+ Ghostwriter Wanna be – The Movie

The “Ghostwriter” movie is leaving town. It is ending this week, so I drop what I am doing and race down to the theatre. I want to be a full fledged ghostwriter myself, so this film is a must-see. Hopefully, I can learn from this much-acclaimed movie how a real ghoster operates. If I pay close attention, I might end up getting  hired by some major celebrity to pen their life’s story. This guy in the movie  was offered $250,000! I could live with that!

Being in the Camelot  Theatre that also has a lounge, I ordered a gin and tonic to take to my seat.   There I sat, sipping my cocktail with pen in hand, ready to scribble in the   dark, the details, demeanors, and demographics of this writer on the job.   Remember the movie Sunset Boulivard where Gloria Swanson addresses “all those  wonderful people out there in the dark.” That’s what I was feeling until the curtain went up.

Now to the movie. With Roman Polanski’s flair for   bleakness, our rather naive ghostwriter is spirited off in the middle of the  night to an isolated island off the New England coast where he is to interview  his subject, the former prime minister of Britain! Pierce Brosnan! I dream of  getting a client as handsome and sophisticated as he with such a glamorous life story.

As our hero is settling in, he finds out that the previous   ghostwriter died the week before! He supposedly got drunk, met with an ‘accident’, and his body washed up on this lonely New England beach. Well okay, writers can get overly emotional. I myself would have more reserve.

The next day in the village, our ghoster is mugged! Thugs stole a manuscript he was  given to deliver. As the story gains momentum, I remind myself to first try a
client that leads a simpler life. Maybe one who lives in a beautiful mansion   instead of the cement bunker Polanski provides our Prime Minister, his body
guards, a scary wife, and a stand-off, suspicious staff.

As our friend finally gets to interview the Minister, the television interrupts with blaring reports that our subject PM is accused of being involved in war crimes! Well, that is another story indeed! This ends up with guns and body guards fending off wild anarchists calling for his head while pounding on his car.

By now, Iam gulping the gin and tonic I brought to my seat.

Our ghost’s personal life begins to unravel while that of the PM heats up. Well I wasn’t expecting that! I was eagerly scribbling helpful notes in the dark, but never considered this turn of events! If I myself should hook up with a similar client, would I end up being embroiled in this sort of escapade? Would I have to dodge bullets For $250K?

Events darken as the plot thickens.

Since our beer and  sandwich ghost is rather handsome in a naive sort of way, he is surreptitiously seduced by the PM’s mysterious and scary wife. Well now. Ghosts have normal feelings but certainly are expected to remain dispassionate. They should have no personality – they are only ghosts – non-entities in the lives of their clients!

I assume that ghosters just ask questions – take notes – and type. Not consort
with their client’s entourage.

Meanwhile, back at the bunker, he is analyzing the dead ghost’s unfinished manuscript in the very room that man stayed in. His belongings are still there! Creepy. The hidden clues he stumbles on makes him realize that his own life may be in danger. Was this why the guy washed up on the beach miles from the accident?

Armored CIA operatives are now on to our friend, so he escapes by leaping off the ferry as it leaves the island’s port! Yipes! “Polanski has churned up a splendidly palpable sense of dread off the shores of Cape Cod,” says a reviewer of this film. “Oscar performances,” especially by the icy wife – while in bed with our hero? Well that’s just fine. What literary recommenda-tions has he given me on the ins and outs of ghosting procedures with a perfect stranger…

The murder and mayhem that follows I cannot divulge here in case you haven’t seen this superb film, but the brilliant Polanski provides an ending that is a stunner.

 As for me, I know I can do this biography stuff. My own qualifications are impressive.
I have been a technical writer at a major university, a webmaster, and an
editor. Plus, I am in a Critique Group. I‘ve learned to interpret their stuff
with a Bostonian level of literary sophistication, adding my own sense of drama
with succincticality. I can add life and spice to the most mundane. Perfect for
ghosting with clients who need their ordinary lives perked up.

I did purchase Sarah Palin’s ridiculously successful biography because you had to know she hired a humdinger ghostwriter. Not much there to glean from, though. I’m short on “golly gee-whiz gotcha’s.” Maybe I should check out Winston Churchill’s hallowed memoirs instead.

Patricia Moloney Dugas

+ “Hamlet” With a Galactic Edge

Olivier's Hamlet

The consummate Hamlet?

“Hamlet” With a Galactic Edge
by Patricia Moloney Dugas

In the royal bedchamber, the Royal Dane leapt upon the bed of his confounded mother, queen Gertrude, and with hair flung wild, jaw clenched tight, and eyes bulged wide, he harassed her, howled at her, shook her writhing body, and, wrenching her garments, threatened her very existence. Not a Great Dane leaping, but Hamlet, the Royal Prince of Denmark. This was a scene from PBS’s contemporary television adaptation of Shakespeare’s wondrous tragedy, “Hamlet”.

With blood running cold, poor Hamlet had just slain the intrusive, meddlesome Polonius who hid himself behind an arras to keep watch on them. Alarmed, Hamlet ran him through as he rustled there. It seems this meddler’s daughter Ophelia has gone quite mad because this Royal Dane, her once professed lover, who, in his own madness, has rejected her, and snarling, commands her off to a nunnery. Thus she is set adrift. (Oh, sorry about that careless remark…)

Our new-age personification of the prince did not brood, nor lay upon his bed steeped in unmanly grief. Instead, this thespian youth in a rumpled tuxedo, howled and gamboled like a deranged primate, from bed to floor then back again, eyes bugging out of his fiery, half-crazed royal countenance. The queen is left sobbing in fear and disbelief.

Nay, nay, poor Hamlet. She is thy royal mum. Do not reproach her harshly. So what if she married your royal uncle who murdered your royal dad, the queen’s noble, sun-crowned husband king, then wedded and bedded this murderous beast, this mildew’d ear, and left you, her princely babe, beside yourself in woesome, lonesome grief. Oh, what noble woe.

While this modern, fiery, bug-eyed Hamlet lept and wailed ‘gainst his queenly mum, I thought I could hear the once knighted Sir Lawrence Olivier, a former princely player now resting in his solitary grave, flipping asunder and mournfully lamenting; “Oh, that the too, too solid flesh of this clown would
melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew. Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon ‘gainst thespian slaughter. That it should come to this…

That ‘Doctor Who’ has lept from the BBC to the PBS queen’s incestuous

Who, you say, is ‘Doctor Who’? Why ‘tis BBC’s David Tennant who was recruited away from his inter-galactic personification of ‘Dr. Who’ and turned into our Royal Dane. As ‘Dr. Who’, he learned to wild his hair, flare his nostrils, and widen his eyes to face the onslaught of inter-galactic alien hoards.

Then, who called in Captain Picard from Star Trek’s inter-planetary
adventures to play the dastardly uncle/king? How didst this doublet of sc-fi
knaves happen to Elsinore? While the captain, Patrick Stewart portrayed Claudius most admirably with tone and temperament in splendid Elizabethan manner, there was an overplay gone amiss. Who gave the Royal Shakespeare Company sanction to re-define the Royal Bard’s pensive, brooding, medieval wimp, Hamlet? Hmm? Was this new Hamlet’s fearsome bluster needed to present a fresher, more frantic, fearsome face with widened eyes, gaunted cheeks, and smoldering fire in his youthful belly? Was this royal revision to be sustenance for the frenzied appetite of uptight Avatarian theatre today? Pray it is not so.

Note the curious costuming deviations as things grow dark. From formal dress to jacketless tuxedos with prominent unleashed black bowties carefully askew! Like a dance team on break? A message I failed to grasp here. I did miss legendary tunics and trappings, velvet capes, feathered caps, crossbows, swords and helmets. (If they kept the words and phrases faithful, why not the trappings as well?)

Most confounding, this comely Hamlet appears, (oh literary gasp!), in a red, labeled tee-shirt and jeans in the weighty scene where he confronts Ophelia to admonish her, decrying he never loved her! Tuxedos and t-shirts while
the kingdom is rent asunder? Oh, doubly, double woe.

Horatio in corduroy!
And this I could not bear; Ophelia in Capri pants and ponytail! How darest they
speak the sacred texts mockingly in garb as befits the urchins of the streets?
What a falling out there has been. Didst the noble Bard also tossle in his
eternal slumber?

Indeed, all this did deeply grieve my heart, mine eye and ear, jarring my classic literary nerve. Alas it cannot come to good, but break my heart, for must I hold my tongue?

Hell no!
This leaping and growling far o’r ran the delicacy of the bard’s intended verse. Our adolescent offender has spent too much time bounding about in his British medium, the red phone booth, to suitably express the oral delicacies of our royal Dane’s lamentations, torments and travails.

Send him packing, I say! Call up a gentler player more fit to companion the approbations of Picard’s lecherous Claudius and ghostly apparition. I swear…
Shuffle off your mortal coil, alien intruder.

Laertes, you served us well. You slay him down – silencing his rabid provocations.

Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. I am avenged.
This prancing plebeian prince is dead.

Pat Dugas