Letters to Celebrities

Abbie-1

One blogger I follow posts letters to Ellen DeGeneres simply because she can. In this post, she explains to Ellen why she thinks rotary phones should still exist. I must admit she makes some good points, although I really love my cell phone.

One of my favorite comedians is Alan Alda, who played Hawkeye on MASH. If I were to write letters to him on my blog, would A. Marie Silver, Ellen DeGeneres’s pen pal, sue me for plagiarism? When I was in college, I once took a basic research writing class in which the instructor was fond of saying, “Plagiarism is a crime.”

I pictured myself calling home from a police station in Billings, Montana, where I was attending MSU. “Hi Mother, Dad, I’m in jail for plagiarism. Could you drive the 150 or so miles from Wyoming and bail me out, please? Maybe you could ask Uncle Tony in Colorado Springs to come. He’s a pretty good lawyer, isn’t he? Maybe Aunt Lynn and the girls could also come, and after I’m free, we could all go skiing at Red Lodge like we did in Breckenridge when I was in high school, remember?”

Needless to say, it was with trepidation that I wrote my final paper, paraphrasing the heck out of every source I quoted. The topic was schizophrenia. Believe me, I had one of the symptoms of this psychological disorder, paranoia.

It didn’t help when another student said the instructor accused her of plagiarism after she turned in her paper. I expected armed policemen to march into the classroom at any minute and haul her off in handcuffs. Miracle of miracles, when I turned in my paper, the instructor did not accuse me of plagiarism and did give me a passing grade.

Now, my parents are gone. Uncle Tony is semi-retired, and his health isn’t what it used to be. If Alan Alda were a lawyer, he could march into a courtroom cracking jokes, like he did in the operating room in Korea years ago, but he’s not a lawyer. He’s not even a doctor. He’s a comedian and can’t help me if I’m sued for writing letters to him on my blog. I’m not sure it’s worth the risk. What do you think?

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Poem Speaks Out Against Trump

Abbie-1

I usually don’t get political here, but when someone in my Third Thursday Poets group suggested we each write a poem about the meaning of January 20th for critique at our last session, I couldn’t resist. Click on the title below to hear me read what I wrote. You’re welcome to comment, whether you agree or not, but if you don’t like what you read or hear, I hope we can simply agree to disagree.

***

INAUGURATION DAY

 

 

Today, our country turns over a new leaf.

A different leader takes the Oath of Office.

A billionaire, racist, bigot

with no grasp of foreign policy,

little respect for women or minorities

or concern for impoverished Americans,

the economy, environment,

he won the Presidency, not by popular vote

in an election possibly rigged by Russians.

What will become of America?

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

 

Leia Speaks

Abbie-1

The Princess Diarist

By Carrie Fisher

Copyright 2016

 

In this funny and poignant memoir, actress Carrie Fisher shares her experiences filming the 1976 production of Star Wars. She touches briefly on her life beforehand: her father, singer Eddie Fisher, leaving her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, for actress Elizabeth Taylor, her step-father squandering all their money, leaving her mother nearly penniless, and her roles in Shampoo and other theatrical and film productions.

She explains how she auditioned to play Princess Leia in Star Wars and Carrie in the movie Carrie on the same day and of course got the part of Leia. She then describes the filming process in England: spending a week at a Texas fat farm in an attempt to lose weight beforehand, the Irish hairdresser who gave her the Princess Leia hairstyle, her affair with Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, and friendship with other cast and crew members. She includes a series of diary entries she made during that time.

She discusses the aftermath: the shock of Star Wars’ unexpected popularity, dealing with fan mail, and signing autographs. She explains how her love of shopping and two years with a dishonest business manager impoverished her and how as a result, she was compelled to write travel pieces and appear at Disney Land with four-year-old daughter Billie in tow to make ends meet. She touches on other Star Wars episodes and points out in the end that if she weren’t Princess Leia, she would have been just herself, Carrie Fisher.

The recording I downloaded from Audible is mostly narrated by Carrie Fisher. Her daughter Billie Lourd reads the diary entries, most of which I skipped because they really don’t add to the story, and Billie Lourd’s reading of them was bland.

Although Carrie Fisher’s voice has aged since the original Star Wars production, I enjoyed the way she read the many anecdotes from her experiences and commentary on other subjects. Having once been a Star Wars fan, the miniscule details in the filming process fascinated me: the hairstyling and make-up, how she re-worked one of her lines because she thought it would sound better her way. I would like to have known more about the characters of Darth Vader, C3PO and R2D2.

When reviewing this book for Audible, I was asked who my favorite character was. Well, that was a no-brainer. It was Princess Leia, aka Carrie Fisher, may she rest in peace. I loved her spunk, determination, and courage. May the force always be with her.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

A Poem Rings True

Abbie-1

I wrote the following last night in light of events during the past week. It was inspired by the song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Click on the title to hear me read it.

***

NOTHING RINGING

 

I heard no bells on Christmas Day,

no familiar carol,

no song of peace on Earth,

only bad news:

 

war raging in the Middle East,

a sea plane crash in Russia,

a friend’s canine companion passing,

another friend’s mother diagnosed with breast cancer,

a third’s mother hospitalized with dehydration,

actress Carrie Fisher dead from a heart attack.

 

There may be no peace on earth,

no good will to men,

but hope still lives.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Review: Elizabeth the First Wife

Abbie-1

Elizabeth the First Wife

By Lian Dolan

Copyright 2013.

 

Elizabeth is a professor at a community college in Pasadena, California. Ten years earlier, she divorced her movie-actor husband, and she’s content with her life, although her family encourages her to be more ambitious. Then her ex, out of the blue, makes an appearance in her classroom, much to her students’ delight, and asks her to work with him on a summer theater production of Shakespeare’s A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream in Ashland, Oregon.

A cast of such characters as Elizabeth’s meddling mother, her Nobel-Prize-winning physicist father, an Australian film director with weird ideas about how A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream should be staged, and a Congressional Chief of Staff make this a comical, heartwarming tale. There’s also a political controversy, but as Shakespeare once said, “All’s well that ends well.” The book includes a Q & A with the author and book club discussion questions.

I was drawn to this book because of my family’s love of theater. When I was born, my parents were living in New York City, and I believe they hoped to make it to Broadway, but when I came along, I guess they decided to make more realistic career choices. My brother and I acted in high school and college plays and participated on speech teams but also chose other occupations. My brother’s a physicist, like Elizabeth’s father, but hasn’t won a Nobel Prize yet.

At the beginning of each chapter of the book, the author inserts humorous commentary on Shakespeare and relationships in the form of excerpts from a book Elizabeth is writing. Although these are cute, I found them distracting at times, especially when the previous chapter ended on a cliffhanger. However, I slogged through them because the story intrigued me, and I wanted to know how it turned out. If you like humor and romance, you’ll enjoy this book, even if you’re not into Shakespeare.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Review: Wishful Drinking

Abbie-1

Wishful Drinking

By Carrie Fisher

Copyright 2008.

 

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you probably remember Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. However, she acted in other films and wrote a novel. Wishful Drinking is a short, humorous memoir covering her life in general, though she shares some anecdotes from her experiences filming the original movie, like how Mark Hamill burst a blood vessel in his eye while filming the Death Star trash compactor scene.

She talks about what it was like to grow up as the daughter of two celebrities, singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, how her father left her mother for another woman when Carrie and her brother were kids, acting with her mother in plays and performing in nightclubs while in New York, her on-again off-again relationship with Paul Simon and others, and waking up one morning to find a dead man in bed next to her. She touches on the birth of her daughter, a product of one of the other relationships, and describes her struggles with drug addiction and mental illness. She ends the book with a quote from Star Wars and says no wonder she was mentally ill. She could never get that speech out of her head.

I was a Star Wars fan in the 1970’s, and after learning through The Writers Almanac that Carrie Fisher’s birthday was this month, I thought now would be a great time to read this book. I had to laugh at one point when Carrie Fisher said she was once diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and didn’t believe she had it. It occurred to me that after everything Princess Leia goes through in the original Star Wars series, she would be a great candidate for post-traumatic stress disorder. I wonder if Carrie Fisher ever thought of that. Even if you’ve never heard of Star Wars, I think you’ll find this book delightful.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Glenn Miller Brings Back Memories

Abbie-1

Thanks to Glenda Bealle for inspiring this post. I recently had an opportunity to hear the Glenn Miller Orchestra live in concert. As the seductive strains of “Moonlight Serenade” flowed through the theater, I got goosebumps and was moved almost to tears, wishing my father was still alive and sitting next to me at that moment.

His father played the saxophone in a band before World War II, and Dad was born in 1936 while the band was touring in Pueblo. The family settled here in Sheridan in 1938, and in 1940, Grandpa Johnson started the family’s coin-operated machine business.

Dad once told me that Grandpa fought in the war and lost part of his hearing as a result of constant artillery fire. He may have continued to play the saxophone afterward, but I’m not sure. In any case, Dad grew up appreciating jazz and passed that on to me as evidenced by a poem I posted here a while back.

I’m not sure where my mother was born on December 7th, 1935, and I no longer have her obituary. I do know that she did most of her growing up in Colorado where her father was a school principal in Berthed. She once told me about her birthday when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. She and her family were driving to the countryside for a picnic when the news came on the radio. Her father turned the car around and drove back to town. Needless to say, there was no birthday celebration that year.

My late husband Bill was born on October 18th, 1942 in Fowler, Colorado. Growing up on a farm, he wasn’t exposed much to big band music and never appreciated it much except for vocals. In fact, he was fond of saying that since he couldn’t see anything, he fell in love with my singing voice. You can read more of our story in my new memoir. I wish I’d taken time to learn more about my late parents’ and husband’s lives growing up during the Glenn Miller era.

I bought a CD at the concert that night, and now, “Pennsylvania 6-500” fills my home office, as I edit this. Is there a singer, band, or type of music that gives you goose bumps, moves you to tears, and/or brings back memories? Please tell me about it.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.