Liz Smith: Another “Lucky” Smash For Jackie Collins

Jackie Collins

And more from our Gossip Girl:  Liz catches “Contagion” fever … and Doris Day’s new album is a hit!

“HYPED UP on too much coke and ready for action, Armand took a stroll through the casino while he waited for the prostitutes he’d ordered. He was in need of some kind of release while he decided how he was going to deal with the Santangelo bitch.”

This is opening sentence of chapter thirty-eight of Jackie Collins’ new book, Goddess of Vengeance. But most of the chapters of this book open (and close!) with a bang. Jackie has 27 New York Times bestsellers under her belt, and this is likely to be her 28th — it is already on the top of the lists in Britain.

This exercise in high-life low-lifes continues the adventures of Jackie’s beloved character, Lucky Santangelo, now the mother of an 18 year-old daughter (and several older sons), all of whom seen destined for the crazy life she has experienced. Especially, the daughter, Max. But Lucky has hardly mellowed. She is still kicking ass, a sometimes deadly feminist, a mama grizzly in towering Christian Louboutin heels. And, of course, as Miss Collins describes her heroine, she is as gorgeous and sexy as ever, approaching menopause be damned.

Goddess of Vengeance has all the requisite roman a clef-ish touches — is that really supposed to be Madonna or Nicole Richie or any number of well-known starlets, moguls and tacky wives of famous men? Trying to decipher what is real or made up about the characters (once you have decided you think you know who they are supposed to be) is half the fun. Jackie herself says even her most outrageous characters are “people I know, in disguise … and the truth is much more bizarre.”

I have got to hand it to Jackie Collins. She knows how to build and build and build a story to a nail-biting climax, and she has not lost her touch in character-building, either. I say this with a lot of admiration, because I am usually engrossed in some book about the Civil War or medieval queens. Or, yes — a good thriller. I know too much about show biz to be that interested, generally.

Goddess of Vengeance is a read-it-in-one-big-gulp book. It’s like a pint of Haagen Daz. You think you’ll be good and just have a bit, and put it back in the freezer. Wrong! Jackie Collins makes you very bad indeed. You’ve got to have it all. Oh, and this latest one just screams for a sequel. Max is for sure Jackie’s new “Lucky” charm.

By the way, Jackie herself remains one of the most vital, vivacious, positive-thinking people I know. If those Collins girls could bottle their energy, we’d all rule the world, just as they do.

* * *

I’M A big sucker for apocalyptic movies. I can’t help it. I won’t be around for the end of the world — I don’t think — so I rather enjoy Hollywood’s obsession with showing us various ways the world will meet its demise. Some of them not so far-fetched.

Take for example the new Stephen Soderbergh  hit, “Contagion” which is about an incurable fast-spreading virus that seems to threaten all mankind. First of all, it stars tons of my favorite people — Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cottilard, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne. Let’s face it, end-of-the-world scenario or not, this cast is pretty great!

Although Soderbergh chooses to separate almost all the stories and characters — the multiple storyline gimmick that so many directors use now (and a gimmick that I think can drain interest and tension) — “Contagion” holds up pretty well. Very well, for the most part. I found the science aspects and government reactions believable, as well as the fear-mongering and irrationality. This is not the most original concept for a film — in recent years, the cinematic viruses turn everybody into killer zombies. We are spared that. But there is some predictability. Well, new ideas are hard to come by.

The friend with whom I attended “Contagion” complained there “wasn’t enough action.” (No zombies or hordes of screaming people.) But I thought the relatively low-key atmosphere was far creepier, more realistic, and far more paranoia-inducing. The cinematography is very good and enhances the tension beautifully.

And while I didn’t leave the movie “2012” believing the earth was going to come apart at the seams, I was a bit disturbed by the lady coughing near the popcorn counter. “Contagion” made its point.

* * *

GREAT NEWS on the Doris Day front. DD has become — at age 87 — the oldest artist to score a Top Ten album featuring new material. Miss Day’s “My Heart” debuted on the UK charts at #9. The CD will be available in U.S. stores in a week.

25 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    Doris Day’s album hit Europe big a week ago — and word spread.  But this is not Doris at 87 singing – as you might guess – but a compilation of her old tapes, never heard, mostly early but up into 1990 or so, gathered by her son who sadly died of melanoma a few years back.  Each year when I spend time in Carmel Valley, I think I will run into her somewhere  . . . but Clint Eastwood is easier to find than Doris.  Her love is animals – dogs mostly – and I hear she has an estate full . . . plus the Cypress Inn in Carmel where you are welcome to stay and bring your animals with you.  And everyone does!

    This year for her birthday she was interviewed on radio and I thought the small segment was worth hearing — the older woman now even more touched that she is still remembered so fondly!
    Click here: Doris Day “My Heart” New Album !!!!!

  2. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    So happy for Doris Day’s success. If we can’t have an honorary Oscar…how about a REAL Grammy ? ! ? ! ? !

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      How about a real one and an honorary one? The honorary one to send a message to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences…

  3. avatar Richard Bassett says:

                   Not having seen, ‘“Contagion”, is the HIV still in the picture alive or has that been elimanated?’ They now have a super strain of AIDS, which just seems one has become resistant to all of the known HIV retro-virals, and if that person passes it on….the newly infected person will (also) be resistant to the medication, as you have. That and those of medication for thirty years now (and children since birth) are all taking their toll now. We were so hopeful that the 1996 medications would keep the virus at bay, and it has, we didn’t anticipate the same drugs being used against us decades later.

    Not only AIDS, now we have the bacterial resistant “MRSA”- eating away at the body without the hopes of an antibiotic.
                        So virus or bacteria medications are limited on what they cure or manage. On top of that, Swine Flu, chicken (bird) diseases and other fatal conditions are sprouting up. Maybe the viruses and antibiotics are now in the infancy and a rather slow pandemic is arising. I certainly hope that the medical technology, at least, can keep up. It’s a 50/50 chance of existence. If there was ever to be an apocalyptic event, it is likely to come from our own bodies rejecting each other. All we can do (now)…on the medical front is to keep investigating. I do not see a street  like fight (riot) aka “The Stand” ,by Stephen King, happening, but like the AIDS pandemic, it wasn’t interesting until it happened to a ‘loved one’ Elizabeth Taylor never tilted from this philosophy, just BECAUSE of this scenario. The difference, I believe, in “Contagion” is the occurrence happening very quickly instead of decades of those infected. It will come. We need money. Keep this awareness, education and patient care close to your heart.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      They now have a super strain of AIDS, which just seems one has become resistant to all of the known HIV retro-virals, and if that person passes it on….the newly infected person will (also) be resistant to the medication, as you have.


      If people acted responsibly, it wouldn’t be passed on. And it’s possible that if people had acted responsibly, this new strain might not have been created through “recombination.” Time for some to start acting responsibly instead of taking the attitude that they have the right to party all they want and that the goverment has the obligation to find a cure for what the party produces. And yes, I am making a moral judgement. About time someone did.

      • avatar Richard Bassett says:

        Globally, women are the highest population who are presently being infected. I love how you make everything sound so simple. Just be responsible!!! Well, men cheat on their wives with other men, women are afraid of losing a man if she requests this (and she will go along with the sex, refusing to submitt). It may mean that the man is playing around id she requests a condom. You see Baby, there are TWO parties involved. If their men leave them, who will take care of the children if she must work? You see, be responsible shows the ignorance that keeps the pandemic stigmatized. Og course, a man (or woman) having unprotected sex knowing that they have HIV, is crime in many states but it hardly ever enforced. I’m talking about the reality of a situation, while you are speaking about things that never leave the confinds on your own mind.

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          It only takes one. And while women may be the group most infected at this point, it is a man who is infecting them. A man who is acting irresponsibly.

          • avatar Richard Bassett says:

            No, that information is not correct. A woman having her period….at any stage (who is HIH+) comes in contact with a man with the slightest cut on his penis (and, as a man…I tell you that this is not so uncommon) may cause a seroconversion. And NOT just mentral blood but any vaginal fluid. Why do you suppose that hookers are called on for causing a transmission? Baby, you’re beliefs are thirty years old. If only ONCE you would get something right, I would faint dead away but you form these have baked ideas in your head and spit them out as facts. So sad…because people may not be savvy enough and listen

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Unless she caught it from a dirty needle, which does happen and I am well aware of the ongoing problem with transmission because of shared needles, which also brings up this matter of acting responsibly, that hooker was exposed by a man.

            I would ask how a man manages to cut his penis but I am much too afraid of the answer.

          • avatar Richard Bassett says:

            There are pimples (for guys who shave down there), excessive scratching/ rash, jock itch, more adventurous sex, herpes, anal warts hemorrhoids and tearing of the anal delicate lining are but a few of an opening into the blood system. This blood (if HIV infected) can make it into a woman’s vagina with the friction and microscopic tears (that both sexes have). This is how it is transmitted sexually. You don’t (both) have to be massively bleeding for a porthole into one another’s system to pass on the virus. Of course, it may have been speculation in 1982…but not 2011. Yes, a woman (or man) can used a dirty needle to pass on an infection. What you are TRYING to say is that women cannot sexually transmit it. She the virus thrives on blood (during menstruation and plentiful in vaginal fluid, Like sperm in a man). Of course she can pass it on sexually with no needles involved. Not all prostitutes’ are boosting drugs with needles. There is not ONE statement here that doesn’t make sense. And I do not want people to get your warped impression. I’ve given you but a few where a penis can be provided as an entry into his blood system. Those having unprotected anal sex cause a large amount of friction and the tissue in that area are very delicate. Many are infected (men and women) by this method. You are giving me all the myths and I am dispelling all of them. It is OK not to be 100% educated. It is the reason for prevention services in the HIV world still exist via state/federal funding. They are addressing those just like you. Men and women transmit HIV (to each other) through sex and dirty needle use. There are OTHER ways for an infection to occur but I will not go into them now, as it strays from the subject matter. I still love ya, Baby!

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            You seem to forget the matter of condoms. But then using condoms is acting responsibly. And that is always the man’s responsibility.

          • avatar Richard Bassett says:

            There are condoms for women called ‘dental dams”. Depends if YOU (the lovely woman) wants to take control of the safer sex aspect of an encounter (or just say no). Yes Baby, throw it on the the man….that way you can have someone else to blame it on. The only innocent ones here are babies born with HIV, who are now in their 20’s. They will never know the pleasure of feeling sex may kill them without a number of measures having to take place, first. Keep researching before you throw out a post….because you obviously do not know anything but stigma related material.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            You really are the one who needs to do his research – some women, because of the culture they live in, including many women in our country, cannot say “No” to a man and that includes wearing a female condom.  A man, however, can always say “Yes” to wearing a male condom. And judging from the statistics 25 years later most men are still saying “No” to wearing a condom. 
            To imply that women are not innocent victims is outrageous. Many young gay men are as well. Innocent victims of older gay men who tell them they are HIV negative when they know they are HIV positive and convince the young men that unprotected sex is soooo much nicer.  I’ve been around, Richard, and know what is and is not so to speak.  I feel at this point that it was a waste of my time and my money looking at the statistics. 

  4. avatar Lila says:

    How will the world end…? I think H.G. Wells had it right in 1895. Not the Eloi and the Morlocks – but far, far in the future with a moonless sky, a tideless ocean, an enormous red sun barely bobbing on the horizon, and desolation. The Time Traveller fled back to his machine.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      As I recall at some point the Sun wll become a supernova which will in essence vaporize the solar system as we know it before it explodes but we will be fried out of existence long before that happens. If we are even here when that happens. We seem intent on annihilating ourselves. And probably will.  I occasionally watch the History Channel which is the only way I know about these things. Quantum physics I leave to quantum physicists to ponder. 

      • avatar Lila says:

        I seem to remember that the sun doesn’t have the mass to go nova and is destined to become a red giant, engulfing Mercury, Venus and Earth, and crisping the other planets before collapsing to a white dwarf… but my science may be outdated…

        I guess we could freeze ourselves a la “Futurama” and thaw out in 5 billion years to see which way it goes! Ha! Hopefully someone will have considerately moved our frozen sarcophagi to the Battlestar Galactica by then, and parked us near a viewport.

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          Maybe it was a red nova. Maybe it implodes  Either way we’re destined to become crispy critters. If we’re here.

  5. avatar Rho says:

    Well, well, I am logged in.  Next time I come on I won’t be.  Anyone else having these problems?

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Sometimes hitting “Refresh” logs me in. Sometimes it doesn’t. The new and improved wowOwow may be new but it definitely is not iimproved. One thing I really don’t lke is trying to find older stories and columns whcih I guess you have to “search” for and hope you put in the right key words. The original and unimproved wowOwow worked just fine. Oh, well, who are we to complain? Although I will add that each time it’s improved there seem to be fewer and fewer people commenting. Maybe they’re still trying to log back in?  

  6. avatar Rho says:

    Thanks Baby, thought it was only me.  I agree, the original format was much better, IMO.

  7. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    @ Baby Snooks @ Richard Bassett

    Quit and quit it right now. You two are both two of my favorite commentators. And I will not have you fighting like this. Quit it.
    1. Baby, let’s not go the moral judgement route. Not at our ages. Too many pool houses if you know what I mean, and I know damn well you do. And do not even try to start with: “well back then it didn’t mean an incurable disease consequence” thing on me because it damn well did. It meant the end of marriages, partnerships, and the transference of possible “social diseases” that ruined lives even if it did not end them. And women were just as guilty.

    2. Richard: You are my go-to-guy on what the latest is that is going on with the “plague” that so many have forgotten. And now that we have lost our Earth Mother, I don’t know how or who we can use to further cause as I have less than no faith in Sharon Stone taking over. You are right in all that you say. Say it nicer, and it folks will swallow it better. Just sayin’

    Meanwhile the Count. Single. I am horrified at the children of the current “Youthquake” that are not getting on board. I see the Trevor Project, I see youths that are not accepting bullying, and who demand to be accepted as who they were born to be. I revel in the “Youthquake”. But those that are not on board. Meth and Bareback sex. Far too many of them. When I ask them, or try to talk to them about, I get “so what, so I have to take some pills…no big”.

    Guess what I am trying to say is that what both of you have merit. Yes, we are all accountable for our actions when we have the luxury of controlling our own lives. And those that do not. well, we much reach out and try to help.

    I love you both, and I love you all.

    XOXO – Count “Switzerland”

    • avatar Richard Bassett says:

                                   Count, I don’t know who you are. It’s all a secret. Why? I have no idea but I feel better talking with an identified person than some made up name. I love you too….but virtually know nothing about you. My life remains a semi-opened book. But, as an AIDS Provider….it is my duty to speak the truth….regardless of feelings being hurt….and my solutions are NOT so complicated. Two people having consensual sex have a duty to protect themselves. It is sad when one lies about his/her status or refuses to use protection. I know nothing of Baby Snooks and bath houses but I want to the correct information understood, here. I haven’t ever approached this as a moral issue. That is way too far beneath me. I watched both Elizabeth Taylor and Sharon Stone talk about AIDS. They know an inch of a mile about it. They are not infectious disease medical physicians. Those infected do not go to Sharon Stone for a blood evaluation. But their name raises money so it comes out even…in a PR kind of way. Count, I not only am a pro in this discussion of the disease but I live with it. 75% of my friends live with it as well, and we all support each other….but from left base an opinion of judgment and being the fault of male crops up, I have to set the record straight. I didn’t make up what was in my helter skelter mind….as some people do. Most of the time, I have no idea what Baby is talking about (as others feel the same way here, as well) but she shouldn’t be dismissed….just corrected. I do not know what her line of employment is but I certainly believe she knows more about THAT than me. You seek me out, I can provide facts and figures….and even empathy and compassion for all parties involved. I will never point a finger. It just doesn’t work that way or help the situation. I love both you and Baby but it is difficult to take someone hiding behind a mask too seriously. Really, you hardly post on this site, yet remain completely anonymous. OK, your words are sincere and well thought out. Every other post belongs to Baby….and I have NO idea who she is. Strength of conviction comes without identity hiding. Those two thoughts (in that sentence) conflict with each other. Like Mr. WoW, you, Baby, Belinda, Jody (I can’t name them all), I feel very protective towards you knowing the truth….not just MY truth. It comes from a dozen years working in social services.
      Love, Rich

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Thank you so much, Richard,  for associating me with bathhouses.  I joke about the pool houses but I was very picky about who I dragged into them which I also say jokingly. I stayed away from those who wanted to drag me into the poolhouses. And from those who liked to party. I’m not the first to mention the party. Larry Kramer did. And regretted it. I don’t regret. It’s the way I feel. It’s the way a lot of people feel. It’s the way Elizabeth Taylor felt. She felt the need to be polite about it.  I don’t.

        And so you and the Count don’t have to worry about my “lack of morality” through the years I have never had a sexually-transmitted disease, never broke up a marriage, and got the message when friends started coming down with herpes. Long before AIDS arrived.

        • avatar Richard Bassett says:

          Baby, I do have HIV and I have broken up a marriage…you just cannot toss these issues about without being in the position to do so. I love you posts. They are unique and straight shooting. I will never change my mind about that! Just for the record, I did not bring my the poolhouse issues. If you review the posts, all I said was that I know nothing about it, based on an earlier comment. I don’t know about it. I still don’t know. It is none of my business but I do love ya, Baby.

  8. avatar Richard Bassett says:

        Baby Snooks, I am the research…I don’t have to look it up. You just repeated what I said about women becoming top of the list of infections, now, in 2011. Both you and I have said the same thing but somehow your version seems to be new information…attempting to educate me. I do the educating Baby, not the other way around. It took years to get to this place in life, so I feel proud of my achievements. Being humble is fine in most cases….but when backed up against a wall. We continue to get state, federal and private funds for education & awareness worldwide. The funding decreases as people live longer and anti-virals are more easily sent to Africa via pharmaceticals being benevolent. What we don’t want is to think of as AIDS is cured or even managed.
                              Diabetes can be managed easier than AIDS….witch can kill. I never fall short of that reasoning….and neither did Elizabeth Taylor. It was all or nothing. A cure must be found without the feeling of complacency that HIV/AIDS can now be managed. That’s not good enough for reasons I have repeated over and over on this site. I certainly feel no ill will towards you, just a little tweaking you need in facts & figures. You say you’ve been around, yet, appear to be isolated in your mind or deifier information in the wrong way.