Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Independence Day

I often wonder whether or not the Founding Fathers had fireworks to celebrate the first 4th of July after they declared this country free of British rule and an independent country. Probably not. We do celebrate this day of independence from foreign rule and fireworks are the usual visual celebration of that anniversary.

As a child, my parents bought sparklers for us to whirl around as dusk arrived and the sun went down in a fiery blaze on July 4th. It was the preamble to the fireworks that awaited us once the night had fully descended. The excitement was palpable in the air and my brother and sisters and I, and all our neighborhood playmates, were hopping with anticipation. We piled into the car and drove to the prearranged site to pile out, lay down blankets, and set out the drinks and nibbles. The parents sat down and chatted and we children ran around with sparklers whirling like dervishes, spilling sparks onto the ground with a whiff of burning, playing tag, and showing in whirling spirals and loops of short-lived spitting fire our happiness.

And then the show began and more quiet and biddable children you wouldn't find. We stared rapt into the black sky and oohed and aahed while brilliantly colored fires sparkled and danced above our heads, mouths open, and hearts beating wildly to the rhythm of the music and the whump of the rocket launchers that sent the fireworks into the sky to explode into stars that trailed into fire and smoke.

Since this year fire is such a hazard here in Colorado, I offer a video display of Independence Day fireworks over our nation's Capitol. Enjoy. Celebrate. Stare in rapt wonder at what man has devised in celebration.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Review: Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub

Colorado Springs has been plagued by wildfires and I almost missed it because I was immersed in Hollywood during the Depression when the studio system was alive and well and running people's private and public lives. Emma Straub is the culprit and Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures is the reason.

I often begin a book with the hope that it will be good. Straub exceeded my hopes and I was reluctant to return to the real world where Laura Lamont is only a literary character. I was quite simply bewitched by Straub's writing and seduced by Elsa, and Laura Lamont the movie star, in a time when movie stars were always well dressed, smiling or bravely holding back the tears, and their lives were not cheap fodder for the masses. I miss the mystique and Straub brings that back in style.

Straub does a great job of recreating the studio system. She does an even better job of illuminating the path of glamour and fame young Elsa travels to become Laura Lamont and how that affects her life, her thoughts, and her family.

I miss the mystique that surrounded movie stars, never wanting them to be too real or too much like me. I sometimes long for Hollywood royalty with their tinsel and paste crowns on perfectly coiffed heads wearing designs by Edith Head and Adrian living in the magical world of make believe. I love fairy tales, too, and Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures shares some of that fairy tale magic, the kind that doesn't turn to rocks and dust when the last page was read. Emma Straub has penned book crack of the best kind.

Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures will be available September 4th. Make sure to reserve your copy now.