Hot Air

Camp Is Fun!

Susie the Self-styled Clown of Chapel Hill, NC, is a pal of The Loved One and me. On any given day she’s as likely as not to uncover fascinating historical arcana such as this:

Camp Sign

Have An Exhausting Day, Girls!

One Q.: To whom is the “Drive Carefully” admonishment directed? Teenaged camp girls who happen to be driving while in those eponymous throes or visitors and parents who might encounter flopping, writhing camp girls at any moment?

In either case, safety first!

Clickers

How can you not love living in Bloomington? The place is chock full of creative souls. For instance, I just came from the Richardson Studio on 6th St. for a photo shoot. Jeff Richardson is a merlin behind the shutter, cajoling, wheedling and otherwise squeezing the poses out of his subjects. From what I hear, B-town’s high school seniors are big on getting their mugs shot by JR and his lovely bride Michelle (who, BTW, is also the biz brains behind the operation.)

And then yesterday I had Shannon Zahnle over to Pencil World HQ for yet another photo shoot. Her modus operandi is different — she’s quiet, watching and waiting for the subject to come alive. Her way takes a tad longer but produces results as fine as anyone’s in town.

Richardsons & Zahnle

(l to r) Jeff Richardson, Michelle Richardson & Shannon Zahnle

The work of all three photogs can be seen in any given issue of Bloom mag, and therein lies the reason I had appointments with the two. Keep reading Bloom to see the results thereof, and, in any case, just because you ought to.

Kyle Watch

The Pencil is now your headquarters for monitoring the inexorable march of Kyle Schwarber to major league baseball glory.

Schwarber, of course, was one of the stars of Indiana University’s successful baseball team the last two years. He was drafted in the first round earlier this month by my beloved Chicago Cubs (number 4 overall).

Schwarber/Effross

Harbinger? Schwarber Being Comforted By Scott Effross Earlier This Month

I have no religion but I have faith. Faith, natch, is an irrational thing. One of the tenets of my faith, for instance, holds that the historically unsuccessful Cubs will play in and — deep breath — win a World Series some time in my lifetime. My great hope is that I won’t have to live until the ripe old age of 248 before my faith is rewarded.

Anyway, I’m fantasizing that players like Schwarber will lead the Cubs (and me) to the mountain top.

Schwarber has only played five games as a professional and he’s already earned a promotion from the Boise Hawks to the Kane County Cougars. That’s quick, babies. Next up, possibly even later this summer, the Daytona Cubs. Should his rise through the organization continue apace, he might swing the ash for the Iowa Cubs beginning next year and then sometime around June, 2015, hit the big show at Wrigley Field.

That, of course, is a dream scenario. He’ll hit some rough patches along the way; we’ll see how he handles them. Keep your dial tuned here for further developments.

Professional Discourtesy

Flannery O’Connor, an author who actually knew how to write, once took on a more famous author who, well, didn’t.

O’Connor, penner of such classics as Wise Blood and A Good Man Is Hard to Find, once wrote a letter to a playwright friend about contemporary scribe Ayn Rand. O’Connor, who knew of such literary injunctions as brevity, subtlety, show-don’t-tell, avoid speechifying, and try, try, try to be at least somewhat interesting, was moved to advise stage scripter Maryat Lee in her 1960 letter:

I hope you don’t have friends who recommend Ayn Rand to you. The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.

 

O'Commor/Spillane/Dostoevsky

(l to r) Flannery O’Connor, Mickey Spillane & Fyodor Dostoevsky

Generally, authors and other creatives, as well as card-carrying members of other less imagination-based vocations, tend not to slam each other no matter how slam-able one or the other is. For instance, you’ll rarely hear of a writer stating that James Patterson is a formulaic plot-pushing hack. It should be noted, though, that horror meister Stephen King last year savaged three spectacularly successful female authors, Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), Stephenie Meyer (Twilight), and E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey). It is to be hoped that King wasn’t simply dissing dame authors and their predominantly female readership. Let’s assume he was criticizing for only the most pure of professional reasons.

Nevertheless, pros tend not to bash other pros. It’s bad juju, I suppose. You know, I could tear, say, Rhonda Byrne apart not only for being a bad writer but a sloppy, undisciplined, infantile thinker but I won’t — and not because I buy into her The Secret karma-payback bullshit — but because, well, oh hell, screw it all, she just blows.

Anyway, most writers don’t insult others. Then again, there’s that rare keyboard pounder who’s so bad, so worthy of pejorative that even the most sanguine of colleagues cannot resist bullying him or her in print. Such is Ayn Rand.

Yet Rand, her bizarre little cult, and her fiction are perhaps the prime philosophical touchstones for a generation of Republicans.

In that sense, O’Connor was not only a literary critic but a political one.

Suicide Sons

If you haven’t caught Doug Storm’s three-part Interchange interviews with the Lockridge boys yet, you’re in luck — links here, here, and here.

Ernest and Larry Lockridge are the sons of Indiana’s own Ross Lockridge, Jr., who penned the sensational bestseller, Raintree County, and then offed himself at the tender age of 33 in 1948. The book became a just-as-sensational blockbuster movie starring super heavyweights Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin, Rod Taylor, Agnes Moorehead, and even DeForest Kelley, later of Star Trek fame. Directed by Edward Dmytryk in 1957, the movie was the most expensive ever shot at the time. During the shooting Clift smashed up his car and nearly died. His life was saved by Elizabeth Taylor; she says she actually pulled his tongue out of his throat lest he die of asphyxiation. If you watch the movie closely, you’ll be able to see which scenes were shot before and after the crash as Clift suffered severe facial injuries.

Raintree County

Clift And Taylor In A Publicity Still From “Raintree County”

Lockridge pere suffered from debilitating depression and then took his own life via carbon monoxide poisoning. His fils have clashed publicly over the possible reasoning for their daddy-o’s suicide. Ernest has claimed his pop’s depression was caused by molestation at the hand of his father, Ross, Sr. Larry doesn’t buy it.

So it turns out the Lockridge family was almost as fraught with scandal and drama as the antebellum Shawnessey family of Indiana and Georgia in Ross, Jr.’s novel.

WFHB’s Doug Storm gives us good three-parter on the book and the Lockridges. Catch it.

[BTW: Doug Storm won WFHB’s coveted Rookie of the Year award at the station’s annual meeting earlier this month. I’m not too modest to say I copped that very plaque in 2010, my first year here in B-town and at the station, natch. Let’s see it’s here somewhere, maybe under this pile….]

 

3 thoughts on “Hot Air

  1. Matthew Wenger says:

    Hey, Michael,
    The Shawnessy (not Shawnessey) family of TD and Ellen (Johnny’s parents) settled in Raintree County in 1820, from –as TD tells it– the east, not necessarily Georgia. Johnny’s marriage to Susannah Drake, whose family was from Louisiana, might be the southern connection you are referencing.

    Good to see you the other day!

    MWenger

  2. Matthew Wenger says:

    Also, Objectivism isn’t really an Ayn Rand ‘cult,’ per se. A lot of Republicans (and Libertarians) use the meta-ethic of individualism to support the validity and “morality” of Capitalism, and Rand’s political leanings were in some ways antithetical to the foundations of Objectivism, but she never claimed to be liberal or conservative. “The Collective” you might could consider a cult, but a very small, intellectually diverse and short-lived one.

    See you later

  3. I was adding you to my collection of photos of writers and I was off the Bloom clock. Thanks for that. You have nice pets.

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