26 November 2007

On The Way to New Isosceles-Chapter 1

Hey gang!

Here's a touch of On The Way to New Isosceles. Please remember this story is for mature readers only.

On The Way to New Isosceles, Chapter 1

It was Iowa, twenty years ago. The wheat fields were golden, the sky aqua- but JJ knew it was just a dream again. Every night Earth-luscious with life, vegetation, water-returned to JJ as it once was. The powerful atmosphere blew an ever so gentle breeze through JJ’s astral red hair. Her younger self walked knee deep in the swaying grains. It was hot; the sun shone its mid day summer brightest. Her little dress billowed-she was bare foot, and the seeds itched yet tickled her soles and bare arms. That morning it had rained, and beads of water still trickled from the budding grain and dropped between little JJ’s toes. Her feet would get dirty, and her mother would send her to the hose before JJ was allowed to enter the house.

Just as it had then, a shadow slid over the glistening grains. Not simple wisps of clouds, but a sudden, massive blanket of darkness. The golden sunlight vanished from view. A red glow lit up the afternoon, the horizon streaked with the colors of sunset and wildfires, and a fiery red meteor smoked across the sky. Hot coals rained down on the twelve year old, and JJ ducked below the equally defenseless grains. Lava like fire smothered the ground, and sulfur filled JJ’s lungs. The girl tried to turn and crawl home, but the ground was hot and quaked. It was dark, and the burning grains cast the dim flickering light of a thousand little candles. Iowa submerged into Hell. The comet fell to earth, and all that humanity knew of Gaia was gone.

JJ sat up in her bunk and hit her head on the solid deck plating. There was little room to breath on the Mother Ship, but better inside the hearty old ship’s cramped walls, then out in cold, black, oxygen-free space. Of course, JJ had chosen the top bunk.
“Another nightmare?” Her bunkmate’s concerned feminine call came from beneath the top bed.

JJ pulled her hair from its messy bun and wiped the sweat from her chest. Her heavy breathing calmed. Her hair was still red, but shorter and darker. She wasn’t flat chested, but her boobs weren’t as big as she would have liked. And of course, earth was still unable to sustain life. Well, it had been when what was left of humanity left ten years ago. How her home planet had faired since JJ hadn’t heard.
“As you were, Private,” JJ finally acknowledged. She laid back down and listened to their spaceship rumble. She was a Lieutenant in the Combatant Brigade, she needn’t give explanations when she wasn’t ordered to by her Captain. Ten years of space faring and fighting their rival human factions didn’t give time to go soft. Not that JJ was ever soft. She would, however, drift off to sleep again if she was left alone. Sleep was necessary to her business, but alarms stirred JJ again.
“Combat Teams to your drop ships,” The intercom echoed. “All Combat Teams to your drop ships.”
“That’s us!” JJ’s bunkmate jumped up and pulled on her gear. Her perfect uniform was on and her backpack ready before JJ slid off her bunk and carelessly tossed away her sleep shirt. The tall, fit Korean was a proper soldier, and as strict as JJ was, sometimes Ina Wu’s no nonsense attitude irked her. But JJ had little time to be irked, especially now. Her uniform was on and in tip top shape. Gear? Check. Backpack-JJ halted at the sight of a third, empty bunk. Their quarters were small for one, inconvenient for two, but their third roommate was not interested in bunking with other women.
“Wu, where is Kimmie?”
“I believe its been Private Lucas for awhile,” Ina informed.
JJ buttoned her top and locked her gear into place. “If she’s not at the drop ship, Captain Westmayer better not chew my ass.”


The women jogged down the shaking corridor with other combat specialists in rustling dark spacesuits, helmets, backpacks, and jiggling space gear. The team had been to the weapons lock up and took up their spacesuits with their rifles. The hefty doors of the Mother Ship beeped its warnings and opened before them.
“Let’s move it!” JJ rushed into the Lift Off Zone. Shuttles and drop ships waited for their personnel as the Mother Ship shook and echoed.
“Zone Doors Opening in two minutes. All Combatants to your drop ships.”

Combatants marched onto their drop ships, and Ina climbed up the rumbling ramp of Drop Ship 69. The swift Asian strapped into her designated seat, but a tall shadow prevented JJ from entering the transport.
“Lieutenant Johnson, I’ve told you before about the need for timely deployments.”
“I know, Captain.”

Where Ina’s severe stature and jaw line deceived about her dry wit and sometimes impish personality, Captain Scott Westmayer meant to look menacing, even if he was warm at heart. Although JJ had known Westmayer on earth, so maybe his warmness was for her and her alone. Not that there was time to really know people while hurling through space.

“Jess, you’re the best hand to hand combatant in the unit, but you’re lead by example attitude only goes so far.”
JJ wasn’t a leader. She was a fighter, but the Combatants needed leaders, and she didn’t argue with her superior. At least, not when there was a mission to be had.
“I know, Captain.”
“You’ve got to show more authority, Lieutenant.”
“Yes, Sir.”

A disheveled private approached the ramp, and both her superiors glared. Her uniform was mis-buttoned over her lacey bosom, and what gear she did have was tangled around her shoulders. JJ was a bit jealous of her friend’s lust and carefree attitude, but sex doesn’t last. Combatants were fighting for their very existence, and this private was not doing her share. It wasn’t her fault. Everyone on earth had to choose a side. Kimmie couldn’t fly a spaceship, and she didn’t build nuclear weapons-she hadn’t the brains for those.

“Kimmie Dejonaire.” The Captain sighed with slight bemusement at the messy blonde, but he entered the drop ship. “Let’s go, Private!”


The Mother Ship was old-scorched on its hull, and rather clunky as spaceships go. The Combatants didn’t exactly get first choice in spacecraft, but this Mother Ship had been JJ’s home since she left earth. It was easy to personalize the old broad. Still chugging after all these years in her routine. The girl’s belly opened smoothly, and the Mother Ship’s doors released the drop ships one by one. JJ looked out the tiny window beside her seat. Cramped rows of jury rigged chairs carried the Combatants as the smaller crafts fell into space. Captain Westmayer stood by the controls in the drop ship and braved the descent. Never seemingly disturbed by anything, Ina smoothed her cropped dark hair and snapped on her helmet.

“Who is it Captain, Shitters or Nukes?” The man next to her asked.
“We’ve seen no signs of the Shippers,” The Captain stressed the proper nickname, and several of the boys laughed. Westmayer remained business. “We’ve learned the Nukes may be building more weapons on Asteroid 891X726.”

Westmayer put the information on the ship’s small display screens. The images shook and jumped with the jittery ship. Maps and pictures of the asteroid rotated before the team. All business as well, JJ studied the data.
“That’s a pretty big asteroid,” She cut in. “Still, all our drop ships won’t make the landing.”
“It will be tricky, but we have to land as many as possible.“ Westmayer focused on the material, not his personnel, as was his usual custom. “You’re objective when we land is to take their weapons facility by any means necessary.”
The Captain pointed to the proposed facility’s location, but the drop ship’s screens flickered.
If we land.” Kimmie found her headgear and held onto her jiggling helmet. Their tiny ship shook more as it descended nearer the asteroid.
“When we land,” the Captain repeated. “If it cannot be taken, we will abort for an aerial assault.”
JJ frowned. “Why not an air raid first? Our lasers were up to 87 percent. The Mother Ship could be done before we…”
“Those are my orders, Lieutenant.” Westmayer turned away from JJ and fiddled with the controls.

A hearty Latino man looked squashed in the locked chair beside Kimmie.
“What’s going to stop the Nukes from releasing those pretty little bio hazards they like?”
“Shut it, Miguel.” Ina snickered. “You're always afraid a biological weapon is going to ruin your libido.”
“The Sergeant has a point,” JJ intervened, still perplexed at their unnecessary risk. “The asteroid could be flooded now. What guarantee do he have?”
“None.” Westmayer was grim. “They've used chemicals against us in the past. You all have your current inoculations.”
“We’re five years behind them!” Kimmie grumbled to Miguel.
If Westmayer heard, he did not let on. “Take them by surprise and get to that facility before the Nukes can push any buttons. Good luck."
“Don’t lay it on all at once.” Miguel crossed himself.

The drop ships fired their thrusters and descended slowly and evenly toward the asteroid. JJ felt the rumbles and quakes, but she was used to it. When they first took to spaceflight, they all became ill and nauseous ascending, descending-every time a ship shook. JJ turned from the tiny window and looked up and down her team. This was old hat now. Some of them even slept, but no one turned green.

“Check your comms,” JJ ordered as she adjusted her headset. Already there was ships’ chatter.
"Drop Ship 73 your coming in too fast!"

A drop ship zoomed passed the others and skidded over the rocky terrain. It deflected off a rough peak and crashed onto the asteroid’s abysmal surface. JJ blinked at the brief flashes outside her window. Pieces of hot metal slammed against the other drop ships, and Kimmie jumped at the echoes and clangs. More drop ships overshot the asteroid.
“57 shorten your thrusts.”
"Drop Ship 34, we’re trying to circle back for another go."
"Negative," Captain Westmayer ordered. He looked at the fritzing monitors and sensors. "Stay off as reinforcements. 41, 83, you’re on call as well."
"What number are we again?" Miguel turned to Kimmie.
"Drop Ship 69."

Check out the Leigh Wood. Author. Website for more!

20 November 2007

An Isosceles Who's Who!

A bit of reposting from the website to whet your appetite!

On The Way to New Isosceles
A Tale of Love and War…In Space!
Who the heck is Who?

Lieutenant Jessica Johnson

Nicknamed JJ by her Combatant comrades, the strong willed red head has seen much and harbors her share of ill will towards her enemy the Shippers, and her former enemies the Nukes. JJ was a child when the comet destroyed Earth, and the otherwise all business Lieutenant often has nightmares reliving the destruction if her hometown in Iowa-the crash site of the deadly meteor.

Lieutenant Jason Rubelli

Rub is the Nuke Ladies Man almost by default. His wit, fighting prowess, charm and good looks make he an easy leader to follow. Most of the Combatants has no trouble answering to Rub. JJ, however, resents his presence and his attraction to her. Rub’s not afraid to mix business with pleasure, but his attitude begins to change once he’s forced to bunk with JJ.

Captain Scott Westmayer

Scott Westmayer knew JJ on earth, and their history is very special to JJ. The only person allowed to call her Jess, JJ isn’t afraid to tell her Captain what’s on her mind, and Westmayer always lends an ear. A dear friend and command, Westmayer is always giving JJ the support she needs-except when it comes to Nukes. Westmayer wants to see an end to the war, and he expects JJ to follow his lead.

Staff Sergeant Miguel Carlos Santiago Rafael

Once the fresh Latino befriends Rub, he’s not afraid to discuss his sexuality with the Nuke. On the journey to New Isosceles, Miguel develops into something of a double agent. Trusted by both JJ and Rub, Miguel is able to give each of the Lieutenants valuable information regarding their turbulent relationship.

Colonel Jackson Gauthier

The commended leader of The Nukes is determined to keep the delicate alliance with the Combatants alive, even going so far as agreeing to put the opposing Lieutenants JJ and Rub together. When Shipper threats become a reality, Gauthier’s leadership saves the day.

Private Ina Wu

Witty Korean Ina Wu is a swift fighter and swifter woman for attempting to stay above ship politics and romances. She is perhaps JJ’s closest friend on board, often providing level headed advice and logical plans of action-in ship operations on and off the bridge.

Private Kimmie Dejonaire

Although she is slightly ditzy and known more to her fellow combatants for her bedroom services, Kimmie Dejonaire is an exceptional hand to hand fighter. She gladly trades techniques with her new Nuke friends and develops a special relationship with Nuke Corporals Tammy Lyn Filago and Miller Worthington.

Corporal Tammy Lyn Filago

Tammy Lyn is lovingly called TLF by her male Nuke pals, and not because its her initials. Her romantic history with Rub isn’t exactly clear, and it causes some awkward moments between Tammy Lyn and her newfound superior, JJ. Despite their similar hot hot status, Tammy Lyn and Kimmie become very close, even developing an unusual relationship with Mills Worthington.

Corporal Miller Worthington III

Mills is somewhat of a geek or nerd. His genius is behind most of the Nuke technologies, but the Corporal is also part of the popular Nuke set. Rumors about his physical prowess spread through the Combatant Mother Ships, and Miller quickly finds himself at the center of both Kimmie Dejonaire and Tammy Lyn Filago’s affections.

Corporal Edward MacDonald

Mac may appear stupid and living every moment according to his Machismo nickname, but the Nuke is shrewd in strategy and planning. Often the final piece of a Nuke puzzle, Mac also uses his wit for elaborate pranks and relationship theories. A long time friend of Rub, Mac also becomes a source of strength for JJ where the Nuke Lieutenant is concerned.

Meet *On The Way To New Isosceles*

Enough with the little stuff! Let's get you warmed to my latest erotica novel, On The Way to New Isosceles!

Everyone ought to love science fiction, don’t you think? You have to wonder what people do with themselves on those long space flights-entertain a gentleman or lady, perhaps two-or both! These notions were the genesis for On The Way To New Isosceles.

Subtitled ‘A Tale of Love and War In Space’, On The Way To New Isosceles tells the tale of a man and woman on opposite sides of a post apocalyptic human struggle. JJ and Rub find what they were least expecting-a little love and relaxation goes a long way on an extended space journey.

It seems like a simple premise as I’ve described here, but it’s a notion that’s tough to find. On The Way To New Isosceles is a unique tale perfectly mixed with healthy amounts of story and erotica Hope you like things spicy!

On The Way to New Isosceles is almost ready for submission to the top erotica e-publishers. I’m a stickler for editing to perfection! For a gander at the first 5 chapters of On The Way To New Isosceles, as well as character biographies and fun, visit


Alternatively, I might repost chapters here, so check back! If you’re in the industry and want to see the completed manuscript, drop me a line!


19 November 2007

Lady Chatterley's Lover

Now, not to be confused with my previous review, here's my commentary on the novel! 80)

Lady Chatterley’s Lover Wasn’t All That Shocking

By Leigh Wood

After one too many viewing’s of the 1992 BBC production of Lady Chatterley, I finally broke down and read the book. I thought the 1928 unedited version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence would be a tough book to find. Expensive, rare, old leather, smelly, buried in an antiquarian store-that type of book. Indeed I was very pleased to find the 1928 Unexpurgated Oriali Edition in paperback at my local Borders. $4.95!

I wrapped Mists of Avalon as quickly as possible and avoided watching the film before I plunged into Lover. I read other writers’ criticisms on D.H. Lawrence and his works before purchasing the book, and I knew the book and movie didn’t have the same ending. Of course, I also knew the book’s controversial reputation and supposedly salacious use of naughty words and torrid sex talk. My edition opened with forwards and introductions detailing the book’s tough road to publication and the aftermath of censorship. Although this story is fairly well known in literary circles, this introduction is informative, with details and facts on the books printing, pirated editions, and trial information. Even if one was a toe towards prudish, you can’t not be interested in reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover after these words of praise.

Although the 1992 adaptation by Ken Russell is quite faithful, Lawrence’s work is naturally bigger and more detailed than what can be translated to the screen. I noticed many cases where the film had taken word for word from the book, and also where scenes had been combined or moved and relocated for the film. Still, much was remaining to surprise me. After her Baronet husband’s paralysis during World War I, young Constance Chatterley begins to question her mundane existence as Lady of Wragby Hall and nursemaid to her crippled husband. They are educated and literate, but as she listens to her husband and his friends chit chat about war, sex, society, and money, Connie becomes more and more disenchanted with her upper class standing. After a very dissatisfying affair with playwright Michaelis, Connie begins a saucy love affair with her husband’s gamekeeper Olivier Mellors. Despite the fear of being caught and societal pressures upon them, Connie and Mellors continue to meet. When the scandal comes out, they take measures to secure a life together, despite the class divisions against them.

The great part of Lady Chatterley’s Lover is the love discovered between the titular characters, so I was intrigued by the intitial Michaelis relationship. We learn much about Connie intellectually and sexually through this affair, internal thoughts and disappointing feelings that can’t be show onscreen. I’ve read other fans commentaries online about Joely Richardson’s performance as Lady Chatterley in the BBC version. Women sometimes find her portrayal conceded and flaky. Connie has nothing to loose, where Mellors has everything to loose. In the novel, this is certainly not the case. Connie is already nothing, an emotionless drone whose stature gives her nothing.

Likewise the Mellors in print has everything to gain. His backstory is greatly detailed by Lawrence, yet he maintains his strong silent and mysterious air. Once on officer during the war and a well educated pupil then tutor, Mellors could have the upper class at his fingertips, yet he chooses to be left alone. This book is not just about sex. Our couple is disenchanted with war, industry, money, and the people around them who think that those things give meaning to life. Some of Mellors’ dialogue is written in dialect and for an American like me, it took a double take at first. However, Mellors can also speak perfect English, and does so when he chooses, not when people expect it of him. In fact, his speech is often broken when he thinks it will upset people, such as Connie’s image conscious sister Hilda.

Lawrence spends a great many of the early chapters discussing artists and their self important selves, yet it is a great and subtle revelation when Connie discovers books in Mellor’s house. Its often claimed not to be Lawrence’s best work, but Lady Chatterley’s Lover intricately weaves the love story between Connie and Mellors with multiple commentaries from Lawrence. Without being too obvious with his author views, Lawrence questions the English post war Jazz society and classes as well as the later artistic society Lawrence often found himself outcast from. This catch-22 is again mirrored in the novel. Where Connie and Mellors affair crosses class divides and angers their entire community, her husband Clifford’s unusual relationship with his nurse Mrs. Bolton is entirely acceptable. I love Charles Dickens for his veiled or outright social commentaries, and I dare say Lawrence is on par here in asking those same society questions. Who decides these social barriers and imobilities? Why are some invisible to these restraints via power, position, and money? What is the right reason to circumvent these divides and do something about oneself?

Lady Chatterley’s Lover has kept me thinking about itself long after I’ve finished the book. I’d like to read it again and find answers to these questions. Although it is a thorough British book in time and place, Lover also presents very modern thoughts and conjecture. After Lawrence’s difficulty with self publishing and piracy, the book was banned until a 1960 obscenity trial. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t find the book all that shocking. Was it because I was familiar with the film version, or is it because the book perhaps caused our current liberal ideas and desensitizing? Four letter words and sex talk have always existed, but Lawrence’s honest treatment of the subjects opened a Pandora’s box on erotica, pornography, nudity, and bad words in art, literature, and film. I can’t say the same for other works, but Lover is actually a very tasteful book, rather innocent in a way. The rebirth of the main characters through their love for one another. Lawrence was tempted to call the story ‘Tenderness’ and the title would have fit.

Although the work speaks for itself when it comes to sex, society, and even religion, my edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover came with ‘A Propos on Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D. H. Lawrence himself. After finishing the book on a positive note, I was disappointed in this thirty page essay. One should always let his work speak for itself, and there’s no need for this redundant and overlong speech from Lawrence. From World War I to Christianity, Lawrence’s essays should be cut in half or is perhaps better for a college classroom discussion.

If you’re looking for porn or sexual gratification, you won’t find it in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Most certainly the book is not for everyone, and if frank sexual talk and situations is not your cup of tea, do skip this read. I’lm a fairly straight laced individual, and I only second guessed the book once. In Chapter 16 or 19, I thought the anal sex euphuisms were getting a bit redundant. I giggled a few times over the language, but was moved by other beautiful descriptions from Lawrence. At first I looked for Lover in Borders’ small erotica section, but Lawrence’s works are found in the general fiction section and in the classics section at my local library.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is by no means for children or prudes, but it is a fine novel that has transcended time and place. We may be too loose or vulgar in our society today-celebrities with wardrobe malfunctions and half naked women in music videos. Lover and the books in its wake may have caused this openness, but the book also reminds me of the good things about he past. Women wore gloves, men tips their hats to all, and writers wrote great books.

Lady Chatterley

Another Kinky review!

Lady Chatterley Not All Porn (But Still Not For Everyone)

By Leigh Wood

On The cusp of my Lord of The Rings obsession, I’ve been passing the time by watching films starring the actors from Peter Jackson’s Oscar winning epic trilogy. When my quest for Sean Bean films led me to watch Ronin- in English and Spanish-I broke down and bought the first movie I had seen the Boromir actor in- the 1993 BBC production of Lady Chatterley.

Sure Patriot Games and Goldeneye are great, but it was director Ken Russell’s adaptation of the banned D.H. Lawrence novels that embedded Sean Bean in my brain. Sex, adultery, class divides, and naughty language sent not one, but three versions of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover underground. When the third and most tame version was finally published in 1962, scandal and controversy erupted on both sides of the Atlantic.

I knew nothing of this history when I first saw the theatrical two hour version late at night on cable. Boy or girl, a young teen will find the soft core porn that is currently everywhere in our society. At the time, I often tuned in for Red Shoe Diaries. A few bumps and grinds, perhaps some boobs, sometimes a nice story and historical location. The Marilyn Chambers movies, however, I could do without. I sought more than weak porn. I wanted a story.

Imagine my surprise when Lady Chatterley appeared. Unlike its early 20th century/World War I contemporaries Avonlea and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Lady Chatterley stars Joely Richardson as the sexually repressed young wife of a paralyzed veteran (James Wilby) who finds love in a scandalous affair with her husband’s gamekeeper (Sean Bean).

Make no mistake, there are kinky folks who will tune into the second and third parts of Lady Chatterley’s four hours purely for the sex scenes. To take the series only for those visuals, is however an injustice. The miniseries format allows director Russell to take the time and set up the marriage of Lady Constance and Sir Clifford. They are both intellectuals in the upper class. Connie hails from a heady and upstanding artistic family, and Sir Clifford has a long list of noble names to live up to. The couple get on well enough, but there is already strain between them when the story opens. One might wonder how and why they married in the first place. The War? Perhaps the union was an unofficially arranged one? Already we have questions, as does Lady Chatterley. She yearns for more than serving as nurse to her often grumpy (although understandably so) husband. Sir Clifford, however, doesn’t want to see his title end, and invites Connie to take a lover, in hopes of claiming an illegitimate child for his own.

At first, Constance clings to the image of a loyal wife-despite prodding from her own sister and father. She finds the ranch hand-foreman-wild-man-of-the-woods Mellors rude and fearful. Finally, after discussing the symbolism of the black horse of passion with Sir Clifford, Connie hires a nurse for her husband and sets off to explore her estate-an estate that the brutish and strong-not paralyzed-Mellors is always lurking. Inevitably, the Lady and the Gamekeeper begin a purely sexual affair. Their encounters grow to something more, and the couple seeks to find a escape from the society that divides them.

I dare say the serious opening and closing hours of Lady Chatterley are my favorites. The story’s setup and resolution are indeed more important than the sex scenes, even though no sexual scene is superfluous or fluff. The reflections on the war, striking coalminers, and class debates all give weight to the story. Sir Clifford reads and becomes extremely intellectual while bound to his wheelchair, yet he sees nothing wrong with the English class divides. Connie of course disagrees with the notion that there will always be people who boss and people to boss. Mellors is a higher servant than most, yet he still must take orders from other household servants, and Sir Clifford mocks his accented speech. Constance’s father and sister also find no problem with her taking a lover, but all expect it to be a man of upper standing, not a servant. Likewise, none of the lower class cared that Mellors and his wife lived separately until the affair with Lady Chatterley comes out. He becomes an outcast in his own society-a class that Clifford jokingly calls ‘the enemy’.

The absurdity of this class division is obvious to the viewer. The juxtaposition of the bright, big, and beautiful green Chatterley estate versus the cramped dirty, rocky mines is a smart move by Russell, as is the love scenes between Connie and Mellors. The natural wooded part of the estate is theirs, where class troubles can’t reach them, and simplicity and innocence rule-unlike the cold, structured halls of the Wragby estate.

Russell and his co screenwriter Michael Haggaig also give double duty to the production’s dialogue. I’ve not read any versions of Lawrence’s books, only criticisms, but the screenwriters use the sound source materials to their advantage. Every line spoken has double and symbolic meaning. Part one ends with the first significant interaction between Mellors and Lady Chatterley. She wants a key for the hut on the property, and Mellors closes with, ‘If you let me know when you want it.’ Sexual innuendo, the face value meaning, a little key into the lock penetration symbolism, and a hint of chastity belt referenced all in six words.

The acknowledgement of speech divides is also sharp. When Connie’s sister Hilda (Hetty Baynes) finally meets Mellors, she asks him to speak ‘normal English’. The similar but different nature of the way they talk should keep the lovers apart, but it is a treat for the audience. Listen closely, and not just for the naughty language.

Now of Nip/Tuck fame, Joely Richardson was fairly new at the time of Lady Chatterley’s release, as was future Sharpe star Sean Bean. Both give every ounce to the production, and the delivery from the actors is also perfect. The way Sean Bean says ‘Your Ladyship’ alone shows his pent up torment. We follow Connie’s perspective more, but listen closely to Mellors’ speeches. He’s been a lonely misunderstood soul and now he’s found an emotional awakening with the one woman he shouldn’t have. Likewise Joely Richardson is perfect in nearly every frame. She’s so proper in the beginning, then shrinks in illness. She looks radiant and grows in beauty as her relationship with Mellors grows. The looks and unspoken movements between the two are exceptional. She bites her lips and nails when observing Mellors, and he often tilts his head or hunches away shy in her presence-as opposed to his upright towering over the permanently seated Clifford.

The chemistry between the leads is evident, yet Russell swiftly finds ways to symbolically divide them onscreen. Many of the scenes between Richardson and Bean are through fences or gates, implying one or the other is always locked out or in. Even after their relationship begins, trees or posts will cut the two shot down the middle, leaving a divided but symmetrical shot onscreen. Subtle but brilliant from Russell. These shots show how out of her element Constance is, but also how trapped Mellors is. The cinematography, acting, and dialogue all multitask, and multiple viewings of Lady Chatterley is a must if one is to catch everything.

Sir Clifford and his nurse Mrs. Bolton also develop a special relationship, parallel to Connie and Mellors, but acceptable of course. Their conversations seem more evenly matched. They play chess and the widowed nurse is more physically intimate with Sir Clifford then Connie, taking over the duties of bathing and shaving him. Her words are also accented, but Clifford never insults her about it. Wilby does a fine job as Clifford. He insults and bosses Mellors, but in fact it is Clifford who cannot function without his servants. Mellors may take orders, but he his own man, where Clifford’s paralysis puts him at the mercy of everyone else-even Mellors.

Wilby swiftly moves from sorrowful and intelligent to brutish and melancholy. You feel bad for Clifford when his motorized chair gets stuck, and further emotional when it is Mellors who must push the crippled husband of his lover. Sir Clifford of course insults Mellors and then we hate him again.

Perfectly matching James Wilby is Shirley Anne Field as Mrs. Bolton. She plays the widowed nurse expertly yet with a slight air of ambiguity. Her button up style and always proper air are perfect, if a little Mrs. Danover from Rebecca. She claims to be there for both the husband and wife but clearly puts together the pieces about Lady Chatterley and Mellors. When rumors begin about their affair, Russell alludes that it might have been Mrs. Bolton leading the servant talk, yet she swiftly covers for Connie and keeps Sir Clifford in the dark. Clueless as he is anyway, Clifford doesn’t doubt Mrs. Bolton, nor does Lady Chatterley. It’s almost as if she might have let something slip, but not out of malice. Mrs. Bolton seems to understand that Wragby Hall isn’t where Connie belongs and seeks to speed her escape to Mellors. The women talk frankly about knowing true love, warmth, and tenderness from a man. Mrs. Bolton knows that is what Connie needs, and she won’t get it from Sir Clifford.

Social and sexual intrigue aside, Lady Chatterley is a stunning period piece. The Wragby Hall location is breathtaking and takes on the feel of a supporting character itself. When Mellors waits on its vast steps, he’s clearly out of his element. Likewise Clifford’s room could seem like a dream. Incredible bed, books everywhere, the piano and the latest inventions. Connie, of course, fits neither in the uppity hall or the meager shack in the woods. Joely Richardson’s costumes are so lush. Today such hats and flapper style dresses would seem ridiculous, but they looks gorgeous onscreen. The proper style, yet free spirited fabrics and layers fit the character so well, and Russell’s attention to detail sets everything off. Richardson’s wisps of hair and the clang of her beads set the tone for her wild ways.

Sean Bean’s costume also says far more about his character than he does. So lowly valued, yet he wears a button collar and tie while he lurks the woods with a dog and a gun strapped to his back. The wearing or removing of his page boy hat also add depth to Mellors’ mood and respectfulness. Even the music and props complete every scene. By no means is Lady Chatterley some B porn production. The wind up gramophones, old time radios, candelabras, and vintage cars sell every authenticity, and the score moves between modern jazz tunes and haunting classical arrangements. Russell insisted on using English compositions, and the tunes top off the flavor of the film.

But finally I must mention what I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for. The sex scenes in Lady Chatterley were spared nothing less than Russell’s best, of course. There isn’t any foreplay, fondling, or even oral sex. When Connie and Mellors finally get to it, they get to it. The initial consummation is a bit awkward for both parties. They discuss and try to resist but ultimately succumb to the sort of re-virginal experience. Lady Chatterley hasn’t been with a real man in some time, and Mellors confesses his demeaning wife was the only woman he had ever been with. The dialogue is indeed necessary in the kinky scenes. If what’s going on isn’t clear in the visuals, the characters say what they mean, and I mean they say it!

The pre and post conversations are particularly important in two ambiguous sex scenes-one that is near rape and another that is most likely anal sex. If you’re not reeling and all giggles over those, prepare yourself for Part 3. I suspect Lady Chatterley’s ‘For Mature Audiences Only’ warning is for the full frontal nudity sequences. I don’t wish to spoil it, but ladies if you go in slow motion, you will see the whole Bean.

In the end, however, Lady Chatterley isn’t about the tawdry sex scenes. By part 4, sensitive types may need a box of tissues. The speeches from Connie and Mellors are so sincere, honest, and downright poetic that the audience can’t help but root for the couple. Russell hold nothing back, from nasty husbands, kinky sex, and bad language so that we are raw, primed, and moved for the production’s big finish. In Lady Chatterley’s final fifteen minutes, you will be agonizing and cheering Connie and Mellors on to happiness. Do our fair lovers find each other at the end? I shan’t tell!

The Lady Chatterley DVD is available in all regional formats at a very affordable price. Usually under $30 at most retailers, or online if you’re a bit shy about the purchase. The double disc set has little special features to speak of, only a brief photo gallery, trailers, and an interview with Ken Russell. Not for children of course, I also don’t think men will enjoy Lady Chatterley. Despite plenty of Joely’s bits, males won’t be interested in the story or period costume drama. Keep Lady Chatterley for your own guilty pleasure, or for that all girls night you’ve been planning. All four hours in one sitting, tears, and repeat viewings- I assure you Lady Chatterley will not disappoint.

14 November 2007

Mists of Avalon Review by Leigh!

One of my old reviews. Enjoy!

Disappointed with The Mists of Avalon
By Leigh Wood

After a few Darkover reads and two or three viewings of TNT’s telefilm The Mists of Avalon, I decided to take up the heavy read of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s first Avalon novel. I debated purchasing the hard back online, but a friend found a $3 trade paperback edition second hand, and I was set. It was a hefty book, and I was tempted to read The Lord of the Rings again instead, but once I was on page one I couldn’t stop.

Bradley’s tale focuses on the women from the King Arthur legends. We open with Igraine, the future mother of Arthur. After her sister the Lady of the Lake Viviane sets Igraine up with Uther Pendragon, the Lady takes Igraine’s daughter Morgaine to Avalon. Morgaine grows to a fine priestess, but Avalon is changing, and as Arthur and his wife Gwenhwyfar struggle to have a child, their court becomes more and more Christian. Who’s way of live will prevail?

I did some research on Marion Zimmer Bradley before I read The Mists of Avalon. I was surprised to find her connections to modern and Neo Pagan organizations, in addition to questions about her sexuality. What should that matter? I’ve read every other King Arthur book, and I hope I wouldn’t be deterred by such labels. Unfortunately, Bradley lets her politics into the novel. Pages and pages are nothing but religious banter from priests and merlins or gossiping women. Sin, Sex, Men versus women, Bad Christian priests, Good Druid Priestesses.

Often the point of view the reader is supposed to be following at the time isn’t even involved in the conversation. Often she is merely listening, taking the reader out of the carefully crafted set up and locales. Some readers might enjoy the theological debates. Its no matter whether the reader is of a Christian bend or a Pagan bend, merely the loss on the entertainment scale. If I wanted to read philosophical debate, I’d read a nonfiction book about the histories, struggles, and colonization of Britain and how it effected religion.

Another strike against The Mists of Avalon is its seemingly old styled grammar and lack of editing. I thought this was the novel that made MZB, well, MZB. How then did an epic novel with such poor transitions, formatting, and point of view come to print at Del-Rey? Today’s editors are all about strict viewpoints and clear scene transitions. Not occasionally does Bradley change views from scene to scene, but at every opportunity available, the reader is asked to head hop to all involved in the conversation. We’re subject to what every knight at the round table thinks, along with what every Druid or priestess psychically sees or feels. Its annoying, confusing, sometimes overwhelming enough to read a sentence two or three times, and most important of all, it detracts from the intimate relationships the characters are trying to establish.

The simplest way to break down the characters-and there are a lot of them, but that’s understandable when one is trying to give all bits of Arthurian legend its due-is to take the novel in the Morgaine versus Gwenhwyfar storyline. Early in the read, I liked Morgaine-even after I was tempted to put the book down over its condoning of incestuous relationship between Morgaine and Arthur. In Book Three, however, I came to dislike Morgaine. Her obsession with plans and plots against the King’s Court put Bradley’s Morgaine right back to the bad girl Morgan Le Fay. After reading so much about the Goddess and who is the Goddess or who could be the Goddess, I just stopped caring. Earlier in the book, we went through these same questions with Viviane as Lady of the Lake. Both women ask where the line is between themselves and The Goddess, and if they are doing her will or their own. For such a key factor in The Mists of Avalon, I found this debate silly, even absurd. How many times is this question going to be asked before someone realizes that its not up to any person to presume any God’s will? That’s what I’ve always loved about Arthur stories. It’s so Titanic. For all its grandiose plans, Camelot never seems to learn its lesson.

Now then, if I am so wishy washy over Morgaine and the Goddess, surely I must favor quote unquote good Christian Gwenhwyfar. Unfortunately, she’s just as bipolar. We meet Gwen as a timid agoraphobic child and are forced to ride along as she becomes a bitter hypocritical fanatic. Anything and everything becomes a sin to her, even though she is constantly trying to justify her love affair with Lancelet. Gwenhwyfar finds Morgaine so evil, but the Queen of Camelot’s over pious demands on priests, penance, and her barrenness as a punishment for Arthur’s incestuous sin is too much. I want to smack her more than sympathize with her. The only chance I felt near sympathizing with little Gwen was the chapter in which she’s kidnapped and raped by Meleagrant. Hundreds of pages of just talk or women waiting around the spinning, the one time we get any sort of serious movement in the story-and its resolved in one chapter.

Too often The Mists of Avalon falls into the “Morgaine Speaks” fail safe. Whenever Bradley wants to explain something quick or move the time and place, she lapses into this omnipresent Morgaine speech. Even the end of the book disappointingly resolves itself here. In the biggest show don’t tell mistake of all, instead of reading the battle between Arthur and Mordred, we’re there for a summary from Morgaine. After thinking the book was redundant and played out before Book Four, I was further dissatisfied as a reader by Bradley’s cop-out ending. It’s a bad feeling to give the reader-if the author skips to the end so easily, why can’t I? Did I just waste a month on near 900 pages for nothing?

TNT is not my favorite network. Notorious for bad editing on film showings and way too many commercials, the network actually got it right for their original The Mists of Avalon event starring Angelica Huston, Juliana Margulies, and Joan Allen. I am very tempted to get the DVD for the additional scenes and features, for the 3 hour series broke down Bradley’s novel to its essential bits. All that I found over the top and played out in the book is gone from the film version. I dare say its superior to the book, and certainly a better viewing experience compared to the tiring read.

All right so it seems I’ve shredded The Mists of Avalon beyond reproach. Not so. Bradley’s accurate display of Druid material, Christian Scripture, British locales, and Roman history give life to the book. Her descriptions of England and its native lore often had me stopping my read and opening the encyclopedia for more on Cornwall, Lothian, and Glastonbury. Indeed her use of Arthurian tales is exhaustive. Although I was a little peeved by too many similar names: Morgaine, Igraine, Viviane, Ninane, Elaine, Gawaine, Uwaine-oiy! Bradley seems to have re-authenticated Arthurian tales by giving them a truly English, un-Frenchified feeling. As a kid I read anything Arthur I could find. Howard Pyle, T.H. White, even the Sunday Comics’ Prince Valiant In the Days of King Arthur. At the time, these reads seemed so big kid to me, but looking back, they were fairly juvenile. There may have been more women and less Arthur (and no Valiant!) than I might have liked, but The Mists of Avalon is perhaps the only mature Arthurian read, with a no holds barred approach on sex, relationships, and religion. I don’t think I’m a prude, but an open mind is a must when braving this 1982 best seller.

The Mists of Avalon is not for everyone. Readers of purely Christian material or those easily offended should definitely bypass Mists for its frankness, and truly not even teens should tackle this hefty read. I myself don’t intend to read the rest of the Avalon series, including The Forest House, Lady of Avalon, Priestess of Avalon with Bradley, then continued by Diana L. Paxson with Ancestors of Avalon and Raven of Avalon. My interest in the book was Arthurian. No doubt Arthur fans have already discovered The Mists of Avalon, but the book is worth a try for any mature fan of historical fantasy, myth, and magic.

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