Monday, May 30, 2016

Squirrel !!!

Remember the dog in the animated movie Up?  That's how I'm feeling these days.

Every time he started to do something, he got distracted by a passing squirrel.

My squirrels are books.  Today I was sorting through a box of the 'better' books, those that I really want to read but, for some reason or other, know I will never get around to (length, size of print, etc).  I have most of Michael Crichton's, one of which is a hardback still wrapped in cellophane.  But I doubt I will ever read it.  I have most of Robin Cook's too.  There was a time when I devoured his books, and I suspect this was purchased during that time. (I'm also discovering that as I come across clumps of books, I can remember where I was in my mind/interests at the time I bought them.)  Robin Cook is a good writer and writes riveting stories, but when you have read enough you realize the plot is pretty much the same -- different locale, different biological threat to the world, different heroine in trouble, but who will save the day -- and you just get to the point where you don't care any more.

I also have several Frederick Forsyth, which I'm pretty sure I won't read because of length, though I have loved his books.  So into the Logos box they went.  (I should say that length is really not a deterrent.  I have read many >500 page books on my Kindle, but a >500 page book is just too big to lug around everywhere.)  But one of the Forsyth books was a little ( less than 200 pages) book called "Phantom of Manhattan," inspired by Gaston Leroux's "Phantom of the Opera."

Andrew Lloyd Webber had reviewed it: Frederick Forsyth not only captures the spirit and style of Gaston Leroux's original novel, but also the romance and thrills that have made the Phantom such an alluring character.

I sat down "just for a minute" to look through it and immediately got hooked, just on the preface, where he tells how "Phantom" came to be such a phenomenon.  It was written around the same time as "Dracula" and "Frankenstein," and achieved some small attention, but then lapsed into obscurity.  Had it not been for a meeting by Leroux with Carl Laemmle, President of Universal Studios we might never have sung those wonderful Lloyd-Webber songs.

Leroux gave Laemmle a copy of his book, when he learned that the American was enthralled with the Paris Opera House.  Laemmle, the story goes, read the book in one night.  He was, at that time, preparing for the silent movie about Victor Hugo's "Hunchback of Notre Dame" for Universal's then-new star Lon Chaney.  Laemmle wanted another vehicle for Chaney, before he could be gobbled up by a rival studio and figured that Leroux's story would be just the thing.  The fear part of it was a great selling point, especially for women, who liked to be scared, and they gave away free smelling salts in the lobby before the film!

It made "Phantom of the Opera" a classic, and Chaney a star.  It was re-made several times for movies and television, but it didn't achieve the status it has now achieved until a young camp director produced it for London's West end and it was seen by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  He was in the middle of writing Aspects of Love at the time, but the story stayed with him and when he had the know the rest.

The Forsyth book takes the idea of Leroux's story and sets it in 1906, 20 years after the events in Paris, in an era where few would have known about the disaster there...and takes it from there (I haven't actually started the story yet)

I read all of this when I should have been sorting through more books, but this was my squirrel, and as I type this, the book is sitting on my desk and I know I will do more reading than sorting today.  Since it is so short, I will almost certainly finish it (then I can put it in the "Logos" box!) before returning to book-sorting.

I went to Atria today to deliver meds and pick up laundry.  Fortunately she was in her apartment so the visit was easier because we could talk many times about how much she loved the flowers around here.  I started telling her that Ned was painting my office lavender.

You'd think that would be easy.  You'd be wrong.  

- Ned is home painting my office.  We're painting it lavender.
- What about lavender?
- That's the color of the paint.
- Paint for what?
- My office.  Ned is painting it.
- Ned?  Where in your house are you painting?
- My office.
- I've never seen your office.  What are you doing to it?
- We're painting it.

And that's just the FIRST time we talked about it.  Know how many times you can repeat this conversation in an hour?

We also had an argument, of sorts about her mail.  She has a stack of opened envelopes that she says she needs to throw away.  It's been there for awhile.  I told her I'd go through it to see if anything needed to be attended to.  In the tall stack there were ads for X-Finity, ads from AAA asking her to return (for the car she no longer has), empty envelopes, etc.  I got them all sorted and the 3 envelopes she needed to keep set aside and she was adamant that I throw NOTHING away because she had to go through it all herself and decide what she needed to keep.  Then she set it all back where it is, waved her hand over it and said "I have to get rid of all this crap."


I'd write more but... squirrel !!!

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