Monday, October 3, 2011

Carole Lombard Blogathon and Other Stuff

This is a brief reminder of the Carole Lombard blogathon sponsored by Carole & Company, which begins this Thursday.  My contribution will be a look at "My Man Godfrey".  Have a look here for the list of participants.

And a couple of other notes:   Last summer I wrote about an exhibit of Norman Rockwell's work involving Hollywood subjects called "Rockwell and the Movies", here.  I managed to get to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts this weekend (actually for another exhibit), and sneaked a peak at the enormous painting of Jennifer Jones from "The Song of Bernadette" (1943).  The image depicts her character in contemplative awe at the moment of seeing her vision of the Virgin Mary.  One is always struck by the detail of Rockwell's photographic-style of illustration, and his likeness of Jennifer Jones is the best I've ever seen.  What made the painting more remarkable is that he adds that slightly subjective drama to the expression on her face and the stillness of her body that makes image go beyond merely photographic.  It enhances the image and enraptures the viewer.  His simulation of her simulation of seeing a heavenly vision is deeply moving.

Close by was the excellent depiction of Tyrone Power from "A Razor's Edge". 

Art is inevitably subjective.  In another gallery, an exhibit of animation from the Blue Sky studio contained a video presentation of some short cartoons made from the late 1980s to the present.  An elderly couple sat down in empty chairs in front of the small screen, I think simply to rest.  During a series of cartoons about a hapless squirrell whose fast-moving, slapstick adventures left him in constant danger while trying to protect his supply of acorns, this elderly couple bust a gut laughing.  I never expected them to enjoy this rapid-fire lunacy.

I was more amazed by the little girl who wandered in to watch, probably about 7 years old.  She remained stone-faced during the entire set of cartoons, occasionally sneaking glances at the elderly couple and smiling a little at them as one does in antipation at another person's laughter, and then bringing her eyes back, dubiously, at the screen as if wondering what was so funny.  Eventually, she became bored, and slipped on the earphones, and listened to her iPod, lost in a world she preferred and did not have to share.

Something tells me this child is never going to enjoy screwball comedy like Carole Lombard.  But I hope life will treat her gently and she may discover, as the elderly couple have, the delight of such simplistic irony and the utterly human joy of laughing at ourselves.  That's the secret, little one.  We're not really laughing at the squirrel, we're laughing at ourselves because we know how he feels.  We've been there on really bad days.

If the couple were her grandparents, I think they could take her in hand and show her in time by their glorious example.  But they were strangers to her, and she will never see them again.  In a moment, her father came in, a man likely in his middle 30s but dressed like a boy, the kind of person who bolts through museum exhibits like a man checking off an obligatory grocery list.  There.  I've got that done.  Now let's get out of here.

One more thing, my short story "Constancy", available as an ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Sony, etc., was recently reviewed on the book review blog Red Adept Reviews, accompanied by an interview, here.

See you Thursday for "My Man Godfrey". 


The Lady Eve said...

I'm hoping to get to the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge yet. Would so like to have seen the paintings you describe. Loved your tale of the old couple cracking up over the squirrel cartoon. The little girl and her father, though, sound like a sad pair - hopefully one or both will wake up to life some day.

Joel Bocko said...

I just watched Mr. & Mrs. Smith for the first time, and while it isn't particularly laugh-out-loud funny, I actually found it fairly charming, despite its reputation.

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