Cleanup Surprises

 

2014-10-23 20.52.09Just finished going through the website, repairing broken or missing links.

I had NO idea how many there were. Someone, I believe it was Marianne Weldon, let me know a while ago that there were some that needed fixing, so I was aware there were problems, but I am truly mortified to be only just noticing that there were no operable links between the myriad parts of “Passages”.

OMG!

So, so sorry for that inconvenience.

And this after spending all last week needling and fussing at my eighth graders about proofreading their work, about checking to make sure their animations and transitions in their upcoming visual presentations are necessary and operable so things go right when they present their visual projects this week.

Definitely a ‘physician heal yourself’ moment here. I will be sharing this with them tomorrow as they finalize their work. They like it when I mess up and have told me they learn a lot from my mistakes that I have to fix once they point them out or we run up on them together.

When I first started these stories, I used Microsoft Front Page, a program that allowed neophytes to web design, like me at the time, to build and publish their own websites. I was able to write and publish my stories on my own site through a web host, which gave me the flexibility to go in and correct errors or make changes as I caught them or as I saw fit. I soon discovered after posting Queen of Harts, my first story, on Susan’s site,  that having that kind of control is important to me.

As the internet and coding became more sophisticated, Front Page, in its wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) simplicity became archaic. When it was discontinued, Yahoo, through whom I had been posting the site, announced they would no longer support sites that used it. That meant everything in J.J.’s room would have to be taken down and moved to a new platform or be lost.

I experimented with different programs. I tried a couple that with my limited knowledge of coding, ere either over my head or too difficult to maneuver. Then Cal Landry suggested Wordpress to me. A godsend, to say the least about it. For the most part, it was a one-stop shop, and once I got the hang of it, easy to use. It also helped that I took an online class to make sure I was doing it right.

It took a while to get everything moved and set up. In fact, I didn’t realize how much was on the site until I had to take it down and put it back. The URL had to be moved to the new server. Then there were the hours of copying and pasting, reformatting, and on and on. Lots of wine, cheese, grapes, and cursing.

That was three or four years ago, but as evidenced by today’s discovery, there are still some things in stored away boxes that need to be unpacked.

Spring Break and summer project: a major editing and revision of J.J.’s Room. At any rate, you should be able to navigate the site more smoothly in the meantime.

 

 

 

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Apology (Explanation, perhaps…)

I know it has been a very long time since I have posted anything here. There are way too many things going on in my mind. Not enough stimulating happening in my life. Too many roadblocks that I let get in the way of my writing. Too many inner voices I allow to coerce me into put the writing aside “just for tonight”. Those whispers that say I’m not ready to write when my fingers actually try to execute said action.

“Let it marinate just a little longer…”

“Wait until you’re at your desk… have that new laptop… not on your tablet… can write it down first….”

And that really vicious one who hisses, “Who wants to read your stuff anyway?”

That Inner critic can be brutal, I’m telling you, especially to a chronic procrastinator like me.

But I do know who I am underneath that label and what my capabilities are, so I push on.

I really wish I could write faster, publish more quickly, more regularly, like I used to be able to do. There really is a lot going on in my head. All those brilliant scenes that write themselves in the shower, the bathtub, after I turn the light out way after I should have since I have to go work in the morning, assure me that all is not lost, just erratic and misplaced at times. And I could do with a few more hours in my days.

At this point, I probably need to begin an actual “bible” to keep track of the series; it’s always been extremely important to keep characters genuine and details in line when I’m writing, so it behooves me to be especially careful when it comes to the Harts. Giving them a daughter, for me, was a huge deviation in itself. Making sure it all stays believable has become quite the job.

But then that “bible” would be an huge undertaking in itself. I should have been doing that all along, but who knew one story would grow into this?

The being more regular part- that’s strictly on me. It’s something I’ve vowed to work on this year- establishing a writing schedule that I adhere to despite the irritations and interruptions that I have heretofore allowed to become obstacles to progress.

I won’t bore anyone with details of that plan. Like J.J., I’m one who believes in not telegraphing her moves. Just please understand that I’m working on closing the gaps between sections in this series, and that I do so much cherish and appreciate your hanging in there with me and sending me your words of encouragement.

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Breakthrough and Rambling with it….

Okay, let’s hope this is turns out to be true.

New York City SklineI have finally made my way through writing, editing, revising, and writing again- and again and again- this scene that has been giving me fits for months. I simply could not get it down from my head to the “paper”, so to speak, the way I was seeing it and wanted the reader to see it.

Sometimes I have the hardest time getting some scenes with just Jonathan and Jennifer out and down the way I see them in my head. I worry about making sure I’m getting them right. It’s easier with J.J. and the others because they’re mine; they do what I want or need them to do without too much trouble. Jonathan and Jennifer, on the other hand, have to appear to do what they’re supposed to do otherwise things can get too far off track.

Not too long ago, someone left a comment after reading “Jennifer’s Journal” that made it
clear the person wasn’t happy that I made Jennifer resistant to and uncertain at first with the idea of being pregnant. I was actually okay with that because it confirmed I had done what I set out to do, made her human.

In these stories, Jennifer is a woman who wasn’t sure she wanted children, was happy with her life with her husband as it was, and who only opened herself up to the possibility of a having a child out of her love for her man. After nearly five years of half-hearted trying, she thought she’d dodged the bullet only to find herself good and knocked up. Even though she was married to and carrying the love of her life’s child, I felt such a woman might initially feel a little ambivalent, perhaps even quite defensive, to find herself irreversibly locked in that position. The Harts are happy and in love, but let’s face it, like with any relationship, there are going to be some dark moments. I like being able to make Jonathan and Jennifer more dimensional, more true to real life.

The beauty of fanfiction.

But lately, J.J. is making things a whole lot more strenuous, I’m telling you. I used to be able to crank the stories out one or two a month. Not anymore. Not complaining, mind you, just saying. J.J. is growing up and a bit more away. She’s still fun, but she- and as a result, her family- are taking a lot more thought, effort, and orchestrating, for lack of a better word.

Well, I believe I’m out of the woods- at least the part of it I’ve been wandering lost in for the longest. limo on NY street at nightI guess I better get back to getting J.J. out of this latest pickle she has, unbeknownst to all parties concerned, gotten herself into.

Hopefully, I’ll be updating the series soon.

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Thinking Out Loud and Moving Forward

marie's desk

I know I’ve been way too quiet. I haven’t written much, actually next to  nothing for the series in 2015, and for that I  do apologize. You see, the muse and I haven’t been getting along so well for the  past year or so. In frustration and the resultant dip in confidence in my abilities, I put it down for a while. Once that happened, with every day I didn’t write, it became easier and easier to not do it at all.

Don’t know which one of us, the muse or  me, it is that has the issues, but I do know the conflict between us has been going on far too long. the harts in the bedroom doorway at the ritzStill love the Harts immensely. My mind is filled to bursting with ideas and story lines, but increasingly, they don’t make it much farther than the inside of my forehead. It didn’t used to be that way. I’m thinking I may have to leave the muse behind and strike out on my own. After all, I tend to be pretty independent in most other aspects of my life. Why not with the writing life, too?

In my hiatus; however, I have been reading up on and researching how to be a more efficient writer, more motivated, more creative, more organized. Up to now, I’ve been kind of flying by my coattails, dabbling in reading about writing here and there, picking up tips and technique as I went along. That served for a while, but the more I wrote, the more I felt the need to seek the advice and counseling of the professionally published.

I have also been using the time away to reread some of the older stories in the series to check for consistency and integrity in the story line. I need to make a”bible” to keep track of what’s been going on with whom; this series has grown in leaps and bounds from the one little story I thought I would “try my hand at” way back when, The Queen of Harts and a Diamond. There have been moments when even the “find” feature of the word processing program was no help to me when I needed to make sure things lined up. That meant trolling and digging through the stories to find what I needed. Writing this, I’m beginning to believe the lack of concrete, visible and deliberate  organization might have become a major inhibitor for me, too.

…not to mention my tendency to spend too long trying to perfect a section instead of getting the writing done first. The books say I shouldn’t edit as I go, but I’ll tell you, old habits die real hard.

In backtracking through the stories, especially some of the older ones, I found the errors in grammar, punctuation, word omissions/ transpositions, the style formatting that didn’t transfer when I changed website platforms, appalling. Lots of editing and revising to be done for sure. I also noticed a couple of gaps that need filling- possible new  stories for the childhood section. All of that will be writing, a way to keep my fingers and my mind moving, and hopefully get me back on track.

Anyway, I missed the goal I set for myself to have the next section of the prom story completed and up by New Year’s Day. I tried, but….

No excuses, I procrastinated and didn’t get where I said I would be. I hate when I’m not honest and forthright with myself.

It is in progress, however. I did manage to move the story forward, but not as complete as I wanted it to be to post. I won’t post it until it’s at that point, which would be finished.

In the meantime, I just wanted to say “hello”, to declare that I’m still here and writing- such as it is, and to wish everyone a happy, healthy, fulfilling New Year.

Onward to 2016!!

Marie

double hearts

 

 

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A Facebook Post by J.J. Hart

Since I find myself in the grips of a severe writer’s drought, as a form, of rain dance, I thought I’d edit and share J.J.’s  reply to a Facebook app she completed a while back~ Marie

You’ve been tagged. If you are reading this, please copy all these goofy questions, writing your own response, and tag 25 other victims. Tag me too, so really you just need 24 more people. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you – but not in a creepy stalker kind of way.

single heartGetting to know me:

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:00 AM/ Early for me on a Saturday, but I had a lot to do.

2. How do you like your steak cooked? Medium well (not cremated like my grandfather), preferably grilled outdoors.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Pirates of the Caribbean, the second one for the second time, Johnny Depp is sexy and FINE, even as a nasty-looking pirate. Seriously funny swag.

4. What is your favorite TV show? Don’t really have a favorite TV show; don’t have time to watch much. I do like detective/crime shows like Law and Order. I prefer the Classic Movie channel, Court TV channel, and Discovery Channel.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Right here in Los Angeles, California.

6. What did you have for breakfast? 2 eggs- over easy, bacon, toast, hash browns, and orange juice. I forgot to take my vitamins, and I need to do that before Somebody finds out and starts in on me over it.

7. What is your favorite cuisine? I’m basically a meat and potatoes kind of girl. I only eat veggies because I know I should because they’re good for me as an athlete.

8. What foods do you dislike? Cauliflower and cottage cheese with a passion. And, oh yeah, tofu. On a salad, tofu looks like dice without the dots. Tastes like coagulated paste… don’t ask how I know.

9. Favorite place to eat? Home, we have a very good cook.

10. Favorite dressing? Marie’s homemade ranch. Raspberry vinegarette runs a close second. Depends on what’s in the salad.

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? At the moment, whatever kind someone will let me have the keys to. As I don’t have one of my own yet, I’m not choosy.I’ll drive whatever will crank up when I get in it. Golf cart even.

12. What are your favorite clothes? Jeans and T-shirt or shorts and a T-shirt. Nice sandals and ankle boots for favorite shoes. Boots are definitely my weakness.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Greece-  I’d love to go to Greece, right now anyway. That could- and likely will- change.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?  1/2 full always. Girl’s gotta have hope.

15. Where would you want to retire? A quiet place in the Napa Valley.

16. Favorite time of day? Early, early morning before anyone else gets up, If I’m up myself.

17. Where were you born? Los Angeles, CA., but story has it I got my start in Montreal, Quebec.

18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Football and tennis, but I will watch them all, even curling- how crazy, but it’s fascinating to watch.

19. Who do you think will not tag you back? Probably nobody as I don’t intend to tag anyone when  finish this post.

20. Person you expect to tag you back first? See #19

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? Nobody in particular really, but I’ll read what people write if they write anything.

22. Are you satisfied with your life? Kind of, but not really. I have a lot to be thankful for, but there is so much more I would like to do. It’s early yet.

23. Are you a morning person or a night person? Night, I’d say. I don’t do mornings as well as I do nights.

24. Do you have any pets? I have a cute little dog. He’s a third generation pooch, named Freeway, in our family, but I’ve always called him “Third”.

25. If you only had one day to live, who would you spend it with? Surely my family, my best friend Marnie, and the rest of my crew.

26. What did you want to be when you were little? Normal, just an ordinary, blend-in girl.

27. What is your best childhood memory? Being with my father as he was teaching me to fly. My mother and me singing the Sesame Street/ Carpenters song at the piano. Both of them reading stories to me. Me reading stories to my mother and her falling asleep on me.

28. Are you a cat or dog person? Definitely a dog person. I think me and cats have too much in common to be compatible.

29. Are you married? No. Don’t think I’ll ever be.

30. D0. Always wear your seat belt? ALWAYS, especially if the Duchess is driving. She makes me wear it, and I usually want to. She- well, let’s just say it’s best to be strapped in with her behind the wheel. Things happen.

31. Been in a car accident? Once. A man rear ended my mother with me in the car. Nobody got hurt, though. Minor damage to the cars. That was when I found out how good she could actually cuss, a talent she’d been keeping on the low. I was so impressed at her skills in that language, too. (But see #30)

32. Any pet peeves? Stupidity. The unnecessary kind. I have an extremely low tolerance for it.

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? Any except black olives and/or anchovies. Those two should be outlawed on pizza. I mean go to jail outlawed. Just nasty.

34. Favorite Flower? Roses, yellow ones. Blush, too, with yellow highlights.

35. Favorite ice cream? Chocolate, but only if it’s a very good brand. Do not play with the ice cream, going cheap and stuff.  I hate that.

  1. Final thoughts? Since I was asked to share, I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me. double hearts
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“Trust Your Hart”- Not!

I recently received the long awaited Season Five on DVD after having pre-ordered it when its release was first announced. I enjoy the episodes on DVD because they don’t have commercials, which leaves room for the bits eliminated to accommodate television showings. Every now and then I get surprised with something I hadn’t seen before.

H2H Season Five caseOn Sunday, I slid in the third disc from Season Five, containing the episode,“Trust Your Hart”. In it, a young girl, Lisa Kerrigan, wakes from a coma seven years after being involved in a car accident that killed her parents. We learn that for two years Jennifer has been sitting with the girl three or four times a week while she was in the coma, so of course, Jennifer is delighted when she gets the call that the child is on her way back to consciousness. However, it is never established how Jennifer came into contact with Lisa or how she got so attached to her. Until this episode, Jennifer didn’t interact much with kids, so I was left wondering why this one?

Benevolence? Personal interest or social connection? Volunteer opportunity?

As Lisa comes to, it’s obvious Jennifer has developed a serious attachment to the girl. It would have been nice to know how she came into contact with the child and what her interest was in Lisa. It felt to me like the missing doctor detail from “Hart of Darkness”, a thread the writers kind of forgot might be necessary for the audience.

This was one of the those episodes that initially didn’t rank all that high with me due to the lack of romance between the Harts, which seems be an overall troubling factor in the fifth season. The loving relationship and affection is present in some episodes, but it’s more subtle and less pronounced than in previous seasons. I did enjoy seeing Jennifer, for once, be the one connecting with a young person who found herself in the Harts’ temporary care. In fact, it was Jennifer’s interaction with Lisa that gave me the seed for thought that led to the J.J. Hart series of stories. Took it a minute for that seed to germinate, but the Jennifer in this episode is really what got me thinking about writing a Hart daughter.

Watching “Trust Your Hart” again for the first time in perhaps several years, I now completely understand why I didn’t care for it; it was the weak plot. Had the episode been written with more attention to the details presented, it could have been quite intriguing. Instead it aired as a story line so haphazardly put together, barely dealing with reality, that it was insulting, and in some places, even disturbing. I understand Hart to Hart was fiction, TV drama produced as a form of lighthearted escapism, and not meant to be Masterpiece Theater, but midway this latest viewing of that episode, I was scribbling notes for this post while swallowing back questions I wanted to scream at the TV screen.

First of all, the girl was twelve when she went into the coma. She woke from said coma as a nineteen year old. That in itself begs a whole litany of issues she should have felt, voiced, and acted out once she realized what happened and how much time she had lost. Instead, she hopped out of bed, speaking clearly and fluently, bouncing around all happy, perky, and casual as if only waking up from an hour-long nap rather than a seven year coma.

So I needed to know how mature a twelve year old was Lisa before the accident? Had sheLisa 2 started puberty before the coma or did that all happen to her body while she was under? Did she notice the changes in herself once she came to? What grade was she in at school at the time of the accident? 6th, 7th at best is my guess. She was nineteen upon waking, so that gap in her academic education would be a major problem in itself.

While she did experience some distress over learning from one of the doctors that the house she shared with her parents had burned down, nobody acknowledged informing the girl her parents were dead, nor did Lisa seem to have any reaction at all to learning they were even though it was implied she realized they were gone.

There were a few feeble attempts to show she had some holdover characteristics of a younger child, but for the most part, she came off  more like maybe sixteen or seventeen than she did someone stuck on twelve. And how does she get released from the hospital to go home with the Harts, a couple who never had or raised kids, without medical personnel assigned to oversee her well-being after such a long ‘sleep’, not to mention without a plan for getting her caught up on her studies or life in general while she is with them?

LisaLisa coming back to life as a young adult would have resulted in a significant emotional and mental gap. The girl missed all of her teens, which would have been an integral part of her development, the bridge she should have traversed to segue into that young adulthood to which she had arrived without knowing it. As a female, and an attractive one, that would have created some particular complications and dangers for her. She would require a great deal of nurturing, guidance, and protection while trying to get caught up with herself.

I mentioned above that Jennifer seemed unusually attached to Lisa even though it had been established in previous episodes that her character didn’t connect much with kids. However, I did notice over the course of the series that she tended to bond more with older girls and young women than she did with younger children.

In the Happy Grams episode and the ballet episode, Jennifer is actually quite nurturing to the young females caught up in the drama. She is also close to and caring toward her younger cousin, Betsy, not to mention her affectionate concern for the young wife killed in the tennis tournament episode. Aware of how much Lisa has missed, the gaps in her mental maturity in juxtaposition to her age, and her subsequent vulnerability, I would have expected an astute woman like Jennifer to be more concerned about helping Lisa ease her way emotionally and academically from the little girl she was in her head to the young adult she had physically grown into.

Instead the writers have Jennifer taking the girl shopping for dresses, heels, makeup, and to have highlights put in her hair.

On the disturbing side, I found the doctor, Mark a bit creepy. It appeared he had been her physician for at least two of the years she was in the coma, which would have made him late twenties or early thirties in age, minimum. It’s understandable that he would have an attachment to her, being that she was under his direct care for an extended time, but Mark’s interest in Lisa felt too personal. His demeanor intimated he had feelings for her that went beyond a professional interest.

Keep in mind, she’s twelve in the head, and he has to be aware that she is.

Lisa told Jennifer the only clothes she had was the outfit she had on, which Dr. Mark had bought for her. As a woman and a mother, that raised a serious red flag for me. As a mature woman, it should have for Jennifer, even if the purchase was made solely out of platonic generosity. How does he know her sizes, or what she might like?

Then by the end of the episode, Jonathan and Jennifer have allowed Mark, a grown man, to take Lisa on what seemed to be a date to a Stones concert. If she had been a mental and physical nineteen and she was mine, I still would have been side-eyeing him, peppering her with questions about why he couldn’t get a date closer to his own age, letting her know, “I don’t care if he is a doctor.” Under Lisa’s special set of circumstances why would the Harts, particularly Jonathan, let that little girl go out, unaccompanied with a man that old? Doctor or not, he was still a man, and she was, for all intents and purposes, emotionally and mentally twelve. Well, maybe thirteen since by then she had been awake awhile.

And speaking of Jonathan. He was definitely different in this one.

The first time I saw this episode was its original television airing, and the small part where he and Jennifer were talking in the restaurant about taking Lisa home with them had been cut out. It wasn’t until several years later, when I caught it again on a copy someone made for me, that I realized that segment existed. In it, he told Jennifer when she proposed it that he didn’t mind Lisa coming home with them as long as Jennifer didn’t get “too emotionally involved.”

I was always a little bothered by the change in his character. He didn’t seem too enthused by her suggestion. That, coupled with his comment, had me initially thinking he was jealous of Lisa, and that he resented Jennifer’s attention being diverted from him. In addition, there were more than a couple places in this episode where he seemed annoyed by the distraction the girl causes, and I found myself a little disappointed with him, thinking him uncharacteristically possessive and selfish for Jonathan Hart.

Unlike with the other kids who ended up with them, this time it was Jonathan who kept a noticeable distance. He was polite and accommodating to her, but he was no where near as engaged and involved with Lisa as he had been with the others. With the other kids, especially the very young ones, he had been nothing less than hands-on while Jennifer hung back and played the more detached role. With Lisa, he came off as content to let Jennifer have at it while he kept his distance, and in some ways, attempted to limit Jennifer’s interactions with Lisa. It didn’t feel right. There was a lot that wasn’t right when it came to him in this episode.

trust your hartIt was  also crazy to have the Jonathan so immediately accepting of the so-called professor, Jeff Brogan. The guy happened to show up in the nick of time to save Lisa from a runaway truck at the park-  a truck that unbeknownst to the Harts and Lisa, he actually sent toward her.

After thanking the man for getting Lisa out of the way and then exchanging names, Jeff gets an invite from Jonathan to accompany them back to the house, which he readily accepts. While talking together there, Jeff reveals to Jonathan that he had actually been following Lisa’s case, and wanted to help her by being her teacher.

If he had been following her case, and just happened to be at the park to show up in time to ‘save’ her and make himself known to her guardians, didn’t that indicate that he had likely been stalking them, or more specifically, Lisa, at that park? That didn’t raise any flags with typically cautious Jonathan? Why didn’t he question that? I know I did.

Instead, Jonathan agreed to talk to Lisa about the tutoring.

Lisa? Really? She’s mentally twelve.

Then he called Jeff back up on the phone and invited him to come work with Lisa once she agreed to the proposition. What? It’s up to the kid? No credentials check? No background screening by Jonathan’s people?

The Jonathan we had come to know from previous seasons and episodes would have been a lot more suspicious of Jeff and his motives and a whole lot more defensive about inviting him into their circle until he was sure the man was all right. Despite any ambivalence he might have felt about Lisa, the Jonathan I had come to know would have checked him out thoroughly before engaging him to work with that vulnerable girl.

Then there’s he and Jennifer leaving Lisa in the house alone with Max and that relative stranger while they went to the movies.

So tell me, why was the man still there that late at night?

At the theater, when Jennifer became antsy about Lisa, Jonathan attempted to talk her out of going with her instincts- another departure from the Jonathan we know. She was being somewhat over the top in her concern for Lisa, but Jonathan usually trusted and indulged Jennifer in whatever she was feeling. This time, though, he seemed a tinge put off by it.

Turned out Jennifer was right in insisting they return home to check on Lisa, but it was a little careless in the first place for the writers to have them leave Lisa that soon. On her own with two grown men in the house, one of them a newcomer to their universe, and as it turned out, a killer.

I was actually pissed that the Harts did that, and that Jeff ended up in Lisa’s bedroom- twice. It was eerie that she invited Jeff to get close enough to her to dance with her. I don’t think even a genuine twelve year old would have done that with a grown man- by that time most girls are beginning to put their guards up. On the writer’s parts, that was a good indication of how much Lisa needed oversight and protecting, but at the same time, a glaring indication of how poorly the episode was written.

On Jeff’s second trip to the bedroom, I kept wondering if he only intended to kill her. You never know about people. A pretty girl, mind of a child, Max out like a light, and he had been pressed up against her not long before that. I found this detail in the writing especially questionable because I don’t think Jonathan would have left the man in his house while he wasn’t there. I don’t think any man with a young girl in his care, especially a fragile one like Lisa, would have done that. Surely, if the writers had stayed true to the characters, even if Jonathan did make that kind of slip, I believe Max would have let Jonathan know he thought it wasn’t a good idea.

After all, wasn’t Max downstairs pacing back and forth with a baseball bat while Jennifer was upstairs setting up the tennis pro in that one episode? And Jennifer was grown in every sense of the word, but Max wasn’t having it.

Reading some online posts in response to this episode, I saw I was not alone in feeling Jonathan’s behavior  was off. It certainly could have been interpreted as him really not wanting Lisa to come to their home to recuperate, but agreeing to it only to appease Jennifer.

On further reflection; however, I could be wrong. Given his character’s powers of observation- and forgiving him the lapses detailed above- I think he recognized the girl was going to have a lot of problems, and that was why he didn’t want Jennifer getting too wrapped up in what was likely to be more than they could handle in the limited time they had with her. He could see Jennifer becoming strongly attached to her, but Lisa wasn’t their child. Practical, pragmatic guy that he was, Jonathan didn’t want Jennifer making that kind of emotional investment with no real guarantee on a satisfactory return. Jennifer didn’t seem to be considering the long term implications for a girl in Lisa’s situation; she only wanted to make her immediate world right. Jonathan would have considered the long term, and wouldn’t have wanted his wife to get hurt.

Now that’s the Jonathan I know.

“Trust Your Hart” remains on my “Not a Favorite” list, but it is interesting in its flaws. Who but a diehard H2H fan would spend so much time analyzing and picking an episode apart like this? Despite its shortcomings, I’m grateful for the glimpse this episode gave me of what Jennifer might have been like with a daughter, and the push I got from it to start writing some stories of my own.

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“Aunt” Jillian?

Hart to Hart marathon on cable Sunday May 17, 2015.

For a couple of reasons, I’m not usually all that enthused when H2H is on television. One, I hate how scenes in the episodes and movies are cut out to accommodate commercials and air time. Two, between my VCR tapes- yes, I said VCR, and I do still have a player- and the discs, I have the episodes, several times over, in their entirety. I also have all the latest released DVD’s, except the fifth, which has been preordered and is scheduled to arrive early next month. But on Sunday, I did tune in. That was because I’ve seen most of the episodes of “Snapped”, my normal all-day Sunday fare, at least twice, so I thought I could do with a change. Since I had some other things to work on, I wouldn’t have to actually watch the H2H episodes; I could just listen and not worry about what visual I was missing. After all, I’ve seen most of them too many times to count.

But by the time “Long Lost Love” came on, I was finished posting grades, and was pretty much finished, period, so I was able to give that one my full attention.

For some reason, that episode irritates me. Always has, and it wasn’t any different on Sunday. I have harbored a vague idea why that was, but I haven’t ever taken the time to pinpoint exactly what it is about it that bothers me. So, I decided to use a blog entry to get my 500 Words Daily writing commitment met while I work it out on paper- so to speak.

Although I absolutely love Hart to Hart, there are several episodes of the show I detest: “Silent Dance”, with the hearing- impaired ice skater; “Harts on Their Toes”, the episode with the ballet dancers, and any of the others that focus solely on a plot, forsaking the romantic interactions between the Harts.

jen jon sleep“Long Lost Love”; however, wasn’t one I disliked. For me, it was more of a disappointment. It had the potential to be an intriguing story, but that didn’t happen. Jonathan and Jennifer had a few satisfying intimate exchanges, so the romance quota was kind of met, but the plot…. I think this was yet another H2H episode that might have played better if  it had been written as a two-parter. The plot needed more time to fully develop.

As I think on it more, the one thing that sticks out to me every time is how Stephen is written, and to some extent, Jennifer. In trying to fit all the details into the one time slot, the writers got too much wrong.

I always figured Jennifer’s father for being dignified, intelligent, stern, benevolently vigilant. In this episode; however, he comes off looking more like a foolish and naive old man. He too quickly concludes that Jillian is his daughter by a nurse he met while recovering from an injury incurred during the war, with whom he had become intimately involved.

Casting Samantha Eggar in the role of his would-be daughter was a good choice because her features and build might have had her pass as Jennifer’s half- sister, thereby further leading Stephen to suspect she might be his child. Stephen says Jillian looks very much like her mother. If I’m remembering correctly, he tells Jennifer she, too, is very much like her mother. That would leave both his daughters favoring their mothers’ genetic codes for appearance rather than his. But being ex-CIA, which had been established by this time in the series, I would think he would have had the woman checked out before allowing his heart to fully accept her. Instead, he chooses to rely on looks and some dates lining up to conclude that Jillian is his daughter.

I also found him a bit too casual, almost callous in his treatment of Jennifer, his bonafide child. I remember watching this episode for the first time and being a bit unnerved by the manner in which he so abruptly terminated his phone call with Jennifer when he saw the woman pass by that day at the museum. It was as if Jennifer was just an aside at that moment rather than his only child phoning from long distance. At that moment, it was clear that she was not as important to him as finding out who that stranger was.

It was also strange to me how he so quickly invited Jillian to his home and inviting her while Jennifer was there visiting him. At his age, Stephen would have been from a time period where an illegitimate child wasn’t something he would just nonchalantly spring on his family, particularly on his daughter. His character had been established as pretty stiff and uptight.  In my mind, he would have kept Jillian under wraps until he was sure of her being his. Bringing her to his home the way he did in the episode also abruptly brought Jillian into Jennifer’s world. Stephen hadn’t been forthcoming with Jennifer about his professional past until he was forced to reveal it. I doubt he would have been so comfortable disclosing to her that he had sex with someone other than Jennifer’s mother- even if it was before he met Suzanne- and that the relationship bore him an out-of-wedlock child of whom he had only recently become aware.

Jennifer, too, seemed much too quick to accept Jillian as her sister. Of course, one could say that she would believe what her father told her, but as an only child with only one parent left, her reaction felt odd to me. I felt she would have been a little more territorial in the beginning, and perhaps gradually warm up after a bit of coaxing from her father and Jonathan- after it had been verified that she was legitimately family. Jennifer is written as being generous and open-hearted, but she, too, seemed too gullible in this story line. It certainly didn’t ring true that she was so eager to give her trust away to what essentially amounted to a perfect stranger as far as she was concerned.

I did appreciate that Jillian turned out to not be as cold and calculating as she first appeared to be and that in the end, she wound up telling the truth.

Jonathan; however, was written correctly. I loved the way he wasn’t going for the story until he had things checked out for himself. He took a risk doing that. Stephen’s reaction to Jonathan’s findings about Jillian was believable, but sad. Depite Jonathan’s proven loving and protective relationship with his daughter, Stephen accused his son-in-law of only being interested in protecting Jennifer’s trust. Coming to that conclusion made Stephen look small. I felt sorry for Jonathan at that point, but I admired the way he didn’t get angry or belligerent with the older man.

By the end, once the bomb went off and everything had been blasted out into the open, I pitied Stephen for his foolishness, and I didn’t like feeling that way about him.  Maybe that’s what bothers me so much about this episode.

I was glad, though, that things worked out the way they did. I’m one who loves it when truth wins out over lies and other evilness.

But of course, lying there on the couch, trying to work out some trying details of this hard-struggle-of-a-current unfinished story, I did divert to picturing J.J. being part of that “Long Lost Love” scenario; her Pa claiming to have another daughter by another mother, an “aunt” popping up out of the blue.

I got tickled running dialogues in my head of what J.J. would have thought, what she might have to say to Jonathan about this new individual to their scene. Would she have questioned her grandfather’s odd acceptance of the woman? His judgment? Would she have had the nerve to ask Stephen how he could be so sure Jillian was his? How would J.J. have acted toward Jillian once Pa invited her to his home?

Because J.J. isn’t real trusting either.

What lengths might she go to in her attempts to find out who the woman really was and what it was she really wanted from them? I can see in my mind J.J. Hart sitting up in bed upon hearing someone in the hall, peeking out and spotting Jillian creeping by on her way up the hall, then her spying Jillian from the window as she meets her man out by the garage.

Would J.J. have gone down to check them out? To confront them?

Would Jonathan have been alone in chasing the guy in the night? Imagine his face as he turned around to find the person chasing him was not Walter, but his daughter trying to catch up to him.

And how much lockdown would the Duchess put J.J. on after the girl went off on Jillian about hurting her family? How much heat would Jonathan get for attempting to come to J.J.’s defense on the matter?

And finally, isn’t it funny how a show that has been off the air for over twenty-five years is still so thought-provoking and entertaining?

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Who is the real person behind those baby blues?

Watching McClintock with John Wayne the other Sunday got me thinking about the man, the person, behind the suave, charming persona of Jonathan Hart.

Now I am not a John Wayne fan per se, but I loved the character he played in that movie. George Washington McClintock was a man’s man- a big guy in many ways. A slugger, a drinker, a hard-liver, but at the same time smart, self-made, and business saavy. He was an up-from-nothing successful man and cunning, but humble, diplomatic, and fair in his dealings with others.

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara

John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara

Beyond all that, though, he was a man in love with one helluva woman, his elegant and feisty Katie, played wonderfully by Maureen O’Hara. They had an onscreen chemistry, too.

With a very young Stefanie Powers playing the McClintocks’ daughter in this movie, it wasn’t a far strectch for me to make the comparison between them and the Harts, speifically GW McClintock to Jonathan Hart.

I had been entertaining this for jonathana few days afterward, rolling it around in my mind, trying to get my thoughts together for this post, and then the picture on the right was posted to Facebook.

This was not an expression I was used to seeing on this face or in these eyes. It made me wonder. Keep in mind, I’m thinking of the character, Jonathan Hart, as I write about the photo, not the actual man pictured here.

What was he seeing at the moment? Who was on his nerves, and what had they done or said? What was on his mind as he looked at them in that way? There is a lot to be read there.

Just who is the whole person behind the handsome, charming facade? What makes him tick- other than the lovely, auburn haired obvious.

I, of course, absolutely love the character, his warmth, sensitivity, and good nature, but I always sensed there had to be more to him than the sort of flatly perfect individual he played in the series. Given who he started out as and what he made himself into, I always felt there had to be a deeper, maybe even darker side to him.

Although Hart isn’t as physically rugged as McClintock, he gives the impression he can hold his own. He seems the type to relish a good fight and at times has shown us he’s not one to back off duking it out when he had to or when provoked.

jon and jenIn one of the episodes where Jennifer is kidnapped, he tells the person involved, “If something happens to my wife, I will kill you.” He does it again in one of the movies under the same circumstances, only in the movie he says, “You know I’ll kill you.” Both times, I completely believed him, and wanted to yell out to the perpetrator, “Don’t mess with him about her! He’ll do it!”

After the McClintock movie went off, I watched a couple of theH2H episodes on DVD as motivation for pushing on with this story I’m struggling to finish, but I came away pondering even more questions about the man.

What, I wondered, is Jonathan Hart really like in the business world at those times we aren’t allowed to be there with him? After all, he wields an awful lot of power at the helm of the sprawling international conglomerate carrying his name. What kind of CEO is he in the boardroom? Is he always so laid back and congenial? Are there those who fear him? And if so, why?

What is it like for the people who work closely with him day in and day out? Is he diplomatic or is he more of an autocrat? How do the secretaries who manage his schedule and his business life really feel about him? What inside tracks do they have on him that nobody else is privy to?

Like GW McClintock, Jonathan Hart is an alpha male. He’s able, virile, and confident in both. A natural leader professionally and the head of his household, he’s not outwardly agressive or cocky in those capacities. He’s unusually evolved when it comes to his interactions with and his appreciation of women, but what is he like in the company and comraderie of other men? How does he handle himself in the company of attractive female peers? Or alluring women who are not his wife? He’s wealthy and powerful, not to mention good-looking and sexy, so it’s for sure he gets hit on. Is he ever tempted to stray, even mentally?

Is he ever not the debonaire, charismatic, “so very nice” man we’ve come to know? With all he has to take care of and keep watch over, does he ever get tired of it and want out? Is he ever inexplicably brooding or menacing in his demeanor causing his wife and daughter to be apprehensive about him? Or even avoid him for a period of time. I don’t like thinking of Jonathan in the negative, but let’s face it, he’s only human. He can’t be all good all the time.

Coming from such humble beginnings, an orphan child from San Francisco, just how did he make it so far up the economic and social ladder? In the series, he’s always portrayed as an intelligent, ambitious guy who just got lucky. I have kept him that way in the series, too, but was his rise to success simply a matter of good fortune, or was it more a case of being in the right place at the right time to leave footprints on some backs? What shadows haunt him from his childhood? The absence of his parents, growing up in poverty, being raised by nuns on Catholic charity- even though he’s told J.J. all of that made him who he currently is, surely some of it hardened a few secret places inside him.

Having risen to such great heights so quickly in his life, did he ever have to use someone to get what or to where he wanted? Jonathan is undoubtedly an intelligent and clever man; he’s focused, driven, and despite his genteel demeanor, has a reputation for being enterprising, street-wise, and saavy. How many pockets got turned inside out going up against him as he gambled and worked his way to the top? Was his Greek heiress girlfriend with whom he broke up right before meeting Jennifer, the one with the rich daddy who liked and helped him, a lovely, but opportune stepping stone along the way?

two hartsAnd in those first moments with the woman who would become his wife and partner in life, did he consider her just another potential tooth in his zipper before later realizing it was his soulmate that happened to have taken the seat next to him that afternoon at the Ritz? How much of the savage beast might fair Jennifer have unknowingly soothed?

Just some food for thought this writer has been marinating in her mind and wanted to share.

One thing I can say for sure about this interesting guy is, unlike GW, Jonathan certainly would not have invited some young buck to “tame” his pretty and headstrong daughter by spanking her into submission.  That most assuredly would be one of those times that he would have confirmed for us that darker, less refined side to his otherwise affable nature.

But then, too, J.J. being so much like her father in spirit- not to mention feisty and headstrong like her mother- would probably handle something like that herself before it could ever happen, much to her adoring daddy’s pride and delight. There’s nothing hidden in that when it comes to Mr. Hart.

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Season Three: Tonic for Me

Oh, my goodness.

I have been in such a funk. The writing simply will not come. I’ve been trying so hard to push through, but there’s too much going on. Work, the holidays, general issues that I sometimes make more than they need to be, biting off more than I can chew-figuratively and literally.

I’m distracted, mentally constipated, and…. can’t even describe it except to say whatever it is, it’s in my writing way, and I’m having trouble staying in the chair.

But….

Season Three arrived today, and I’ve been watching it ever since I sat down for good thisSeason 3 evening. In my opinion, this was probably the best season in terms of plot lines and character development. American Actress Stefanie PowersRight now, I’m watching the White Fury episode, “What Becomes a Murder Most”, and I’m realizing how much my Pat is like Laura Bancroft, the actress-friend that winds up dead in the Hart’s pool. Loved her brash fearlessness, even though it didn’t serve her too well in the end.

Jennifer was beyond lovely. Jonathan at the photoshoot was so touching and romantic.

And the lines in that episode.

Jonathan: “Are you up for something unethical?”

Jennifer: “Again?”

Leaving me wondering what kind of reindeer games those two really got up to. Love  them for it, just the same.

So far, I’ve watched, this one, “Hartland Express”, and “Harts and Flowers”, which was another favorite of mine. That one had some great lines in it, too, with Jonathan at his randy finest. I always love it when he goes for the double entendre, either in what he says or the look on his face. What a naughtily sexy guy.

I kinda like my men a bit filthy, but that’s just me.

These episodes and this Reisiling I’m drinking has me inspired- or maybe sort of drunk. I’m getting tickled thinking about how different the Harts’ lives were before they got J.J., and I’m imagining them in the flesh with her now. They had no idea back then what fate- and I- had in mind for them.

cropped-threeharts1.jpgJennifer has matured, Jonathan has mellowed, but they’re still on their game. The investigative juices are just flowing in another direction, and there’s a different kind of craziness going on with a teenager in their home who just happens to belong to them.

“And they said it wouldn’t last.”  All the Fan Fiction out here on the web has certainly proven Aunt Alice wrong, hasn’t it?

Think I’m little inspired now. Going to take advantage of this buzz while I can, and get this strange man with the two drinks in his hands away from Jennifer as he’s hitting on her down in the hotel bar.

Bear with me. Hope to post something significant in the room by Christmas.

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Jonathan, the man who has everything….

Today is my husband’s birthday. Mine was last month. No big deal any more. We’re both so easy to gift that it can,  at times, be difficult. You see, we’ve reached that age and place in life where we have everything we need and most of the things, within financial reason, we want. So a small token of appreciation usually suffices when it comes to birthdays,  and Mother’s and Father’s Day, and all those other gifting days.

For my husband this year it was a small devil’s food with dark chocolate frosting cake with a chocolate covered strawberry on top- he’s a choco-holic- and a gift card. He was good to go. Said he’d use the gift card to get his golf club grips redone, then he made himself a cup of coffee to go with the hunk of cake he lopped off, and down the to man cave he went to settle in for the evening.

Mission accomplished. Another birthday successfully penciled into the books.

But it got me thinking. What did Jennifer get Jonathan for his birthdays? After all, the man was millionaire several times over, well-traveled, and seemed to have every man-toy on the books, not to mention the woman of his dreams for his wife.

vintage carWe know he had a tendency to get Jennifer things he sort of wanted for himself when her birthday rolled around- a pool table, season athletic tickets, a vintage car, but I don’t recall his birthday ever being mentioned or things she might have gotten him other than that watch he thought she’d stolen, but she hadn’t. death in slow lane1And that fur coat she pretended she bought for him in place of the vintage car he wound up almost getting them killed over.

Cutest lines ever when he takes her up on the coat and tries it on, saying it needs to be let out a little in the shoulders:Screenshot 2014-11-17 21.13.12

“Jonthan, you’re doing it to me again!”

Him, eyes squinched, nose krinkled, filthy leering grin, “You know something; that’s all I ever think about.”

That was back in the day, and I was so shocked at the writers getting that exchange past the censors. But I was delighted to my polished toes that they did. I so loved the Harts.

But back to what I was saying.

jonathanWhat might Jennifer have gotten her husband for his birthday? Funny how that never came up in the series. He bought or comissioned lots of things for various occasions for her, but it was rarely the other way around. I figure since they didn’t have children and there wasn’t much else besides their work that kept them from moving like they wanted to, maybe she whisked him away for a relaxing, isolated, lusty weekend at their cabin. Or perhaps a few peaceful, sunny days at their auberge in the Napa Valley. Or maybe she held a small dinner/ poker party for him at the house with a few of their closer friends. Jonathan didn’t seem like the kind of guy who wanted a lot of fanfare directed toward him, so whatever it was, it was probably something low key and personal.

But again, I ask, other than the obvious, what to give a man like Jonathan Hart for his birthday, a guy who has everything?

Any ideas?

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