As I riffled through posts on Flavorwire this morning, I came across one that features images by Brooke Shaden. The post’s title, “Surreal Photos of Women Dressed in Books, Butterflies, and Paper Planes,” made me curious. What could Flavorwire mean by women dressed in books and paper planes? I clicked on the link and was immediately fascinated by its contents. The post contained amazing photos by Brooke Shaden, an art photographer who’s based in Los Angeles. I fell in love with Shaden’s style as I clicked through the photos. Some are dark and seem to be a still from a scary movie but others I found to be dreamy. Either way, I love her stuff.
This piqued my interest so I googled her and discovered her website. Even more of her work is posted there so I advise all who read this to visit it. Her photos will sweep you away and make you want to visit the places that the women are in. The women seem to exist on a plane that is between reality and the imaginary. According to Shaden’s website, she is a self-portrait artists and “she attempts to place herself within worlds she wishes we could live in, where secrets float out in the open, where the impossible becomes possible.”
The photo above is one of my favorites from the Flavorwire post. It is of a woman in a dress made of books. Visit both websites and enjoy!
Finally, I’ve gotten through season two of Scandal, the T.V. show everyone’s talking about. Scandal first aired in 2012 with my girl Kerry Washington as the star—Olivia Pope. The show is a political thriller and is said to be based on Judy Smith, a crisis manager and former press aide for the George Bush Administration. Olivia Pope, like Smith, is a crisis manager, a.k.a “fixer,” for those who find themselves in deep shit—a scandal. She is also in love with the President of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant, and runs off to have an affair with him every now and then. She too was a press aide and she worked on the President’s election campaign back in the day (that’s when they met).
Scandal is an addictive show that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. At the end of each episode, you anxiously await the next one to air. This is why I had to wait until the end of the season to catch up. I watched the first season on Netflix. It was good and I was interested because it’s based in Washington, D.C., though we hardly see the characters in any credible place in D.C. (The Union Station metro didn’t look like the one in D.C.) We just know it is D.C. because of the snapshot photos used to transition the scenes. I know the photographer has his work cut out. I hope he enjoys it. Though I liked season 1, it wasn’t enough to pull me and make me want to revisit the show for a second season. I wasn’t planning to watch but word-of-mouth (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) bit me in the butt and made me peek at the first episode of season 2. I was hooked.
I decided to try to catch up so I could participate in the conversations flowing on my Facebook TL about the show. Things went great until a few episodes before the end of season 2. I then began to become troubled by the show, or rather viewers’ comments. From the conversations I’ve peeked in on, everyone seemed to revere Olivia Pope even her staff, which blindly follows her for a while. Of course, it’s not entirely the viewers’ fault for revering Pope. She has qualities that many would love to possess—independent, confident, smart, etc. Also, the show does a great job of making the viewer sympathize with Pope and hold her in a positive light no matter what she does; after all, she always seem to have a good reason for her actions. For example, Pope causes a rift in her friend’s (Abby) relationship but that was done for an apparently good reason. Abby could not be with the David Rosen, the district attorney, because she was leaking valuable information that would have ousted the Defiance incident that Pope and her conspirators were trying to keep hidden. Even though this bad act was done to cover another bad act – Defiance – Pope is still casted in a white light because she didn’t want to go ahead with the Defiance incident (which we learn later); PLUS, she saved Lindsay Dwyer (a.k.a. Quinn Perkins) so really, she shouldn’t be blamed.
Still, social media made me wonder if anyone has considered that Olivia Pope is not a good person (without being told so when the President mentions it to Jake the Navy dude when he’s instructed to keep tabs on Pope). It’s easy to sympathize with the star of a show, especially when that person always swathes herself in white as if to avoid blemishes. (Even I am suckered into believing that Olivia Pope is an angel). Pope is a complex character and I love the thorough blend of good and bad in her. She is having an affair with a married man and wrecking his marriage but one can’t help but soften towards Pope’s love for the President (especially since it’s easy to dislike the power-hungry First Lady). Pope and the President are madly, deeply in love. So deep that they ignore the dangers of their relationship and how it affects others. Though they try, they’re unable to stay away from each other and when they do see each other, they get it on like animals. People lust for a love such as theirs: a love worthy of romance novels—passionate and forbidden. People are willing to overlook Pope’s faults and the wreckage she leaves behind because of this. Because they want to believe that it’s possible to have such a love and succeed. I’m not stating this to hate on the character. I admire Olivia Pope, the fixer go-getter. I just think people take it for granted that she wears a lot of white.
Other than Pope, I find the show’s White House administration intriguing. I love reading about history’s leaders, especially the crazy ones like King Henry VIII. Actually, I have a book on a whole bunch of royal crazy people titled Mad Kings & Queens by Alison Rattle. I advise against reading it in one sitting. It will corrode your mind. Anyways, I mention Henry VIII above because I think of him whenever the show focuses on the White House: Cyrus, the First Lady, the President, and the Defiance conspirators. Doesn’t it remind you of back in the day (way back)when the king was always surrounded by courtiers trying to sway him to do their bidding or to marry their daughter, niece, cousin, or other female?
They all want to control President – Cyrus and the First Lady most of all. Actually, I think the first lady just wants to mean something. She wants to be significant especially since President Fitz is having an affair. She doesn’t want to be just an item on his arm who smiles at cameras, talk of the kids, and support other minor concerns. Cyrus wants to rule the country. I see him as a Dr. Evil character. But both him and the First Lady (with their spies and whisperers) makes me think of court life at a palace in a powerful kingdom. I wonder if the same is true for the real White House (I think it is) but it adds more intrigue to the show since these power-hungry characters are always at each other’s throats. I’ve lost respect for President Fitz because he’s a big baby that has to be guided and told what to do (plus he makes me think of Henry VIII whenever I see him). I don’t find him to be deliberate in his decisions, except when he kills the Supreme Court justice, Verna Thornton. I wish Pope would just forget about him and move on. She’s put her life on pause for him. It’s time she had some fun. Unfortunately, she’s tethered to her love.
I think that’s everything. I think I’ve expelled the major thoughts that welled up in my head while I watched the show. The final episode for season 2 has left me ambivalent though. I don’t like where it’s heading but I’m too curious to know what will happen next to even consider not watching season 3. It’s Shonda’s magical power because I felt the same about Grey’s Anatomy. Unfortunately (gladly), I’m only able to watch the Grey’s Anatomy episodes that are on Netflix. I can’t bother with T.V. sometimes. Waiting until the next week for the new episode drives me nuts. It’s either Netflix or I buy the DVD package (since I’m knee deep in student loans, it shall be Netflix.) But Shonda’s shows tend to always take a turn that I disagree with. I mean, why did there have to be a crazy ass plane crash that almost killed everyone in Grey’s? That still pisses me off. And now a certain character (Lil’ Huck) in Scandal is on a path that I do not agree with (I don’t think Huck agrees with it either). Sometimes I wonder if any of Shonda’s characters will have a “happy ever after” ending. She seems to always drag them through the worst of things and even then drag them some more. I wonder what her mind is like and if she wears all white like Pope (maybe Judy Smith does). The almost entirely white wardrobe throws me.
End of mind rant.
- Getting Chose: A Scandal Revelation (dopereads.com)
- Behind the scenes of ‘Scandal’ with creator Shonda Rhimes (thelead.blogs.cnn.com)
- ‘Scandal,’ Black Women and the Super-Black Mammy-Jezebel (theroot.com)
- TV: For Our Consideration: How Scandal became the perfect distillation of America’s political nightmares (avclub.com)
I wasn’t excited when I first heard that The Great Gatsby was being made into a movie. That was last year. I had no intentions of seeing it and thoughts of re-reading the book was far from my mind. I didn’t even consider listing it on my Classics Challenge book list. That all changed a few weeks ago when I saw Iron Man 3. While waiting for the movie to start, sporting my 3D glasses over my prescribed lenses, I watched a preview of Gatsby. Being in a good mood, I got caught up in the music for the movie and the glimpses of glitz that await those who choose to watch. But what really pulled me in was the party scene. After a brief glimpse of that scene, I decided that I wanted to watch the movie so I could vicariously live through those who attended Gatsby’s massive parties.
I hate watching the movie version of a book prior to reading the book since parts are usually left out and the movie version is usually a poor remake (except The Princess Bride.) So I decided to re-read The Great Gatsby. I loathed doing this at first since I hated the book when I first read it in high school. I did not understand the story, I could not relate to the characters, and I found it hard to believe that anyone could consider it a “Great American Novel.” To my teenage self, The Great Gatsby did not define all that America is or was so it shouldn’t be considered a “Great American Novel.” (I still think so.)
But this time I’m older so maybe, I thought, the book would not be a total bore. And it wasn’t! First of all, I read an old copy of the book. A copy that was published in 1925 (it’s my dad’s friend’s of a friend’s). Anyway, I found this to be totally cool simply because the book is old and falling apart and was published in 1925. Silly, I know, but I was thrilled by these irrelevant details. Old books are always cool except when you find droppings in them or a spider crawls out.
Anyways, I began reading and was quickly swooped into the story. This time I enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby and told anyone who would listen how wonderful the book was. I didn’t like it for its story, which was okay, but for the use of language and imagery. I would read certain passages over and over again either to sound out the words used or just to recreate an image in my mind—like when we first meet Gatsby or in chapter three when Nick Carraway describes Gatsby’s parties or when Carraway sees Gatsby reaching out to the green light.
Fitzgerald’s words pulled at me and I could not help wondering at the glitz and lavishness of the nouveau riche whom reside on West Egg. I wanted to experience Gatsby’s parties and see for myself just how out-of-hand his attendees got. I know they were all totally wasted, especially Owl Eyes, and felt as if they were winning, well, Gatsby did.
Poor Gatsby sold himself to his dream and was left empty with nothing in return. He was willing to give up everything for Daisy but in the end, she refused to leave the security of her husband’s wealth for Gatsby’s love. Though Gatsby is not a good guy, I did sympathize with him for losing Daisy. I wanted Daisy to either run off with Gatsby and the two live happily ever after, or for Gatsby to forget about her and chase something else. Unfortunately, neither of those occurred. Gatsby was stuck on his dream and thus ruined by it. He should have learned when to give up.
I think Fitzgerald did a great job of showing how superficial and materialistic people can be when Carraway tried to organize a funeral for Gatsby. Though people turned out in droves for his lavish parties, none showed up for his funeral. Not even Daisy, the one he gave his life for. Overall, the book was great and, as I mentioned before, the language was beautiful and the imagery sticks in the mind. I do believe that Fitzgerald went overboard with the symbols he incorporated in the story and I believe that Daisy’s voice is never heard—she’s always cut off—except to tell Gatsby that she loved Tom as well. I guess that’s the only time her voice is needed but I do wish she could have finished some of her statements.
As for the movie, I think Baz Luhrmann did an okay job. There are some who complained that he was over-the-top in his rendition of The Great Gatsby but I think that it fits the story and the personality of Gatsby. I think Leonardo DiCaprio did great in his role as Gatsby. It was perfect. I like that the movie tries to follow the book and hints at Gatsby before finally showing us who he is. My favorite part was when DiCaprio is speaking to Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway) and the camera slowly pans up his torso. And when he claims he is Gatsy, the camera shows his face with his great smile and fireworks going off in the background. I think the Gatsby in the book would have loved that introduction.
The actors were great and the movie went well. I’m just upset that everything wasn’t included, like the relationship between Carraway and Jordan Baker. Also, like the book, the symbolisms were overplayed. There was blue and yellow everywhere (it worked well on Gatsby’s car though) and even DiCaprio’s hair had gold highlights, which I thought was a bit much but then again, the Gatsby in the book would probably have done the same to show that he is rolling in dough. There were some other additions that were not in book such as the fact that Carraway is in a mental hospital being treated for alcoholism amongst other things. While I understand that a device was needed to tell the story, I was not totally happy with this particular frame tale. It makes sense, though, since Carraway, as well as America, is leaving the parties of the 1920s and is heading to the depression of the 1930s (Carraway turns 30 years-old towards the end of the book, around the time when he decides he’s had enough of New York and parties). Also, alcoholism would probably result from all the drinking that went on in Carraway’s East-coast life. So I guess it works.
The book was good and the movie was okay. I do recommend them both for those who are interested in classic literature or who would like to sample Fitzgerald’s poetic voice. There’s not much action in either the book or movie so I wouldn’t recommend them to those seeking simple enjoyment on a random day.
Quotes from the book:
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
“I’ve been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library.” (Owl Eyes, hilarious!)
“Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge,” I thought; “anything at all…” Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder.
“I’m thirty,” I said. “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.”
- What a High School English Teacher Thought of the ‘Great Gatsby’ Movie (theatlanticwire.com)
- ‘Gatsby’s’ Jazz-Age Excess, All Over the Screen (npr.org)
- The Great Gatsby (bookssnop.wordpress.com)
- Gatsby, What Gatsby? (kzindex.wordpress.com)
- The Great Gatsby (natteringandrambling.wordpress.com)
I forgot how I discovered this book (it may have been on Publishing Perspectives but I’m not sure). My dream is to one day, very soon, work in the book publishing industry. You can imagine my excitement when I happened upon this memoir by Sterling Lord, who has worked as an agent in the publishing industry for more than 60 years. He is now 92 years old and still works as an agent at Sterling Lord Literistic. He has represented some of the greats in literature like Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, and Jimmy Breslin. He has played competitive tennis nearly all his life and has attributed some of his success to the qualities that he developed as a tennis player.
Sterling Lord is from a small town in Iowa. After graduating from college, he entered the army and was flown to France where he worked for the army’s newspaper. He soon developed a paper of his own which he operated with a friend until it folded. Soon he married a French woman, flew back to the States, and decided to start his own literary agency. He didn’t know much about book publishing when he started his agency but he learned as he went along.
Much of the book discusses how much he cares for his authors. This can be gleaned from how he speaks of them. He commemorates their work and even puts a positive spin on their shortcomings, sometimes. When Lord speaks of the books that his authors have written, it makes me want to pick up my Nook and immediately purchase them. It’s easy to see that Sterling Lord is passionate about his work, much of which is attributed to having a good instinct about things.
As I read his memoir, I realized that Lord is a very private man. The book mostly discusses publishing and his agency and how he grew as a literary agent. He doesn’t go deep in discussing his life but the chapter on the women in his life intrigued me. I’m nosy so of course it made me curious about his private life. I wanted to know more. In this chapter he speaks of the four women he was once married to and also of his daughter. He grazes the surface of his private life and mostly talks about how the women affected his growth as a person and as a literary agent. I think this is because Lord sees himself as a gentleman and is respectful of those he comes in contact with. He tries not to place anyone in a bad light and seems to discuss both the positives and negatives of a person’s personality.
Overall, it was a good read and one that those interested in publishing should pick up. It would be great to sit down and have a chat with him since he worked in publishing for so long. Throughout the book, Lord drops lots of advice about book publishing and succeeding as a literary agent. I’ve listed a few below.
Quotes from the book:
“…the first area in publishing open to women was work in a literary agency.”
“My finding is that any agent who doesn’t take on new clients is probably on the way out of business.”
“Books are no longer bought by publishers on the basis of one editor’s commitment. The editor and sometimes even the publisher have to check with other editors, advertising, sales, promotion, or a higher authority, or all of the above. It’s ‘committee publishing.’”
“What you should do as early in life as you can is find an occupation or line of work in a field that really interests you.”
- Sixty Years of Sterling Wisdom from the “Lord of Publishing” (publishingperspectives.com)
- Sterling Lord Shares Insight, Memories (latimes.com)
This one is from io9‘s post “Real-life House That Look Like They Belong in the Shire.” The picture above is of one of my favorite houses in the post. Apparently, it is a low-impact Hobbit house in West Wales. I think it’s the best of all the houses in capturing what the Hobbit house should look like. The inside is great as well and it seems very cozy. Click here to visit i09 to see more Hobbit inspired houses.