Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shakespeare References In Magazines (Cascade)

Yes, I'm still going through the stack of magazines as I clean my apartment. And as I do, I find more and more Shakespeare references.

In the Spring 2012 issue of Cascade (which is a University of Oregon magazine), there is a short piece titled "'Tis (Not) the Winter of Our Discontent." The title is a play on the opening line of Richard The Third.  The piece itself is about a group of freshmen attending a production of The African Company Presents Richard III at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  "This was the third year Middlebrook has taken students to Ashland, a tradition she plans to continue next fall by taking students to a performance of either Shakespeare's Henry V or Romeo and Juliet (page 17).

And then in the Fall 2012 issue there are two brief mentions of Shakespeare. The first is in an article titled "Theater as a (Re)Defining Experience."  This piece doesn't actually refer to any of Shakespeare's plays, but rather to a theater company in the line, "The latter objective was a motivating factor behind his decision to direct Dominic Cooke's Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation of Arabian Nights, as his first UO production last spring" (page 16).

The second reference is in a piece titled "Whose National Culture?" which is about a 2010 Arizona law that bans Chicano ethnic studies from being taught in primary schools and high schools.  "Other books banned under the Arizona statute include Drown, by Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, The House on Mango Street by American Book award winner Sandra Cisneros and even Shakespeare's The Tempest" (page 19). (I haven't looked into this statute, but while it seems absolutely ridiculous, it doesn't really ban any books. After all, these books will still be available; they just won't be taught. None of those books were taught at my high school either. Still, what's going on in Arizona?)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shakespeare References In "All In The Family" Season Four

All In The Family, starring Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, and Sally Struthers, has a couple of Shakespeare references in its fourth season.  In the episode titled "Edith's Christmas Story," there is a reference to Hamlet. Mike and Gloria are keeping some news about Edith from Archie. Mike tells him, "We're just talking." Archie responds, "Oh, don't give me that. There's something going on. What I mean to say, there's something rotten in the state of Denver." That, of course, is a play on Marcellus' line "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (from Act I Scene iv).

In the episode "Et Tu, Archie?" Archie is worried that an unemployed old friend might take his job, and so he tells his personnel manager some things that put him in a bad light. The title, of course, is a reference to the famous line from Julius Caesar. After Brutus stabs Caesar in Act III Scene i, Caesar says, "Et tu, Brute?"

(There were also Shakespeare references in the second season.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Shakespeare References In "All In The Family" Season Two

All In The Family, starring Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, and Sally Struthers, has a couple of Shakespeare references in its second season.  If you are familiar with the character of Archie Bunker (played by Caroll O'Connor), it might not be a surprise to learn that both references are to The Merchant Of Venice.  The first in is the episode titled "Edith's Accident." Edith (Jean Stapleton) dents someone's car with her shopping cart, and leaves a note with her name, phone number and address. The owner of the car calls to say he's coming over. Archie (Carroll O'Connor), assuming the guy is coming to shake them down, says, "The dent in his car is hardly cold, and he's comin' over here to claim his pound of fish."  Archie often mixes up his words when making a point, and this line is obviously a reference to the "pound of flesh."

The second reference to The Merchant Of Venice is in the episode titled "Maude" (this was the episode that set up the series' first spin-off). Maude's daughter Carol (Marcia Rodd) suddenly learns that her fiance, David, has bought a house without consulting her. He tells her it was a bargain. Carol responds, "I should have known you couldn't pass up a good bargain." David then says, "Is that some reference to the fact that I'm Jewish? Do you want to see if I bleed? Do you want to see if a Jew bleeds? Walter, give me the knife. You want a pound of my blood?"  This is a strange combination of references. The line "Do you want to see if I bleed?" of course refers to Shylock's great speech in Act III Scene i, specifically the line "If you prick us, do we not bleed?"  And then the "pound of my blood" refers to the pound of flesh that Antonio must forfeit to Shylock if he fails to pay him back on time. It is interesting that in the episode he says "pound of my blood," for it is the fact that the bond says nothing about blood that allows Portia to keep Shylock from getting his payment.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sex Slave Daughter (1983) Book Review

This is the kind of book that makes me wish I had kids.

Candy Miles is a sexy young newspaper delivery girl, and every guy in the neighborhood wants her. But Jerry Smith thinks he deserves her. He thinks he's better than all the rest of the guys on the block. "Why did she even condescend to speak to them? The dizzy cunt! The whole lot of them weren't worth one of her golden turds" (page 8). Golden turds?  Holy moly, what does this girl eat?  One time my turds were white and my friend thought I should go to the hospital.  I wonder what Candy's friends tell her.  And isn't a bit odd that this guy in the neighborhood has any knowledge of her bowel movements?  Yes, this book is intriguing right from the start.

Jerry Smith gets so upset over the idea of Candy talking to other men that he smacks the blonde that's in bed with his roommate Warren.

Meanwhile Candy is inside the preacher's house, and the preacher's tongue is inside Candy. "Although she found the reverend to be a repulsive old toad, she couldn't help but be excited by the situation" (page 22). "Of all the men on her route, Reverend Lee was certainly the most repulsive. He was her best-paying customer, though - probably because his tips for her services came straight out of the church treasury" (page 25). Praise Jesus.

After the preacher comes, Candy "parted her lips, allowing the reverend to insert his slimy cock between them. As her lips closed around his deflated prick, he started to piss" (pages 29-30). Now there's a tip I never got when I had a paper route. If I had, I'd probably still be working as a paperboy.

Soon Candy is delivering a paper to Jerry, who takes this opportunity to have sex with her. Has journalism ever been so exciting? She enjoys the sex, but still "as her orgasm subsided, she simultaneously brought her hands around to his face and her left knee up at his balls. As she ripped at his cheeks and slammed his nose, she twisted her knee at his balls, trying to grind them to mush" (pages 39-40). I wonder if she'll also leave his Sunday edition under the lawn sprinkler. What a little bitch.

Then she goes home and has sex with her father. She worries about herself because she finds she enjoys it. "Why does it feel so good? Why do I have to degrade myself like this?" (page 54).  Jerry, meanwhile, has decided "He would never wash his prick again as long as he lived" (page 57). Oh, I sense this story taking a turn toward the grotesque. But it also shows, does it not, how much he loves the young delivery girl. Though a moment later he also decides, "When he got his hands on her again he was going to fuck her to death" (page 58).

He decides that he and his roommate Warren will lure her out of her home and grab her, using a cat as bait. It works, but it seems they could have just called her and asked for a date, for she doesn't really struggle. In fact in the back seat of the car she tells Warren, "Eat me. Oooh, yes, yes!" (page 67).

They take her to an old gym and tie her up. Jerry has his way with her while Warren is... well, we don't know what he's doing. Then Jerry leaves to pick up the blond girl, and Warren gets his turn. Warren gets so excited that "His prick rippled with veins. His cock-knob was ready to pop off his prickshaft due to his excitement" (page 88-89). I know just how he feels, for I can still remember the first time I heard "Gypsys Tramps & Thieves." Wow! 

Jerry finds the blonde, Margot, masturbating. He grabs her. "He also gathered up all the soiled panties he could find, which he would add to his own collection of the panties and bras and negligees he'd been flinching from girls and women ever since he'd been a young kid" (page 98). It's good to have a hobby, but it's no fun to work the convention center when the dirty underwear enthusiasts come to town. By the way, I'm not sure how to flinch panties and negligees. Perhaps author Frank Brown was reaching for the word "filch" but when he came up with "flinch" his brain told him it was close enough.

"Throwing Margot over his left shoulder like a sack of dirty laundry, and hugging the bag of sex-toys and dirty underwear in his right arm, he stole out of the apartment as quietly as he'd entered" (page 98). Wait a moment. If he carries Margot like a bag of dirty laundry, but then carries the actual bag of dirty laundry differently, does that mean he's insane or simply dishonest or inconsistent? Apparently it means he's insane, for Margot "knew her kidnapper was a psycho, but her sexual excitement overwhelmed any sense of fear she had" (page 99).

Soon after Jerry and Margot arrive at the gym, Jerry is kind enough to share his collection with Candy, "stuffing the yellow-stained crotches of the panties into Candy's mouth" (page 114). By the end, Candy has gained a new self-image: "I'm a sewer, Candy told herself, a sewer for men to empty their fuck slime into" (page 123). And don't worry, for this book has a happy ending for everyone, although Candy's father ends up needing to buy a new daughter.

Sex Slave Daughter is A House Of Lords Book, published in 1983 by Oakmore Enterprises, Inc.

Shakespeare References In Magazines (American Journalism Review, Westways and Oregon Quarterly)

As I continue to go through a stack of old magazines, I find more Shakespeare references.  In the March 1999 issue of American Journalism Review, in an article titled "Slouching Toward Sanity," Rem Rieder writes, "Truth will come to light, Shakespeare wrote. Today, everything else will as well" (page 6)

In the March/April 2009 issue of Westways, an article about buying a new car is titled "To Buy or Not to Buy?" (page 28). That is obviously a reference to the first line of Hamlet's famous soliloquy.

There are a couple of Shakespeare references in the Summer 2009 issue of Oregon Quarterly.  The first is in a piece titled "Numbered Days" by Harold Toliver. Toliver writes, "What if the study of natural history had gotten under way sooner, truly under way, not as in Egyptian alchemy and theories of the little bits the Greeks called atoms and not as in the golden age of astronomy in Gupta, India. Little that we now recognize as the civilizations that archeologists unearth would have led some 500 generations into such deep confusion about the Earth and the cosmos. Certainly my beloved Chaucer and Shakespeare would have turned out quite different" (page 29).

The second is actually a piece titled "Shaking Up Shakespeare," about theatre director Scott Palmer's non-traditional stagings or adaptations of some of Shakepeare's plays including The Comedy Of Errors, King Lear and A Midsummer Night's Dream. "He transformed King Lear into an intimate family drama set in the 1950s around issues of aging and dementia. He did A Midsummer Night's Dream as a silent movie and Titus Andronicus as Japanese kabuki theater" (page 44).

Shakespeare Study: The Tragedy Of Cymbeline

This is the third year of my Shakespeare study. I read one play each month, and then watch as many film versions as I can get my hands on, and read as many books about the play as I'm able. November 2012 was The Tragedy Of Cymbeline.  There was only one film version that I could get.

Related Books:

- The Recurring Miracle: A Study Of Cymbeline And The Last Plays  by D. R .C. Marsh  -  As indicated by its title, this book focuses mainly on Cymbeline, but also has short chapters on Pericles, Prince Of Tyre; The Winter's Tale; and The Tempest. In the main chapter on Cymbeline, Marsh writes, regarding Posthumus and Imogen, "The difference in their attitudes to their love seems apparent even here. He gives Imogen the bracelet as a sign of his possession of her. She gives her ring as a token of her love for him" (page 28).  Later in that chapter, Marsh writes, "This is an interesting idea: it suggests not only that had she not been the direct heir to the throne, the opposition to her marriage, and all the suffering that it has caused, would have been less, but also that she would gladly give up her position, which many would esteem so highly, for the sake of her love. It also shows a deep understanding of the predicament in which Posthumus has been placed. For a man to have his value judged by his wife is in a sense unnatural; the position of king-consort is never an easy one. It may even be suggested that this sort of subconscious jealousy lies at the root of Posthumus's readiness to believe that his wife has been unfaithful to him" (page 71).  Published in 1962.

- William Shakespeare's Cymbeline  adapted by Vincent Goodwin; illustrated by Rod Espinosa  -  This is a volume in the Graphic Shakespeare series from Graphic Planet.  For some reason Iachimo is spelled Jachimo, but the rest of the characters are the same as in the play.  But there are other changes. Rather than have himself brought into Imogen's bedchamber in a trunk, Jachimo climbs in through her window, hanging upside down on a rope like Batman or something (see photo below).  Imogen, by the way, isn't very pretty, and in this version she dyes her hair brown (from red) as part of her disguise.  This book is fewer than fifty pages, so large chunks of the play are cut.  For example, Belarius, Guiderius and Arviragus are not introduced until Imogen meets them (in Act III Scene vi). The entire plot regarding the poison is dropped (though it's mentioned in the play's summary at the end of the book). There is also no mention of the Queen's death (except, again, in the play's summary). But of course we get images of the battle, which the play can't give us.  Published in 2011.

- Cymbeline  adapted by Emma Rice; written by Carl Grose  -  This is a contemporary musical version of Cymbeline, which makes several changes to Shakespeare's play, and even has the Queen giving Cymbeline cocaine. In the introduction, Emma Rice writes, "But for me, Cymbeline is a fairy tale. It is about where we come from, who we are and how we find out way home. It is about family, but not a sentimental notion of family, no. This story tackles step-families and dead parents, abduction and surrogate care. This is about families, as we know them, damaged, secretive, surprising and frustrating. Cymbeline, the king and father, is lost at the start. He is in the fog" (page 5).  When the play opens, it has been exactly twenty years since the King's sons were kidnaped, and there is a shrine to the princes. In this version, Pisanio is female, and there is the additional character of Joan Puttock. Posthumous gives Imogen his watch rather than a bracelet. Instead of a mole, Imogen has a tattoo that Iachimo spies. Cloten learns about Milford-Haven from Pisanio before Imogen has even left. Pisanio actually tries to kill Imogen with a knife. Imogen becomes Ian, not Fidele. The Queen's death is by suicide, and is done on stage.  Published in 2007.

Film Versions:

- Cymbeline  (1982) with Richard Johnson, Claire Bloom, Helen Mirren, Michael Pennington, John Kane, Paul Jesson and Robert Lindsay; directed by Elijah Moshinsky.  This film version has an excellent cast, but is marred by some thoughtless cuts (mostly in the first act), and by the way that asides are handled, and by some re-ordering of scenes late in the play.  In Act I Scene i, the second gentleman is played by a woman.  The Queen's aside, "Yet I'll move him/To walk this way. I never do him wrong/But he does buy my injuries, to be friends/Pays dear for my offenses," is sadly and terribly cut. You can't cut that aside, because it establishes her character and that she works behind the scenes. It seems like it was meant to be in, because there is a shot of the Queen (Claire Bloom) at the doorway, looking back, which is pointless if her aside isn't spoken there.  This is the first of several inexcusable cuts.  When Posthumus and Imogen exchange the ring and bracelet, it is done backlit, so they are nearly in silhouette (this shot is then done again at the end, which is nice).  The Lord's first lines from Scene ii are cut.  This is another bad cut, though not as awful as the first.  But the Lord's lines establish that not even Cloten's men think very highly of him.  Plus, Cloten's first line is a response to the Lord's line, and this film version begins with Cloten's response. But having a character respond to a line that has been cut is retarded.  This film also combined three characters into one. The First Gentleman, the Second Lord and Cornelius are all combined into one character, who retains the name Cornelius.  This isn't a case of the same actor playing three minor roles. It is a case of three roles being combined, as the actor wears the same costume throughout.  And in Scene ii all of the Second Lord's asides are done directly to Cloten (Paul Jesson). The last several lines of that scene are cut. The scene with Iachimo (Robert Lindsay) and Posthumus (Michael Pennington) is really good. It's difficult scene to do believably, but these two actors excel in this scene.  In Scene v, the film goes from the Queen's aside, "upon him/Will I first work" straight to Cornelius' aside, "I do not like her."  And so cut is the rest of the Queen's aside, "He's for his master,/And enemy to my son" (a line that is needed), plus her line to Pisanio and her line dismissing Cornelius. Also cut is the doctor's first aside, "I do suspect you, madam;/But you shall do no harm."  By the way, none of the asides in this film are done to the camera, to the audience, and that seems a great mistake.  Cornelius' aside is spoken to just the right of camera.  Scene v ends with the Queen's "To taste of too," cutting Pisanio's lines.  Scene vi begins with a wonderful wide shot of Imogen seated by herself, and then slowly pushes in on her. Her first few lines are presented as voice over. She begins to speak aloud on "Had I been thief-stol'n."  And when Iachimo enters, there is one another inexcusable cut.  Gone is his aside, "All of her that is out of door most rich!/If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare,/She is alone the Arabian bird, and I/Have lost the wager./Boldness be my friend!/Arm me, audacity. from head to foot!/Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight;/Rather, directly fly."  This is one of the worst cuts in any film version of any of Shakespeare's plays.  The aside does two very important things. It establishes for the audience that Imogen is so pure that even a man like Iachimo recognizes it immediately upon meeting her.  It also establishes that he realizes he can't win the wager by any straightforward means, as he'd intended, but that he means to go forward with an attempt anyway, but using a more devious strategy.  Cutting the aside makes us believe that he had this strange strategy all along, which is not the case.  In other words, don't fucking cut these lines. Then, when Iachimo turns away to say, "What! are men mad," it looks like an aside, because he's looking off toward the right, just as Cornelius did in the earlier scene. But this is not an aside, and Imogen looks up at him, showing that she hears the lines.  This would not be confusing if the real asides were done directly to the camera, to distinguish them from this shot. There is another strange moment in this scene that seems out of character for Imogen. As Iachimo tries to woo her, he leans in on "And will continue fast to your affection,/Still close as sure." Imogen whispers "What ho, Pisanio!" implying that she doesn't really want Pisanio to enter. Iachimo continues, "Let me my service tender on your lips," and Imogen closes her eyes and leans in for a kiss, only backing away slightly at the last moment to say weakly "Away!"  This is a very odd choice, because it shows Imogen to be much weaker than the text implies.  Note the exclamation points on "What ho, Pisanio!" and "Away!" These lines were not meant to be timidly spoken. Was this Helen Mirren's choice, or the director's?  But then right away, Imogen regains her strength for "I do condemn mine ears that have/So long attended thee," and her strength builds so that she then does shout the next "What ho, Pisanio!"
Paul Jesson is perfect as Cloten, and I love the way he's presented in Act II Scene i.  The scene ends with the Second Lord's line, "Cannot take two from twenty for his heart/And leave eighteen," thus cutting the last several lines of the scene. And it does seem strange for the doctor to be saying the Lord's lines.  In Scene ii, Iachimo is shirtless when he emerges from the trunk.  Robert Lindsay is really good, and the scene is presented well.  The first several lines of Scene iii are cut.  While the musicians play, we see a shot of Imogen in her chamber searching frantically for her bracelet. Most of the Queen's lines to Cloten are cut, as is his response to her before the Messenger enters.  Several other lines are cut from this scene.  Again, the actors playing Iachimo and Postumus are excellent Scene iv, when Iachimo "proves" he's won the wager.  Much of Postumus' speech of Scene v is done in extreme closeup.
Act III Scene i ends with Lucius' line "I thank thee for myself," so cutting the last several speeches, including Cymbeline's response, "Thou art welcome, Caius./Thy Caesar knighted me; my youth I spent/Much under him; of him I gather'd honor." It's a shame to lose those lines, because they show Cymbeline in a better light.  This play portrays him as something of an angry jerk rather than a more well-rounded character.  Scene iii begins with a shot of bird in the air, an image the film will use again later (but to no great effect).  Instead of a cave, Belarius and the two sons live in an austere building, which of course is not nearly as rough as a cave. And so Belarius says "This cell and these demesnes" rather than "This rock and these demesnes." His speech to the boys ends with "This is not hunter's language," thus cutting the lines about the competition regarding the better hunter.  The line in his next speech mentioning the cave is cut.  This speech should be done directly to the audience, for he is telling us the true tale of who he is, and who the boys are.  But as it's presented, it's as if he's thinking these lines out loud, which makes much less sense.  The scene with Imogen and Pisanio is excellent, the scene where Imogen learns that Pisanio has been ordered to kill her.  We have a scene with Cloten being dressed in Posthumus' clothes while two servants hold mirrors.  When they are done, Cloten speaks some of his speech from Act IV Scene i, beginning with "How fit his garments serve me" and ending with "What mortality is."  Imogen's long speech from Act III Scene vi is cut, and that scene begins with Belarius telling the sons, "Stay; come not in."  They could have made Helen Mirren more boyish.  Most of the second half of that scene is cut.  Act III Scene vi is cut entirely.
We then continue with Cloten's speech from Act IV Scene i, beginning with "Posthumus, thy head." But now Cloten is wandering about in the dark, alone, and shouting his lines. The last line is cut.  Several speeches are cut from Scene ii, including everything after Imogen takes the drug before Cloten's entrance.  After Cloten says "I am faint," he promptly falls over. Guiderius enters and Cloten immediately gets up, demanding "What slave art thou?"  Here is another awful cut. Gone are the lines establishing the Belarius and the sons were watching Cloten, and that Belarius recognized him and feared "some ambush."  Gone are the lines where Guiderius tells Belarius and his brother to sarch for what companies might be nearby.  These are important lines.  Another cut in this scene changes the meaning of a line. Cloten says, "Know'st me not by my clothes" and this film then goes to Guiderius' line, "Thou art some fool," which suggests that Posthumus' clothes are silly. But that is not what is meant at all.  After "Die the death," they fight, but what we see is a shot of birds flying.  Then it goes to a closeup of Cloten's severed head, held by Guiderius, and Belarius' line, "What has thou done?"  So several speeches are cut.  There is a human skull on the table in Belarius' home - an odd bit of set dressing. Whose is it supposed to be?  The woman who was the boys' nurse?  Imogen rubs Cloten's blood on her face at the end of the scene when she wakes next to his body.
And this is when the order of scenes becomes quite confused.  After Lucius says, "Dream often so,/And never false" to the soothsayer (who is played by a woman, by the way, thus necessitating minor changes of pronouns later in Act V Scene v), we go to Scene iii. Cornelius speaks Cymbeline's line, "A fever with the absence of her son,/A madness of which her life's in danger." Then Cymbeline takes over with "Heavens!"  After Scene iii, it skips to Act V Scene i, with the beginning of Posthumus' speech.  After "I'll give no wound to thee," we go back to Act IV Scene ii, when Lucius finds Imogen. This begins with Lucius' line, "Let's see the boy's face." After Lucius says, "And rather father thee than master thee," we go back to Act V Scene i for more of Posthumus' speech, beginning with "I'll disrobe me/Of these Italian weeds."  Then it goes to Act IV Scene iv, which ends with "and there I'll lie," thus cutting the last lines. The film then jumps to Act V Scene iii.  Act V Scene ii is cut entirely, so we lose the moment when Iachimo has a change of heart and reveals his guilt.  More importantly, we lose the battle scene where Belarius and the boys rescue Cymbeline, and the battle turns to favor the Britons. It's weird, because we go right from Belarius and the boys deciding to enter the war to Posthumus talking about how those three changed the course of the war.  In Scene iv. the film cuts to Sicilus rather than have the apparitions enter has indicated by the text, so for a moment it seems a new scene, that Sicilus isn't in the same room as Posthumus. Because we go from an extreme closeup of Posthumus to a closeup of Sicilus.  By the way, it's great to see Michael Hordern as Jupiter.  In Scene v, after Lucius enters, Cymbeline says, "Thou com'st not, Caius, now for tribute," but the rest of his lines are cut. This is another unforgiveable cut, because what's missing is that Cymbeline is going execute all the prisoners.  You absolutely need this line, because Lucius responds to it, and because later Cymbeline changes his mind and pardons all.  The response and the pardon are included in this film version, but not that he was going to execute the prisoners.  That makes no sense whatsoever.  The last line in this production is Cymbeline's "And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils/From our bless'd altars," thus cutting the last seven lines of the play.  As noted, the play ends with Postumus and Imogen in silhouette, with him replacing the bracelet on her arm and kissing her.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Seducing Teen-agers (1984) Book Review

The title Seducing Teen-agers is a bit misleading.  It sounds like an instruction manual. It's not. Also, only one teenager is actually seduced. And then this novel basically tells the story of this one relationship.

Lou Jackson, having lost money gambling in Las Vegas, now heads home to his frumpy thirty-six-year-old wife. On his way back to Los Angeles, he picks up an attractive teenage hitchhiker named Wendy. "He had decided to fuck Wendy Caruthers, rape her if necessary, even if it meant ten years in jail" (page 13). And though Wendy makes it clear that she does not wish to be raped, she's not being entirely honest. "It was only when she had been truly overpowered that the guilt left her and, blameless, she could then enjoy the fucking she craved" (page 18). "More than anything in the world, Wendy hoped that this man had the stamina, would not be deterred by her ear-shattering screams nor (if he survived that) her gouging fingernails and sharp, clamping teeth" (page 18). Oh, the games women play. She wants to be raped so she can have sex without the guilt, but still fights him, scratching and screaming and hitting when she can. "Rape! Wonderful, blameless rape! she thought" (page 21).

The next morning Wendy remembers the thoughtful advice her mother had given her: "Marry rich or get yourself a sugar-daddy" (page 32). Lou, that morning, wants to be gentle - "he didn't want to startle her and have to rape her again" (page 39). He in fact offers to set her up in an apartment near a college and pay for her clothes and tuition and everything else in exchange for sex. Wendy of course accepts this generous offer, thanks to her mother's advice.

When Lou shows her the apartment building, author Lionel Wilkins writes, "Lou had to laugh to himself as Wendy scampered far ahead of him, taking in everything, like a curious and excited puppy. There was only one difference. Wendy was no puppy" (page 51).

He takes her shopping, and then when he's unloading the car, he's upset to see Wendy flirting with two boys. Wendy then realizes, "Yes, he was jealous. Was that because he loved her and when they fucked it was like a symphony or a waterfall or a sunset or a warm kitten? She loved kittens" (page 61). Clearly, she's a little crazy.

Not that Lou is the sanest of folks. When Wendy sucks his penis, he feels bad for his sperm, those "millions of terribly confused, misguided and duped swimmers with one mission in life who had failed - blown (that was a good one blown - muffed was even worse) their one big chance. He saw them frantically racing for an egg that didn't exist. Turn back! Turn back! their cries resounded, but of course it was too late and, worse, impossible. Ah, there was the perversity of it all, if it was perversity. No, of course it wasn't" (page 77).

But he also feels bad for his wife when he returns home. It's like has a conscience, and understands her predicament and feels guilty. He even begins to cry. And, what is perhaps more astounding, he has sex with his wife. "After all these years together, sex between them had become an intuitive matter, an orgasmic seance" (page 88).

Wendy goes to the doctor to get the Pill, and becomes so excited that her name briefly changes to Judy: "Judy thought of his tongue darting between her legs, then his bulging ram-rod fucking her while she lay shackled here on the table with her feet in the stirrups" (page 101). I've known this to happen to several women, and one woman I know got so excited she changed her name to Bill.

Wendy decides to study literature in college, and then she and her neighbor, Cynthia, talk about how they're the two sexiest girls in the apartment building. This leads, naturally, to the two of them having sex. "It was not a homosexual act, Wendy knew. Otherwise she would have felt guilt. No, it was an act of mutual adoration - a tribute to the perfection they recognized in each other's bodies" (page 119). Sure, sure. It was a homosexual act, of course. Wendy is not the brightest college student. "It was one of the first times Wendy had not felt guilty following sex" (page 120). Right, because she's in denial. She takes no responsibility for her actions, and is not honest with herself. Wendy is fucking mess.

And it's not long before she takes a male lover her own age. After having sex with Ted once, she decides she is love with him and "wanted to be his mate for the rest of her life" (page 151). Sounds a bit nuts, but this book actually has a happy ending for everyone.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Teacher's Torrid Obsession (1975) Book Review

When June Wilson was fifteen, she lost her virginity "to a common delivery boy, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks" (page 6). Her parents reacted rather strongly - "In terror they had left their little town in Massachusetts, never to return, lest their prudish friends find out about June's obscene escapade" (page 7).

Now at age twenty-eight, she still thinks of that boy, not being attracted to men her own age. Well, good thing she got a job as a teacher. And with all the money she makes at her teaching job, she buys an expensive sports car and some new clothes and goes to Indiana to find a boy. This is really a story of the American Dream.

She picks up a rugged-looking teenage hitchhiker named Joey. "He also thought she was the hottest-assed bitch he had ever played around with, with the possible exception of his sisters" (page 44). Joey then invites her to his home so she can have sex with the rest of his family. (I used to pick up hitchhikers fairly regularly, and this rarely happened to me.)

When she meets Joey's mother, she figures her to be about her own age. But if Joey is sixteen, and his mother is June's age, that means she was twelve when she gave birth to Joey. Does June teach math? Later the author writes, about June, "She was built more like a girl of twenty-five than a woman of nearly forty" (page 70). Did June age a decade on her trip? That's one long, hot summer.

After having sex with Joey and Joey's parents, June begins thinking of Joey's younger siblings. "She no longer felt any real shame about her desire for young cocks. But it was difficult, as a matter of form, to transform her wishes into realities. After all, she thought, one just doesn't ask two loving parents for their children's sexual favors" (page 75). Fortunately, the parents suddenly have to drive into town, and June's "cunt was coming alive like a furry little animal stirring after a nap" (page 76).  That works well because Joey "wanted to sniff around in the hair of her twat like a puppy looking for something tasty in the grass" (page 92).

The family's home includes a room with a giant bath tub "sunk into the middle of the floor and surrounded by a circle of benches upholstered in thick fur" (page 104). (I have to remember this for when I can afford a house of my own.)  They also have a small theatre with fur-covered seats, for one of the sons, Ron, is studying to be an actor. He puts on a show with a whip, and has June come on stage. Soon the whole family is on stage, and this is the kind of theatre anyone would enjoy.

But soon June leaves this family after they tell her of a couple of friends of theirs who run a school in Key West. There she is greeted by a sixteen-year-old houseboy and a fifteen-year-old maid. It's tough to find good help, but these two get right to work on making June comfortable.

Author Jason Edgars writes, "Suddenly, as if from a sperm-gun, a shot of hot white cum blasted into the woman's sucking throat, almost choking her with its volume" (page 140). I know the Second Amendment guarantees the right of every citizen to carry a sperm-gun, but I wish they wouldn't keep them concealed.

Anyway, this family runs a school for eighty-three boys, all of whom are very horny.  It's enough to nearly destroy poor June Wilson.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Wanton Teacher (1974) Book Review

The publisher, in the foreword, decries the current state of education in this country, and mentions how dangerous inner-city schools are. Children just aren't safe, and "It is tragic when a teacher such as the one around whom our story revolves becomes obsessed with having sex with her students" (page 6). Not that it's fun for her, "For she cannot be happy doing what she is doing" (page 7). A shame, for then everyone suffers. This foreword readies us for a tragedy.

Twenty-three year old Susan Garner is a teacher (and also a swimmer) who is not immune to compliments from certain male students. On her first day at work, one student, Arthur, invites her to go swimming in his pool, and even offers to take color movies of her. Susan thinks this is a wonderful idea. She gives Arthur pointers on his swimming technique. And he convinces her to take her bathing suit off.  "'I better go swimming now,' she said. 'That's what we are supposed to be doing, isn't it?'" (page 20). The most troubling aspect of this, of course, is that she is clearly an idiot, and no one wants idiots teaching our children, not even teaching them swimming. 

It takes only a few encouraging words before Susan has Arthur's penis in her mouth. "Embraced, in the warmth of his thighs, Susan felt secure and happy" (page 25). Certainly she must have felt her job was secure. "And as far as Arthur was concerned, the sexy teacher's mouth was the most perfect resting place for his penis in the world" (page 25). But would it be his penis' final resting place?  Susan immediately becomes emotionally attached to Arthur. He tells her, "Knock it off... I don't go for sentimental crap. You want another fuck?" (page 30).

At work, she is asked to teach something called the Pregnancy Class, that is teaching the students who have become pregnant. The vice principal tells her, "Year after year the same girls are getting pregnant" (page 36). Really? There are only four years in high school, so are we to believe that certain girls have four children by graduation? That must be exhausting.

Marvin enters her classroom, demanding oral sex. After all, she did it for his buddy Arthur, so it really wouldn't be fair for her to turn Marvin away. Teachers shouldn't show any favoritism. Marvin demands another date, so she writes down her address and phone number. When Marvin shows up that night, she becomes upset: "She was angry as hell, even though she knew she probably had to be his unwilling victim" (pages 48-49). Because if you know you have to be someone's victim, there is no reason to be angry. And so she has a great time, and suddenly is emotionally attached to Marvin too, asking him what his plans are after high school.

The gym teacher later hits on her, asking her about her dinner plans. She tells him, "I plan to eat a solitary meal by myself" (page 67). But he talks to her for another thirty seconds, and she begins to like him, and they go off to a bar. Does no ever mean no with this girl? Not that she needs to be wooed, but the gym teacher sweet talks her a bit: "And, honey, you've got a pair of knockers on you that won't stop" (page 72). What happens if they do suddenly stop? Author Mary Pearson never tells us.

After they have sex, the gym teacher tells her, "This is what sex is all about...Not having kids. But enjoying it." She doesn't bother to tell him she had two kids earlier.

Arthur and Marvin pay Susan a visit for a threesome, and soon "Their bodies were merging in a total sex situation" (page 100).  I had one of those total sex situations a while back, but I took care of it. "She reached up and massaged one buttock while licking the other. Finishing one, she moved to the other. When she had licked both of his buttocks, she pulled on his penis" (page 112). That signals that she's finished. In England, pulling on the penis signals the maid that it's time to serve tea. That's a tip for any of you thinking of doing a bit of traveling next year.

Susan gets a new student in her class, and immediately imagines having sex with him. So she writes down her address and phone number for him, though by now you'd think it would be posted in the boys' bathroom.  The new student, Bill, visits Susan. "Her mouth was engulfed with Bill's cock, and it was difficult to breathe. Yet there was something wonderful about it. It was total communication" (page 131).  That is nice, as most people need to work on their communication skills.

She has a great time with Bill, but the next day she takes a shine to Ron, who is whispering during class. She tells him she has to discipline him with a paddle. (No matter how much I misbehaved during class, no teacher ever said that to me, and for that I am forever sad.) At one point later on, another student enters her classroom to ask about his grades, and Susan manages not to have sex with him. She is quite proud of herself for holding back. But she probably ought to do a bit of teaching at some point. After all, the vice principal is upset that she hasn't put any interesting displays on her bulletin boards.

Later, when Susan is going down on one of her students at home, the vice principal suddenly enters her bedroom and tells her, "I guess you're not as good a teacher as I thought you were" (page 185).  And that's pretty much the end of that. But I do wish someone would explain to me what the author means by "the fir-trimmed triangle around her crotch" (page 93).  A triangle trimmed with bark, perhaps?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shakespeare References in Beverly Clark's Wedding Toasts

Years ago when my brother announced his wedding plans, my mom - perhaps fearful that I would say horrible things at the reception - sent me a copy of Beverly Clark's Wedding Toasts. I didn't use any of the quoted material in it. I did, of course, quote Shakespeare, but didn't use either of the lines presented here.

In the chapter titled "Finding The Perfect Words" is this quote: "Brevity is the soul of wit. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English writer" (page 45). That line is from Act II Scene ii of Hamlet, and it is a line spoken by Polonius.

Then, in the chapter titled "Traditional Toasts," we have this: "Heaven give you many, many, merry days! William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English poet and playwright" (page 68).  This is a line from The Merry Wives Of Windsor, though there shouldn't be a comma after the second "many."

The Degraded Tennis Star (1978) Book Review

Who would have thought that in the foreword to an adult book, the publisher would mention Patty Hearst and the terrorism at the Olympic games? Well, this book did come out in 1978, so... Still, I was surprised.

In The Degraded Tennis Star, by Harry Benson, tennis star Jody Freedman wakes with a start, naked, in a vehicle, having no memory of how she got there. That's right, the book opens with her having already been kidnaped. When she meets her abductor, Bert Clemson, he tells her, "Baby, let me look at them two over-size, unfuzzy tennis balls on yer chest" (page 8). He's a witty one, that Bert, and he makes several more tennis references throughout the story.  At first it seems he's kidnaped her not for money, but for sex. When he shows her his penis, Jody "couldn't help it that her eyes were galvanized to his corrupt erection. She almost gagged as she saw the seep of clear oil from the mocking slot in the blunt tip" (page 13).  But later she learns, as do we, that she is being held so that she won't compete in a tennis tournament in Las Vegas. So it is a money thing, after all. 

Striving for some originality, the writer gives us descriptions like this: "She could see the waltzing of his stomach muscles as he tensed them, compelling his gross testes to yo-yo in the thick sac that was now stretched smooth" (page 36). We also get great phrases like "boiling sex-cauldron" (page 86), "gobble my goop" (page 103), "my fuck-box is exploding" (page 149) and "fiery rectal furnace" (page 154).  By the way, if you have a fiery rectal furnace, it's really dangerous to put your fuck-box next to it. It will likely explode.

As is usual in these stories, the woman begins to enjoy being assaulted.  Jody then fondly remembers an incestuous moment with her uncle, who is also her business manager. So she's not as pure as we'd been led to believe.  If being kidnaped and raped wasn't bad enough, "Gradually, she began to realize that boredom was becoming a factor in her discontent" (page 55). Oh no!

There are many times that she could escape, but she doesn't. She even helps Bert after he is attacked by a bigger man. As an indirect result, she has to talk Bert out of burying her alive. By this point I had stopped caring about her. I don't have a lot of sympathy for the stupid.  To prove she's worth keeping alive, she goes down on him. "Clemson's groaning was loud and erratic as she flogged his obscene meat, milking sex-lubrication from the snake's eye in the blunt glans. Resigned to what she must do and with determination to do it and have it done with, she inhaled deeply and plunged her wide open mouth down on his fuck-sensitive shaft" (page 120). 

She gets him so drunk that he passes out. But she doesn't leave then either. Instead, she tries to get some sleep, but can't. Harry Benson writes, "She was perplexed that her mind kept reviewing her situation" (page 125).  I'm perplexed that in all that reviewing she didn't think to walk out the door. Even when they meet two women and a teenage boy, she doesn't try to solicit their help in an escape. Instead she watches the teenager go down on his mother while she kisses the other woman.

So at the end when she shoots herself, is it really a tragedy?  No, it isn't.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Roadside Sex (1982) Book Review

I love it when authors of adult books attempt to use vocabulary outside their range. It's not hard to appreciate what they're trying to do - elevate smut to poetry. Could it be considered a noble endeavor? Maybe. But the results can only be considered comedy.  Toni Ellis, the author of Roadside Sex, is clearly trying to write beyond his or her capability.  Check this out: "The female swimmer's long, dark hair jetted behind her like the undulating tail of some exotic, gorgeous fish. The girls naked, glistening shoulders trailed gracefully to the gentle slope of her back as she glided through the transparent water with ethereal gracefulness. Her back flowed flawlessly to the tiny hummock just below the twin round pert, firm swells of her naked buttocks which were alluringly complemented by the graceful swimmer's long, tapering legs" (page 9). Wow.

Anyway, Toni and Alicia are two young wives who are planning a cross-country hitchhiking trip, and need to ask their husbands for permission.  But first a telephone repairman is coming, and Alicia is naked.  "She had absently-mindedly left the door open" (page 15). Yes, "absently-mindedly." When the repairman arrives, he sees the "swift and amazed sight of Alicia's voluptuous tan form sweeping along the top of the staircase." I'm glad the wife is doing some sweeping, but shouldn't it be "amazing sight," not "amazed sight," especially as Alicia hasn't noticed his presence yet? The repairman "could not resist what Alicia represented for him, and that was womanhood in the most complete and irresistible form: nudity!" (page 15).

But he leaves without repairing anything, and the two couples have dinner. When it's time to broach the subject of the trip, author Toni Ellis writes, "Toni caught Alicia's attention with a swift, meaningful glance of her eyes" (page 21). As opposed to a glance of her kneecaps, I suppose.  This might be one of those situations where the writer is paid by the word, and needed an extra fifty or sixty bucks.  But you have to love phrases like "adulterously intimate contact" (page 38) and "kneeling ominously" (page 58).

Anyway, the girls' first ride is with two truckers who have set up a bedroom in their truck. Try to make sense of this sentence: "The redhaired trucker began to work his way slowly up Toni's naked torso, and soon his nose brushed against the nether flesh of her fully exposed breath and the feminine warmth emanating; from Toni's fleshy globe caused him to instinctively raise his free hand and powerfully paw the teenager's luscious tit" (page 41).  Can someone's breath have flesh? And can breath be "fully exposed"? And what's that semicolon doing there?

As confusing as that may be, it makes some sense next to this: "Mick's athletic power was no match for Alicia, and she finally found herself helplessly pinned beneath the youth's athletic weight as he straddled her waist" (page 43). Wait a moment. If his power is no match for hers, then she's the stronger. So why is she helplessly pinned?  Then a few pages later, Toni Ellis writes, "The bed began to rock with the increasing rhythm of Toni's jiggling buttocks and Toni noticed a definite change in her friend's breathing pattern: Toni's breath had modulated into a series of low, long inhalations and exhalations and tiny beads of sweat were beginning to form on her forehead" (page 46). Has Toni become her own friend? Has Alicia disappeared entirely?

Well, their husbands arrive at the truck, and one of them - Fred - insanely has a conversation with himself: "'What's the trouble?' Fred asked. 'Oh,' Fred replied, 'we saw your lights blinking on and off real fast'" (page 59). When Fred has finished his conversation, he and the other husband leave. The two wives escape to a rest area, and it is there they are reunited with their husbands. But it is also there that they encounter real trouble - a microbus full of sex-crazed dope-runners.  Uh-oh!  Alicia puts it nicely: "Sure, a little fun with the two truckers had been a little fun" (page 80). How can you argue with that?  But these new guys have already urinated on her and tied up her husband. And that's more than a little fun. That's a whole hell of a lot of fun.

The author repeatedly, pointlessly shoves the word "married" into the story, so that we get phrases like "her married loins" (page 44), "her married, sweet-smelling thighs" (page 46), "embedded in her married pussy" (page 51), "her nude, married ass" (page 58), "burrow into her married cunt" (page 66), "fleshy cleft of her married buttocks" (page 68), "quivering depths of her married womb" (page 98), "depths of her married twat" (page 102), "mounds of her naked, married tits" (page 103) and "his adulterous member into her married vagina" (page 120).  Geez, it's like her entire body is married.

The author also introduces the word "bullship" to the world (page 58), and though it hasn't quite caught on yet, I foresee a time when people will refer to all of Toni Ellis' writing as "bullship."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The French Teacher's Lesson (1977) Book Review

The French Teacher's Lesson begins with the uplifting message that dreams can come true. After presenting a physical description of Vicki ("tall, slender, full breasted girl with a wealth of blonde hair"), author Grace Wilkinson writes, "Well, she'd wished and wished and worked and worked...and now she had her wish! She was in New Orleans, and she was the new French teacher for Andrew Jackson High School" (page 5).  We learn soon that Andrew Jackson High School is a reform school.  The principal, upon meeting Vicki, tells her he himself wouldn't have hired her. She responds, "But, Mr. Clark...I think my credentials is in order" (page 9). Good thing she wasn't hired as the English teacher.

Her first day is a rough one, as the students pay no attention to her. And two of them - Mark Price and Katy - fool around right there in the classroom, and don't stop when Vicki tells them to.  At the end of the day the principal tells her the student committee asked that she be one of the monitors for Friday's dance. "I'd say that's quite an honor," he tells her.  Really?  What a strange world he lives in.  I'd say it's an annoying imposition on my free time. But then again, my fervent wish wasn't to become a high school French teacher.

Mark Price and his girlfriend, Katy, are having a bit of fun. Check out this poetic description: "The tight reluctant anal walls clung to his finger like muscular fly paper, and Katy's wails grew louder and more violent the further his determined finger plunged into the heatedly sucking depths of her rectal passage" (page 30).  Who says adult books aren't literature?

At the dance, Vicki steps out into the parking lot to watch three kids have sex in a convertible. Soon, of course, Mark Price is there. She tries to fight him off, but fails.  She fails repeatedly, and then ends up enjoying herself, which is slightly less than believable.

Though this school is full of hoodlums, apparently they hold classes on Saturdays, for the day after the dance (and after her rape), Vicki is back at work. After school, Mark Price and some of the other boys attack her. When she begs them not to do anything, Mark tells her, "Why, Miss London, you're all upset over nothing again. Just like last night" (pages 112-113).  And though she is about to be raped by several of her students, Vicki seems more upset by the fact that they're smoking pot and have given her a hit. She says, "Oh God, not marijuana...Dear God, no, no, no!" (page 114).

When caught by the police, the students say that Vicki forced them all to have sex with her, and the cop believes them. No one ever accused the police of being intelligent.  Vicki just can't get a break, for while in jail the cop decides to have his way with her as well.  And we get this interesting description: "His weighty balls reminded her of a pair of eggs in a fuzzy suede bag as they pendulously swayed between his muscular thighs" (page 162).

The French Teacher's Lesson is a volume in the Adult Classic Series put out by Liverpool Library Press.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Shakespeare References In Magazines (Screen Actor, Oregon Quarterly and Writer's Digest)

Shakespeare references are everywhere. I've said before that if you consider yourself a film buff, you absolutely must read (at the very least) Hamlet and Romeo And Juliet. There are so many references to those two plays in movies that without knowledge of those works there is no way you can fully enjoy cinema.  Seriously.  That also extends to cinema magazines.  In the Spring 2010 issue of Screen Actor (the magazine for SAG members), there is a reference to Hamlet. A section about performance capture technology is titled, "The Play's The Thing: Aspects Of Performance Capture Draw Analogies To Theatre" (page 26).

The Autumn 2012 issue of Oregon Quarterly (the University Of Oregon magazine) has two Shakespeare references, both to the famous "To be or not to be" speech from Hamlet. In an article titled "From Here To China" about Asian cinema, Robert K. Elder writes, "Fans had little idea the band was fake until the film debuted, followed by a media storm of slings and arrows...and then accolades" (page 39). This obviously refers to the lines, "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" from Act III Scene i. Later in that same article, Elder begins a paragraph with the line, "So there's the rub" (page 40), which is a reference to a line from that same speech: "To sleep? perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub."

The March 1993 issue of Writer's Digest has a couple of Shakespeare references.  The first is a cartoon, which says "From an assertiveness-training class production of Hamlet." And then it depicts Hamlet saying, "I'll be. Period" (page 7). See photo.

The second is from the monthly Writer's Digest writing challenge (page 20), this one about liberating female literary characters. The example given is rewriting of Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew. See photo.

Sex Justice (1975) Book Review

You know, I might have more faith in this country's legal system if we could count on a little sex justice. Author Steve Novack introduces us to the character Carrie Simpson with this sentence: "Her entire life centered around keeping a dick somewhere in her body" (page 3).  Friends and neighbors would often come over to try to guess where exactly it was.  It could be anywhere.  First one to discover its hiding place wins a prize.

Carrie Simpson, as we soon learn, is being taken by the sheriff to see the judge. Is she in trouble? What sort of trouble? And will she receive sex justice?  Oh, you know somehow she will.  But first she has to provide some thrills to the sheriff, which is a bit dangerous while he's driving. But at least the sheriff is an honest man. He tells her, "You see, kid, if we cared a hell of a lot about the rights of others we couldn't remain on the force for very long" (page 12). I respect that lack of guile. And we learn that the big question in Carrie's life is whether she enjoys intercourse or oral sex more. "One day, she promised herself, she would decide" (pages 8-9).

For now, she must spend the night with the judge, so that he'll give her boyfriend, Will, a suspended sentence.  That's our sex justice system at work.  We know almost immediately that the judge is weird because he tells her to call him "Poopsie."

Then, strangely, fifty pages in, while Poopsie is enjoying Carrie, the story switches to a completely different plot, this being about a family with two sexually curious girls and their father, who is unable to deny them anything. Apparently it is this tale that Poopsie is thinking about during Carrie's visit. And he thinks about it for a very long time (sixty-two pages worth of time, to be exact). In that story is an important lesson: "She was proud of her body and had taught the children that complete nudity was something beautiful - that is, if the nude person was attractive" (page 100). That's an important distinction, and one that some nude sunbathers I once came across in Oregon failed to make. But yes, the daughters in the story get their mother involved, and it becomes a true family affair.  And at the end of that detour, we learn that Poopsie had enjoyed the sexual favors of the female members of the family after all had been arrested for incest.

And then on page 113, we return to our original tale.  The problem is, after more than fifty pages of a wild incest story, returning to the judge putting his large member in Carrie's behind isn't all that interesting. It's just too tame by comparison. The author must have realized this, for he has Poopsie ask Carrie to tell him the history of her sexual experiences, and some of those have incestuous tones. I'm not sure how reliable a narrator she is, however, for there is a discrepancy in her story. Early on she tells Poopsie, "I was twelve years old when my mother and father were killed in a car accident and Aunt Lucille and Uncle Will took me in" (page 124).  Then she describes several experiences, and how Aunt Lucille left, before saying, "Three weeks after that was my twelfth birthday. That evening I took my panties off and sat down in the overstuffed chair across from where Will was reading the paper" (page 163).  So can we trust anything she says?  It's probable that she's making up the whole thing.  And is that any kind of sex justice?

By the way, we never do learn which she enjoys more, intercourse or oral sex. Was Steve Novack leaving room for a sequel?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Daughter In Ropes And Chains (1984) Book Review

From this book's title, you might guess it's a parenting manual.  But it's actually an erotic novel by Paul Gable.  I love the note from the publisher at the beginning of the book, which starts, "Immoral people capitalizing on the innocence of other to attain their goals" (and yes, it says "other" not "others," which makes me think it's some sort of paranormal or spiritual reference). The publisher's note ends with this description of the novel: "A story with a lesson for our uncaring society."  Indeed.  This is a moral tale.

It begins with typical teenager Anne Fielding spying on her mother, Kathy, who is having some nice bondage-related sex with Gus, the high school janitor.  It's nice to think that school janitors have a bit of fun outside their miserable jobs. Anne gets quite turned on, of course, watching her mother being willingly abused. So Anne masturbates, and discovers something new about herself.

In school Anne has the hots for fellow student David Granger, and so is excited when he takes her down to the janitor's room to fool around. He pushes her toward a cot (Janitors do live at the school after all!), and she weakly protests. Paul Gable writes, "A warm trickle that felt like a stream of melting butter oozed down her inner thighs" (p. 26). That indicates she really likes David. As things get hotter, Gable writes, "The room spun around, growing blurry while her ass rolled back in her head" (pp. 35-36). I'm no prude, but it's difficult for me to imagine the position they must have been in for her ass to roll back in her head. And how large a head, or small an ass?  Either way, it's an amazing bit of love-making.

Gus and another man, Frank (who turns out to be a second janitor), catch the end of the show.  Gus is understandably upset that his home has been invaded by teenagers, especially as he was clearly having company. So he has Frank gag Anne with David's underwear. And Gus burns Anne with his cigarette while demanding the names of other teenagers who have been in his home.  Apparently Gus' little apartment in the school's basement doesn't have a bathroom, for he uses Anne as a toilet.

I love that this book uses the word "rutting," a word I just recently learned from William Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince Of Tyre (Shakespeare uses it in Act IV Scene v), so clearly Daughter In Ropes And Chains is literature. Here is its use of the word: "She was rutting, rutting the way her whorish mother had the other night, twisting like a slut in heat while that man, that horrid man, was tormenting her with that knife" (page 60).  Then on page 63, Gable writes, "He was going to fuck her the way he had fucked her mother!"  It's interesting how much excitement Anne gets from thinking of her mom (and watching her mom in the earlier scene). There's a lot more going on here than Anne realizes.

Anne doesn't return to school for a few days, but her mom goes to see Gus. When she arrives, she is surprised to find Frank there.  And though three days have passed, for Gus it was like no time had passed at all, for he says, "Almost as good as that little bitch we fucked today in school" (p. 92).  After having their way with Kathy, they go through her purse and find a photo of Anne.  So they take pleasure in letting Kathy know she has a few things in common with her daughter. And then Frank goes to Kathy's home to retrieve Anne.  Soon both mother and daughter are being tortured, and Kathy finds herself turned on watching her daughter being tormented.  So, yes, they do have more in common than they probably previously expected. 

The book leaves us with the impression that this experience has brought Anne and Kathy closer together than they'd ever been before.

Daughter In Ropes And Chains is A House Of Lords Book, published by Oakmore Enterprises, Inc.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shakespeare References in The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection Of Unhinged Comedy DVD Box Set

I wonder if Mel Brooks has as many Shakespeare references as he does Hitler references in his material.  It might be close.  Someone ought to do a count.  Not me, though.  But I will list a few of the Shakespeare references in the new DVD box set, The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection Of Unhinged Comedy. The most obvious, of course, is the title of his 1983 film, To Be Or Not To Be (the film itself a remake of the 1942 film of the same name). Mel Brooks talks about that film in the five-part documentary, Mel And His Movies.

Mel Brooks directed a series of Bic Banana commercials, and one of them featured Shakespeare as a character, along with this bit of narration: "For years, Shakespeare struggled to express himself. Today there are still people trying to figure out what he was talking about. 'To be or not to be.' What does it mean? If he had a Bic Banana, he would have written, 'I am - take it or leave it.'" There is also a Romeo And Juliet reference in that commercial.  That commercial is included on the third disc of this set.  Also on the third disc is Excavating The 2000 Year Old Man, about one of his Mel Brooks' most famous characters.  In that feature, he talks about Shakespeare and criticizes his penmanship.

My favorite Shakespeare-related material in this box set is on the fourth disc in a special titled An Audience With Mel Brooks.  This was shot in London, with many famous people in the audience.  At one point, Mel Brooks is talking about what he likes about England. He says, "But the crowning jewel of English culture is, let's face it, is William Shakespeare. The bard himself. He is probably the greatest, most thrilling human writer that ever lived. I will ever be grateful for England for giving us William Cohen Shakespeare." He then jokes about his penmanship, but this time he says it's perfect. Then he goes on to say that he does Hamlet's most famous soliloquy in his movie. A woman interrupts him, "Mr. Brooks?" He asks who she is, and she introduces herself. It's Helen Mirren, looking gorgeous as always. She asks him about his qualifications for playing Hamlet, and tells him there are several Hamlets in the audience, including Alan Howard and, seated directly next to her, Jonathan Pryce. So Mel Brooks engages in a bet to see who is the better Hamlet, and Jonathan Pryce comes on stage and recites the beginning of the soliloquy. At, "To sleep/No more," Mel stops him: "No more."

For anyone who is interested, I wrote a review of this box set for Pop Culture Beast. You can read it by clicking here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shakespeare Study: Pericles, Prince Of Tyre

This is the third year of my Shakespeare study. I read one play each month, and then watch as many film versions as I can get my hands on, and read as many books about the play as I'm able. October 2012 was Pericles, Prince Of Tyre.  There was only one film version that I could get, and not a whole lot of books on this play.

Related Books:

- Pericles: The Rise And Fall Of Athenian Democracy  by Hamish Aird  -  This is a children's book about the historical Pericles, who has basically nothing whatsoever to do with Shakespeare's play. Shakespeare might have chosen the name of his title character because of this historical figure, but it is more likely that the name came from Pyrocles, the hero of the romance The Countesse Of Pembroke's Arcadia.  Still, I thought I should read about him just in case.

- Godless Shakespeare by Eric S. Mallin  -  This book (part of the Shakespeare Now! series), which discusses Shakespeare's work from an atheist perspective, includes a short chapter on Pericles.  In that chapter, Mallin writes, "But when she seemingly identifies Antiochus as 'father, son, and husband mild,' the incest identification stumbles. If the daughter refers to Antiochus here, she has no explanation whatsoever for 'son.' (Except as a creepy anticipation of the salvational daughter, Marina, who as Pericles says 'beget'st him who did thee beget' (5/1.195).) In what way is the father the same as the son? the riddle compels us to ask, and in this context, the immediate, worldly answer comes: he is not. Her sleeping with him can in no way transform the father into her son. But in another way, the solution is evident: father and son are effectively identical in hypostatic union, when the father is God, and the son is Christ. The curious solution to the more-curious riddle is not sexual, but theological" (page 19). He then continues, "Because I am concerned to write about a godless Shakespeare, the reader should not think that I am recommending this solution as key to the play. Quite the opposite. Buried in the riddle is a perfect image for the kind of thing religion always does, the thing that Job comes to realize: it leaves seekers of the truth helpless to understand, because it either buries much-needed answers in riddles, or pretends that there are much-needed answers" (page 19).  Mallin also writes, "Clearly, several perspectives on the spiritual world are available here, including an ironic one. Perhaps most ironic is the name of the wife, for 'Thaisa' is twice contaminated by illicit sexuality: 'Thaise' was a legendary courtesan of Alexander the Great; and 'Thaise' is the daughter of the Pericles figure in Shakespeare's source text" (page 20).
There are a few notes regarding other plays that are interesting enough to include here. Regarding Measure For Measure, Mallin writes, "Look at Isabel's knee-jerk endorsement of the Duke's bed trick, her willingness to sacrifice someone else's sexual and ethical integrity to avoid sacrificing her own. And compare that assent to her refusal to stand in for Claudio - her absolute denial of the commensurability of her physical virginity (which she interprets as her soul) for his life. She endorses in one context a transgression - covert fornication between Angelo and Mariana - that she reviles in another - namely Claudio's punishable sex with Juliet. The theology and politics of substitution have baffled her. The bed trick to which she contributes (setting up Angelo to think he's sleeping with her, while he's actually having sex with Mariana) shows her in unflattering light, reflecting as it does the same charge she had aimed at her brother: 'Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade./Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd/'Tis best that thou diest quickly' (3.1.148-50). Her notion of erotic sacrifice goes only so far: her sexuality is the vanishing point of her charity" (page 31).
Regarding King Lear, Mallin writes, "You don't have to be gay and Antonio to be a disappointed Chistlike figure in Shakespeare; you simply have to be a sacrificial sufferer who meets and distributes a sorry fate. Cordelia, in King Lear, offers the best example. She is supposedly one 'Who redeems nature from the general curse/Which twain have brought her to' (4.6.206-7) - the classic definition of Christ's repair of Adam and Eve's bungled job. And she herself says: 'O dear father,/It is thy business that I go about' (4.4.23-4), quoting Jesus' own childhood query, 'Know ye not that I must go about my father's business?' (Luke 2.49). So, there you have her: Christ figure. But although she's 'a soul in bliss' (4.7.45), she remains fully unable to redeem her father, whom even she calls 'poor perdu' (4.7.34) - lost sentry, doomed soul. Cordelia not only fails spectacularly, and makes the end of Lear's life heartcrackingly intolerable, but also becomes the subject of an outrageous, accidental jest; Albany actually loses track of her: 'Great thing of us forgot!/Speak, Edmund, where's the King? and where's Cordelia?' (5.3.237-8). The loudest 'oops' in Shakespeare, these lines grant Cordelia all the dignity of a pet abandoned in a kennel" (page 47).
And then regarding Macbeth, Mallin writes, "And then, another oscillation: the text insinuates, from his exits and entrances, that Seyton likely kills Lady Macbeth. And his last line in the play - 'The Queen, my lord, is dead' (5.5.16) - sparks Macbeth's astonishing 'To-morrow and to-morrow' soliloquy" (page 95).  Then, regarding Macbeth's fearful reaction to the Witch's line "All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter," Mallin writes, "The frightening thing is not 'King;' it is 'hereafter.' Banquo's question shows us the effect of the idea on his friend. 'Hereafter' could mean 'later, eventually;' but it does not. The word at this moment in the play takes on the force of 'forever.' All hail Macbeth, king of eternity! The idea of his reigning 'hereafter' explains the pernicious effect of the prophecies, the contradictions of which Macbeth deliberately fails to interpret; their meanings would be transparent to one who did not already half-believe in his own invulnerability. We are far now from the humor that animates much of the supernatural in the story, and far too from the religious perspective that poisons an insight into kingship. By the end of the story, the shattering oppressive word clarifies his otherwise baffling response to his wife's death: 'She should have died hereafter.' Catch the bitterness of that pronouncement, the self-mockery of his mortal recognition. He does not mean she should or would have died 'later' or 'eventually;' he means that she, like he, ought to have received what they were virtually promised: never to have died. Then, to be sure, 'There would have been a time for such a word.' (5.5.18)" (page 99). Published in 2007.

- Shakespeare, Co-Author: A Historical Study Of Five Collaborative Plays  by Brian Vickers  -  In this book, author Brian Vickers presents extensive internal evidence that Shakespeare had co-authors on five of his plays: Titus Andronicus (George Peele), Timon Of Athens (Thomas Middleton), Pericles (George Wilkins), Henry VIII (John Fletcher) and The Two Noble Kinsmen (John Fletcher).  In the chapter on Pericles Vickers writes, "Spiker listed other corrupt passages in the play which were clarified by Wilkins's full treatment in the novel (pp. 553-4), and showed that the play-text contained verbal errors (mishearings or misreadings) which could be corrected from the novel. In the play Pericles vows to keep his hair 'unsistered', while the novel has 'uncisserd'; in the play Dionyza accuses her husband of playing 'the impious Innocent', where the novel correctly reads 'pious'; in the play Cleon describes the plague in Tarsus as affecting 'Those pallats who not yet too sauers younger', where the novel reads 'two summers younger'" (page 306). The novel he refers to is George Wilkins' The Painful Adventures Of Pericles, Prince Of Tyr, which was arguably written after the play.  Later in that chapter, Vickers writes, "But all of Wilkins's works appeared in 1606-08, exactly contemporary with Pericles, and Hoeniger found the many parallels in phrasing and use of rhyme presented by H.D. Sykes completely convincing" (page 316).  Published in 2002.

Film Version:

- Pericles, Prince Of Tyre (1984) with Mike Gwilym, Patrick Godfrey, Patrick Allen, Juliet Stevenson, Clive Swift, Amanda Redman, Trevor Peacock, Lila Kaye, Patrick Ryecart; directed by David Jones.  This is an incredible production, with an excellent cast, including Mike Gwilym as Pericles, Patrick Allen as King Simonides, Juliet Stevenson as Thaisa, Clive Swift as Lord Cerimon and Trevor Peacock as Boult.  This production has good sets and an eye to details that really sell  specific scenes. Also, this production takes chances.  This is definitely one of the best of the BBC Shakespeare productions.  During Gower's first speech, on his line "With whom the father liking took," we actually see the incest between Antiochus and his daughter -  a passionate kiss that she seems to enjoy just as much as he.  The Daughter is seriously beautiful, as she must be.  When Pericles realizes the truth of the matter, he turns to look at the Daughter (after the line "If this be true, which makes me pale to read it"), he sees them kiss again (in his mind). On "Good sooth, I care not for you," Pericles reaches to touch the Daughter's face. Antiochus rushes into his daughter's arms after ordering Pericles' murder. She closes her eyes, showing plainly that she is a true partner in the incest.  Robert Ashby as Thaliard is wonderful, making me laugh several times.  This production does a good job of establishing the misery in Tarsus even before Cleon's first line (in Scene iv).
In Act II Scene ii, King Simonides has a few added lines, translations of some of the knights' mottos. For example, after Thaisa reads, "Piu por dulzura que por fuerza," Simonides says, "May gentleness, not force, win me the day." And after Thaisa reads Pericles' motto, "In hac spe vivo," Simonides says, "A pretty moral; in this hope I live."  "A pretty moral" is in the text, but the translation is not.  Juliet Stevenson is wonderful, as always. And Patrick Allen as King Simonides is delightful, particularly in the scene where he brings Pericles and his daughter together (II v). He's hilarious at the beginning of that scene too, when he dismisses the lords. The dance scene (II iii) is also done really well.
Attention to detail is excellent in this production. Check out the scene when Lord Cerimon (Clive Swift) revives Thaisa (Act III Scene ii) - the way he attends to her, and the man fanning the incense toward her, and the reaction shots. Her point-of-view show when she wakes is wonderful. And the production takes its time too, which is nice. Nothing is rushed.
Another excellent detail (and wonderful moment) is when Boult (Trevor Peacock) startles a supposedly blind beggar in Act IV Scene ii (after he says, "I'll go search the market"). There are so many nice touches like that.  Lila Kaye is also excellent as Bawd. I love how she gently runs her finger along Marina's arm on "Come, you are a young foolish sapling" and then grabs her in a more overtly sexual way on "men must stir you up."  This production also does a grab job of changing Pericles' appearance after he learns of the supposed death of Marina.  Act IV Scene vi is an amazing scene, with fantastic performances by Amanda Redman as Marina, Patrick Ryecart as Lysimachus, and Trevor Peacock as Boult, when Marina convinces first Lysimachus and then Boult not to use her.  And Bawd's reaction - "O! abominable" - is hilarious.
Act V Scene i, the reunion of Pericles and Marina, nearly had me in tears. Her song is pretty (it's not the one recorded by Twine), but it's the dialogue between those two that really moved me.  My only complaint about this production, and it's minor, is that Diana should be more beautiful and soothing in Pericles' vision. She comes across as rather austere, and that doesn't work, for, after all, she's guiding him back to his love. In Act V Scene ii, at Diana's temple, Pericles says, "She at Tarsus/Was nurs'd with Cleon, whom at sixteen years/He sought to murder."  In the text it is "fourteen years."  (177 minutes)

Miscellaneous Books:
- Performing Shakespeare's Tragedies Today: The Actor's Perspective  edited by Michael Dobson  -  This book is a collection of pieces by actors focusing on how they tackled some of Shakespeare's best roles. The four plays that are focused on are Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear. Greg Hicks, in his piece on playing The Ghost, writes, "From what's said in the Gravediggers' scene, 5.1, I imagine Hamlet's relationship with Yorick would have been very important, an escape from the discipline of his father - it would have been such a relief to knock around instead with the local clown. It's very striking that Hamlet remembers Yorick carrying him on his shoulders, and habitually at that, 'a thousand times' (5.1.182) - clearly this wasn't something his father ever did, and that memory seems like a glimpse of exactly the sort of easy local intimacy prince and king never had. Nor do they achieve it or anything like it in the play; the ghost doesn't come to Hamlet to listen, he comes with one violent imperative, and he isn't going to take 'no' for an answer" (page 23). Later, in the same essay, he writes, "He had Meg Fraser, who played Ophelia, double the Second Gravedigger, too, so that it was as if she helped to dig her own grave" (page 25). Interesting.  Imogen Stubbs, in her piece on playing Gertrude, writes, regarding her silence, "Trevor and I found ourselves thinking much more about why Gertrude does not speak more in some of those scenes, with him suggesting that she is not a highly educated woman and perhaps not even blessed with a very sophisticated intelligence, however much instinctive guile she may sometimes display in her management of people around her. Why is she silent, when she is silent? The answers are significantly different, I think, as the play goes along: increasingly she dares not articulate what is going on inside her head, and after a certain point there is an element of knowing, but not knowing, about what Claudius is doing and is planning to do" (page 37).  Amanda Harris writes, regarding Emilia, "The audience had already seen Iago failing to finish off Cassio in the previous scene because he was obsessively trying to castrate him first (hence his wound being in the leg, which is otherwise suprising), and now his loathing, as if of sexuality itself, drove him to stab Emilia, as Montano held back Othello from trying to kill him, not in the heart but upward between the legs" (page 80).  John Normington, in his piece on Lear's Fool, writes, "And the Fool's last line in the play turns out to be prophetic: 'And I'll go to bed at noon' (3.6.43). Is this a man recognizing that his career has come to a premature end, saying he will retire before it's time? I walked over to Poor Tom at the end of that scene and I gave him my cap and bells and walked away into the darkness" (page 128).  David Warner, in his piece of playing King Lear, writes, "So then at the end of Lear's last speech, on 'Look there, look there' (5.3.286), I was indicating not Cordelia, but somewhere offstage, beyond the audience, as if Lear thought there might still be somewhere where he might find help, where everything might be all right, and on my knees I tried to lift Cordelia up; and tried again; and couldn't; and that's what caused the heart attack that left me collapsed across her body. Again, this seemed perfectly logical in terms of the lines; there has to be some actual cause of death, and that was it" (page 141). Published in 2006.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Shakespeare References in Writer's Digest, Part 3

Considering how tiny my apartment is, it's amazing how much stuff is in here.  But there is a little less each day as I go through more of my possessions and realize, "Hey, I don't need this."  Anyway, I was going through yet more old magazines and of course came across some Shakespeare references, which I feel compelled to share here.

The January 1993 issue of Writer's Digest has two Shakespeare references. The first is in a piece titled "Getting Emotional" written by Nancy Kress. In this article on expressing characters' emotions, Kress writes, "Such straight descriptions tend to be full of abstract words, which amount to sound without fury, signifying not much of anything at all" (page 8).  This, of course, is a reference to Act V Scene v of Macbeth, when Macbeth says, "It is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing."  The second reference in this issue is in a piece titled "Categories Within Categories" by Russell Galen. The piece starts with a quote from Hamlet: "The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral...." It then continues, "The above lines, spoken by Polonius, come to my mind all the time these days when book editors tell me the kinds of material they're looking for at the moment" (page 43).

The February 1993 issue has a few Shakespeare references. The first is in a piece about writers on postage stamps. In that piece, Hank Nuwer writes, "Or perhaps playwrights are your chief love, so you'd collect William Saroyan, Eugene O'Neill, Eliot and the Bard himself, William Shakespeare" (page 6). 

In a piece on grammar titled "Ugly Misconceptions," Richard Lederer poses a series of ten questions.  The final two are related to Shakespeare.  One is, "In Shakespeare's line 'O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?' what does wherefore mean?"  (By the way, this is a word that most people are ignorant of.)  The second is, "In Hamlet, the Prince talks about 'a custom more honored in the breach than in the observance.' What exactly does 'more honored in the breach than the observance' mean?" (page 59).  And then on page 76 he offers the answers.  The answer to the first is: "An examination of Shakespeare's use of wherefore - 'Wherefore rejoice?/What conquest brings he home?' (Julius Caesar); 'But wherefore could I not pronounce "Amen"?' (Macbeth) - reveals that wherefore means why not where. Further proof is the redundant cliche 'the whys and the wherefores.' Those who recite the line from Romeo and Juliet should emphasize the word Romeo, rather than the word art" (page 76).  And the answer to the second: "Nowadays we use 'More honored in the breach than the observance' to mean that something is more often broken than observed. Hamlet's original remark, however, referred to the Danes' penchant for boozing. He meant that the more honorable course was to breach the custom - to stay cold sober rather than get stinking drunk" (page 76).

The final Shakespeare reference in the February 1993 issue is a cartoon placed in a piece about query letters.  The cartoon features William Shakespeare writing to the editor of Psychology Today: "Did you ever wonder what it would be like not to be??? Now that's a question! I intend to probe this issue in depth. In the first place, is it nobler..." (page 65)

In the April 1993 issue of Writer's Digest there are a few references to Shakespeare.  The first two are in an article titled "The Wounded Muse" by Michael J. Bugeja.  Bugeja writes, "I had tucked away my dream because of one critique. Why was I so thin-skinned when it came to verse and so hard-nosed when it came to prose? What is it with poetry, as Shakespeare might say, that makes cowards of us all?" (page 16).  At the bottom of that same page, Bugeja includes the results of a survey he conducted about why people are enthusiastic about poetry as children and then disinterested as adults.  Ten percent responded, "We don't understand Beowulf or Shakespeare."

Then, in a humorous piece titled "Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk" Larry Tritten writes, in his advice on how to be a humor writer, "Refer to Macbeth and Hamlet as 'stand-up tragedians'" (page 65).

The July 1993 issue of Writer's Digest contains a couple of Shakespeare references. The first is in a piece titled "Where Are We?" written by Nancy Kress. It's an article about setting, and in it Kress writes, "Other novels, such as Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, couldn't possibly take place in another setting. A Thousand Acres is rooted in the farmland of the Midwest, with all its isolation, economic battles and deeply landlocked rivalries. (This is especially interesting because Smiley's basic story is a retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear, which certainly did not depend on the American Midwest)" (page 8). Later in the same piece, Kress writes, "Another way setting can reveal character is when the people are shaped by their surroundings, rather than vice versa. This is what makes Jane Smiley's retelling of Lear more than just a literary trick. The characters of A Thousand Acres have been shaped by their lush land" (page 10).

The other Shakespeare reference in the July 1993 issue is in a piece titled "The ABCs Of Avoiding Plagiarism" by Ellen M. Kozak. Kozak opens with this paragraph: "When he wrote the line 'Neither a borrower, nor a lender be' for Polonius, Shakespeare probably wasn't thinking about literary borrowing, perhaps because he did it so often himself, and with impunity. Today, other writers frequently borrow from him - not a surprising occurrence when you consider that, to paraphrase the Bible, there's nothing new under the sun" (page 40).