Posted by Caren Crane Jul 6 2014, 2:23 am in Backdraft, Big Trouble In Little China, Captain Ron, Caren Crane, Kurt Russell, movie marathon, movies you love, Overboard, Stargate, Tango & Cash
Friday was Independence Day here in the USA. We generally don’t do much to celebrate besides take in a fireworks display if the kids are around. This year, no kids. This year, I decided to take the day off and indulge myself. I spent the entire day feasting my eyes on my main man. The man my husband rather resembles and after whom I have pined since I was a little girl. That man, as many of you know, is my beloved Kurt Russell.
Kurt isn’t for everyone and neither is his filmography. I readily admit that I completely missed his “Disney kid actor” days. I didn’t see any of his child movies, not even The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. And I don’t recall seeing him on reruns of High Chapparal, Gunsmorke or Gilligan’s Island, either. But I vividly recall the Kurt of the 80s and 90s. THAT was my Kurt. Even into this millennium, Kurt has gotten to me. Here were my retrospective movies, along with some helpful (or harmful) critiques, in the order I watched them:
1. Big Trouble In Little China – Kurt has a very macho, swaggery style when he’s hamming it up. He never played that character bigger or better than as Jack Burton in 1986′s Big Trouble In Little China. This movie has San Francisco’s China Town, lots of martial arts, Chinese black magic, kidnapping, prostitution, human trafficking, and lots of Chinese hells. There are even a couple of very paranormalish monsters, in grand 80s tradition. AND it also stars Kim Cattrall, in what was probably her greatest role before she became Samantha on Sex and the City. Great stuff!
2. The Best of Times - This movie (also 1986) is a big, corny satire with tons of heart. It also stars Robin Williams, who got to do all the things he does best in this film. My darling Kurt plays Reno Hightower, who was a promising local football hero until that fateful game against Bakersfield in 1972. The one Robin Williams lost for the town and the one he is trying to get Reno to play again. Extra fun!
3. Overboard – I’ll admit I am not a huge fan of Kurt’s main squeeze (of the last 30 years), Goldie Hawn. But Goldie was great in this underrated comic gem from 1987. It has a premise that’s hard to defend – man claims rich woman with amnesia is his wife and takes her home to help with his 4 sons and pay off money she owes him – but it’s a really cute, fun movie in any case. Plus, she was an incredibly unlikable horror at the beginning of the movie and a wonderful, loving person at the end. Aw!
4. Captain Ron – Okay, here’s where I got my movies way out of order. I thought this one must have preceded the next two, so I watched it after Overboard, which was chronologically very wrong. This one came out in 1992, but you can only sort-of tell that it’s no longer the 80s, given the hair and fashions of the times. Also stars Martin Short (a hit or miss with me) and Mary Kay Place (whom I adore!). This is one of those madcap caper type movies that is enjoyable once in a blue moon. I’ve had my fill for now.
5. Tango & Cash – This film from 1989 is just something that seriously should never have happened. The plot was ludicrous (two LA police detectives are framed for drug dealing and thrown into prison, from whence they plot an escape) and the dialogue was atrocious. The worst thing was, Sylvester Stallone (Tango) co-starred and was supposed to the the smart one! Which they accomplished by making him wear eyeglasses. What?!? I have no idea who thought that was a great idea. Fun, but only to make fun of. Even seeing their naked butts in the prison shower scene didn’t make this okay.
6. Backdraft – This 1991 film is probably the best movie Kurt has made so far. It is a heart-wrenching tale of love, fire and loss. Kurt is firefighter Stephen “Bull” McCaffrey, whose little brother Brian (William Baldwin) has just joined the force and is assigned to the station where he’s lieutenant. It’s a great movie about brothers, family and the love that so many firefighters and arsonists share for fire. Great stuff.
7. Stargate – This is my personal favorite of Kurt’s films. Well, it’s tied with #1 on my list, but I think it’s my favorite right now. I adore this science fiction/speculative fiction tale of humans re-establishing contact with the aliens who visited us thousands of years ago. When they figure out the goal was to use humans as slaves to mine a valuable mineral on a planet on the far side of the solar system, things get ugly for Kurt’s Colonel Jack O’Neil, who was suicidal before being called back to active duty for this mission due to the accidental shooting death of his young son. It also stars a young and very cute James Spader as the translator for the ancient Greek heiroglyphs. If you don’t recall how cute James was back in the day, you need to watch this movie!
I don’t regret spending the entirety of my July 4th with Kurt. I got to see him fight for truth, justice and the American way, all the way from Chinatown to outer space. And seriously, before he started showing his age (and the ravages of years of smoking) like he does these days, he was the most gorgeous thing ever!
So tell me, who do you love enough that you would spend an entire day watching SEVEN of his/her movies? I’d love to know your favorite of your favorite’s movies AND their biggest dud. TANGO & CASH. I’m just saying…
Posted by Caren Crane Jul 2 2014, 9:55 pm in Anne McCaffrey, Baby Steps, Caren Crane, Cross Springs, Dragonsinger, Dragonsong, Elizabeth Malczynski, exclusive interview
Caren, here, to interview…er…myself. For your pleasure, of course! Here are some scintillating facts about me that you can use to amuse yourself. Especially if you see me in a bar somewhere, say, at a conference or convention! If I’ve had enough of my favorite beverages, I will gladly cop to any of the following:
So, Caren, tell us. What drink does Sven bring you when you’re hiding in the cave?
First of all, Caren, I never hide in the cave, I simply use it as a handy retreat from the cold, cruel world. That said, before noon, Sven brings coffee and water. After noon, it’s all vodka tonics with two olives. And water. Always water.
Water…riiight. And, when you’re not in your cave, where in the Lair do you hang out the most?
Please, everyone knows if I’m not in my cave, then I’m in the library, of course! (Never believe Anna C. if she says I hang out in the kitchen. That is a lie. A lie, I say!!) It’s a little-known fact that I worked at the library at my college. I would have preferred shelving books, but they put me on the circulation desk. It was a really fun job and I got to make the “closing” announcements. I got some odd looks after some of my announcements, which were always designed to amuse me, naturally.
Naturally. So, Caren, let’s dish. What’s the hardest thing about writing? What’s the most rewarding?
The hardest thing about writing is sitting down and actually doing it. It’s much more fun to think about writing and talk about writing and write about writing than it is to actually write. Writing is hard! The most rewarding thing is someone posting or e-mailing that they loved my book or it touched them in some way. I love that!
You would. I’m sure our readers are just LONGING to know (as if it isn’t perfectly obvious from all your books), who do you enjoy writing more — hero or heroine?
I always greatly prefer heroines. Women are far more interesting than men, always. Men are such simple creatures, with fewer layers than women. Women are intricately-woven personalities. Very complex people with complex relationships. Men have little tolerance for complexity in relationships. They like things simple. I find simple simply boring. Women are fun to write!
I know you often get distracted when researching. Squirrel! What is the most interesting fact or research you have discovered so far?
That’s an easy one. I have no idea what I was researching, but at some point I found out there is a closed mine in Austria where they have converted the mine rails into a sort of roller-coaster, thrill ride. I want to go so badly!!I just have to convince my husband this is an opportunity that is not to be missed!
And, although you claim not to hang out in the kitchen, what’s your favourite Lair snack?
My favorite Lair snack is dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans. They should be banned in all countries! They somehow keep finding their way into my mouth, somehow, though I don’t recall putting them there. I adore them! They should be outlawed!
Lastly, what do you keep in your writing cave to inspire you?
I have two framed prints of the artwork from the cover of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. Elizabeth Malczynski was the artist and her work is spectacular. It fueled my imagination as a teenager and still does today! I find her art endlessly inspirational, even though I don’t write fantasy. She’s just that good!
Thus ends our terribly entertaining and enlightening interview with Caren Crane. Caren is shooshing off to update her (badly outdated) website to reflect the June 26 release of her second Cross Springs novel, BABY STEPS. The third Cross Springs novel will be out in late July. No telling when those updates will hit the website!
Posted by Caren Crane Jun 7 2014, 9:02 am in Caren Crane, everyday romance, marriage, Remember Romance, Romance, special occasions
Here is a common complaint I hear from women who do not read romance novels: real life just isn’t like that. It’s sad but true that life does not always work out with a happy ending. And yet, sometimes it does. I even know romance writers who are not enjoying a happy-ever-after with their first loves. Some are divorced or widowed. Some have never married. Some are on their second, or third, or fourth marriages. So why would these women want to write about Happy Endings?
I am an optimist by nature. I’ll admit that I enjoy the occasional murderous thriller and, when the mood hits, a dark and unhappy tale. Mostly, though, I like my stories upbeat and humorous, where everyone gets their just desserts in the end. A good romantic book or movie gives me that. When I transitioned from writing straight romance to women’s fiction, the heavy romantic story line was the first thing I dropped. But romance still figures in all my books. It kept getting stronger in each one, as a matter of fact. The hardest book I ever tried to write – and am still trying to finish! – features a married couple with no romance thread at all. Sorry to all the married people (like me!), but after a couple decades of marriage, romance isn’t on top of the agenda. There is still PLENTY going on, but it isn’t too romantic.
But even if real-life romance doesn’t stay front and center decade after decade, we still enjoy it. I once planned a romantic dinner with my husband on a rare night when we were without children. The waiter figured, wrongly, it must be our anniversary. Which made me realize that we only expect romance a couple of times a year, like on an anniversary or St. Valentine’s Day. Aren’t we selling ourselves short? Shouldn’t we expect romance to surprise us any old time, even if we’re in a committed relationship? Couldn’t any day be as romantic as Valentine’s Day? And if we expected more romance – planned for it, even – might we not find our lives a little sweeter, a bit happier or, at the very least, different?
What do you think? Is romance a requirement or is it just occasional icing on the cake of your life? If you haven’t found your Happy Ending yet, do you expect to someday?
Posted by Caren Crane May 24 2014, 12:35 am in Caren Crane, Claire Beauchamp, Dee Davis, Diana Gabaldon, Everything In Its Time, Hearts Out Of Time, Jamie Fraser, Outlander, Outlander TV series, Romance, Sandy Blair, Starz, time travel
My name is Caren and I’m a time-travel addict. I heard the murmurs of, “Hi, Caren!” coming from you guys, so don’t be shy if you’re an addict, too. I’ve been reflecting on my love affair with time travel romances lately for a couple of reasons. Really good reasons. Even hunky reasons!
In case you’ve been living under a large and marketing-impervious rock, you’ve probably heard that Diana Gabaldon’s fabulous Outlander is finally coming to the screen! Of course, it’s the small screen and it’s only on the Starz network, but still. It’s coming to our homes! I fell in love with Outlander when it first came out in hardcover. As a recently-graduated-from-college single mom in 1991, I didn’t buy hardcover books. BUT, I joined the Book Of the Month Club. Some of you may have done that, too. I forgot to send back my postcard or something one month and, before I knew it, Outlander showed up in my mailbox.
It sat around for a few weeks…and then I got bored enough to pick it up. I kind of hated the cover, which featured an ormolu clock whose glass face is in the act of shattering. It made me roll my eyes. But once I cracked the cover and started the tale of Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp, I was HOOKED. I read the novels assiduously until about the sixth one, which came out about the time my life got really complicated and I no longer had time to devote to Clan Fraser. I took a hiatus from time travel romance, but it wasn’t a conscious decision.
Last week, a good friend from church asked me if I had read the books. Duh! She then asked if I wanted to come to her series premiere party. Double duh! She had very expensive invitations made to her premiere party that look like wedding invitations. They are printed with the Fraser plaid on back. Swoon! So yes, August 9th is a highly anticipated date by many time travel romance fans!
Then, another interesting thing happened. My friend Dee Davis, who is one of my Red Door Reads buddies, posted a link yesterday to a collection of six time travel romances for 99 cents! WHAT?!? Yes, I snapped it right up. You should, too! As I clicked the evil “Buy now with 1-Click” button, I reflected that all signs seem to be pointing me toward time travel romance once again. My deep, dark secret is, when I first started writing romance, my very first manuscript was a time travel romance. No one was writing those in 2001! I managed to final in Georgia Romance Writers’ prestigious Maggie contest with that one, but was bested by…Sandy Blair! How could I be upset at being bested by the novel that became her first published time travel romance?
Have you had a love affair with time travel romance? If so, what books were your gateway drug? If not, what keeps you from indulging? And if you had the chance to travel back in time to be with the super-hot love of your life (Jamie Fraser), would you go? Why or why not? I can’t wait to hear everyone’s time travel experiences!
Posted by Caren Crane May 4 2014, 12:21 am in busy mom, Caren Crane, don't should on yourself, helpmeet, housework, it's all good, letting go, lowered expectations, working parents
I’ve been talking with friends quite a bit recently and it’s made me reflect on how I’ve changed in the past couple of decades. I have changed a lot since I graduated from college in 1990, for sure. Even more since having my third child in 1994. And two decades of marriage have brought many, many changes to my relationship with my husband.
If I had to boil the bulk of these changes down, I would fall back on a phrase I picked up in therapy somewhere around 1995: Don’t “should” on yourself. It was a favorite catchphrase of the therapist I was seeing for some situational depression and anger issues. Turns out a lot of my “issues” at the time were caused by my unrealistic expectations for myself. Where did those come from? My head. When the therapist gave me permission to not “should” on myself, I slowly (verrry slowly) began to shift my expectations for everything: my job, my home life, my house, my car, my yard, my cooking, my parenting.
These days, I do about 1/10th of the things I did 20 years ago in 1994. Yet, it takes all my time to do them. When I think of what I did then, I am amazed. In 1994, I had a newborn, a 1-1/2-yr-old and an 8-year-old. A full-time job as an engineer. A 2,750 sq ft house to clean, sitting on a 1.1-acre yard that needed a ton of yard work. I planted flowers, weeded flowerbeds, cleaned out old pine straw, pine cones and branches and put down fresh mulch. I painted ceramic Santas for the mantel, decorated for all the holidays, changed the decorative flags with each season. Kept everyone fed, clean and clothed (in clean clothes!). Went to parent-teacher conferences, arranged play dates and before- and after-school care, summer camps, ran my son to soccer and Boy Scouts. Did snack duty and den mom assistant duties in rotation. Then I did another 18 years of that times three (and 14 years as a Girl Scout leader). Of course, I didn’t do it alone. My husband was always quite a trooper and helpmeet. (((love)))
So when the baby went to college two years ago, I found myself at a bit of a loss. I realized last winter that there were a whole lot of things my husband and I just DON’T DO anymore. Like cooking. We do it seldom and only if we’re “inspired.” We eat a lot of sandwiches and cereal. My house is dusty. Quite dusty. I readily admit that AT THIS MOMENT I have two gorgeous Christmas wreaths sitting on my dining room table because I haven’t made a trip to the office supply store to buy storage boxes. I just DON’T DO a lot of things these days.
The Rose Of Sharon hedge really needs to be cut down again to about half its height. The swimming pool is still firmly covered. The driveway has piles of pine crap on it that have mixed with silt and hardened to a concrete-like consistency. There are fallen tree limbs in our landscaped area that angry villagers could use in a threatening manner in a mob scene. Are my husband and I worried about any of it? Not really. We just don’t do that anymore.
How about you? Have anything you’ve just “let go” over the years? Leave all your “shoulds” here with us today. We’ll make sure you don’t “should” on yourself. Plus, hello, Christmas wreaths on the dining room table! I promise, no one will judge you here.
Don’t forget to Join our amazing Facebook Blogiversary Party on May 8th! Also, don’t forget to bid on the 11 awesome Romance Bandits packages up for grabs at the Brenda Novak Auction to benefit juvenile diabetes research!
Posted by Caren Crane May 1 2014, 12:08 am in A Rake's Midnight Kiss, Alison Stuart, Anna Campbell, Anna Sugden, Annie West, Baby Steps, Bandita Blogiversary, Bandita Facebook Party, Brenda Novak Auction, Caren Crane, coming attractions, Cross Springs, Donna MacMeans, ebook prize bundle, Facebook Party, Hannah Dennison, JDRF, Karilyn Bentley, Kate Carlisle, Kindle Paperwhite, Nancy Northcott, Sons of Sin, Suzanne Church, Suzanne Ferrell, Terri Osburn, Ursula LeCouer, What a Duke Dares
Every month is a big old party here in the Lair, but MAY is especially special? Why, yes, it IS my birthday month! So kind of you to remember that my birthday is MAY 13 and I’m accepting gifts and brunches/lunches/dinners ALL MONTH LONG. :) Still, we have another Big Event we celebrate each May. Our Romance Bandits Blogiversary! On May 8, we will be having a HUGE blowout of a Facebook party. We’ll spend almost the entire day partying like, well, Banditas and giving stuff away! You guys just have to come by and comment to win swag. We’ll have a huge prize at the end for one lucky winner: a Kindle Paperwhite and e-book prize bundle!! Super fun and easy! Go Like our Facebook page to be sure you don’t miss out!
And in other exciting news:
Anna Campbell had a great month for contest excitement! Not only did her Sons of Sin books win Favorite Series Of 2013 at the Australian Romance Reader Awards, she received news that A Rake’s Midnight Kiss has finaled in the historical section of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Awards. Woo hoo! We are all terribly proud of Anna!
Anna Sugden‘s French language version of A Perfect Distraction was an Amazon bestseller in France and Canada! Wonder why? I don’t think it was just the hockey player theme!
May 3 – Nancy and guest Suzanne Church offer us a change of pace. Suzanne will discuss her new short story collection, Elements, with maybe a bit of Game of Thrones chat stirred in. (Dragon and knights and speculative fiction, oh my! I can’t wait!)
May 5 – Anna Campbell hosts the brilliant Annie West in the Lair! Annie’s going to tell us all about her wonderful new novella Back In the Italian’s Bed, the first in her Hot Italian Nights series! (Nothing about Hot Italians can be anything but awesome!)
May 6 - Debut author Ursula LaCoeur will guest with Donna. Learn how the romance of New Orleans inspired her debut, The Willing Widow. (New Orleans-inspired Victorian suspense should be extra-spicy!)
May 9 – Nancy welcomes Terri Osburn to chat about secrets, secret identities, and her new Anchor Island release, Home to Stay. Join the party and get the inside info! (Sekrits? We love sekrits!)
May 12 - Join Kate as she hosts the delightful Hannah Dennison whose wonderful new English countryside mystery series will debut this month, with Murder at Honeychurch Hall. (I’ve met Hannah. You’ll love her!)
May 16 - Karilyn Bentley returns with her dragon shifters to chat with Suz about her newest book, Dragon Lover. When opposing dreams collide, will love be the victor? (Ooh, dragons!)
May 24 – Caren Crane‘s book launch party for Baby Steps, the second book in the Cross Springs series. Don’t miss the extra-fun return to Cross Springs for the heart-tugging story of how Connie Burns, the career-oriented, happily-childless best friend from Kick Start ends up a mommy! (Cutest cover ever!)
May 27 – Anna Campbell hosts Aussie historical romance author Alison Stuart. Alison will be talking about her latest release Lord Somerton’s Heir, a Regency romantic suspense set just after Waterloo. (Waterloo! Couldn’t escape if I wanted to!)
Anna Campbell is giving away three personalized print ARCs of What A Duke Dares, the third Sons of Sin novel out in late August, in her current website contest. Just email her on anna @ annacampbell.info (no spaces) and tell her the name of the hero and heroine of What A Duke Dares. You might find the answer here: http://annacampbell.info/dukedares.html For more information, please check the contest page on her website: http://annacampbell.info/contest.html.
Hello, awesome May 8 Facebook Bandita Blogiversary party! Don’t miss it or you will feel like the out-of-the-loop kid sitting alone at home who missed the totally rad party when Kat and Bianca’s dad went out of town…or was that from Ten Things I Hate About You? Anyway, Like our page and join the party and win stuff!
Also, the Banditas are offering a crapload of great goody packages (11 of them!) in the Brenda Novak auction to benefit Type 1 diabetes research! Think you don’t know anyone with Type 1 diabetes? You know me and I’ve had it for 32 years! So check out the auction, bid on stuff and help cure my disease. There, I totally made it personal! You can check out our different packages by clicking the Romance Bandits link on the sidebar of the main auction page!
Wowza! May is shaping up to be kind of amazing and – potentially – exhausting! So what do you anticipate will be your favorite thing about May in the Lair? I think it’s going to be hard to choose (but I’m totally casting a vote for MY BIRTHDAY)!
Posted by Caren Crane Apr 16 2014, 11:24 pm in Caren Crane, Cross Springs In Bloom, Cross Springs novella, Novella, prize winner
Thanks to everyone for coming by to check out my launch party for my novella CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM. Don’t forget to go to Red Door Reads and enter the Who’s Ben Skrewd? contest. Such fun!
The winner of an ebook copy of CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM is…
Marcy, contact me at carencrane AT gmail DOT com and let me know what ebook format you prefer. Thanks for playing, everyone!
Posted by Caren Crane Apr 16 2014, 12:51 am in Ben Skrewd, Blake Brothers trilogy, Caren Crane, Cross Springs In Bloom, Cross Springs novella, Deb Marlowe, Half Moon House series, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, Red Door Reads, Susan Sey, Touch of Trouble, Who's Ben Skrewd
A provocative question, wouldn’t you agree? Well, last summer a number of us Red Door Reads authors decided that we all knew “who’s Ben Skrewd,” though the encounter is different for each person. Which gave us the idea of creating a character named Ben Skrewd who could appear in a group of novellas linked by Ben and our iconic Red Door. Launching the novellas on Tax Day (April 15th in the U.S.) was an irony we couldn’t resist!
Most of us were able to squeeze Ben into a novella in an ongoing series. My novella, Cross Springs In Bloom, takes place in the familiar environs of Cross Springs, NC. Cross Springs is the setting for my debut novel, Kick Start, as well as my next two novels. Baby Steps should be out in May 2014 and the long-awaited Tiara Wars will be out in July. In Cross Springs In Bloom, we spend time with Connie Burns and Katie Warren from Kick Start, but the heroine is Mindy MacPherson, the gossipy receptionist at Cross Springs Dermatology. When she helps Connie and Mindy track down the source of some prize-winning roses, Mindy comes face-to-face with a lover she let go and hoped never to see again.
Susan Sey’s novella, Touch of Trouble, we once again encounter her rowdy, sexy Blake Brothers. This time we are given some insight about the hard road the youngest Blake brother, Drew, and the brainy Meg will have to travel to find true love. It starts right where the second Blake Brothers novel, Talent for Trouble, left off. The two of them tackle a particularly sticky situation involving Meg’s family. Exceptional fun!
Deb Marlowe’s novella, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, is the next entry in her Half Moon House series. If you love feisty Regency heroines, hedge mazes, epistolary pleas and intrigue, Lierty and the Pursuit of Happiness - heck, the whole Half Moon House series! – is for you. The heroine is an American spitfire who longs to make a real difference in the world and volunteers to help at Hestia Wright’s Half Moon House. In helping a young friend extricate herself from a potentially awkward situation, she becomes entangled with Viscount Brodham, who is trying to save his young nephew…from Liberty’s friend!
Eleven of us have brand new novellas available (for a short time) at only 99 cents! Authors in the special collection are Caren Crane, Susan Sey, Deb Marlowe, Claudia Dain, Linda Winstead Jones, Ava Stone, Lori Handeland, Jane Charles, Andris Bear, Tammy Falkner and Susan Gee Heino. The special price won’t last forever, though, so be sure to visit www.RedDoorReads.com to get the scoop on all the novellas and snap them up while the deal is hawt!
Since Ben Skrewd is an integral character in each of the novellas, we have an ongoing “Find Ben Skrewd” contest set up at our website. Each of the 11 Red Door Reads authors with a Ben Skrewd novella has “hidden” Ben on her website. When you find Ben, just go to the Red Door Reads site, click the link, and tell us whose site and which page you found him on. A winner will be drawn when the contest closes on April 22nd and the winner will receive an iPad mini!
Meanwhile, enjoy all the novellas and the “Easter egg” of finding Ben Skrewd in each of them.
Speaking of Ben and Easter eggs, have you “Ben Skrewd” by the Easter Bunny? He used to faithfully visit me every year and now I get bupkes in my basket! What is your favorite Easter treat? Tell me all about it, little friends, and I’ll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of my new novella! I’ll admit my favorite is a dark chocolate-covered Russell Stover marshmallow egg. I’ve already had a few this year. Yummm…
Posted by Caren Crane Apr 6 2014, 12:19 am in 1830s Paris, Bugs Bunny, Caren Crane, Elmer Fudd, La Boheme, opera, opera buffa, opera seria, Puccini, starving artists, tragedies, Wagner
Those who visit with us often have heard me wax rhapsodic about melancholia. No matter the medium, I love a story with a bittersweet ending. Tragedies have been breaking our hearts since those ancient Greeks playwrights Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus first trotted actors out on stage. As a teenager, I adored Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies, but his tragedies appealed to my melancholic young heart.
As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate a new form of heartbreak: opera. I grew up watching Bugs Bunny cartoons that featured Bugs and Elmer Fudd singing arias from famous operas. I thought opera must be awesome! Then I attended the opera as a teenager, but can’t say I truly appreciated it. In the past 25 years, though, my love of opera has grown and deepened. Some of you may have seen my excited Tweets yesterday about the live broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera, which is carried on our local classical music station. (Actually, you can stream the live broadcasts from anywhere at www.TheClassicalStation.org—1 PM Eastern Time on Saturdays!) Yesterday’s performance was special for me, because it was one of my very favorites. Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme.
I’m not alone in loving La Boheme, by any means. It is usually among the most popular operas for any repertory company and for very good reason. It has humor, passion, pathos and drama and at its heart is a big old mushy romance. It takes place in a cold, snowy winter in 1830s Paris where, in the Latin quarter, there live four young, starving-artist roommates: Rodolfo (a writer), Marcello (an artist), Colline (a philosopher) and Schaunard (a musician). One (very cold) night Schaunard comes home with some money from a gig and the boys decide to go out to the Cafe, except for Rodolfo. He stays home to get some writing done (which I respect since we ALL suffer with deadlines!). Then along comes his pretty neighbor, Mimi, whose candle has blown out. He relights her candle, but then she somehow loses her key. While they look for the key, both their candles blow out. Naturally, their hands touch and—boom!—they’re in love. It’s all happy times and frolicking.
It’s young love, so Rodolfo and Mimi shack up and so do Marcello and his on-again, off-again flame, Musetta. But this is a tragedy, so OF COURSE Mimi has tuberculosis. Since they’re terribly poor and there is no penicillin yet, this makes things tough for the young lovers. They decide to break up (she thinks he’s too jealous, he thinks she’s too moody, plus she’s really sick), but then they recall why they fell in love and decide to stay together until spring. When spring comes, both Mimi and Musetta have taken off and left Rodolfo and Marcello to move back in with the boys. One day Musetta bursts in to tell them Mimi is outside but too weak to make it upstairs. They carry her to the garret, then Musetta gives them her earrings, which leads them to gather up their few valuables to sell so they can get medicine for Mimi. OF COURSE, Mimi is coughing her head off the whole time and, eventually, dies. But she does it in a very ladylike way, seeming to drift off to sleep, so that they only realize gradually—one at a time—she has died. Rodolfo is the last to know.
It’s heartbreaking! And fabulous. Puccini’s music is gorgeous, passionate and very accessible. For those who love the movie Moonstruck, you will recognize many of the musical themes in the opera, since the movie borrowed from it heavily. It is an incredibly moving show. If you’ve never experienced it, it’s worth a listen or a watch. (Here’s a link to a seminal performance of the entire opera featuring Ileana Cotruba as Mimi and Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHAS7r8Pd0k) Even if you don’t enjoy opera, this is one of the most accessible operas I’ve heard. I love comic operas, too, but this one touches my romantic heart. For those who tink opera is bunk, here’s Bugs Bunny and Elmer doing Wagner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KHuuxWIilc. What’s better than that?
What’s your take on opera? If you’re a fan, what’s your favorite? If you’ve never given it a try, would you prefer a tragedy (opera seria) or a comedy (opera buffa)? And best of all, what’s your favorite Bugs Bunny opera moment?
Posted by Caren Crane Mar 16 2014, 7:46 am in beach, beach state of mind, Caren Crane, getaway, writing retreat
Helloooo Banditas and Buddies! I write to you (posting in a vey tardy manner) from the kitchen of a lovely beach house on Topsail Island, NC. The kitchen and deck overlook a wide expanse of pale sand, littered with shells, seaweed, driftwood and other beachy detritus. I am here for a writing retreat and have been getting a ton of writing and writing business done. I haven’t changed my latitude much, but the beach has worked wonders on my attitude. I like to call this a Beach State of Mind.
The only problem I with this state of mind is that it kind of puts me a little too much “in the moment.” Like, making it nearly impossible to think about getting a blog post done. so while I enjoy this Zen-like existense while here on vacation, it’s hard on the rest of my life. Here is a list of things I am not taking care of while I’m at the beach:
1. Kimba - Some of you have seen a number of Facebook posts and comments here about my baby cat, Kimba. He is now a startling 6 months old and had to go to the vet on Wednesday for his neuter surgery. I was there for his first post-op niiters. ght, but my youngest (home from college for spring break), has handled the rest. I did talk to her once to see how he was doing, but I figure they will be fine without me. :/
2. My Weight - I gained, according to my scales, about 4 pounds this winter. I have been doing a fair job of eating less and exercising at least a bit more for weeks now. Until last Thursday. since we’ve been here, I’ve had many forbidden things like French fries, a spicy Cajun chicken biscuits, a huge cupcake and a baked potato. They may have to roll me down the stairs to get out of this beach house! I figure I’ll start over when I get home, yet again. *sigh*
3. My Finances – I am the gatekeeper for all financial matters in my home, so I made sure all was in order before I left. Since then, I haven’t looked at an online credit or checking account balance, paid a bill or even thought of doing either. I figure I can get all that sorted when I get back to the sandless Piedmont.
4. My To Do List – I rely on my To Do list to a probably unhealthy degree. My paper calendar, too. Since I’ve been here, though, I have done neither. I figure all those “undone” things can be done later. When I’m back home. When I have to go back to my Day Job and be responsible for things.
Meanwhile, I’ll be here at the beach. watching the tide go in and out, writing far more than I do at home while I eat Forbidden Food and enjoy the company of fellow writers. I’m pretty sure the world will be fine until I return.
What is your favorite thing to NOT do while on vacation? Is there something you would love to leave behind while you get away from it all? If you can’t get away on vacation, how do you put yourself in a Beach State of Mind?