Saturday, June 29, 2013

Compulsion (1959 film) Review


Director/Studio/Author: Richard Fleischer/20th Century Fox/Meyer Levin, Richard Murphy
Original theatrical release date: 1959
DVD release date: May 23, 2006
Format, Genre and length: DVD/Film Noir/103 minutes
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: NR
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Compulsion is the fictionalized account of the crime of the century—the kidnapping and murder of a young boy by two bored and wealthy young geniuses—which led to the trial of the century in which one of the most famous attorneys ever argued for their lives. This is the film version of that book, which came out in 1959, the year after Nathan Leopold (aka Judd Steiner) was paroled and released from prison.

Having recently acquired an interest in Leopold and Loeb, and having read and reviewed the book Compulsion, it seemed only natural that I should watch and review the film with a critical eye toward seeing how well the book was translated onto the screen. I must say it was done very well.

We first meet Judd Steiner (Dean Stockwell) and Artie Straus (Bradford Dillman) as they are
gallivanting about in Judd’s Stutz Bearcat and Artie tries to run down a drunken man who’s walking down the road. This sets the tone, not only for the film, but for their relationship. Judd grabs the wheel and averts the potential murder, so Artie tells him to drive (keep in mind, it is Judd’s car), and then orders him to run the bum down. Judd comes close, but at the last moment swerves, which angers Artie. To keep peace, Judd swears he’ll do anything Artie wants. Anything. And although we don’t know it yet, a murder is about to be born.

Martin Milner (later famed for his role in Adam 12, among other things) plays Sid Brooks (a fictional character, based on Meyer Levin), a fellow student at the university with Judd and Artie, and a fledgling reporter for the newspaper. Chance involves him in the case, and also his girl Ruth, who develops a relationship with Judd and later testifies at the trial.

This is a very faithful adaptation of the novel and captures the flavor of it very well. The cocksure attitude of the young geniuses who took the life of a young boy because they could, and to prove that such a thing could be done with great deliberation and no emotional involvement. We never see the victim, not even in the morgue, nor do we get a real sense of who he was. These things were not shown back then, too graphic. Today, I’m sure there would be a lot more gruesome scenes, but the film does not suffer for lack of them.

They came close to getting away with their crime, but a pair of eyeglasses was the crack in the facade that became the first clue, and that ultimately led to them. E.G. Marshall plays the prosecutor, Horn, who is determined to see these two boys hang for what they’ve done, despite their tender ages—18 and 19—and despite the fact that never has the state put to death anyone below the age of 21.

The boys’ very wealthy parents hire the best attorney they can find—Jonathan Wilk (Clarence
Darrow, in real life)—flawlessly played by Orson Welles. In a brilliant ploy, Wilk withdraws their plea of not guilty and changes it to guilty, with mitigating circumstances, thus eliminating the trial by jury. And despite the best efforts of the prosecutor, he does not plead insanity, as that would bring the jury back in. And as he explains to the boys’ parents, he’d rather plead for their lives before one man, the judge, than twelve, in the form of the jury.

Welles’ performance is riveting. Despite being very familiar with him as an actor, his persona disappears and he becomes Wilk/Darrow, and his very eloquent summation speech is some of his finest work. That is the hallmark of a great actor, when you stop seeing the man, and only see the character.

Although physically I thought the main characters were mis-cast, as Dean Stockwell resembled Artie more, and Bradford Dillman Judd, in terms of performance, they got the nuances of the characters down pat. Artie, the effervescent know-it-all who dominates Judd, and has to be in on everything, including “helping” the police with the case. The quieter, more introspective Judd, who allows Artie to control him.

What you won’t see in the movie that isin the book, and what is barely hinted at in the film (and you really need to be looking for it to catch it) is the true nature of the relationship between Judd and Artie, namely that they were lovers. Any mention of what the book presents has been excised, probably due to the sensibilities of the times. I don’t think it would have played well, and probably would have muddied the waters. Today? Another story altogether.

One comment on the opening music—although probably good for its time, now it sounded to me very 50ish and jarring, but perhaps that was the effect the composer was going for. It’s jazzy and discordant, so maybe that’s the right feel for two young men out of step with society.

Look for Richard Anderson (Six Million Dollar Man) as Judd’s bossy older brother Max. And a young Gavin MacLeod (Captain Steubing on the Love Boat) as Horn’s assistant.

Also on the DVD were the theatrical trailer and a teaser and two trailers from other Fox films—St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (Jason Robards Jr) and Murder Inc. (Stuart Whitman and Peter Falk).

One last comment on the film. As I said before, Judd was just beginning a relationship with Ruth Evans, who was Sid Brooks’ girl, and I think that goes a long way to show his innate humanity, as opposed to Artie and his black book, his love ’em and leave ’em philosophy. There is a very intense scene between Judd and Ruth in the film.

On the whole, I was very pleased with the film, and highly recommend it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sebastian Laguerre

Happy Wednesday! It's not only Hump Day, but it's time for a weekly dose of flash fiction from the authors who write the Wednesday Briefs! This week, most of our prompts had a Valentine's Day theme. Those were: "Love makes the world go round" or use hearts or Cupid or "If ever I would leave you..." or "I give to you and you give to me... true love..." (That's an old Dean Martin song btw lol) or anything having to do with Valentine's Day and/or candy!

Because of the theme, I set Stan and Ollie aside for a week, but never fear, they shall return. Instead, I offer this, which has the working title of Sebastian Laguerre. I'd love to hear what you think of this, as I have hopes of expanding it. So, please enjoy! And don't forget to visit the other Wednesday Briefers, whose links follow my tale!

Sebastian Laguerre

Someone had the worst timing in the world.

And judging by the jangled lyre sounds emanating from his smartphone, it was his distant cousin and bandmate. When Sebastian caught up with Orpheus, he was going to have to hurt him.

“Who’s that, baby?” The voice was muffled, its owner’s face buried in the thick pillows of the hotel’s double bed. Sebastian couldn’t remember his name—that was inconsequential; an unimportant detail, nothing to clutter his mind with. But whoever he was, he had a very delicious ass, one that Sebastian was thoroughly enjoying plowing. At least until the moment had been so rudely interrupted.

“Fuck me,” he muttered under his breath, before deigning to reply to the question. “Someone. I won’t be long. Just lie there.” He pulled out, irritably, and slid off the other man, wrapping the sheet about him, ignoring the shiver his action produced. He grabbed the phone and stalked into the bathroom, firmly shutting the door behind him before answering.

“This better be damn good. I was busy—”

“I can only imagine.” A throaty chuckle from the other end of the line.

“Why don’t you find Cupid and torture him if you’re bored?” Sebastian searched his image in the mirror. The lighting was harsher than he might like, but he still looked damn good. That was one of the benefits of being a demigod. Maybe he hadn’t gotten the looks that some of them had, particularly the bastard offspring of Aphrodite, his own father’s consort. But Sebastian was certainly beautiful in his own right and he knew it.

He pushed back unruly locks of curly black hair that came just to the nape of his neck. Twisting his head for a better view, he decided to let it grow out a little more. The trace of sexy stubble that he maintained above his full carmine lips and along his jaw was pleasing to him—he’d keep that as it was.  His cool grey eyes were carefully lined in black. A perfect vision of loveliness. He blew a kiss at his reflection and smiled.

“Stop admiring yourself.” Orpheus laughed again. Sebastian scowled at the phone and turned from the mirror. “You know I can’t do that. The man’s busy, or have you forgotten what today is?”

It wasn’t so much that Sebastian had forgotten, he simply didn’t care. He found Cupid to be annoying, for the most part. Going on and on about love all the damn time. Like it really existed. Like it really mattered. As if it wasn’t anything more than hormonal urges that produced a vast mass hysteria. A hypnosis that muddled the brain and threw it into a tailspin from which it seldom recovered. It ruined lives, and made fools of normally intelligent men. The only useful byproduct was that it was also responsible for a great deal of violence, and had launched many a war.

Sebastian Laguerre loved no one but himself.

And thank the gods he was beyond Valentine’s Day.

 “Go bother my brothers, why don’t you? I’m busy,” Sebastian repeated. Okay, technically Phobos and Deimos were half-brothers, but whatever.

“You’re the only one that likes to hang with them,” Orpheus pointed out. “Normal people avoid them.”

“Are you saying I’m not normal?”

“You’re you and I love you for who you are, Sebby.”

“Zeus’s beard, don’t call me that. I’m going. Go fuck yourself. Literally.” He clicked off the phone without waiting for the smart reply he knew was imminent and exited the bathroom. He let the sheet fall away from him as he wound his sinuous way back toward the bed; it trailed behind him until he stepped from it. Dropping onto all fours, he crawled across the bed.

“I’m back,” he purred in a sultry voice. The other man shivered in anticipation, lifting his head at Sebastian’s return, although he was well trained enough that he did not turn to look. “Miss me, love?”

“Mmm, yes, I did. Missed your cock up my ass. So much…”

“Of course you did.” Sebastian wore a very self-satisfied smirk. “Roll over, pet.”

“Is it time, then?”


He had a nice body, Sebastian admitted. Darryl? David? Dan? Something with a D, he was fairly sure. He was young, early twenties. Young and eager to please. And so far, he’d done a decent job of it. But, alas, all good things must come to an end. Sebastian wasn’t going to let that stop him from enjoying himself thoroughly.

He positioned himself between the boy’s legs—Dirk? Devin?—and took himself in hand, pumping his cock a few times. Orpheus’ ill-timed interruption had brought it down slightly, but a little well-applied pressure restored its former tumescent state.

“Now where were we?”

“About to reach glory,” the innocent supplied.

“Ah yes, just so.” He thrust inside of that tight channel in one hard stroke, producing a gasp of pure pleasure. Hot velvet surrounded his cock, a sensation heightened by the tightness of this boy’s muscles that clung so deliciously. “Touch yourself,” he instructed and the boy obeyed, grasping his cock and pumping.

“Not too fast,” Sebastian cautioned. “And don’t close your eyes. I want to see.”

The lids fluttered open again. Sebastian drove into him again, over and over, watching for the right moment. He’d know it by the boy’s responses. He’d see it in his eyes. He’d laid his instrument within reach; when he was ready he picked it up, looped the silk necktie about the boy’s neck and began to tighten it slowly, slowly…

Sebastian could see the play of emotions in the boy’s blue eyes as he spun into euphoria, until his orgasm was inevitable, and Sebastian had wrung out all that he could. As the boy came, he tightened the tie completely, until all breathing ceased.
* * * *
The body was discovered in front of a café near the Eiffel Tower, the heart in a small box beside it, along with a note—Happy Valentine’s Day, Inspector.

to be continued...

Now go check out the other Wednesday Briefers:

Nephylim     m/m
Lily Sawyer      m/m 
Tali Spencer     m/m
Cia Nordwell     m/m
MA Church     m/m
MC Houle     m/m

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Monday, February 11, 2013

Revelations is here!

This day has long been waited for, and anxiously, by a number of people, including myself and my friends and loyal readers.And now it's here! Revelations is a happening thing! Friday was release day and it's time to party. Like it's 1999 or 1699 or even 99 BC!

Revelations is available here!

This book has been more than forty years in the making. No I didn't spend that long writing it. It took a great deal of thought. I know I've told this story on other blogs, but I'm going to tell it here, so make yourselves at home!

The idea was born many years ago. Over forty, actually. When I was a teenager. Back then, it didn’t have a name, and it had no real shape. But I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to tell the story of Judas Iscariot. The trouble was I didn’t know how.

What drew me to Judas, is probably what you’re asking yourself, and that’s a valid question. Ask anyone else who Judas is and you’ll get answers that are probably all variations on a theme of betrayal. I’m not sure exactly when I began to question that, but I do know that when I saw Jesus Christ Superstar performed live back in 1971 (or thereabouts), I had an epiphany regarding him. I saw him, not as the bad guy as often portrayed, but someone who not only believed in Jesus but was willing to do what he needed him to do. For without Judas’ “betrayal” of Jesus, the story would not have worked out the way it did. It needed to happen that way. And if you read the Gospel of Judas, he was the only apostle who trusted Jesus enough to do that for him. Gives one food for thought, doesn’t it?

Very interesting, but where’s the story, I wondered. Was I going to take an historical perspective, research the man and his life? Easier said than done, especially back then. We had no Internet. We didn’t even have computers. Research was all done through books. Libraries had card catalogs, a far cry from today when you can log onto your library website and browse their selection, then request what you want. So I looked and I found bupkus (nothing). I had the Bible, of course, but it tends to be limited on information, as well as a bit biased.

So nothing was written, and I let it go, as my thoughts formulated in the back of my head. In the meantime, I was reading, watching… and learning. King of Kings was my first Biblical movie, and I loved it. Jeffrey Hunter’s portrayal of Jesus is very moving, and I was very enamored of the film. Jesus Christ Superstar – I think I know all the words, I’ve listened so many times. I liked the stage version, but the first film not so much.

Besides watching these things and others, I read. Christopher Moore’s Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. What a fabulous book! I loved it! So much I bought the special edition. And I read The Gospel of Judas! Forty years ago I’d never heard of such a thing. Of course I read the DaVinci Code, and watched the movie. And everything began to percolate inside my head…

Then one day it happened. Judas spoke to me, for the first time. And I simply began to write it down, not knowing what he might say, or where his story might lead. It turned out to be quite the story and took me on quite the journey, and led to places that I didn’t expect it to. If he’d have spoken forty years ago, I would not have been ready to receive his message. But my life up until the moment that I first heard him speak prepared me. And the result is Revelations.

The original title was Kyrie Eleison, a tribute to the Mister Mr. song, Kyrie. Kyrie eleison means Christ, have mercy on us. But then fellow author Marie Sexton, who was reading Kyrie for me at the time, suggested a simpler title. A better title. Revelations. So Revelations it became.

I know there are people who will not like Revelations, and by extension, me. People who will not see the message it carries, only that it does not follow what they believe. But ultimately, no matter what you believe, Revelations is a story of love. Love is the message, and love is something that binds us all together.

Revelations is love.

I'd like to celebrate Revelations release with you. Oh, I almost forgot! I have a book trailer:  

I hope you like it! I'd like to giveaway a copy of Revelations to someone! All I ask is that you comment, and tell me what you think about the book, or anything related to Revelations. And don't forget your email address!

Also, as part of my celebration, I'm guesting at two blogs:  Chris T. Kat and Marie Sexton. Stop by and say hello!

I'll announce the winner in a week. And I haven't forgotten the Backlist Bloghop. I'll be announcing that soon too!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Serial Killer Sunday

Today I'm doing something a little bit different for Serial Killer Sunday - I'm posting a poem I wrote a long time ago that I recently ran across. I hope you like it!  Don't forget, you have until the end of the month to join in the Blissemas in July fun and enter for a chance to win A Special Christmas!


By Julie Lynn Hayes

You can call me Charlie,   
You can call me Ted.
Glance over your shoulder,
Check under your bed.
Search the smiles of total strangers—passersby  you meet,
But don’t forget that loves ones, too, sometimes do feel the heat.

Underneath we are the same, you and I.
And I can go by any other name; haven’t I?

Landru, Gacy, Dahmer,
Madeline Smith and Mary Bell.
A cavalcade of honorees
Whose tales we know full well.
Berkowitz and Whitman,
Wayne Williams and Richard Speck.
Lizzie Borden raised an axe,
Whacked Daddy in  the neck.

Somewhere there is lurking
A man well known to you,
Behind the public face he wears
A secret smile – what did he do?

Perhaps you’ll never know.   
Can you watch him all the time?
You’ve got your own life to lead,
And so do he and I.

A secret rage burns deep inside of many hidden hearts,
A time bomb measured in increments of broken body parts.
Think twice before  you pick a fight, or flip someone the bird.
For there are far worse things in life than an unpleasant word.

The bell keeps tolling,
The body count growing.
Just remember this,
As you live in ignorant bliss,
Only the worst among us has been caught,
The best are still at large.

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Salute - Happy Birthday, Percy Grainger

On July 8, 1882, one of my favorite composers was born - Percy Grainger - and to celebrate his 130th birthday, I'm going to salute him today. Most people today will not know who he is, or what he did, but he was a very prolific composer and extraordinary pianist. He was very popular in his day, comparable to the rock stars of today. He was very good looking and very charismatic. But deep within, there was a lot more to Percy than that, including having to care for his ill mother from an early age (she'd contracted syphilis from her husband and it wasn't curable then), and his predilection for the whips. He was also well known as a collector of folk songs and an arranger, as well. Next time you hear Irish Air From County Derry, you might be listening to one of Percy's arrangements. Don't know that song? Maybe you know the more popular title - Danny Boy.

I first became interested in Percy and his life and music in a roundabout way - through the film Moulin Rouge. How does that connect to Percy Grainger, you ask? Well, I fell in love with the Duke, and the Duke was played by actor Richard Roxburgh. Naturally, I had to look up more of his films, and one of those was something called Passion, which co-starred Barbara Hershey. It was a bio-pic of composer Percy Grainger. I bought the movie and fell in love, began reading books about Percy, including the marvelous John Bird biography, and the rest, as they say is history. For more information, go visit the Percy Project.

So, happy birthday, Percy, and many happy returns. You are, and shall ever be, close to my heart!

Percy Aldridge Grainger is the most famous composer/pianist ever to emerge from the Australian continent - an enigmatic, complicated man whose amazing talents produced far-reaching effects on the musical world, and yet who remains vastly unknown today, even in his native land. He was born on July 8, 1882 in Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne, to John and Rose Grainger. Although originally christened George Percy Grainger, he began to use the name Percy Aldridge Grainger, somewhere around 1912, in tribute to his mother's family. One can only speculate as to his feelings toward his father at that point. John Grainger was an engineer/architect of considerable ability, most noted for his design of the Princes Bridge in Melbourne.

Percy was primarily raised by his mother Rose, a strong, intelligent woman possessed of musical ability whose family hailed from Adelaide, and who had visions of her son as a gifted musician even before his birth. From the ages of five to ten, she painstakingly tutored him on the piano, instilling a deep and abiding love of music in the boy which never flagged during his lifetime. His only formal education was a brief stint of a few months at the Misses Turner's Preparatory School for Boys in South Yarra, a time during which he "ran home madly as soon as school was out, to avoid fights with other boys", sometime about 1894-95. Other than that, Rose handled his general education. Even as a child, Percy was fascinated by the sounds of nature, and had many happy memories of the time spent at his beloved Albert Park in Melbourne, watching and listening to the waves of the Albert Park Lake, which in time led to his interest in and development of his Free Music...

By 1890, John Grainger had moved out of the family home, never to return. Rose turned Percy's musical education after the age of ten over to Dr. Louis Pabst, feeling that she had taken her son as far as she could, and on July 9, 1894, Percy made his public debut at Melbourne's Masonic Hall to excellent reviews.

The next year, after a hugely successful farewell Benefit Concert in The Melbourne Town Hall, Rose Grainger moved the two of them to Germany, so that Percy could have better study opportunities with the finest teachers in Europe. There he formed some of the friendships which were to last throughout most of his life among his fellow students - Roger Quilter, Balfour Gardiner, Cyril Scott, and Norman O'Neill. This group of young composers, along with Percy, became known as the Frankfurt Five. They called him Perks, encouraged one another in their compositional ambitions. Here Percy also met another lifelong friend, Danish cellist Herman Sandby, who saw great things in the music of this wild-haired young Australian.

At this time, Rose Grainger's health was not the best. Known only to her young son, she suffered from syphilis, which she had contracted from her alcoholic, womanizing husband, and which at that time was incurable. The disease would flare up from time to time and she would find herself unable to make a living for herself and her son. On top of that, she had an accident in which she slipped on some ice, coupled with a nervous collapse, which left Percy as sole provider for the family.

He performed at recitals, accompanied singers and gave private piano lessons, while Rose was forced to recuperate for months, nursed chiefly by her son. In 1901, Rose and Percy bade farewell to Germany and set their sights on making their way in London. The thirteen years that they were to spend there saw Percy firmly establish his reputation as a world-class pianist. He gave many recitals, frequently in the homes of the well-to-do. He was not fond of doing this, much preferring to compose rather than put himself on display for what he considered to be the idle rich. But it was what he had to do to keep himself and Rose, as well as his ailing father.

He made many useful contacts in this way, and met fellow composers who became his friends - Grieg, Delius, Vaughan Williams, among others. Cyril Scott had come to London before Percy and they happily resumed their friendship, although Rose kept a firm hand on Percy's time and energies, controlling every facet of his life, including his love life. Percy had a patroness, Lilith Lowrey, a fortyish married member of society, who insisted that he become her lover if he wanted to continue to receive the benefit of her patronage, and he had no choice but to obey, losing his virginity to her at the age of twenty.

Percy loved his mother very much, and was a very dutiful son. He had taken on the responsibility of caring for her since the departure of his architect father, and was determined to put Rose above everything else. Through his friend Sandby, he met and fell in love with a young Danish woman, Karen Holten, and they continued a close relationship for eight years, primarily via correspondence, and vacations taken together about once a year. Percy realized, however, that he could not marry Karen or any other woman at that time, for no woman would consent to take a back seat to his mother, and he could not abrogate the responsibility which he had taken upon himself. So reluctantly he let Karen go and she married another, although they maintained a friendship until her death in 1953. He composed a piece of music on the occasion of her marriage, Bridal Lullaby.

It was during his time in England that he developed an interest in folksong collecting, an enthusiasm also shared by his friend Cecil Sharp. He spent much time going about the English countryside, particularly in Lincolnshire, gathering the songs of the folk singers and recording them on cylinders, a practice not much used before. One of his arrangements of the song Country Gardens eventually became the best known of his works, overshadowing his other compositions, and it brought in a comfortable income until he died. This was to his chagrin, for he was dismayed that people would remember him for such a light piece, and never get to know the other more important things that he had done.

In 1914, with the war in Europe breaking out, Percy and Rose decided that it was not safe for them to remain there any longer, and feared an untimely end to Percy's budding musical career if he should have to fight in the army. A pacifist by nature, he did not believe in the unsportsmanlike, unmanly way in which modern wars had come to be conducted, and wanted no part of them. So he and Rose left the country, coming to America, which had been of interest to him for some time. There, he was embraced by the American public and his career took off.

He took as an agent Antonia Sawyer, who became a good friend as well. In 1917, amid the jeers of people back in England who called him a coward, he decided to enlist in the army, bought a soprano saxophone and marched off to Fort Totten. He enlisted under the name of PA Grainger, and was immediately transferred to Fort Hamilton, South Brooklyn, as a member of the 15th Band of the Coast Artillery Corps under band leader Rocco Resta. Because there was a surplus of saxophones, Percy was given an oboe to play and contentedly played in anonymity until at one of the band's concerts, he was recognized by a reporter and flushed out for who he really was. He spent the war years giving concerts and helping to raise funds for such organizations as the Red Cross, for which he made a lifelong commitment of assistance.

Percy's stint in the army led to his interest in composing for wind bands, and he was one of the first composers to realize their potential. He wrote a beautiful suite, Lincolnshire Posy, based on several songs he had collected. Besides Country Gardens, some of his other successful compositions included Molly on the Shore, Shepherd's Hey and Irish Tune From County Derry (Danny Boy).

In 1921, Percy purchased a home in White Plains, New York, for himself and Rose, whose health was deteriorating. His next door neighbors were Tonie and Frederick Morse (Tonie was Antonia Sawyer's niece, and eventually became Percy's manager, while Frederick acted as secretary and wrestling partner). Percy and Rose had never been separated for more than three weeks at a time throughout his life, even while he was on tour, but in early 1922, she was unable to accompany him on a two-month tour of the Pacific coast and Canada. Perhaps Rose felt that her control of Percy was slipping, perhaps she agonized over his need for a wife versus her need to be the most important person in his life, or perhaps her syphilis had become too overwhelming for her to handle any longer. There were also rumours of an incestuous relationship existing between her and Percy, the result of a bitter ex-girlfriend who blamed Rose for the breakup of her relationship with Percy. Whatever the reason, on April 30, 1922, she plunged from the eighteenth floor of the Aeolian Building in New York, where Antonia Sawyer had her office. Percy was conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the time. When he reached his dressing room, a telegram awaited him stating that his mother had died. It was only on the train trip back to New York that a distraught Percy learned the details of her death.

Rose's death was a blow from which Percy never fully recovered. He traveled and went on tours, collecting folk songs in Denmark with Evald Tang Kristensen. In Norway, he saw Frederick Delius again for the first time in many years, and was saddened at the state of his friend's deteriorating health (Delius also suffered from syphilis). In 1924 Percy became a vegetarian (he referred to it as meat-shunment, part of his blue-eyed English - a quixotic attempt to expunge the English language of all words of Latin and Greek derivation). 

In 1926, while returning to America from Australia aboard the RMMS Aorangi, he met and fell in love with a Swedish poet/courtesan - Ella Viola Ström. It was love at first sight for the heartsick Percy, but he did not immediately win over the girl of his dreams. He courted her assiduously, visiting with her at her home in Pevensey Bay, England, while she communicated with her Japanese lover, Iyemasa Tokugawa, as to ending their relationship and marrying Percy. Apparently he gave his consent, for they were wed at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles on August 9, 1928, before a crowd of some 20,000 who had attended Percy's concert there. For the occasion, he wrote a piece of music for his bride - To A Nordic Princess. They remained married until Percy's death in 1961. This marriage produced no offspring.

Some of Percy's more ambitious compositions include The Warriors (Music for an Imaginary Ballet), Random Round, In A Nutshell, The Jungle Book among others. He was one of the foremost pianists of his era, and his skill is still evident in the CDs which are available of his works, which were originally recorded on cylinders and on Duo-Art Recording Piano rolls He spent many years working on his concept of free music, building machines which would eliminate the need for a performer, and he developed the forerunner of the modern synthesizer. He also developed the idea of beatless music and in 1908 came up with a prototype of the modern sports bra, so his lover could comfortably run with him.

He remained very outspoken in his views, and often contradicted his words with his actions. He championed composer Henry Cowell when others turned their backs on him for what was at that time viewed as moral turpitude, kept in touch with him while Cowell was in prison and allowed him to be released to his guardianship, where he employed him at the Graingers' White Plains home. He was very publicity conscious, and this too coloured the things that he did. Viewed by some as a racist, he actually liked all people, and worked assiduously to introduce the public to types of music not commonly heard - claiming that music was dominated by the Germans and Russians, to the detriment of other nations - Polynesians, Africans, Asians, to name a few.

He was a champion of physical fitness, and stayed in top form throughout his life. He designed clothing from colourfully patterned towel material, as well as beaded necklaces. He loved Kipling, and spent over fifty years on his musical studies of the Jungle Book, which contain some of the most beautiful choral music ever written. He had an affinity for writing startlingly compelling chromatic harmonies which is equaled by few composers.

He began building a museum for himself in Melbourne in 1932, in order not just to collect the pieces of his life, but to help to understand the influences that came to bear in making him the person that he was. A prolific archivist, his correspondence is simply amazing to behold, and is currently in the process of being catalogued. Also in the Grainger Museum are many of his instruments and memorabilia from the people in his life, including life-sized dummies wearing their original clothes (which he requested from his friends, as well as copies of all correspondence).

Percy Aldridge Grainger was a man ahead of his time in many ways. If he had been born at a later time, today he would probably be a cultural phenomenon, gracing the pages of supermarket tabloids worldwide with his striking Adonis looks, his immense talent for the keyboard as well as his talent for being controversial, and for his antics both on stage and off - including his various athletic leaps upon the stage, being mistakenly arrested for vagrancy (more than once), moving pianos on stage, his espousal of blue-eyed English, his relationship with his mother and his proclivity toward the use of whips in his sex-life. Percy Grainger was indeed one of a kind.

Go to YouTube, go to your library, start listening to Percy's music now. You'll be glad you did! You'll see why I love this man so!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Monday, April 23, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Barnabas Collins

A few days ago, we were rocked by the sudden demise of Jonathan Frid, our beloved Barnabas Collins. He did live a long and amazing life, and he'll be sorely missed by us, his fans. I fell in love with him when I was about twelve, when I discovered the world of Dark Shadows. I began my love affair with vampires upon reading Bram Stoker's novel, one that continues to this day. I cut pictures of Barnabas from the fan magazines and taped them to my wall. Every night, before I went to bed, I kissed him good night. There is a place in my heart where he'll always live. We are blessed to have had him. I'm introducing him to my daughter Sarah, and she too is saddened at his loss.

Today I'm going to post pictures of him, in his memory. Rest in peace, dear friend, and thank you for all that you gave to us.

This is the portrait of Barnabas that hangs in the foyer of Collinwood. Or, rather, of his "ancestor".  Funny how they look exactly alike, isn't it? And that when the present day Barnabas shows up, he has both the ring and the cane.

Suspicious much?

At times, Dark Shadows could be a bit hokey and campy, but it was well loved. Look in early episodes and you'll see the shadow of the boom mic.

Barnabas with Dr. Julia Hoffman, the psychiatrist that became his staunchest ally and best friend. She had a huge crush on Barnabas, but it could never be because of his obsession with his lost Josette.

The show liked to take forays into the past at times, and the cast would sometimes play other versions of themselves, or different characters. In one incarnation, Julia was Magda the gypsy. Barnabas was always himself.

And now Tim Burton is set to release the remake of Dark Shadows on May 4th. At first I thought it might be good, that Johnny Depp might do justice to the role. Until I saw the pre-release photos, and then I saw the trailer and I thought I was going to be ill. This movie is a mockery and a travesty. I hope it fails; it deserves to. It takes Dark Shadows and makes a huge joke out of it. Dark Shadows was Gothic camp, not humorous camp, like Lost in Space. I just lost my respect for Tim Burton as a filmmaker. And Johnny? Really? Didn't you find it to be over the top in the wrong way?

Rest in peace, dear friend, you will be greatly missed. Thank you for everything you gave us.

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie