Well, He’s No Solomon…in Love & Friendship

Love & Friendship

Mild-mannered, well-groomed, high-stakes, period-piece social satire reigns supreme in Whit Stillman’s sharp film adaptation of a “lost” and incomplete Jane Austen novella.  Austen simply titled it after her conniving, widowed but still lively anti-heroine Lady Susan (played with perfectly vivacious high-brow snark by Kate Beckinsale), but Stillman plays on Austen’s “Blank & Blank” template and renames it Love & Friendship.  The title itself a rouse, much like the import of debutante season in Stillman’s Metropolitan.

As in the most superior of Austen or Stillman works, high society types are on display in all of their entertaining mannerisms and foibles.  The two authors separated by centuries seem a perfect marriage, as humor both scathing and dry, bites and blows across the posh manners, country estates and London townhouses where Susan plots to find both her and her daughter (Morfydd Clark) rich husbands to secure their futures.  Never do the characters seem aware of their preposterousness, as if all of life is a parlor game, and their scruples (or lack thereof) never are challenged even as gossip and innuendos challenge their lot and plot. Continue reading

Issue Three of The Stone Digital Literary Magazine Now Available

Issue Three Cover Final

The third issue of The Stone – our special mystery/crime issue – is now available for download at Amazon.com through the Kindle app!

Here’s a preview:

My medic jacket had lost most of its initial warmth once dampened by the constant snow, yet I still tightened it desperately around me, my only safe haven from the frozen field. The snow illuminated the world before me, creating a blank canvas out of the barren field, spoiled only by the occasional dead tree. Under different circumstances, it may have been beautiful.  —  from “Dolls of Ice” by Delun Attwooll

I lived at Siding Number Two, a spur line off the Southern Pacific railroad that carried oil into Bakersfield.  Our little town changed her name to Taft in 1910, the year I was born.  My daddy used to tell me that the town was forced to change its name, because I had arrived in it.  Since I was never sure that he was telling the truth, I called it by its original name, Siding Number Two.  No matter how you dressed her for the dance, this town had an asphalt tar underbelly that no amount of commerce could wash off.   She partnered with men so corrupt that folks were too frightened to talk about it.   Fueled by greed and intimidation, there were two things that kept this town alive, oil and rail. Born to the west desert plains of the fertile valley, she was set down smack in the middle of two oil leases, the Midway Sunset and Buena Vista.  A product of the transient oil boom, she attracted the hardiest and most desperate of souls.  Nobody planned to stay here long much less die in this town, and I was no different.  —  from “Siding Number Two” by Mary Redmond

The next morning, Benjamin examined the spider web and found the lifeless lightning bug wrapped tightly in a cocoon in the spider’s feasting section that also featured a smattering of other tiny gnats and houseflies.  The tiny rear end bulb responsible for last night’s light show was detached from the rest of the body and lay on the floor underneath the web in a smoldering of dirt and dust.  The spider, of course, was nowhere to be seen, leaving behind its macabre display for the boy’s fevered imagination to run wild with monstrous images of the arachnid’s size and power.  Benjamin hated that feeling of knowing that spiders were always around him, hiding everywhere, always within a few feet, sometimes just a few inches from him, often undetected, waiting for that moment to come crawling over his face while he slept, the tiny ones creeping into his ears and nostrils, the big ones nesting in his hair.  This feeling often left him petrified at night.  — from “Night of the Spider” by D. H. Schleicher

So go ahead and roll back The Stone to uncover great stories in the digital age. Continue reading

Captain America Wants YOU to Get Excited about The Avengers!

Stop...and look at these great period details!

 
I’ll be the first to admit to suffering from superhero fatigue. It seems every summer is overrun by comic book adaptations and superheroes, most of them wallowing in mediocrity and indistinguishable from each other only in levels of awfulness. I choose my poison carefully, and this year I’ve found it refreshing that Hollywood has decided to do comic book period pieces, first with the fun 1960’s set X-Men reboot, and now with the workmanlike 1940’s set Captain America.  This is essentially one of many prequels to Marvel’s upcoming Avengers multi-superhero-mega-comic-book-all-star-uber-blockbuster-spectacular, which we get a preview of after the credits. I can’t say that I’m very excited about it, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Captain America on its own merits.
 
Joe Johnston, your poor man’s Steven Spielberg and long-time likeable hack director, channels his Rocketeer roots with this WWII-based expository film about Captain America’s origins and his battle with Red Skull. Continue reading