Bangles: My True Story of Escape, Adventure and Forgiveness by Marsha Marie

Book cover for Bangles.

Bangles: My True Story of Escape, Adventure and Forgiveness by Marsha Marie is a personal tale of living outside the “safety” of America and of adopting another country as home.  A sort of variation  of   “An Englishman Abroad” where the heroine of the book takes us though her trails and tribulations via series of books all starting with “Bangles.”

The tale begins with Marsha in an abusive relationship with her first husband. One that ends with her losing custody of her children.  She meets a man from Los Angeles who is Pakistani and they fall in love.  Marsha then decides to ignore the law, which has not been her friend in relation to her children and flee the country of her birth.

She takes her children to Pakistan to live with her new husband’s family in a tiny village that, in 1992, still uses a version of horse and cart to travel long distances.  There are other cultural differences and Marie’s recounting is tinged with humor and that inevitable fish out of water feeling.

Anyone who has lived abroad will recognize the feeling Marsha describes while adjusting to her new home.  It is an amazing story of perseverance and starting over, repeatedly, that keeps the reader turning page after page to move on to the next event in her story.

Each vignette explains something about the writer and, initially, the family she lives with.  It also paints a broad picture of a country and culture that,  in itself, is as different as night and day.

Marsha Marie is now firmly ensconced in the US. She has a website – marshamarie.com and  is working on another two volumes in the “Bangles” series. It is the time of year for reading; summer hols and relaxing days in the garden and all that entails.

Take a moment to read this entertaining, sad at times, and remarkable look at one woman’s journey of self discovery in a country half a world away.

Bangles: My True Story of Escape, Adventure and Forgiveness by Marsha “Yasmine”  Marie is a brilliant start to a series about learning; about one’s self and  about healing.  The book is available on Amazon via Kindle and the second in the series is due out January 2017.

David Carradine: The Eye of My Tornado: A Portrait by Marina Anderson

Book cover of Marina Anderson's autobiographical taleAfter spying this biographical tale in the second-hand section of the local thrift shop last year, I grabbed it on a whim. I was still in shock at Carradine’s death by “autoerotic asphyxiation” as determined by a coroner back when his body was discovered in a Bangkok, Thailand hotel closet in 2009.

The reason that his death stuck in my mind so firmly was two-fold. One, the news of his death came literally on the same day that SyFy’s “Celebrity Ghost Stories” had advertised a segment by Carradine where he talked of a haunting. I remember being stunned at the news and the timing of it. Secondly, his death was eerily similar to another actor’s whose dead body was discovered after the dead man’s fiancee raised concern for her missing fella. Albert Dekker, whose last role was that of the railroad man Harrigan, an agent for the company intent upon hunting down and killing the gang in “The Wild Bunch.”

Dekker had been found in ladies lingerie with obscenities scrawled on his near-naked body and hanging from the shower rail in his apartment. The death is recounted in the “underground classic” “Hollywood Babylon” by Kenneth Anger. The similarities are remarkable, especially as both women whom the men were attached to, were adamant that foul play was involved.

In this book, Marian Anderson writes, as a sort of catharsis, about her time with Carradine and the side less known. Her recounting of their affair shows just how much she did to rejuvenate his career and her work to get he and Tarantino together before “Kill Bill.”

That David Carradine was a very talented actor is undeniable. Watching him in “Night of the Templar” in what was, except for the 2016 film “Mata Hari” which is still in post production, his last role is an example of his effortless style of delivery in an otherwise poorly executed film.

Marina tells of David’s attempt to stay sober during their six year relationship and his going back to booze afterward, along with what appears to have been opiate abuse throughout, and one marvels at the amount of talent that still shone through in his performances.

Sadly, it seems that Carradine was not an overly pleasant man when dealing with his fans and he was at the forefront of autographs for money. Reading the book, which is very well written, Carradine comes across as romantic, controlling, narcissistic, passive-aggressive, and wildly talented. He was a musician, singer, and writer on top of his acting and Marina is not hesitant to point out the creative sides of her ex-husband.

There are things about David that are shocking, incest on top of the alcohol abuse, and his sexual practices sound like something out of “50 Shades of Grey.” Anderson does not flinch at showing all the sides of her relationship with Carradine, warts and all. Her cleansing act of revelation is entertaining and one leaves the book with a feeling that Carradine never realized what he had in his grasp.

Sadly, it seems to be a trait which he was doomed to repeat regardless of whatever partner he was with. After buying this book, written in 2010, it took me over a year to get past the first chapter. Not because it was “hard reading” but because of my business schedule. I picked the book up yesterday and once started, it was impossible to put down. Finishing this morning, I realized that this was one of the best celeb biographies I’d read in a long time.

Kudos to Marina Anderson for her portrait of David Carradine, “the eye of her tornado” and the times spent living with him and getting over him. She also tells of her own personal investigation into his suspicious death in Thailand and her conclusions. This is a 4 out of 5 star read, fascinating and difficult to put down.

Fifty Shades of Grey: Critic Verdicts…Who Cares?

Screen shot of Grey and Steele from Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey  continues to spark a bit of controversy as various critics (but not this one) have given their learned verdict about the film, but really…Who cares? Certainly not the housewives who helped to make the book by middle-aged author E L James a runaway bestseller. Her target audience aren’t looking for Shakespeare between the sheets here – or is that between the whipping posts – they are looking for fantasy.

A dreamy escape from normalcy and the ever present pressures of trying to fit into the demanding world of modern feminism. These millions of fans have taken off their freedom and hung it temporarily in the closet while they enjoy the mastery of a self centered sadomasochist. It doesn’t hurt that the male protagonist is unbelievably wealthy, and powerful, with the added bonus of being drop dead gorgeous to the female audience.

Christian Grey was going to be Charlie Hunnam from Sons of Anarchy. He changed his mind quickly after being cast and backed out citing contract obligations with the hit television show he stars in. While fans of the book worked themselves into a frenzy over who would replace Charlie, the daughter of Melanie Griffiths and Don Johnson, Dakota Johnson, was named as the actress who would show all as Anastasia Steele.

I personally have not gone to see the film.  While still on the list for new screeners there is an issue of transportation as Phoenix is over 90 minutes away and I have no vehicle, but even if travel was not an issue, I would not be rushing to see it.

I am not a prude, after hearing about the bloody books, (James – who started out writing fan fiction about Twilight – wrote another two sequels to the original sex fantasy for the middle-aged and middle-married heterosexual female fans) an E-book of the first tale was downloaded and read.

While not being a housewife (Or feminist who fantasizes about it?) who yearns to be dominated by a man, I found Fifty Shades of Grey to be entertaining to a degree. James has a deft touch writing about the sex scenes while bludgeoning the reader with a female “heroine” who strains belief. Are there really college upper-grads who can manage to be that naive?  But, in reality,  are there any fans who care that her naivety is as real as ersatz eggs?

I doubt it.

Today’s world reeks of sexuality and sensuality. Children are being sexualized at an alarming rate and the art of coitus is being practiced by teens who are barely past puberty. James has proven that, while she may never equal the great authors, she knows what sells.

One cannot go on the Internet without discovering that in today’s world sex apparently equals pain of some sort. Sorry chaps, but despite what you’ve been told by those who want to salve your ego, size does matter. The bigger the better and all the more to hurt you with my dear.

Oh and if I can slap you around a bit and degrade you in the process that is the harsh icing on that bitter cake. Granted in the books, Anastasia is a somewhat reluctant but willing victim. Eventually liking the act of being submissive (while maintaining that ridiculous naivety throughout) and actually not managing to emotionally age by the end of the first book.

However…

As I’ve said, reading the book provoked responses from me that were surprising. It is erotica, no doubt about that and, while not the finest, it causes the blood to rush and one can only imagine that the female fans must be ready to attack the first bloke they run into after reading a few chapters, or seeing a few reels…

Which may be the main reason I  not to watch the film version after learning that Hollywood was going to rake in the money from the author’s fans. An entire cinema full Fifty Shades of Grey fans who sit in their seats squirming with excitement and imaginations running overtime is a frightening prospect.

*I mean, seriously? Have you seen how women act around male strippers?*

Critics of the male variety must have been mad to attend a non press preview, which I am sure existed, who cares what the rest of the world thinks. Women who are fans will go regardless of what some educated reviewer thinks.

So forgive me if I pass, the bloody book wasn’t that erotic or well written. Even if, like the old Heineken advertisements used to say, it “hits the parts that others can’t reach” for the female audience.

12 February 2015

Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet by Matthew Kadish: A Cinematic Read

Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet by Matthew Kadish: A Cinematic Read

Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet by Matthew Kadish is a very cinematic read, it is also book one of the Earthman Jack space saga; the cover of the book says so. The novel itself is, as Matthew himself says, a brick of book. Admittedly it is a long story, but, a tale that deals with intergalactic travel, races beyond the stars, entire worlds being destroyed by some pretty impressive “big bads” and possible time travel and a beautiful princess is going to take a few pages to get through. With well over 600 pages, actually the page count is exactly 666 but does not take into account the extra pages at the beginning. So those readers who may feel this is a bad thing can relax. The book “looks” long but the reading of this story goes surprisingly fast.

The Crescent by Cynthia Vespia Being Made Into a Film

The Crescent by Cynthia Vespia Being Made Into a Film

Back in 2005 author Cynthia Vespia published The Crescent via self publishing and now in 2014 not only is the book being re-released but it is being made into a film. Ms. Vespia has written a total of nine novels and somewhat ironically, it is the first of her works that has been optioned to become a film and is currently in preproduction.