Tuesday, February 02, 2021




In 2018, community sites took turns covering a book every week.  You can see "In 2018, we read books" to review that coverage.  We didn't want to repeat ourselves in 2019 or 2020.  So when Marcia came up with a way to cover books but with a twist, we were all for it.  Marcia's idea was for us to digital books -- we're largely a printed text crowd -- and to use AMAZON's KINDLE UNLIMITED.  So for 2021, we'll be doing a book a week and trying to just use KINDLE UNLIMITED. This week, we're talking with Stan about his "Adrienne Barbeau's bad book THERE ARE WORSE THINGS I COULD DO."


Okay, first off, were you a fan of Adrienne Barbeau's, is that why you grabbed the book?


Stan: Yeah.  In terms of watching it when it was new, I really only saw her in ABC's REVENGE when she played Victoria Grayson's mother.  She was good in that.  But, in the 90s, in college, I really saw all of her horror and adventure movies -- THE FOG, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, CREEPSHOW, SWAMP THING and TWO EVIL EYES.  I caught Maude on TV LAND and NICK AT NIGHT.  I liked her work.  And having been married for five years to director John Carpenter, I thought that the book would be really interesting.


And then . . .  you read it.  She actually worked with John Carpenter on the films THE FOG and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.  Were they covered much in the book?


Stan: THE FOG was a little.  It was covered as a one-woman show starring Adrienne Barbeau.  

You note that Jamie Lee Curtis' name appears twice in the book and, one time, it's mispelled.  Jamie Lee Curtis and John Houseman were stars of THE FOG. They weren't important to that chapter?

Stan: No.  And John really wasn't either.  There was a thing about how they were going to -- they were married at the time -- avoid each other in a personal manner on the set but they quickly gave that up.  That's the extent that John's in the chapter really.  Adrienne apparently directed herself in the lighthouse scenes of THE FOG.  Time and again, you wonder if she ever met anyone she worked with and actually spoke to them or was just so self-centered that she never had time to notice anyone but herself.

A large part of the book deals with before she was on Broadway.

Stan: Right.  And that's not just her years being cast in plays or her modeling or whatever.  It's also her entire childhood and someone needs to tell her that it's not that interesting -- not in how she writes it, not in what she shares.  Chapters and chapters and it could have all been reduced to one chapter.  As she gets closer to adulthood she falls for a gay guy.  And we're supposed to feel sorry for her, later in NYC, when they live together and he leaves her for a man.  Grow up.  She can't stop talking about her big breasts and apparently they are so magical that they were supposed to make a gay man straight.  Why else would she obsess, for years, over a man she knew was gay?  Every man in her life is a failure, to hear her tell it.  That includes Burt Reynolds who was awful to her and wouldn't leave Dinah Shore for her.  She's always a drama queen getting her heart broken because a man she knows is gay doesn't end up committing to her and because Burt Reynolds, who the whole world knew was involved with Dinah Shore, wouldn't leave Dinah for her.  The only man she really liked in the book was her husband at that time.  In an update to the book, she notes that she and Mr. Perfect had divorced.  

And John Carpenter?

Stan: She felt he was a homebody or something.  She never really writes about a dazzling offscreen life before or after her marriage to him so I'm missing what was so hard for her about being married to him.  She appears to be a homebody -- as she tells her story -- whether she's living in NYC or LA so I don't know why it was all so hard on her.  Whatever.  You get the feeling with every chapter that she's leaving a lot out.  That doesn't make for a good autobiography.

And on MAUDE?

Stan: I could share more MAUDE stories than she did.  Anyone who watched the show could.  She takes it for granted that we know the backstory and that we know Bea Arthur's credits and who and what Maude was.  She's not interested in explaining who Conrad Bain and Rhue McClanahan are -- not what they went onto or what they did on the show.  Her 'big' MAUDE story is that she was walking down a set staircase and her big boobs preceded her.  I'm serious.  If you watched the show, you know that Phillip was her character's son and that two different actors played Phillip -- if you watched the show.  Not if you read the book.  

The character Phillip was on for all six seasons of the show.   She didn't write about him?  Interesting.  What about the show's groundbreaking storylines like Maude having an abortion, season six had "The Gay Bar" episode where Arthur -- Conrad Bain's character -- was outraged that a gay bar had opened in the town -- actually on the outskirts of the town -- and Maude is for it.  Did Barbeau write about the topical nature of the show and how that impacted TV or even her own life?

Stan: Not at all.  She wasn't interested in the show and had little to say about it.  It ran for six seasons and made her a household name but she doesn't appear to have been 'present' at that point in her life.  Six years on a show and it's basically just about her big boobs.  

She played Rizzo in GREASE on Broadway and was Tony nominated for supporting actress.

Stan: I don't think she was great but I didn't see it.  She shares no understanding of the role in the book and I included her version of "There Are Worse Things I Can Do" and Stockard Channings.  She has a pretty voice and a bigger range than Stockard does but she has no understanding of the song.  Stockard acts the song and brings it to life.  Barbeau just chirps it -- like a kid with a good voice singing in front a mirror.  It matters because she refused to see the film GREASE -- made about six years after she had played the role.  She's mad that she wasn't Rizzo and she says Stockard got it because her manager was the producer of the film.  First off, she wasn't the original Rizzo.  The show debuted in Chicago and she wasn't part of that cast.  Second, the original Broadway cast had 16 characters played by 15 actors -- Alan Paul doubled as Teen Angel and Johnny Casino.  Not one of the 15 actors in the original Broadway cast was in the film.  

This was your first KINDLE UNLIMITED book.  What do you think of the service?

Stan: Not really impressed.  The selection offering is largely nonsense when it comes to entertainment.  Charles River Edition books are pure garbage and they aren't books.  The only thing worse is the "Hour By Hour" books of celebrities which are a complete waste of time.  Seems like those two make up a third of what's offered in entertainment.  They need to up their selection.  If you're reading to learn about TV and movies, you're going to be disappointed and you're going to be done in about two months of subscribing to KINDLE UNLIMITED.

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