Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

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Monet Immersive Exhibit in Chicago

The Monet Immersive Exhibit provided many gorgeous tableaus. Dinner at La Cite atop Lake Point Tower was a gorgeous vantage point to view the city of Chicago.

The Germanium Club up north was totally taken over to facilitate the showing of Monet’s impressionistic works. It is a lovely display area, with the ability to purchase a glass of Prosecco to carry into the exhibit, but there are a lot of stairs. Visitors can lounge on banquettes or sit in a few folding chairs and there is a balcony, if you want to view the art work from above.

Following the Exhibit, we walked to the Corcoran Bar & Grill, in honor of my maiden name, and a lovely young lass from Galway, Ireland, waited on us.

Then it was home to the South Loop to watch a film. We actually used my CD collection and saved the $3.99 rental fee on Netflix.

 

 

 

 

All-in-all, a great night.

Nathan Sawaya Lego Art on Display in “The Art of the Brick” at the Museum of Science & Industry

As described yesterday, we struck off for Memorial Day in Chicago on Friday, May 28th.

Museum of Science & Industry

Museum of Science & Industry

Museum of Science & Industry

Museum of Science & Industry, Memorial Day, 2022.

Easter Island face, from Legos.

Stacey provides scale for the statues.

Nefretiti

Starry, Starry Night

Whistler’s Mother

Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”

“The Girl With the Pearl Earring”

Mona Lisa

“The Scream”

We did see part of the Memorial Day Parade on Saturday, primarily because we were trapped in a Lyft car on our way to the downtown Macy’s store, where I had a mission to see if they could repair the strap to a purse that is, otherwise. I bought the original purse downtown at Water Tower Place at Macy’s and, if you don’t know this, Water Tower Place has become a bit of a Ghost Town, since Macy’s pulled out. We were headed for the old State Street store and dined in the Walnut Room (chicken pot pie, $15).

It took quite a while to navigate the extremely crowded streets, as many of them had been shut down for the parade. The weather, however, was terrific!

I got nowhere  trying to find replacement straps or some form of repair for my brand-name purse, but I’m not done trying to fix the Michael Kors bag. If you know of someone in the Quad Cities that works with leather and can repair a 1/2 inch strap, let me know. (Most of the replacement straps on Amazon are wider at .56 Centimeters, and they mention something about “sewing,” which confuses me. Also, the original straps have attractive studs on them, which replacement straps would not have.

We saw Tom Cruise’s new “Maverick” movie on Saturday night, which I will talk about in another article. On Sunday, we trekked over to the Museum of Science & Industry to see the Lego exhibit that is on display. It is truly remarkable to see a lawyer hang up his law degree to, instead, spend major time and effort on building replicas of a variety of great art works. The artist, Nathan Sawaya, created this critically acclaimed collection of creative and inspiring pieces in a display entitled “The Art of the Brick.”

While you pay about $15 per person to enter the Museum of Science and Industry, you have to pay another $42 to see the Lego art, but the captured German submarine, a Museum staple, is free, and the various WWII aircraft, including Japanese Zero(s) and half of a large United 727 are free, as was the replica of the Wright Brothers first plane flown at Kitty Hawk in 1903 (for about a minute), which I portrayed pictures of on yesterday’s post.

Enjoy!

 

 

The Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago, Illinois

Stacey (L) and me.

So, aside from the Criterium (9:45 to 11:45 a.m. in the Village of East Davenport) in the Quad Cities, there did not seem to be much going on that I would have enjoyed. I can’t imagine that I’d have beaten a path over to see the bicycle race, and watching the Indianapolis 500 on TV can be doe anywhere.

So, I’m in Chicago right now and, as I post this week, I’ll try to post some of the wondrous creations made of Legos that are now the main exhibit t the Museum of Science and Industry.

But, as a lead-in, I’ll post a few pictures of the old planes from WWII, the Kitty Hawk first plane replica and my daughter and I pretending be various things in cut-outs (astronaut, in her case).

Come back in the succeeding days, as I attempt to get the pictures off my phone and onto my computer, which is not as easy as you’d think.(We have new phones, and apparently, if you don’t use “small,” the pictures are too complex to forward.)

So, here are the first few shots from the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago.

Stacey as Vanna White,with dinosaur.

A dinosaur made completely out of Legos.

Stacey pretends to be Neal Armstrong.

Traveling Down to Texas: Day Two

Road to St. Louis.

Day Two of the Trip to Texas is upon us.

I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. posting the previous post. That gave me time to watch all of the Sunday morning news shows that I had taped, which I had not had a chance to watch before our departure for Chicago.

Being in Chicago at my place there also allowed us to watch “The Undoing” (final episode), “Fargo” (final episode) and make a meal from things in our freezer at home that would otherwise have been thrown out. Therefore, we had pork chops, green beans, left-over chicken (from Thanksgiving, when we cooked a 5 lb. chicken instead of a turkey.

The weather turned colder overnight and there was 5 inches of snow predicted for Northwest Indiana. Because we hadd food with us, we didn’t leave the condominium in downtown Chicago. It has been said that one out of every fifteen residents of Chicago tests positive for Covid-19. I asked two of the other residents of my building if anyone there in the South Loop had tested positive and they said no one had.

Sunset

But, he added, “I don’t know that they’d tell us if anyone had.”

We left at 12:30 for St. Louis and arrived about 5:30 p.m.

We have now finished watching “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” at my brother-in-law’s house, where we are missing Wendy (left us on April 18th).

Praying for good weather the rest of the way to Texas.

Travels to Texas: Night One

Chicago

On the road again.

We’ve made it to Chicago and here is the view from my window. Way more lights in the South Loop than last year.

On the way in on I-55 there was some sort of accident, so the 40 miles to the heart of Chicago took longer than usual, but we’re here now and on to St. Louis tomorrow.

I brought pork chops from our freezer at home and cooked them (also had an onion from home) and made green beans (also from QC) and there was a little bit of left over chicken from the 5.6 pound chicken (Wilbur) we made for Thanksgiving.

The weather has taken a turn for the colder. You can feel it.

We watched the end of “The Undoing” (disappointed that it ended the way it did) and “Fargo” (also a disappointing and confusing ending) and now I’ve managed to make it through all the morning news

Chicago

shows, so it’s off to bed.

Book of Mormon Still A Hot Ticket in Chicago

“The Book of Mormon” has been a hot ticket for months. I was delighted to receive an e-mail informing me that—if I were willing to deal with “restricted seating”— (i.e., a thin pillar obscuring some of the view at Chicago’s Bank of America Theater as well as being stuck under the balcony in the very last Orchestra seating row with letter ZZZ—my ticket would be half-price at $56 rather than $113.) [*I once sat through a Rolling Stones concert directly in front of a flash pot that nearly set me on fire; accepting this offer was a no-brainer.]

The play focuses on two novice Mormon missionaries who are completing training for their obligatory 2-years of missionary work (Mitt Romney spent his time in France). As the play opens, the eager young acolytes are about to learn their new assignments. They’ll spend two years yoked with a partner, after completing training at the Church of Latter Day Saints Missionary Training Center (referred to as “Mission Control” at one point in the play).

Most of the new missionaries get plum assignments and celebrate:

“Norway! Trolls & gnomes!” say the first pair.

“France! Pastries & crepes!” say the next two.

“Japan! Soy sauce & Mothra!” exult the third pair.

And then Elder Price (Nic Rouleau) and Elder Cunningham (Ben Platt) (aka Kevin Price and Aaron Cunningham) receive their assignment: northern Uganda. To add to Elder Price’s chagrin, Elder Cunningham is a nerdy screw-up who has a tendency to creatively blend fact and fiction (okay—he lies), employing his overactive imagination. Aaron’s own father regards him, pretty much, as a failure and Aaron has few friends.

Elder Price, however, is the Golden Boy. (Actor Rouleau came straight from the Broadway cast). He is confident he is going to do great things. One of the songs he sings tells us this in no uncertain terms: “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” Aaron Cunningham is just glad to have a friend at all, especially one who is not supposed to leave his side at any time (according to missionary rules), since he has mostly been a friendless nerd up until now. Aaron thinks that Kevin will really be his best friend during the next two years.

A running joke has Elder Price convinced that Orlando is the epicenter of the world. (“I’m going where you need me most—Orlando.”) Maybe you have to have spent time in Orlando as an adult without a child in tow to identify with the barren concrete experience Orlando really represents. I spent 2 winters in a row there. Orlando makes northern Uganda look less bleak.

However, northern Uganda represents trouble with a capital “T.”

As the duo arrives in Uganda, their luggage is immediately stolen by warlords. The pair find that Uganda is not fertile ground for converts. There are already 10 missionaries in place who have failed to score a single baptism. And it doesn’t look good for Kevin and Aaron, since they soon learn that the poverty-stricken Uganda natives are dealing with an AIDS epidemic and a warlord whose mission is to circumcise all females in the village. Even the doctor of the village confesses (constantly), “I have maggots in my scrotum.” (This is one of the few phrases I can reprint that doesn’t involve using the “F” word or something else equally unprintable.)

After Elder Price witnesses a brutal slaying (gunshot at point blank range) Kevin announces he is giving up, requesting a transfer, and going home. Aaron is going to have to fend for himself. He does like an attractive native girl (played by 2008 “American Idol” finalist Syesha Mercado), Nabulungi. At various points, Elder Cunningham (Aaron) refers to Nabulungi as Nellie Furtado, Nala and Necrophilia, so there is that running joke, as well.

Aaron, the underdog, with Elder Price (Kevin) leaving, soon realizes he is going to have to step up to the plate. He will have to make it on his own (“man up”). As the lyric goes, “When someone had to die to save us all from sin, Jesus manned up and took it on the chin.” So, as Aaron also sings, “I’m talkin,’ they’re listenin.’ My stories are glistenin’.” He begins spinning a much more interesting version of the Mormon faith to the previously disinterested villagers. Aaron’s version incorporates elements of “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and bits and pieces of Aaron’s creativity run amok. Elder Cunningham’s approach leads to conversions aplenty and a vision of Salt Lake City (mispronounced in the song the villagers sing about this golden place) as the Promised Land. Soon the entire village is signing up to become Mormon. One hilarious segment involves the impromptu “play” that the villagers put on for the Mormon mucky-mucks who come to Uganda to applaud the team’s unprecedented success—to the surprise and chagrin of Kevin and Aaron—letting the Powers-that-be know what they have learned about their new faith.

While the always-welcome story of the underdog made good entertainment, the funniest lines were actual tenets of the LSD Church. “I Believe,” one of the play’s most-often quoted songs (because it is one of the few clean ones) says, “A Mormon just believes and I believe it means me getting my own planet.” Joseph Smith digging up golden plates in a field in Missouri and “Who knew the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri” or, “In 1978, God changed his mind about black people” are all true tenets of the Mormon faith—give or take a bit of poetic license with the way they’re stated onstage, and the fact that this play ran while Mitt Romney, a Mormon, was running for President of the United States just makes it all that much more apropos.

I also enjoyed the employee in the women’s rest room who had taken it upon herself to organize the lines during the 15-minute intermission. “Nobody comes in here until I say so!” barked the large African-American organizer, who let exactly 10 women in at a time and pointed out open stalls. She traffic-directed like a pro. Thanks to her, the women in the audience made it back to their seats in time for the hilarious second half.

A truly funny evening and well worth craning around a slim pillar while using small opera glasses to see the actors onstage up-close-and-personal…or at all.

ThrillerFest in New York City & Other Things That Have Kept Me Away from the Blog

I’ve been away from the keyboard for a variety of reasons:

1)  I attended ThrillerFest in New York City July 11-14 and had the opportunity to hear wisdom from many great writers. Pictures are a few. The HWA’s own W.D. Gagliani was on one panel, as was Nate Kenyon (“Diablo: The Order”). I had the opportunity to see the Terra Cotta soldiers at the Discovery Center on W. 44th Street and, as a special treat, I got to wait in LaGuardia airport from 6 p.m. until almost midnight (the plane was supposed to leave at 8 p.m.)

ThrillerFest in NYC in July.

 

Joseph Finder, author of “Paranoia,” “Company Man,” et. al.

Lady Liberty has a small wardrobe malfunction n Times Square.

Jon Land, author of the Caitlin Strong series.

Grand Central Terminal, right next to the Hyatt where Thrillerfest was held.

 

 

 

 

 

2)  Upon our return, we spent some time at the beach with Scott, Jessica, Ava & Elise.

Ava & Elise with Grandpa at the 31st St. Beach in Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3)  Then, of course, there was my birthday.  We dined at Nellicoat, which used to be a different restaurant on Randolph, but is now very fancy.

Nellicoat, the fancy restaurant on Randolph Street where we dined on my birthday with son Scott and daughter-in-law Jessica.

4)  July 28, Saturday: Chicago and the Doobie Brothers at Northerly Isle Pavilion (birthday celebration).

Northerly Isle Pavilion, July 28th, 2012: Chicago and the Doobie Brothers.

The Doobie Brothers appeared with Chicago this year (7/29/2012).

Chicago skyline at dusk.

 

 

5)  Last, but certainly not least, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on “Hellfire & Damnation II,” which went “live” as an E-book on July 28th. It’s a truly entertaining book, with illustrations for each story and a great cover from Vincent Chong of the UK, plus a Fro the Author section explaining the inspiration for the stories. There will be a 5-day period when the book on Amazon Kindle will be free, but that has yet to be determined. Stay tuned for the exact dates, which will probably be near Halloween.

“Hellfire & Damnation II” available now in paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and in Kindle E-book from Amazon. Stay tuned for free download dates, which will be somewhere near Halloween.

 

 

6)  Lollapalooza has been ongoing in Chicago all weekend. I’ve been listening to the groups from my balcony, except when a very bad storm caused authorities to evacuate the park. The last band that got to play its set as originally scheduled was “Moon Taxi” from Nashville, friends of my daughter’s. At about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, the high winds and rain swept in. However, the concert continued after a brief period of time, allowing the Red Hot Chili Peppers to perform, at least. On Sunday, Florence & the Machine and Jack White played and they sounded great.

Lollapalooza, August 3-5.

 

Checker Cab Limo Making Cross Country Trip

Checker Limo in Chicago.

An uncle and nephew duo driving a Checker cab limo (25 feet, 8 doors) from California to New York visited me in Chicago, where I turned over the “keys to the condo” to the pair, so that they could enjoy Chicago Saturday, Sunday, Monday, leaving on Tuesday for Kalamazoo, Michigan, where the yellow vehicles used to be made.

George, 62, said that this particular car had been built in something like 1959 and that the vehicles were used as cabs in Alaska, where he first saw them. He was smitten with the idea of purchasing one and finally found one at an old car dealer’s in California, where the duo flew to retrieve the massive automobile and begin making a cross-country trek. I think I got into the act, somehow, because I had made the “Ghostly Tales of Route 66” trip along Route 66.

Patrick, me, and a Checker Limo.

At any rate, it was great fun meeting and greeting George and Patrick and their huge and hard-to-park car. It wasn’t too difficult figuring out where to put George and Patrick, but the car was an entirely different matter!

The Kalamazoo, Michigan paper did a story on the pair, since the cars used to be built there. I called the Chicago “Tribune” but they were underwhelmed with the story and photo op. Not me, though. I haven’t had this much excitement since I did the Oscar Mayer WeinerMobile story!

Two nice new friends who, I hope, had a great time in the Windy City.

Checker Limo Makes Cross-Country Trip

U2 Launches Tour in Chicago’s Soldier Field on 9/12 and 9/13

U2 Stage in ChicagoBonoBono2After U2 kicked off the American leg of its current tour in Chicago at Soldier Field on Saturday, September 12th, the term “suit of lights” will have to take on new meaning. It always used to mean a toreador’s suit in the bullring. But in the three-song encore portion of U2’s fantastic new show, Bono is attired in a suit of actual lights…red ones…and he uses a round hanging microphone that intermittently glows red or blue and from which he dangles, at one point.

TheEdge

The arena show is groundbreaking in another respect: the huge claw-footed space-age spaceship stage. The stage looks like a reject from the Terminator movies or half a lobster. The creative team, headed by show designer and direction guru Willie Williams and executed by Mark Fisher, (who has been integral to the band’s creative sets since PopMart and Zoo TV allowed video to really add to a show’s impact), was immense, and was originally assembled in the tiny village of Werchter, in Belgium. That is because it was built by the Belgian company Stageco, using a high pressure hydraulic system. According to details on U2’s website (www.U2.com), the stage center pylon is 150 feet tall and the rest of the stage is 90 feet tall. It will support 180 tons of video screens, made up of 1 million pieces which take 4 days to assemble. The screen is 500,000 pixels and has 320,000 fasteners. It takes 12 days to load in the screen, stage and universal production equipment, 6 hours to dismantle it, and 2 days to dismantle it and load it out of the stadium.

BonobridgeThe next concert, after Chicago, is at Rogers Centre in Toronto on 9/16 and 9/17, followed by Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium on 9/20 and 9/21; Giants Stadium in East Rutherford (NJ) on 9/23 and 9/24; Fedexfield Landover  on 9/29; Scott Stadium in Charlottesville on 10/01; Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh (NC) on 10/03; Atlanta’s Georgia Dome on 10/06; the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa (FL) on 10/08; the New Dallas Cowboys Stadium on 10/12; the Reliant Stadium in Houston on 10/14; the Oklahoma Memorial Stium North on 10/18; the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale (AZ) on 10/20) ; the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas (NV) on 10/23; the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (CA) on 10/25; and BC Place in Vancouver (British Columbia) on 10/28. All those places are in for a treat!

BonoDownThe program quote  from Williams: “Mark Fisher has been my Siamese twin in the thinking behind U2 productions since PopMart. He’s an architect with unrivalled experience in building rock shows, so his sense of whether something will work is critical.  He sent me some initial sketches of the LAX Theme Building across a football pitch…It’s the Theme Building at LAX, Los Angeles International Airport, that crystalized it for me.  It’s a very space age looking restaurant with four legs and very sleek curves, and when I imagined it straddling a football pitch (field), I knew I was on to something.”

U2ClockBono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullins, Jr., were definitely on to something and greenlighted the idea in April after it germinated for quite some time.  The something they were on to added up to a spectacular sound-and-light show for the stadium crowd, with the band starting off with songs from their newest album (I only like “Boots,” which they played on “Letterman” and elsewhere). They moved on to the crowd  favorites for the final 2/3 of the show, such as  “Beautiful Day,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Vertigo,” “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” “Where the Streets Have No Name” and (as one of the three encore numbers), my personal favorite, “With or Without You.” Their lead-in act was Snow Patrol (at 7:00 p.m.) and U2 played from 8:30 p.m. until approximately 11:30 p.m. with no real intermission.

BonoConeDuring the playing of “Walk On,” audience members were encouraged to place a pop out life-sized facemask of Aung San Suu Kyi (contained in the program over their own faces. Who, you ask, is Aung San Suu Kyi? She is Burma’s democratic leader and a Nobel Peace Prize winner whose party, the National League for Democracy, won the elections in 1990, after which the ruling junta placed her under house arrest, where she has remained for the past 14 years. With an election looming in 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi will not be allowed to run for office because she would win. The other program notes of a political sort detailed how  the military dictatorship is trying to wipe out ethnic people in Eastern Burma with 3,300 villages destroyed in the past 15 years and rape routinely used as a weapon of war against females as young as 5. More than 2,100 political prisoners crowd Burma’s jails while an oppressive dictatorship and ruling military junta continues in office, refusing to give way to those democratically elected.

BonoDrumsOn a happier note, reviews of the show, which premiered on U.S. soil in Chicago on Saturday, September 12th, from Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune were glowing. Kot declared that the 70,000 plus audience had seen “one of the best stage shows of the past 10 years” and further noted in his review, “Stadium concerts usually tend to feel puffed up and bombastic, but this was downright strange—and wonderfully so.”

During the “Vertigo” and “Elevation” tours, Bono physically ran a track-like stage that was circular in one case and heart-shaped in another. There were also hanging light-up emblems denoting the world’s major religions dangling as changing lighted strands in the indoor show, but this arena  show had a huge circular speaker/screen nestled amidst the lobster-claw legs that projected a green clock upon opening, followed by both close-ups of the band and film of space from NASA.  The rest of the time, the screen either changed colors dramatically or depicted the band members.

There were also a couple of small bridges (I immediately thought of the Stones’ “Bridges to Babylon” tour) and, at one point, Bono ran the track with a small boy from the audience, only to collapse as though exhausted and lie there for several long moments before resuming singing.

BonoAudienceBono declared, “The 360 Show was designed to make our audience the 5th member of the band.” Even from the second tier of seats, you entered into the spirit of the sold-out show. One program note declared, “There may be another band with the imagination, ambition and courage to do something like this…but I can’t think who they would be.”

For the far more veteran Rolling Stones, those might be fighting words, as their Steel Wheels Tour way-back-when featured an impressive array of pyrotechnics and a huge proscenium stage, but we’ll all have to wait to see if the gauntlet that has been verbally thrown down by U2 is picked up by the much more senior bad boys from Britain.

Eric Bogosian Reads from his 3rd Novel at AWP Conference in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 12th

dsc_0145Eric Bogosian read from his third book, Perforated Heart, (Simon & Schuster), which comes out in May at the American Writing Program conference in Chicago at the Chicago Hilton at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 12, 2009 in a ballroom filled with would-be writers. Two ladies “signed” as he read, and that led to one of the more hilarious moments in the presentation, when Bogosian, reading about a sexual encounter, turned to the elderly gray-haired lady who was translating for the deaf and asked her if she was getting all this. He then simulated some sexual moves, in a humorous way. (I had to ask myself: How many of the people in the audience are deaf? I felt like I sometimes do at the movie theater, when, out of a parking lot of 500 spots, it seems like 450 are set aside for the handicapped. I’m all for being handicapped accessible, but maybe they could take a survey, in advance, and find out if there is really a single deaf person in the audience. Hopefully, there were a lot, because the “signing’ people detracted a great deal from my ability to concentrate on the writer, himself, as he read from his upcoming work.

Bogosian is perhaps best known currently for his regular appearances on television’s “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” but I remember him best from “Talk
Radio,” the movie based on his screenplay about a Howard Stern-like shock jock who was assassinated by a psychotic fan.

Bogosian himself said, “I’m not a born-and-bred writer. I started out as an actor.” And he went on to prove it with a really wonderful reading. He treated the audience this day to a reading in character as Big John, a drug-addled portrayal, and drug use was a common theme, as it is in his books, but the author noted that he has been clean and sober for years.

Bogosian said that his third show, “Drinking in America” was a big hit and was solidly sold out through 1994. As a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for “Talk Radio’ and the winner of 3 Obies, Bogosian was compared to Studs Terkel in that his works “reflect our culture back to us.”

Bogosian lived in Chicago and attended the University of Chicago from 1971 until 1974. He talked about the advent of the Internet and said that he was one of the first ‘bloggers” when the Internet hit in the mid-nineties (For me, Mr. Bogosian, the Internet hit in 1985 when I had to write a book for a New Jersey teacher training firm, Performance Learning Systems, long distance from Illinois. I had to network with One Dupont Circle by computer. Not fun. Not easy. Everything looked like hieroglyphics in those days and had to be converted to regular English words. [Al Gore had not yet perfected the Internet.  It required a screwdriver to adjust the teeth on my modem to be in perfect harmony with the teeth on the modem back in New Jersey or in the offices in California. Not fun. Not easy.)

Bogosian noted that the Internet “allows you to find the audience, wherever they may be,” and also commented, “What I write about is important to me.” Bogosian got a laugh with the comment, “Most gold American Express card holders do not  share my avlues and defined sex, drugs and what hand Jimi Hendrix picked his guitar with” as being necessary values to put those others “on my wave-length.” He gave “phallo-centric old white guys” a bit of a put-down (a phrase  credited to another writer who coined it.)

Of his current book, Bogosian said,” I thought it was coming out this week. It’s coming out in May. At least it’s coming out.” (As a sometimes-author, of books, I can relate. I thought my book “It Came from the ’70s” was coming out April 10th, featuring movie reviews from the decade, trivia, pictures and cast lists. Now, who knows?).

Commenting on his “Law and Order” gig, Bogosian said, “It’s way better than a Macarthur Grant,” which got a laugh from the audience filled with would-be writers.

Bogosian’s latest book is about an author in his fifties who has had some success but is pissed off that he’s not as successful as he would like to be (Bogosian’s own description, not mine).  At this point, he praised John Updike and also noted that this character is not his alter ego, with a phrase along the lines of “I’m a dick, too, but I’m a different kind of dick.”

The novel is set in Connecticut and the upper west side of New York City. The protagonist has to have minor heart surgery and, while recuperating, finds boxes of journals that he wrote over a 30-year span between 1976 and 2006. Said Bogosian, “It’s the structure of the book, which I think is brilliant.” (Another laugh).

The first part (my favorite) that Mr. Bogosian read was a dialogue between the author and his ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth, with whom he lived for 15 years before they broke up 8 years earlier. In a diary entry dated 1/27/2006, Richard, the protagonist, describes how Elizabeth— a true beauty—is not happy with the book’s portrait of such intimate things as their sex life, when they were together.  Richard says, “Even now, as I despise her, I ache for her.” He tries to portray himself in her eyes as vulnerable, as he has just had a heart operation, but notes, “She’s (Elizabeth) never ever thought of me as vulnerable. She wasn’t buying this new Richard.” Richard muses some on “the eternal passport” (beauty) and notes “beauty contaminates any real ability to communicate.”

Elizabeth tells Richard she hates the book.

Richard responds, “You’ll have to get in line, Elizabeth. Many people hate my book.”

Elizabeth replies that Richard has no ability to empathize, that he is unable to feel. “You are a bully. You possess zero empathy. You are pathological.”

Richard responds, “You mean f***** up?”

Elizabeth: “Yes, f***** up.”

What Elizabeth objects to is the depiction of her in the book as a “pathetic, desperate nymphomaniac.” Richard has already told us what an insightful reader Elizabeth could be, when they were together, noting, “Entering her mind was almost as thrilling as entering her body.” (Good line).
The conversation eventually moves on to Elizabeth telling Richard that the book almost made her physically ill when she first read it, but that, although Russell, her lawyer says she could sue Richard, she doesn’t want to bring more attention to the book by doing so. Ultimately, she says, “You want to make things right, pay me. Pay me or I will sue.” A discussion of what % of royalties should be paid ensues, whether Leon should recall the book, and ends with Elizabeth stating the obvious: “I don’t trust you.”
Still, Richard makes a play for the ex-lover, asking her if she wants to come over to his place to rest a bit before going home, which causes her to bolt from the coffee shop after giving him a dirty look and leaving him to pay the check. (I couldn’t help but think, “A true male thing. He says he despises her, but he still invites her over to see if he can score.”)

Big John, the journal entry from 8/03/1977 involving Big John, the drug addict, was in dialect and all about doing peyote buttons. It had a good line: “I know who you are, even if you won’t admit it to yourself.” From that point on, the description seems to be of the drug trip, complete with a girl with long hair who stops by, says “hi” and then glides off, and a python, perhaps (?) and the user saying, “I saw myself off to one side watching myself watching her.” There is a couple from Denmark, nude, making love, that the writer accidentally stumbles upon in a bedroom and he marvels at the muscles the Danish male lover has, wondering if he does tae kwan do.

Bogosian made reference to a script her wrote about Gia, the young model who died of AIDS, although noting it was not the Jay McInerny script that vaulted Angelina Jolie to stardom when her portrait of Gia aired.

The line that seemed to sum up Bogosian’s feelings: “For me, writing is about having experiences that are so intense that I have to write about them.”

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