Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Heat Wave" by Richard Castle - When Art imitates Art

I thought I had stepped into a 21st century Pleasantville. As my local library was undergoing renovations, perhaps construction crews had opened up a door into the TV universe? Sounds like a plot about a library for a book found in a library.

Yes, I am being ridiculous.

As my eyes scoped out the displaced shelves of the room under reconstruction, one of the new books on the back shelf got my attention: "Heat Wave" by Richard Castle.

The mystery writer, Richard Castle, is a real guy. I had been hooked on the TV show, Castle, and looked forward to another season starting this September 2010. Seeing the book, I thought, Maybe the show is based on Life?
On the back side of the book jacket, I was surprised to see a large photo of Nathan Fillion, which the writeup claimed was the Richard Castle and boasted of his success with his Derrick Storm novels. Castle had killed off this hero and began a new series, Nikki Heat, the NYPD homicide detective shadowed by Pulitzer prize winning writer, Jameson Rook, who was researching his next set of articles on New York's finest.

Rook? Castle? Hah! Checkmate!

This book was not Art imitating Life. Or Life imitating Art. It was Art imitating Art.

I read the book and found it as enjoyable as the show. At the time in my corner of the universe, I was going through a heat wave of my own - 105 degrees F - so I could relate.

"Heat Wave" has its own book trailer on YouTube:

And now a movie in 2011?

Here are a few other reviews I found online:

* Heat Wave by Richard Castle – Book Review

* Richard Castle's 'Heat Wave' novel: Not bad!

What's next? Derrick Storm novels? Gathering Storm? Unholy Storm? .... Final Storm?

Don't that beat all?

Cover from Barnes & Noble
For an interactive peek at the book, check out amazon: Heat Wave

Monday, August 9, 2010

A kiss immortalized in August 14, 1945

Photo from Wikipedia: Kissing the War Goodbye

Above is the lesser known photo taken by Lt. Victor Jorgensen of a sailor kissing a passing nurse on VJ Day in Times Square.

The most famous and iconic picture of this same subject - VJ Day in Times Square - taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was published in LIFE in 1945 with the caption, In New York's Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.

August 14, 1945 in New York City was a magical moment - a confluence of history, a place, and everyday people. Soldiers were returning home from an intense four years of fighting when President Truman announced Victory in Japan (VJ Day) - the end of the American involvement in World War II.

In Times Square, the sailors paraded in joy for they had won! On the street, civilians came out to the streets from their shops, the hospitals, to savor this moment of victory. Then a sailor, caught up in the passion, kissed a surprised young nurse, who was stopped in mid stride as two photographers, Lt. Jorgenson, an American sailor, and Alfred Eisenstaedt, a German-American photojournalist for LIFE magazine, snapped this spontaneous moment.

Eisenstaedt, whose photo made it into LIFE, ironically had fought on the side of Germany in World War I. He later photographed a meeting between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Italy before emigrating to US to escape Nazi oppression in 1935 .

But who were the subjects of Jorgenson's and Eisenstaedt's iconic photo?

The nurse was Edith Shain and here is the story:

The greatest generation, like Edith Shain who passed away this June 2010, is fading into history. The new generation taking their place is greatly in debt to their sacrifce.

When our nation was born, the writers of the Declaration of Independence finished "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

So did many, who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, carried the Spirit of 1776 to the Spirit of 1945. May our generation carry the Spirit of 1776 and 1945 in 2010 and beyond.

Other links:

From nydailynews.com: Edith Shain, nurse whose V-J kiss with sailor in Times Square immortalized in Life photo, dies at 91

From YouTube.com: Photo of iconic kiss reenacted

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beverly Hillbillies and Amos - country folk in the big city

Remember the Ballad of Jed Clampett by Flatt & Scruggs?

"Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed
Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed
Then one day he was shooting for some food,
And up through the ground come a bubbling crude...."

For the complete lyrics: click here

The first two verses opened and the last one closed the show of the 9 year long running sitcom, The Beveryly Hillbillies (1962-1971)

This really dates me, but I watched the Beverly Hillbillies on TV before they went into perpetual reruns on TV land. The humor of the show was displacement - the fish out of water - rural, simple, naive hillbillies in the big city culture and sophistication of Beverly Hills. How absurd! Or was it?

What I found so appealing about the Clampett family in the original series was that they were genuinely decent, honest, kind, polite, godly people. As a plot for many episodes, the dishonest, the greedy, the godless, the self-aggrandizing had marked this simple hillbilly family as an easy target to use and to fleece. Yet, simple goodness prevailed over the many sophisticated flavors of evil.

"Simple" as in good is always easy to grasp. What does a straight line look like? There is one answer.

It doesn't leave much to the imagination, does it? Straight can only be one way.

"Sophistication" in the worldly sense is harder to grasp. What does a crooked line look like?

There are infinite ways for the line to be crooked. Likewise, evil can be twisted in an infinite many ways. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that evil seems more appealing and intriguing? Its mystery?

I see a timeless parable in the original "Beveryly Hillbillies." In some episodes, the simple goodness and wisdom of the Clampetts seemed as a witness to the complicated, twisted sophistication and worldly wisdom of the big city.

Likewise, there is another much overlooked story of an ancient "hillbilly," who lived in the 8th century before Christ and came to the sophisticated town of Bethel. His name was Amos, a shepherd from the desert of Tekoa, who took care of sycamore-fig trees.

Read all about this simple country preacher, who came to the "Beverly Hills" of his day: The Country Preacher Who Came to Town

For our sophisticated age of the internet in the 21st century, Amos proclaims this timeless message from the One who called him:

12 For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.
You oppress the righteous and take bribes
and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent man keeps quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.
14 Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.

Amos 5:12-14

Whether the fictional Jed Clampett or the Old Testament prophet Amos - both these country boys took on the sophisticated big city.


from everystockphoto.com:
Beverly Hills

from wikipedia:
Straight line
Crooked line