Myth Happens - Nine tailors make a man

Sovay
Date: 2010-06-25 16:51
Subject: Nine tailors make a man
Security: Public
Music:Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller, "Mad Tom of Bedlam"
1. My novelette "The Dybbuk in Love" will be reprinted in People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy, edited by Sean Wallace and Rachel Swirsky. The table of contents should be fantastic.

2. "The Miller of Dee" is the same tune as "Rolling Down to Old Maui." The fact that I realized this only a few days ago may be a testament to the power of Benjamin Britten.

3. The name did not ring any bells, but I think the article I was trying to remember in my post on the BBC's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954) must have been a chapter from Gregory Woods' A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition (1998), here quoted in Colm Tóibín's "Roaming the Greenwood": "[W]henever I read Nineteen Eighty-Four I cannot help imagining, between its lines, the spectral presence of another novel, a gay novel called 'Nineteen Forty-Eight', in which two young Londoners called Winston and Julian fall in love with each other and struggle to sustain their relationship under the continuous threat of blackmail, exposure and arrest . . . What read as a futuristic nightmare to the heterosexual reader must have seemed to the homosexual reader somewhat paranoid and ignorant, because so close to the reality of homosexual life in England at the time—but showing no sign that Orwell was aware of this fact." I bet this means I should read the rest of the book.

4. Currently running at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum is an exhibit called "Curve Appeal." I thought from the title maybe it would feature C3 Corvettes, but the machines actually on display were even better; it is an entire collection of sleek, opulent, streamlined cars from the 1930's and early '40's, when aerodynamics met art deco. They are beautiful pieces of engineering. Like Tolkien to a reader of present-day fantasy, the Chrysler Airflow now looks utterly unremarkable, even a little obvious, but in 1934 its rounded-off, backswept lines were so avant-garde, the car was a notorious commercial failure. (Two years later, the Lincoln-Zephyr would take the same low-drag, high-concept principles and sell like hotcakes.) The 1935 Stout Scarab, a kind of aluminum-hulled, swivel-seated minivan designed by an aviation engineer, still looks futuristic. The 1938 Delahaye Type 135 and the Talbot-Lago Teardrop Coupe, by contrast, are so intensely and elegantly of their time that you walk away with a sort of primal desire for martinis and perhaps a monocle. ("Bunter, launch the Lagonda!") The walls are hung with automotive concept art by Theodore W. Pietsch II, whose sense of movement reminded me oddly of the Vorticists. There is big-band jazz playing over the sound system, Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" and Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing." The exhibit was curated by Sheldon Steele and it's as much art history as it is science and technology—I'd recommend it even to people who are bored and/or horrified by cars.

5. I am confused as to how Neil Jordan's Ondine (2009) can be on Viking Zen's Roku one week and playing at the Kendall Square Cinema the next, but now I really have no excuse not to write up a post for it. It is a film about the sea and secrets and the reasons people tell themselves stories; it is neither Splash (1984) nor The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) and I liked it immensely. It has become clear to me that I couldn't have found a worse introduction to Colin Farrell than Oliver Stone's Alexander (2004) if I'd studied how to do it.

6. I did not like The End of the Affair (1955), but its supporting cast consisted of Peter Cushing, John Mills, and Michael Goodliffe, so any time they were onscreen I can count as not a waste.

7. I believe emphatically that there are some things which never need to be remade, but Kelly Link's take on Bringing Up Baby (1938) would in fact result in the best remake ever. By a similar token, I find myself weirdly disappointed that Angela Carter never ran with this line from A Tale of Two Cities (1859), which I remember being struck by in tenth grade and then forgot about until yesterday: "Monsieur the Marquis walked to and fro in his loose chamber-robe, to prepare himself gently for sleep, that hot still night. Rustling about the room, his softly-slippered feet making no noise on the floor, he moved like a refined tiger:—looked like some enchanted marquis of the impenitently wicked sort, in story, whose periodical change into tiger form was either just going off, or just coming on."

8. I have received my preliminary schedule for Readercon. I will post it as soon as it becomes final.

9. Why did I not know that Hans Conried starred in the legendary "Chicken Heart" episode of Lights Out? Why am I not surprised?

postscript: I need to figure out who I can get to tape me The Shout (1978) off TCM at a quarter to four in the morning. John Hurt, Alan Bates, Susannah York; directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, story by Robert Graves. Alternatively, it's not like I sleep anyway.
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asakiyume: Corvus brachyrhynchos
User: asakiyume
Date: 2010-06-25 20:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconCorvus brachyrhynchos
I haven't seen The End of the Affair, but I read the book (had mixed feelings about it). What made the movie something you didn't like?

(And congratulations on the story! This anthology will be great. I read rose_lemberg's story that's going to be in it, and it was awesome.)



Edited at 2010-06-25 10:48 pm (UTC)
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 00:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey
What made the movie something you didn't like?

I think I was so firmly not its target audience, the last third of the film increasingly did not compute for me. I had no trouble with the supernatural aspects. After the bomb goes off, when a bruised and bewildered Bendrix stumbles upstairs to find Sarah on her knees in a state of shock at seeing him alive, it was immediately clear to me that he had been dead, that Sarah's prayer had brought him back, and that she was likely to pay for his life with hers, that being one of the oldest forms of exchange.1 I didn't even have a problem with the idea of keeping promises to someone you don't believe in, not because of Pascal's wager, but because suddenly it turns out to be important to you. I have great trouble with the concept of a God that would use a destructive relationship as the mechanism to bring back to faith a woman who never before needed any kind of god in her life merely because as a small child she was baptized Catholic to spite her non-religious father. And Bendrix is destructive; I have to assume that Van Johnson did a good job with the character because he set off so many of my interpersonal alarms with his possessiveness, his jealousy, his double standards, and his absolute refusal to treat her as a human being with independent thoughts and wishes, not just some object of obsessive desire. She ends their relationship, he stalks her as soon as he gets the chance. She tells him to leave her alone, he harries her out of her house. When a feverish, weeping woman tells you she hasn't got the strength to run away from you, that doesn't mean she can no longer resist her own long-repressed passions, that is right there the reason for the concept of enthusiastic consent. And that Sarah dies to get away from him—from the untenable Hobson's choice he has forced her life into, twisting her arm to get her away from the husband she doesn't love but has promised not to leave—but thereby finds God is a happy ending? If the film was intended as a horror story, maybe. But we are meant to see Sarah's late-found faith as the one true thing in her life, the thing that saves her. Thank you, I am formally creeped out now.
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 00:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey
(In two parts because I maxed out the wordcount. Livejournal must think no one actually wants to converse in comments.)

Meanwhile the supporting cast is very fine. Not being listed on the back of the DVD box, Peter Cushing was a lovely surprise. He plays Henry Miles; in his reserve and his routine and the puzzled politeness where his sense of humor should be, it is immediately evident why he is a bad match for Deborah Kerr's Sarah and it is equally clear that he loves her deeply, more than he cares about himself, and he is not at all as Bendrix construes him—the complacent civil servant whose pride will be hurt if his wife leaves him. For me, he became the emotional center of the film. (And theologically the most reasonable character in it: when asked by Sarah what he believes in, really believes about heaven and hell and sin and salvation and all the rest of the things they teach you in Sunday school, he is at first nonplussed and a little embarrassed, then makes himself think about the question, and finally replies, "It's all quite simple . . . One does one's best." I couldn't tell if we were meant to find this an unsatisfactory answer, but it seemed quite sensible to me.) John Mills makes a sweet, tragicomic Albert Parkis, the private detective who has plainly stumbled in from the next universe over where he's muddling around the edges of a screwball romance, not a dysfunctional film noir with surprise God; he treats the dishonesties of his profession with scrupulous care—he'll steal Sarah's diary for Bendrix and explain with shy pride how he did it, but he won't even think of reading the contents—and names his son after a Grail knight, even if with characteristic good intentions he's mixed up which one actually found the Grail. And Michael Goodliffe is Richard Smythe, the proselytizing atheist whose rage at God is the most fervent expression of belief in the whole film. I don't share the character's need to have someone to blame for the whole shoddy world, but the film makes more eloquent use of his fine coin-clean profile and the birthmark splotched all across its left side than Smythe does of his own arguments. I would rather have spent more time with all three of these characters than all the rest of the runtime stuck inside Bendrix's head.2

1. The script reserves the possibility that Sarah only mistook him for dead when she tried to check his pulse and couldn't shift any of the rubble off him, but the evidence is against this interpretation. He has the vague, receding memory of great space and a long journey, a kind of hangover sense of not quite belonging to the world that he attributes to delayed shock. The doctors are stunned that not every bone in his body was smashed flat.

2. We are at least allowed Sarah's perspective for the extended flashback of her diary, but her lover still doesn't learn from it. I disliked, too, the implication that her death may be his avenue to God. Loving someone after they've gone is too easy; they can be anyone you remember. The real trick is when they're alive and imperfect and can hurt you. Otherwise you never learn how to love what's real.

And congratulations on the story!

Thank you!
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asakiyume: corvus corone
User: asakiyume
Date: 2010-06-26 03:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconcorvus corone
Your thoughts are bringing to mind some of the things I disliked about the book, namely, Bendrix. I recall I disliked him, and that alienated me from the book. The fact that I read it recently (within the past five years) and yet can't really remember the details of it also leads me to believe that I forgot it because it dissatisfied me. I do recall disliking, too, how the girl capitulates in exhaustion to Bendrix's advances.

a dysfunctional film noir with surprise God I laughed. Yeah, that sums it up.

I have great trouble with the concept of a God that would use a destructive relationship as the mechanism to bring back to faith a woman who never before needed any kind of god in her life merely because as a small child she was baptized Catholic to spite her non-religious father. --Yes. I really have no interest at all in a dungeonmaster God who designs horrors for his PCs' moral edification and eventual glory. Not interested in that game, thanks.


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Sovay: Psholtii: in a bad mood
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 07:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconPsholtii: in a bad mood
Your thoughts are bringing to mind some of the things I disliked about the book, namely, Bendrix.

And I have a wide range for sympathetic characters! Some of my favorite people in fiction are fools, traitors, fuck-ups, liars, killers, at least one sociopath, and an assortment of other traits generally considered askance by polite society. But there is something about Bendrix's particular brand of romantic pathology that does not cause me to find him interesting; it causes me to be glad he's fictional, because there are enough people like that already in the world and they do not make it a better place. Just for starters, love is not defined by the extent of jealousy it inspires. Worst premise for a relationship ever.

The fact that I read it recently (within the past five years) and yet can't really remember the details of it also leads me to believe that I forgot it because it dissatisfied me.

So noted. I had been planning to read the novel for comparison; I may still, because it would take me about an hour and that's less time than I lost to its film, but this inclines me to believe the one is not a huge improvement on the other, at least as far as Bendrix is concerned.

Yeah, that sums it up.

Seriously, I was not expecting the God!

I really have no interest at all in a dungeonmaster God who designs horrors for his PCs' moral edification and eventual glory. Not interested in that game, thanks.

Back at you: that is a great metaphor.
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gwynnega: John Hurt Raskolnikov 2
User: gwynnega
Date: 2010-06-25 21:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconJohn Hurt Raskolnikov 2
Congrats on the inclusion in the anthology! It sounds awesome.

The Shout is well worth seeing, though it's a very odd role for John Hurt.

I look forward to seeing you at Readercon!!
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey: passion
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 00:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey: passion
Congrats on the inclusion in the anthology! It sounds awesome.

Thank you!

The Shout is well worth seeing, though it's a very odd role for John Hurt.

How so?

I look forward to seeing you at Readercon!!

Absolutely!
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gwynnega: John Hurt Raskolnikov 2
User: gwynnega
Date: 2010-06-26 00:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconJohn Hurt Raskolnikov 2
Unlike most of his roles, John Hurt's character in The Shout has what I'd describe as the opposite of charisma.
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Sovay: Morell: quizzical
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 04:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconMorell: quizzical
Unlike most of his roles, John Hurt's character in The Shout has what I'd describe as the opposite of charisma.

That doesn't make me less interested; I've never seen a John Hurt I didn't watch to watch. Now I'm curious!
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steepholm
User: steepholm
Date: 2010-06-25 21:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"The Dybbuk in Love" sounds intriguing - as does the anthology.

I still maintain that Bringing up Baby ought to be a biopic about the deposition of Kronos, but I like Kelly Link's idea too.
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Sovay: I Claudius
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 00:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconI Claudius
"The Dybbuk in Love" sounds intriguing - as does the anthology.

Thank you. I will look forward to hearing what you think of it.

I still maintain that Bringing up Baby ought to be a biopic about the deposition of Kronos

*snerk*
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steepholm
User: steepholm
Date: 2010-06-26 10:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Or, possibly, a follow-up to the piece nineweaving linked to recently...
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Allison Lonsdale: bookish
User: caprine
Date: 2010-06-25 21:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconbookish
I find myself weirdly disappointed that Angela Carter never ran with this line from A Tale of Two Cities...

It is in fact shocking that she failed to do so.


Ondine was marvellous.
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 01:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey
It is in fact shocking that she failed to do so.

Yet another one for the library in the hell of a good universe next door . . .

Ondine was marvellous.

It's the second film I've seen by Neil Jordan, the first being (like everyone else) The Crying Game; I'm really impressed with him.
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nineweaving
User: nineweaving
Date: 2010-06-25 21:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Mazel tov! That book will be amazing.

Not so much a remake as a fantasia?

Nine
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey: passion
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 00:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey: passion
Mazel tov! That book will be amazing.

Thank you! I'm looking forward to my copy.

Not so much a remake as a fantasia?

I don't know; all that really needs to change is three leopards in the plot, not two.
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moon_custafer: leopard
User: moon_custafer
Date: 2010-06-27 22:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconleopard
"I just went Leopard! all of a sudden!"
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Sovay: Cho Hakkai: intelligence
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-27 22:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconCho Hakkai: intelligence
"I just went Leopard! all of a sudden!"

I heart your icon.
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handful_ofdust
User: handful_ofdust
Date: 2010-06-25 21:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yaaay, "Dybbuk"!:)

Also: As per The Shout, tape it tape it TAPE IT! Oh shit, okay...I'll tape it too. That's tonight, right?
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey: passion
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 00:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey: passion
Yaaay, "Dybbuk"!

Thank you!

tape it tape it TAPE IT!

Okay, okay! I don't own a DVR!

That's tonight, right?

Yes; 3:45 AM EST. I don't know if that's your time zone.
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ap_aelfwine
User: ap_aelfwine
Date: 2010-06-25 23:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
1.
Congratulations on the inclusion in the anthology! It sounds like it's going to be very good.

3.
Glad you found the article. That's a fascinating insight into the novel.

4.
Sounds a lovely exhibit--I'm glad you enjoyed it.

7.
Thank you for linking the Kelly Link piece. It fits with some things I've been dealing with, a bit.

8.
Glad you've received the preliminary schedule. Hope it's a lovely con!

Hope you can both tape the movie and find some sleep tonight.
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey: passion
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 04:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey: passion
Congratulations on the inclusion in the anthology!

Thank you!
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L'Ignota: books
User: lignota
Date: 2010-06-26 02:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconbooks
Congrats on the anthology! The concept sounds intriguing.

7. I haven't actually read the book, but I very much like the quote. (Should I? I had to read Hard Times for a class in college and hated it, which rather put me off Dickens.)
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Sovay: I Claudius
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 06:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconI Claudius
Congrats on the anthology! The concept sounds intriguing.

Thank you! I can tell you that there will be golems, too.

I haven't actually read the book, but I very much like the quote. (Should I? I had to read Hard Times for a class in college and hated it, which rather put me off Dickens.)

Hm. A Tale of Two Cities is most people's introduction to Dickens—I think it was mine—and I do recommend it on general principle, but you should be aware that it's not a representative novel. It's incredibly stripped-down, fast-paced, vividly melodramatic (although in its favor, in ways that I find formally thoughtful as opposed to stupidly rote), and it contains exactly one real character (one and a half if you want to be generous) against a cast of interlocking motifs. That said, the one real character is someone you might take a great interest in, and I suspect you would enjoy the language and the themes and the hurtling historical pageantry. Give it a try; if you don't like it, that indicates nothing about you and Dickens. I've never been under the impression that Hard Times was his masterwork, either.
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kenjari
User: kenjari
Date: 2010-06-26 03:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I couldn't have found a worse introduction to Colin Farrell than Oliver Stone's Alexander (2004) if I'd studied how to do it.
Phone Booth (2002) was apparently atrocious. My sister used to work for the MFA film program and had to show that as a sneak preview - she found it so awful that she felt she should have apologized to the audience after the screening.
The End of the Affair sounds really squicky. I hate the portrayal of stalking, manipulation, and obsessiveness as romantic. It's an idea that should have died out long ago, but just keeps on coming back. I especially hate it when it's peddled to adolescent girls (e.g., Twilight).
Congrats on the anthology! I will make sure to pick up a copy once it comes out.
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 06:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey
she found it so awful that she felt she should have apologized to the audience after the screening.

Right. I'll avoid that one.

(Wow.)

I hate the portrayal of stalking, manipulation, and obsessiveness as romantic. It's an idea that should have died out long ago, but just keeps on coming back.

In the film's defense, I think it is aware that Bendrix is an unreliable and problematic narrator; the fact that Sarah's viewpoint condemns his jealousy etc. indicates that it's an issue within the world of the film, not just a retroactive visitation by the chauvinism fairy.1 But we never see the consequences of his actions mean anything to him. He reads her diary and instead of respecting her decision and staying out of her life, like any halfway sane lover—especially now that he knows he misjudged her reasons completely; she wasn't bored with him, she wasn't seeing anyone else, she made a bargain with God to save his life—he goes charging off immediately to pressure her back. The results are predictably disastrous. And even then, we're not given the slightest impression he'll change: except maybe in the last thirty seconds of the film, and if so, that means the entire hundred-and-two minutes prior have been the world's longest run-up to the woman in the refrigerator.2 Yeah. I already gave at the office.

1. I still find it troubling that she never stops loving him even after she's decided never to see him again: since we're evidently not intended to view Sarah as completely self-destructive, it lends credence to the idea that theirs is some kind of grand passion instead of the sort of thing you get a restraining order for.

2. I realize that I may be maligning the novel with this description; for all I know (and I hope, frankly), it encompasses more of Bendrix's life after Sarah, so that actual character development has a chance to take place. But the film simply stops on this moment of allegedly tragic epiphany and unfortunately that portion of the audience that answers to my name cares a lot more about how on earth Henry is going to cope than whether Bendrix will eventually believe in Sarah's God.

I especially hate it when it's peddled to adolescent girls (e.g., Twilight).

Oh, God, yes. I can't even begin to calculate the damage those books have done to the already fragile state of gender relations in this culture. Not to mention reading skills.

Congrats on the anthology! I will make sure to pick up a copy once it comes out.

Thank you! I hope in advance you enjoy it!
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Rush-That-Speaks
User: rushthatspeaks
Date: 2010-06-26 22:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The more you talk about this movie, the more I wonder if Bendrix is meant to be a symbol for her previous religion or some other allegorical thing about her life.
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-30 05:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey
The more you talk about this movie, the more I wonder if Bendrix is meant to be a symbol for her previous religion or some other allegorical thing about her life.

Bendrix was so not okay as a person, I might prefer him as an allegory.
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Chomiji: Yuki-happy
User: chomiji
Date: 2010-06-26 03:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconYuki-happy

That sounds like a fantastic anthology! Congratulations!

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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey: passion
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-26 04:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey: passion
That sounds like a fantastic anthology! Congratulations!

Thank you!
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lauradi7
User: lauradi7
Date: 2010-06-27 23:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Colin Farrell was one of the characters in the Irish TV series Ballykissangel in the late 1990s, so I have fond associations with him. Movie-wise, I'd recommend Tigerland and In Bruges, at a minimum.
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Sovay: I Claudius
User: sovay
Date: 2010-06-28 00:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconI Claudius
Movie-wise, I'd recommend Tigerland and In Bruges, at a minimum.

I've seen him in The New World (2005) and In Bruges (2008); I still thought Ondine was the best work I've seen from him. What's Tigerland?
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lauradi7
User: lauradi7
Date: 2010-06-29 11:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Boot camp in preparation for shipping out to Viet Nam. CF is the main character, not enthused about the war, but as one of the officers says, a born leader. Well acted all 'round.
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Ron Drummond
User: ron_drummond
Date: 2010-07-06 17:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Delighted to hear of the reprint, and always glad to read news of the fullness of your being in the world.
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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey: passion
User: sovay
Date: 2010-07-06 17:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
iconLord Peter Wimsey: passion
Delighted to hear of the reprint, and always glad to read news of the fullness of your being in the world.

Thank you!
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