The Ghost Girls

I have been watching Mysteries at the Museum since it first came on, first because I love history and finding out about history that I have never heard of at all is exciting to me.  And second, I do have to admit I have always loved Don Wildman, the host of the show.

This week one of the segments started off with a watch from WW1, because of my fascination of the 1920’s, I have become more and more fascinated by WW1. The effect of that war and how it created the modern era is just unbelievably profound. Every segment begins with a piece found in a museum from around the world.  This one started with a watch that was made in WW1 for the servicemen to use in the trenches.

Then it flashes forward to the early 1920’s and young woman named Grace Fryer, who is a bank teller and a modern young women with a lot of passion for life in her.  She begins to feel pains in her joints of her ankles, feet, hands and jaw.  Her teeth hurt.  And the pain becomes worse and is disabling her.  Her jaw becomes so inflamed and extended by swelling and extra cartilage that she begins to lose her teeth.  She went to several doctors who had no idea what was wrong with her.

She saw an article about a local dentist from her hometown in New Jersey, that had several women patients with same health issues as she did, and it turned out that had Radium poisoning.  Radium at that time was used in rat poison.  None of the women knew at first where they could have come into contact with it, though they lived in NYC they were not near where there was a rodent problem.

Turns out, they all worked for a company called; US Radium Corporation; they created Undark, a high-tech paint which allowed America’s infantrymen to read their wristwatches in the trenches.  US Radium assured the public and their workers that their paint used the radioactive element in “such minute quantities that it is absolutely harmless.”  They had hundred’s of women working for them in Orange, New Jersey, where Grace Fryer was born and lived with her family and she was one of the women who worked in that plant, it was interesting work for high pay and she had no idea what was to come from it.

The employers encouraged the women to use their lips and tongue to keep the paint brush pointed, so they could delicately paint the dial and the numbers on the watches. (This is where I sat up, my eyes widened and I said out loud, much to the annoyance of my brother, “That is right out of an episode of Miss Fisher!” My brother was annoyed because I talked over the broadcast and he had re-run our DVR so we could hear what they had just said. My mind started to whirl with memories of that episode as watched the segment.)

Apparently, the owners and scientists at US Radium knew that Undark’s key ingredient was approximately one million times more active than uranium. And they warned the other corporate executives not to go near the stuff, but not to let the women know that it was dangerous. The girls thinking it was harmless, would entertain themselves by painting their fingernails and teeth with it so they would glow in the dark, they were jokingly called the Ghost Girls. How this came back to haunt them is truly tragic.

So as all the women got sicker and sicker, there was a campaign from the corporation to say that they were suffering from venereal diseases, to make it seem like they were the cause of their own sickness not the poison that was willingly covered up by owners and allies of US Radium.

It took Grace Fryer two years to find an attorney willing to take on this company and sue them for Grace and four other co-workers.  All of them dying from Radium poisoning.  They sued the company for $250,000 each. It took a long slow time and word reached the famous scientist who discovered uranium;  Marie Curie in Paris. “I would be only too happy to give any aid that I could,” she said, adding, “there is absolutely no means of destroying the substance once it enters the human body.” Though she took every correct precaution she would die from her discovery in 1934, so these unprotected innocent women had no chance.

They tried to delay the trial to end of the fall but all the women were dying, the press published angry reports about the cruel and calculating delaying tactics of the corporation and the Judge,  because of this bad press, the judge pushed it forward to June; each woman received $10,000— equivalent to about $100,000 today— and have all of their medical and legal expenses paid. They would also receive a $600 per year annuity for as long as they lived. Unsurprisingly, few of the annuity payments were collected. This resulted into new regulations for working conditions with hazardous material, all because Grace Fryer was so brave and pushed through all the red tape.  Grace died in 1933.

Okay, now I am going to give away the ending of this Miss Fisher episode; “Death Do Us Part”, if you never saw it and want to keep spoiler free I would stop here.

After I watched that I could not stop thinking of the Season Three episode of Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries called “Death Do Us Part”, in it the killer who was the head of the science institute; Logan Wren had to watch his poor wife Agnes, die of Radium poisoning, so he came up with his revenge which was to kill his wife killer in the same painful way.

I sent an email to Deb Cox and she confirmed that it was indeed the research from this incident that led to the adaption of “Death Do Us Part”.  So a real life tragedy in the US becomes a fictional tragedy of revenge in Australia.  I felt deep compassion for Agnes when I watched the show, but now reading all that she and her co-workers suffered because of lies and corporate greed I have even more compassion for Agnes and a new understanding of why quiet, nice and respectable Logan Wren did it. What that poor man suffered watching the agony of his beloved wife.  Tragic.

 

 

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What J.K. Rowling’s universe means to me.

I’ll never forget it, my best friend, who knew I loved myths and legends said I had to read this series.  When she told me it was Harry Potter, I was a bit surprised, it was in the Children’s Section, I thought it was for kids.  Two adults walking into that department is a bit weird when you’re looking for a book for yourself.  She handed me Harry Potter and Sorcerers Stone and said, “If you don’t like it, you can always return it.” It was true, Bookstar had a return policy that I rarely used but appreciated.

So I bought the book and I fell in love.

Truly, it was love at first read.  I read it in two days, I read it at work, at home, I even slid it into my purse and took it to a party with me. ( I was always doing that, I took a paperback to parties, dances, even a New Years bash I went to.)  I just loved this book!  So of course, I gave it to the person who gave me my book-mania, my Dad. He loved it and gave it to my brother who loved it too. (Sorry, my Mom was not a fan but she ended up going to all the movies with us. And we ended up going to all her choices, I think she was disappointed that we loved them as much as she did. 🙂 )

As much as I love the series, (and I do,) my Dad loved it more.  He was full of enthusiasm and ate it up.  In his 70’s, he was like a little boy waiting for the next book to come out, it was so adorable.  He bought companion books and watched all the movies avidly, waited impatiently for my brother and I to catch up to where he was so we could have a lively discussion about it. (Dad was a whiz of reader, he could read a book in a day. And then he re-read it right away, just to catch any parts he might have missed. )

Sadly, he passed away before the last book came out.  My brother and I read it thinking of him though out the read, we kept saying, oh he would be surprised by this, Dad would love this, Oh my, he would be stunned by this part. (Actually I think he would be most shocked by Snape in the last book, it sort of messed up his whole theory.)  We would visit his grave and after saying hi, and laying flowers, my brother and I would catch him up on what was happening with Harry Potter, though we both knew he probably knew all about it before we did.

My Mom came to the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the movie that came out the year my Dad passed,) wanting to do it in my Dad’s memory. After the movie we talked about how Dad would have felt, and Mom said what she thought about how Dad would react to some of the parts.  We went to a deli, one of my Dad’s favorite places and just chattered away.

Since then when I pick it up, I think of him, especially since my Mom asked my brother and I to take the copies of the books in hardback that we didn’t have.  I love my Dad with all my heart but he was a bit sloppy with his books, I still see his food stains in them, but that is ok I get very sentimental about those stains. I have my copies and his intermingled.  I miss him so much.

Now I have lost my Mom, which has been very overwhelming to us both, I keep thinking of something Cyrus said to Harry, “The ones who love us never really leave us, you can always find them in here.” Harry Potter is all about love and loss, and lately I have been thinking a lot of about that, how the series helped me after the loss of my Dad and now my Mom.

Though I don’t know you, I will probably will never meet you, thank you, Jo Rowling, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. ❤

Miss Fisher movie is being shot as we speak!!!

When we last saw our intrepid sleuths they were saying goodbye and neither they nor their audience knew for how long.

Then last year those brilliant people at Every Cloud; Deb Cox and Fiona Eagger set about to produce the Miss Fisher movie called; “Miss Fisher & The Crypt of Tears,” and they allowed us to come along for the ride.  They started a Kickstarter Campaign and who better than the stars of our favorite show to tell us all about it.  Essie Davis and Nathan Page in an adorable message on Instagram and Facebook asked us to help out so they can expand the movie and make it even more wonderful than the TV Series. Which we did, it was an honor to.

And now they are still taking us on the adventure through Instagram; Nathan Page, Tony Tilse and Roger Lanser have been showing us their adventures behind the scenes in Morocco where they were shooting last month, and now they have begun shooting in Melbourne, which they are busy doing right this very second.  Exciting!

A bit surprising to me,was that though a press release was sent out and these lovely gentleman have been keeping us informed of their adventures, some fans,  who I know are avid fans don’t know about the films progress.  So I thought I would do my part and let everyone who is follow me know that our Phryne Fisher and Jack Robinson are on their way to save the day!  We will get to see it next year and I can’t wait!!!!

A Weird Oscars

I don’t about you, but this year’s Oscars seemed weird to me. First I want to congratulate all the winners who I really like and respect, especially the actors;  Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney and Gary Oldman.

And there is an excellent reason it felt off, I lost my Mom and it is the first time I watched it with out my beloved Mom.  It was always traditional that we would watch it together, even when we were in different parts of the country we would be on the phone with each other discussing it.  I really miss her. As much as I miss her and that connection, that was not what was off. It was something else.

Usually there is a wave or sometimes two separate waves of wins that tells you who is the hot movie (or hot movies) that year. It starts with the technical awards, one or two show catch all the awards in those categories and you see that it the beginning of the wave. Then the supporting cast and writers win for a certain movie and by the end it is very clear who is the head of the pack when its time for the top award to come up, you know who is most likely to take the top prize.

In fact, last year there were two waves and they crashed into each other (confusing for those on stage, but I am sad to say, it really amused us,) and the wrong film was called out as the winner.  (I felt sorry for Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.)  This year they allowed Warren and Faye to redeem themselves and give out the big award to the right movie.

It seemed to me, that it was a really stiff show this year, not just because of all the scandals but in every way you can think of it was uncomfortable to watch them this year. They were all trying so very hard to be honorable and respectable they kind of lost a bit of the fun for me. I much rather they be human than perfect.  There were cute exceptions Frances McDormand, she was just adorable and I love what she said.  I was a bit amused that there was top search for Inclusion Writer instead of Rider on Google. And Gary Oldman talking about his kids and wife not naming every producer and agent he ever worked with, he was lovely.

It was great as always to see wonderful classic actors like Rita Moreno and Eva Marie Saint who both looked beautiful and were charming.  It was exciting to see James Ivory finally win for writing at his age.  I grew up watching the wonderful  Merchant/Ivory movies. And I kind of hoped that the magnificent Christopher Plummer would have won,but it was lovely to see him, he’s so talented.

I was really disappointed in the, In Memoriam  they left so many people out. At least this year they didn’t move so far away from the screen that you could hardly see some of the people they were saluting like they did last year.  They left out at 10 wonderful creative artist that I could think of and my friends thought of more that they left out.  I forgive them for not having David Ogden Stiers because he just passed but why forget people like Adam West?  Sad for fans who love them.

Also I guess I was expecting it be like the 70’s with protests, streakers and people sending someone else to accept their award.  (I was young but I remember it very well, especially Marlon Brando sending that lovely Indian Woman up, I had no idea what she was talking about I was about 11 years old but I thought she was beautiful.) I was disappointed that there was nothing original or really interesting.  Even the clothes were disappointing. So very sad.

Sometimes a movie can change your life.

As I look back there were many movies that influenced me but this one movie changed my life.  From the title and what the movie was about you wouldn’t think it could possibly do that.  It was “Julie and Julia” written and directed by Nora Ephron.  I always loved her movies, my favorite up to that point was “When Harry Met Sally”. The reason why you wouldn’t think Julie and Julia would change my life was I don’t cook.  I love to eat andI was brought up with great food both from my Mom and Grandma, I also went out to eat a lot. Our parents took us out to the best restaurants in the world so we were spoiled. Even so I would not call myself a foodie.  But I love good stories, I loved the all the actors in it and I love Nora’s sense of humor.  So I was flipping through cable and decided to watch, I was home sick from work and I wanted something that would take my mind off my stuffed head and fever.

When I was a little girl in the sixties maybe 5 or 6 an early memory was watching Julia Child on PBS with my family,  I didn’t really understand much about it except I thought she talked funny, and that she acted funny too, so I laughed. She made me smile.  (I was a child, so I was allowed to think that way, besides other than smiling and giggling, I don’t think anyone knew what was going through my little 5-year-old mind.) And though I found that part of the story fun and fascinating and even romantic, it was not the part that changed my life. No, the part that changed everything for me, what made a light bulb go on in my head was when Julie Powell’s husband Eric helped her to start her blog.  How easy it was.  Julie was a writer who had not been published.  Even if she was published she had no platform or followers, just like me.  Other than an occasional short story in an anthology, and an article in newsletters no one knew me at all.  I had written a poem that was published in a book of poems and I published my novel but after the initial flurry, mostly from my readers in fan fiction, my sales stopped dead in their tracks. And here in a movie was a women who had not even been published, who created a blog and became famous.  Wow!

Now, I didn’t become famous, not even a little bit, but it gave me a platform that changed my life.  My first blogs were about trying to get over the writer’s block from the loss of my beloved father. I wrote about movies and TV shows.  I wrote about fan fiction.  Pretty much what ever was happening to me and slowly, people started to respond.  But what I didn’t expect was that I would develop a platform that would let me explore things that I thought was dormant inside me. (Actually not dormant, dead really.)

I wrote a second book (finally, after my Mom and brother said my Dad would be pissed that I would stop just because he passed away,) and I did things I never even tried before.  I went after signings and panels and speaking engagements.  I mean, I am actually shy, but I did it.  It was from a spurt of confidence from my slowly building group of followers.  And that added more followers and more.  Then I tried to go on some radio shows to promote my second book, block, I tried to get on Blogtalk shows, no answers.  I sat there and thought why is this such a brick wall?  I kept doing it and I finally got an interview. The girl I was interviewed by, was actually not a great interviewer.  Then I was supposed to go on a web-interview, and she flaked.  And I thought, well this sucks I could do better than they do and at least I have a background from my days as an actress.

So I went to Blogtalk and started to interview people I knew from book groups and fandom.  And boom, I had an even bigger following.  Not just for my shows but for my writing and blogs and books…Wow!  Then I had entered a contest for a play I had written a long time ago and won, the prize was a bit of money (needed of course,) and professional actors reading my play in library. And I said to myself, “Self, I can do this for other people as well as my own work and I already have a platform, Blogtalk.”  And Sherri’s Playhouse was born. And from that, I have had opportunities to write plays and see them produced, Wow!

Why am I telling you all this now?  Well I guess because I was watching a documentary by Jacob Bernstein about his mom, Nora Ephron called;”Everything Is Copy” .  And as I watched it I realized that she was such an influence though I have never met her or was able to talk to her.  She inspired me to do what I am now doing.  I am so grateful.  Thank you Nora, and thank you Jacob for reminding me.

The Casting Couch is nothing new.

Sadly, the casting the couch has been around for years but I am very gratified that women (including myself) and some men, are finally standing up and saying, “No More!” Fear is a great weapon and powerful people have used it for years to abuse and use women. (And men too, there are a lot of men coming forward to give their own horror stories.  I think that is very powerful too because it is less known.)

I have heard that it has been around for years, going back to the Actor/Mangers in the 19th Century but there is no written accounts of that I could find. The earliest I could find was from; The Boys From Syracuse: The Shuberts’ Theatrical Empire by Foster Hirsch. In the 1900’s Lee Shubert kept “an elegantly furnished boudoir, reserved for leading ladies and promising ingénues, and a shabby, spartanly furnished room with a single couch where he met chorus girls and soubrettes.” “If you didn’t sleep with them you didn’t get the part,” dancer Agnes de Mille later recalled about the Shubert brothers. “The Shuberts ran a brothel: Let them sue me.”

In the 1910’s the Studio Bosses made it into an art form.  They had secret rooms just for liaisons with their actress. Tales told about women of the old Hollywood System and how they were used and abused are legendary. Some of the stars that were abused are, Marilyn Monroe, Shelly Winters, Evelyn Keyes, a very young Joan Collins, Even Shirley Temple was a victim!  And the powerful men were; Harry Cohn, Darryl F. Zanuck, Jack L. Warner, Buddy Adler, Spyros Skouras,Arthur Freed and Howard Hughes!

And a line that is sometimes used as a punchline today, but was and is a real threat, “You’ll never work in this town again.”  Harvey Weinstein was even said to use it a few times in the horror stories recently told about his abuses of young women.

It happened to me when I was young but I was lucky, my Dad was right on the other side of the door and I told the casting director that I would scream and my Dad would come in to rescue me. The reason my Dad would never allow me to go to any audition alone was because he knew of the casting couch and was always worried for me, even when I had an appointment with a woman, he said, “You never know.” Later, I found out that he was right. Abuse can come from anyone in power. It’s been years and I blanked out the casting director’s name, I don’t even remember the name of the horror movie I was trying for, I just remember leaving the room crying with verbal abuse ringing in my ears and pulling Dad out of the office.  I didn’t tell him till we were in the car and then I begged him not to go back, I was afraid of what my Dad would do to the man, not for my career. Dad was fiercely protective, he was a pacifist, but he when we were threatened,all his Brooklyn came out.

As any women can tell you I have had sexual harassment and attempted abuse all my life, that I never actually was assaulted was pure luck, I think.  I have had men touch me inappropriately at work that were old enough to be my Grandfather.  I have had several really, really close calls that I either, talked my way out of, cried my way out of, screamed or ran.  I am sorry to say, I have never been elegant and regal when faced with an attempted assault against me, all I wanted to do was get away.  Lucky for me I did.  Not everyone is lucky.  That is why this “Me Too” movement is so very important.  Whether you have been abused or you love someone who has.  Speak up.

 

Fans get to help Miss Fisher movie get launched!

This is not the first Kickstarter Program for a movie, and it is not the first time fans helped with a launch in this way.  There are many instances of such group efforts even before mass media came around.

But this is an example of how a group of really enthusiastic fans got to bring about their dream.  It is not a secret that I am a fan of Miss Fisher and the stars of the show.  I have had the privilege of interviewing three members of the cast; Nathan Page, Anthony Sharpe and Travis McMahon!  Nathan has been on my show twice and his second show was the first one of all my shows after 5 years to reach over a million downloads so quickly, so no one has to tell me that he is a popular fellow.

So those very clever people at Every Cloud Productions, (the producers; Deb Cox and Fiona Eagger) asked Mr. Page to put out a video appeal to the fans to help with the Kickstarter Campaign; https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/468758721/miss-fisher-the-movie/description.  It’s rather adorable isn’t it? It’s special guest star (the star of the show) Essie Davis helps out with a special appearance and of course that part is just what we fans want too.  We want Jack and Phryne to finally come together.  Not just a kiss but maybe a chat about it? We also love the whole family so the more that we get this around to everyone and help out, the better the chances that the whole cast will be able to be a part of it.

Anyway this my pitch to help out, as you can see by the counter the campaign is doing very well but some fans that are not on Tumblr, Facebook or Instagram and might not have seen it.  Also some fans may not be following groups, Phryne is an individualist and so are many of her fans.  So if you have not heard about it and can afford to, please help out.  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/468758721/miss-fisher-the-movie/description.