.

For more information on Nathan "Nearest" Green, check out Wikipedia.

I'd never heard of Nathan "Nearest" Green, had you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Love is Color Blind But Our Families Weren't

I enjoy interracial love stories, so I thought I'd post this touching one from The UK Daily Mail :

Mary, 81, is married to Jake, 86, and lives in Solihull in the West Midlands. They have no children. Mary is a former deputy head teacher, and Jake worked for the post office before retiring. Mary is white and Jake is black, originally from Trinidad.

MARY SAYS: When I told my father I was going to marry Jake he said, ‘If you marry that man you will never set foot in this house again.’

He was horrified that I could contemplate marrying a black man, and I soon learned that most people felt the same way. The first years of our marriage living in Birmingham were hell — I cried every day, and barely ate. No one would speak to us, we couldn’t find anywhere to live because no one would rent to a black man, and we had no money.



Love against the odds: Mary's father threw her out when she decided to marry Jake in 1948, left. Decades on, they couldn't be happier together

People would point at us in the street. Then I gave birth to a stillborn son at eight months. It wasn’t related to the stress I was under but it broke my heart, and we never had any more children.

Now it’s very hard to comprehend the prejudice we encountered, but you have to remember that there were hardly any black people in Britain in the Forties. I met Jake when he came over during the war from Trinidad, as part of the American forces stationed at the Burtonwood base near my home in Lancashire. We were at the same technical college. I was having typing and shorthand lessons and he’d been sent there for training by the Air Force. He was with a group of black friends and they called my friend and me over to talk. We didn’t even know they spoke English, but Jake and I got chatting. He quoted Shakespeare to me, which I loved.

A few weeks later we went for a picnic, but were spotted by a lady cycling past — two English girls with a group of black men was very shocking — and she reported me to my father, who banned me from seeing him again.

Jake returned to Trinidad, but we carried on writing to each other, and a few years later he returned to the UK to get better paid work.

He asked me to marry him, quite out of the blue, when I was only 19. My father threw me out, and I left with only one small suitcase to my name. No family came to our register office wedding in 1948.

But gradually life became easier. I got teaching jobs, ending up as a deputy head teacher. First Jake worked in a factory, then for the Post Office.

Slowly we made friends together, but it was so hard. I used to say to new friends: ‘Look, I have to tell you this before I invite you to my home — my husband is black.’

My father died when I was 30 and although we were reconciled by then, he never did approve of Jake.

Today we have been married for 63 years, and are still very much in love. I do not regret marrying him for an instant, despite all the pain we have suffered.

JAKE SAYS: I feel so fortunate to have met and married Mary, but it saddens me that we could not be accepted by society. Nowadays I say to young black people: ‘You have no idea what it used to be like.’

When I arrived in the UK I was subjected to abuse every day. Once I was on a bus and a man rubbed his hands on my neck and said: ‘I wanted to see if the dirt would come off.’

And back then you couldn’t work in an office — because a black man in an office with all the white girls wasn’t thought to be safe.

Any thoughts? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!


Monday, September 25, 2017

Sweet Aromatic Chicken


Love easy recipes? Me too. I found this one when I was in a pinch and needed to fix something easy that wouldn't require a lot of time, other than sitting in the crock pot. This recipe from Fix It and Forget It is really delicious and takes only minutes to assemble. Serve over rice with a salad on the side and you have a wonderful and tasty dinner! Enjoy!

Sweet Aromatic Chicken

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
8 chicken thighs, skinned
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T soy sauce
1/8 t ground cloves
2 cloves garlic

Combine coconut milk and water. Pour into greased slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients in order listed. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours.

Wow, that's it! What's your favorite easy recipe?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Writing Tips From James Patterson


James Patterson
I love a good thriller, and one of my absolute favorite thriller writers is James Patterson. I admit, sometimes there's a little too much blood and violence, but he always tells such a great story I can overlook those things and just enjoy a great thrill ride!

Patterson novels are hard to put down because, not only are they exciting, they're extremely fast paced and filled with unexpected twists and turns.  

Today I thought I'd share a few tips from Patterson on writing commercial fiction found in this Publisher's Weekly article by one of his co-authors, Mark Sullivan.

According to Patterson, "We are in the business of entertainment, not edification or enlightenment...We are interested in giving the reader an intelligent thrill ride populated by outsized people we feel for.” Characters, especially heroes and villains, Sullivan explains, have to be thought about carefully. They have to be human, above all, and subjected to terrible ordeals that take them to the brink of their capacities and beyond.

“To do that," Patterson says, "our villains must be worthy opponents...The reader has to believe that the bad guy is fascinating enough, clever enough, and bad enough to defeat our hero.” Research, Sullivan learned, is the basis of great villains. It's also the basis of hero, plot, and believability. Sullivan says that Patterson is extremely well read, and his statements about writing are often peppered with references to specific authors, books, or films. In one villainous discussion, Sullivan said Patterson urged me to read the poetry of Louise Gl├╝ck to get a better feel for a lacerating voice. In another they discussed the novel Perfume.

Mark Sullivan
With Patterson, exposition was severely limited. Sullivan says, "The old adage—show, not tell—was critical, and the element of surprise was paramount. Each chapter in Private Berlin had to deepen a character, advance the plot, or turn the tale on its head. You began every scene with the end in mind; and the end had better blow the reader’s mind or it would be revised or tossed."

Patterson told Sullivan at their first meeting, “What most people who attempt commercial fiction don’t understand is that you have to write the way people talk...You can’t make the prose rigid or dense and expect the normal, busy reader to turn the page, much less stick with you to the very end.”  Sullivan says that Patterson advised him to imagine an entertaining bon vivant in a bar telling our stories in a language that would appeal to every Tom, Dick, and Mary in the place. Humor helped. So did a flare for the dramatic. So did a pared-down style. Sullivan says that Patterson has been criticized for the "short chapters and the ultra-lean prose, but don’t think for a minute that it is without purpose beyond a quick read for a harried reader."

Patterson said to Sullivan, “Most writers will tell you five to 10 things about a character or a setting or an action...Fine for literature. But our approach is to pick the one or two or three that really count and discard the rest. It not only creates pace but it leaves images in the reader’s mind that are concrete and unequivocal.”

In conclusion, Sullivan says, "The sum of this advice was to sacrifice all for the story and the characters. Outlines were trusted navigational charts, yet we were free to sail in other directions as the novel evolved. But if you were going to change something, it had to be a terrific change."

"We’re after terrific, fascinating, and smart,” Patterson said. “We’re after a story that the reader can’t put down and can’t forget when they’re done, the kind people talk about to their friends.”

Don't we all wish we could write something that our readers can't put down? Do you like thrillers? If so, who's your favorite thriller writer?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 6/24/13