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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Monday, April 18

The Danish Girl & Jack Jones

We didn’t see The Danish Girl when it was released, so we rented it on Dish last night to see what we’d missed. We missed two stunning performances by Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, Vikander winning the Oscar for best supporting actress and Redmayne nominated for best male but losing to Leo in The Revenant. But Redmayne could easily have won. Talk about having two roles readymade for Oscars, as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, for which he won in 2015, and this one as Lili, the Danish landscape artist who opted for transgender surgery nearly a century ago. It was fascinating to see him transform from a man happily married to a fellow painter, Gerda Wegener, to the woman he felt was trapped inside him, Lili, who would become the model for the successful series of paintings by his wife. We see Redmayne as he first tries on the role in a practical joke he and Gerda play at a social gathering of friends and fellow artists.
We also see him as he becomes more and more attracted to this female he’s playing—the sensuous movement of the hands and arms around his face, the sly smile and upward gaze, the quiet modulating of his voice, the criss-cross walk of Jazz-age women. Despite Gerda’s objections, he abandons his male persona and becomes Lili, finally agreeing to the medical procedure he hopes would allow him completely to become this woman for whom he yearned. The story is simple, the acting of the two principals wonderful, the scenes artistically beautiful as the camera lovingly shows us Danish countryside, streets and houses in Copenhagen, lavish costumes from Europe in the Twenties. What next for Alicia Vikander? Ex Machina 2 with her reprising Val, the beautiful, artificially intelligent robot? What next for Eddie Redmayne? A remaking of The Elephant Man?

Last year I went to the Arizona Broadway Theatre to see Jack Jones doing a one-man concert. Despite his age, at the time around 75, he sounded good. Maybe not as good as he did when he was second only to Frank Sinatra back in the Sixties and Seventies, but still able to hit the high notes without forcing it. And he had some nice banter about several of his best-known songs, especially “Wives and Lovers,” which today would be totally unacceptable for its sexist position: “Wives should always be lovers too. Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you.” So today, on Amazon, I looked Jack up and found a new album called Love Makes the Changes: the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman. How could I pass up Jack singing the songs of the Bergmans, my favorite lyricists? I couldn’t. I bought it without even listening to any samples. What a mistake. Jack sounds like a feeble old man trying to do what he did so well as a young man. How sad. How pitiful. And, apparently, it all went wrong in only a year. I remember when Frank came out with Duets II, when he was eighty, and it was an old man’s voice, almost embarrassing in its fragility. The only singer I can think of who has bested father time is Tony Bennett, who still sounds pretty damn good at eight-nine, especially when he teams up with Lady Gaga. I guess I’ll simply skip listening to my new Jack Jones album and go back to listening to him when he was in his prime.
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