Favorite Famous Couples

My Heartbreaker post is here.

Express Yourself

This week’s topic of the Express Yourself meme is favorite famous couples, real or fictional. Here are a couple of my favorites:

1 and 2. Stan and Ida Laurel and Oliver and Lucille Hardy. My favorite comedians weren’t very lucky in the marriage department until their respective last marriages. These later-life couplings proved to be their happiest, the ones they’d been waiting for all along. The last Mrs. Laurel and Mrs. Hardy were even there for their husbands during their respective final illnesses, taking care of them in sickness as well as in health. Sometimes the best relationship and one’s soulmate is only found later in life, not in the first attempt at marriage or dating.

3. Isidor and Ida Straus, who died together on the Titanic rather than be separated or take seats away from children or younger people. Prior to that, they wrote to one another every day when they weren’t together, much like my fictional Cinnimin and Levon, during Levon’s various deployments in Korea and Vietnam.

4. Harpo and Susan Marx. Susan was actually the one who proposed to him, and they were married for 28 years, until Harpo’s death. With the exception of the early-retiring Gummo, Harpo had the longest, happiest, most successful marriage of any of his brothers. I also love how they adopted all four of their kids and never considered them anything but their real kids. Harpo was almost 48 when they got married (Susan was 20 years younger), and really nervous about making such a big life change, but he was more scared of living the rest of his life without Susan. He finally accepted the third time she proposed. (At least his response to being proposed to wasn’t to say nothing, start jamming the ring on his finger, and then say, “It’s stuck. I’m very upset.”)

5. Charles and Oona Chaplin. It took a long time for him to find his true soulmate, and there was a huge age difference (she was 18 to his 54), but it was a true love match, his happiest and most stable relationship by far. When there’s a true meeting of the minds, so long as you’re both legal, age doesn’t really matter.

6. One of my favorite screen pairings is that of Rudy Valentino and Nita Naldi. They were together in Blood and Sand (1922) and Cobra (1925), and slated to be leads in the never-filmed project The Hooded Falcon. Their chemistry was incredible, even if Nita always played the Vamp role, not the “good girl” Rudy’s characters were married to or courting.

7. I also love the frequent screen pairing of Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, two of my favorite silent stars. (I’m far from the only person who prefers Garbo’s silents to her talkies!) They were together in four films—the incredible Flesh and the Devil (1926), Love (1927, a terrible screen adaption of Anna Karenina complete with happy ending), A Woman of Affairs (1928), and Queen Christina (1933). Their chemistry was even more incredible because they were involved offscreen as well, though they never married, much to Jack’s disappointment.

8. Moe and Helen Howard. As a huge Three Stooges fan, I’m not alone in finding it rather sweet and charming how the boys were quite the opposite of their screen personae in real life. They were all devoted family men, and not violent, mean people at all. Moe and Helen (a cousin of Harry Houdini) were married in 1925 and stayed married till Moe’s death in 1975. Helen died not quite 6 months later. I once read an excerpt of a love letter Moe wrote to her, in which he thanked her for letting him be her sweetheart for so many years.

9. Simon and Yasmin LeBon. They’ve been married for 27 years now, and have really gotten older together so gracefully, without any scandals in their marriage. I also like how they broke up originally because Yasmin didn’t want to have sex, but got back together later because it was just meant to be. If you’re meant to be with someone, you’ll find your way back together, even if you’re separated or not together. They’ve also gone through problems with having kids before having their three daughters. (I love the name of their middle daughter, Saffron!) Honestly, I wish I had been that strong about waiting, and not given my antique virginity to a guy who wouldn’t even freaking kiss me, but what’s done is done. At least I learnt my lesson and won’t compromise my beliefs again, if I ever find another partner at my age.

10. John Lennon and Yoko Ono. In spite of continued Yoko-bashing by certain immature, mean-spirited people, it’s so obvious these two were such soulmates, creative partners, and a perfect match. As a proud puma, graduated from a bobcat, I also love that John’s soulmate was an older woman. Age and culture didn’t matter, because they were such a perfect match and meeting of the minds. Yes, they had some difficult periods, but normal relationships aren’t always sunshine, flowers, and kittens. Sometimes you have problems, and you have to work to get the relationship back on track.

Christmas Eve 1972

Sweet Saturday Samples won’t be running again till 12 January, but I’m going ahead and posting the excerpt I’d planned for this weekend anyway. I selected it in honor of John Lennon’s Jahrzeit (death anniversary), due to the mention of his music. I’m going back to Little Ragdoll (Adicia’s story), Chapter 56, “Finally a Real Thanksgiving and Christmas,” as the younger Troy sisters and the Ryan siblings are making a gingerbread house and other Christmas goodies on Christmas Eve 1972.

***

“Can we have some music while we’re baking?” Aoife asks. “Anything but that godawful nonstop Christmas music on the radio.  You’d think the normal person woulda gone nuts and thrown the radio out the window ages ago.”

“They do go overboard,” Fiona says. “I like a lot of the Christmas songs, but not after I’ve heard ‘em fifty times in a week.  There’s only a couple of ‘em I don’t immediately turn the dial on.”

“Sure, I brought somea my records along,” Deirdre says.

“Just don’t play that one record you play all the time, the one you liked so much you put the lyrics up all over the walls,” Aoife says.

“You mean John’s Plastic Ono Band?  What’s wrong with it?  It’s a very honest record.”

“There’s too much screaming on it.  Why is he so mad in those songs?”

“It’s part of Primal Scream therapy.  I’d recommend it to you too, Adicia.  It helps you purge out lingering pain and resentment left over from a crummy childhood, gets it all outta your system and heals you.  I think my favorite song on that record is ‘I Found Out.’  He so gives the finger to everyone on that song!”

“So how does it work?” Adicia asks. “Do you go to a shrink and he tells you what to do?”

“You can do it on your own too, I suppose.  Just start screaming out all your pain, anger, and frustration.  Better to get it out peacefully through screaming than beating someone up or getting in verbal fights, right?”

“Please, not now!” Ernestine begs. “Christmas Eve isn’t the time or place for Primal Scream therapy!”

“Allen and Lenore might think something bad’s going on if they hear Adicia screaming like that,” Fiona agrees.

“And it’s probably not good for the baby if it hears loud scary noises like that,” Aoife says.

“Maybe you’re right,” Deirdre admits. “We’ll just play folk music.”

“No Dylan, please,” Adicia begs as Deirdre starts upstairs for her records. “I respect his talent and message, but his voice still isn’t my cup of tea, and I don’t think he’s the best soundtrack for Christmas baking.”

True to her word, Deirdre only brings down folk rock albums and her handful of classical records Ernestine picked up from the free bin at their old favorite record store in Greenwich Village.  While Justine roasts chestnuts with Aoife, and the other girls are baking cookies, bûche de Noël, jellyrolls, brownies, chocolate toffee bars, and peanut brittle, the soft sounds of Deirdre’s beloved people’s music waft through the house.  David steps into the kitchen from time to time to help with baking, but otherwise occupies himself with reading the latest issues of The People’s Weekly World and grumbling about the state of the world.

“I always liked this song,” Adicia says of “Seven o’Clock News/Silent Night” as they’re finally cleaning up and putting away the baked goods at the end of the night, before heading off to sleep. “When was this record made again?”

“The fall of ’66,” Ernestine says. “This album’s always been onea my favorites too.”

“Isn’t it a crying pity it’s just as eerily pertinent at the end of 1972 as it was back in ’66?” Deirdre asks as she dumps some dirty dishes in the sink. “Only difference is that now Nixon’s heading into his second term in office, and back then he was only a former vice president.”

“Peace will finally come when enough people decide they want peace more than war, and that they love life more than death,” Fiona says.

As Adicia heads off to bed with Justine, her greatest hope for the coming year is that the beautiful, peaceful message of “Silent Night” will very soon overwhelm the ugly, painful, hateful messages on the nightly 7:00 news.  It seems like a faraway dream, but she once thought having all the decent members of her family back together again and escaping from the black hole they grew up in was just an idle daydream too.  When enough people want something, they find a way to make it happen, even if it sometimes takes longer than anyone had anticipated.

John’s Jahrzeit and Can We Guess Your Character’s Age? Blogfest

First things first. Today, 8 December, is John Lennon’s 31st Jahrzeit. For a long time I used to write about it in my journals, but embarrassingly, I haven’t journaled for the last few years. However, I have begun to journal again on and off in the top-spiral notebook I bought when I was switching my writing hand from right to left and needed something to practice my handwriting in before publicly outing myself as a lefty. (Long story short, I was in the closet about the true extent of my sinistrality till this year. I kinda always knew, but I was very confused and discouraged since I grew up writing right-handed, and many people still feel handedness is determined solely by the hand you write with, no matter you do just about everything else with your other hand.)

Anyway, John has been my official favorite Beatle since I was 17. I started strongly preferring him when I was 14, but I felt I weren’t allowed to switch favorites. I’d initially favored Paul solely because of looks, but let’s be honest, that’s a rather silly reason to pick a fave rave. So I lied to myself for a few years that I had two favorites, but as Jerry Springer often says in his Final Thought, “When you claim to love both, you truly love neither.” I now have all of his studio solo albums, though George is my favorite solo Beatle. (I’m probably the only person who’ll give you three answers or say “It depends what you mean” when asked who my favorite Beatle is!)

I feel so privileged to have been allowed to share the planet with John for even a little while. That scumbag murdered him 10 days before my first birthday, so I have no memory of being alive at the same time he was, but I still feel glad we were on the same planet for that small span of time. I even wrote the parole board a letter in the fall of 2000 when I found out that dirtbag was getting its first parole hearing. I was so upset I was shaking when I saw the disgusting news on the Beatle Brunch website on the old ’93 Mac in my first dorm room at UMass, the second floor of Chadbourne, the Native American-themed floor. Thankfully, it seems this thing will be denied parole like clockwork every two years. Let’s be honest, there’d probably instantly be a revenge killing if it were ever sprung from prison.

In honor of John’s life, here are some of his solo songs. May you rest in peace in your eternal home, and may your memory be for a blessing. The world is a better place because you were in it for 40 years and two months.

So many people look so perfect on the outside, but their insides are rotten.

This song never fails to give me chills.

The last song he recorded.

***

I’m also taking part in the Can We Guess Your Character’s Age? Blogfest, wherein participants post the first 250 words of a completed book or WIP and invite other participants to guess the character’s age. It’s based on voice, and tests if others think the purported age matches the character’s voice and behavior. We’re not allowed to post the title or genre, and any references to age or school grade should be taken out.

I decided to use something I’ve never posted an excerpt of before, since I’ve already shared so much from the books with my three main sets of characters. It’ll be a nice change of pace to finally use an excerpt from a standalone. This is a near-total rewrite of the original opening, which I wrote back in the fall of ’92. I worked on the manuscript on and off between 1992 and I think 1995 (at most, 1996 was the latest date I worked on it), but now I think I’m ready to get back to work on finishing it and fixing it up (but only after I finish Justine Grown Up, of course).

The protagonist’s name was originally Casey, but being the big name nerd I am, I decided I wanted something a little more memorable and standout. It’s 261 words, so I wouldn’t have to stop in the middle of a paragraph.

***

Arcadia MacGregor wasn’t expecting her entire life to be turned upside-down as she teleported into her house after school.

Arcadia’s mother Maura had a very serious look on her face, and Arcadia’s five-greats-grandmother Stephanie was shaking her head dismissively.  They both fixed Arcadia with a look as she walked past them.

Maura broke the ice. “Arcadia, I just phoned a psychic, and she said there’s going to be a war and that we must flee the continent!”

“She says this so-called psychic looked like a teenager,” Stephanie said. “I can’t believe she’s buying some teen fraud’s bogus predictions and planning to immediately leave.  But I’m staying.  I grew up in this home.”

“Leaving?” Arcadia asked. “But everyone we know is in St. Paul.  How could you decide to leave the continent based on what some dumb phone psychic told you?”

“I already know where we’ll go,” Maura blazed on. “Ron recently wrote me a letter in which he proposed marriage, and I accepted.  So we’re going to his space colony near Jupiter.  As soon as he gets back from his latest astronaut mission, we’ll be married.  And you know that’s also where my foster daughters Sara and Meredith live.  We’ll move into their house and give them a real family.”

“Mother!” Arcadia gasped. “I’m only telling you this for your own good, and one day you’ll thank me.  Don’t marry Ron!  I’ll be a laughingstock if my parents get married!  The 3000 Census last year said only one percent of Americans are Nuclears!  And I don’t want little sisters!”