Friday Book Whimsy: Surviving Savannah

During my formative years, I studied the history of a variety of ships that sank. The two most obvious, of course, were the Titanic, which ran into an iceberg, killing 1,500 souls, and the Lusitania, a British luxury ship that was sunk by the Germans, killing nearly 1,200 souls and contributing to the World War I tragedies. But I had never heard of the sinking of the Pulaski, a steam ship that sank to the bottom of the ocean as it made its way from Savannah, GA, to Baltimore, MD, killing 100 souls in 1838. While I might not have studied it, I’m pretty darn sure it made history class in Savannah. The ship’s boilers exploded the first night at sea, killing some of the wealthiest members of Savannah’s society who were heading to cooler climes for the summer.

Patti Callahan’s historical novel was written following the discovery at long last of the ship in 2018. Yes, friends, that ship stayed lost for 180 years. The discovery of the sunken ship after all these years solved one of the greatest mysteries of our time.

The author tells the story of the explosion, and the fight by some of the people who survived the disaster. Callahan mixes real-life people with fictitious characters to give the reader a taste of how hard people will work to save themselves and the ones they love. The characters are bold and brave. The descriptions of the long days they spent without food or water, baking in the hot sun, and how they survived, are riveting.

The book is part history and part mystery. It was interesting to read and provided me with a history lesson, proving that I still have plenty to learn, even in my dotage!

Here is a link to the book.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Back when I was a little girl, television didn’t run nonstop like it does now. There were only a few networks – CBS, NBC, ABC, maybe a few local stations – and they signed on early in the morning, and signed off at midnight or so with a hearty playing of the National Anthem. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Anyway, because networks didn’t run on a 24-hour schedule, movies were uncommon on searchTV. The Wizard of Oz ran once a year, at which time I planted myself on the gray carpeted floor right in front of the TV without moving for the entire movie. Once Dad broke down and bought us our first color television, the moment when Dorothy woke to find Oz in technicolor glory was unbelievably COOL.

But when I was really little, the only time most movies were on TV was late at night, long after I was tucked into the double bed next to my sister Jen. However, when I was probably 11 or 12, Mom told me that I had to go to bed at the same time as Jen on Saturday night, which was probably around 10. But if I could stay awake until she fell sound asleep, and further, could sneak out of bed without waking her, I could get up and watch the late night movie. Game on! I can still vividly recall inching my way to the edge of the bed and oh-so-carefully rolling out as quiet as a churchmouse, praying that I didn’t hear, “Where are you going, Kris?”

220px-born_yesterdayIt was one of the times that I managed to stay awake that I was able to watch a movie that I remember that my mom loved called Born Yesterday, starring Judy Holliday. The single thing that I remember from that movie was a scene in which Holliday’s character, a ditzy blond named Billie (who ultimately turned out to be not so ditzy) is playing gin rummy with her rotten-to-the-core boyfriend, and she drives him completely crazy as she gets ready to play the game. She moves her cards around. She messes with her hair. She picks up every card he lays down, and moves her cards around some more. And of course she eventually says, “Gin.” It’s a completely ridiculously funny scene. I remember that my mom laughed and laughed and laughed as she watched that scene. To this day, when I am playing gin rummy and I start moving my cards to the correct position, I think about Born Yesterday. Enjoy this clip……

Now, prepare for the arrival of the Get Off My Lawn Crabby Kris.

Having been duly warned, I think many of you will agree with me that movies just aren’t as fun as they used to be. I love the old movies like Born Yesterday, His Girl Friday, Roman Holiday, The African Queen, Rear Window, The Philadelphia Story and The Apartment (my all-time favorite).

Now that thanks to this recent blog post, you all know why Bill is a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild, let’s talk about movies today. The relationship between movies today and Bill’s participation in the Screen Actors’ Guild is, of course, that he gets to screen movies in which actors will be considered for SAG awards. The movies considered by SAG are often the same as those considered for other awards such as Golden Globe or Academy Awards. And what have I learned over the past number of years since he’s been screening movies? I have learned that the powers-that-be in Hollywood like some really sad and depressing movies. I mean slit-your-wrist depressing. Year after year, this seems to be true.

And the 2016 movies that we have watched thus far are no different. We saw Jackie, starring Natalie Portman, the story of Jackie Kennedy in the days following the assassination. And then we watched Manchester on the Sea, which about did me in. I considered sticking my head in a gas oven, but happily, our oven is electric.

They are both contenders for many awards this year, particularly Manchester on the Sea. But without giving away the plot, I will tell you that my reaction to Manchester was that it was a very believable, but a very sad movie. The acting was quite good. The story was realistic. As always, at its conclusion, Bill asked me what I thought. I told him that I believed every part of that movie. I believe that a teenager would act just as the teenager in the movie acted. I believe that a man who went through what Casey Affleck’s character went through would behave just as he did.

But here’s the thing. I don’t want to believe in my movie. I want my movie to take me away someplace unbelievable. I want to laugh at a ridiculous scene where a ditzy blond is playing gin rummy. I want to sing along with Gene Kelly in the rain. I want to hang off the bow of the Titanic with Kate Winslet. I don’t want to see President Kennedy’s brains splattered onto Natalie Portman’s pink suit or try to find meaning in my life after losing everyone I love.

The good news is that we have yet to see Hidden Figures and La-La Land. I am optimistic.

This post linked to Grammy’s Grid.