Tag Archives: Herbie J. Pilato

Book Review – ‘Gethsemane: A Story of Us’ by R. Douglas Jacobs

Gethsemane

This was an especially difficult review to write, mainly because over the course of time, I have come to deeply appreciate Jacobs’ friendship and the style of his prose writing, via letters and emails. He has a poetic elegance that is woven through everything he has written me, and I have found his correspondence delightful.  Perhaps that is why I was a bit disappointed by his poetry.

According to the blurb on the back of the book, Gethsemane (a book written in the style of an epic poem consisting of 148 stanzas that are each constructed similar to a sonnet, with no repeated rhymes) is touted as ‘the kind of book that maybe comes around once in a lifetime’, and as ‘a literary innovation destined to be a cultural artifact’. Now, I have read and truly come to appreciate other examples of epic poetry that actually are cultural artifacts, like Beowulf and The Song of Roland, and while I think the premise behind this poem is truly sweeping and vast, I do not think epic poetry was the kind of medium that could truly have done Jacobs’ story justice. I find the emotions and ideas and connections in the work to be intriguing, but I would not put it in the same category as the previously mentioned epics.

I really enjoyed Act I of this book, as it seemed the most promising, and did live up to the vastness of the idea originally presented (which is Lucifer’s story in parallel to ours as a human race). The notion of seeing things from Lucifer’s perspective was dark, yet interesting, though it took me a while to distinguish between the various ‘hes’ since God is ‘He’ but every angelic being is ‘he’, yet each verse begins with a capital letter, so sometimes it seemed as though the honorific ‘He’ had been given to an angel instead of to God.

Act II covered the fall of Lucifer and other angels who were his followers from Heaven to Earth, and how they possessed men and slept with human women, creating a race of monstrous giants called Nephilim that roamed the Earth. The concept has always fascinated me (and its source can be found in Genesis 6 in the Bible), but I found the retelling to fall somewhat short in style and technique than I had hoped, considering Jacobs’ prose style. The poetry was poorly worded and contrived, with little flow. It was difficult to follow on a rhythmic level, and the word choices (like ‘pizzazz’) were often anachronistic and fell short of the grandeur of what Jacobs was trying to achieve.

As for Act III, it seemed completely out of place and disjointed from the rest of the poem. The other two Acts are sweeping and vast, while the last one reads like a cheap paperback, not in content, but in style. Lucifer (who is now calling himself ‘the Gent’) falls in love with a personal trainer named Celeste (the significance of whose heavenly moniker was not lost on me), then discovers her in the act of cheating on him with another man. He feels so betrayed, he possesses the man’s body, essentially rapes Celeste, then kills her and sets the world on fire (clearly what the author believes Lucifer truly does wish to do to anyone or anything associated with Heaven). The content could have been better handled. I felt that the stanzas had been rushed near the end of this poem, the words chosen to describe the events were poor, and not much time was taken to truly explore the depth of the story that was presented. Though he prides himself on the fact that no rhyme was used twice in this epic, I found that in some places, it would have served the story better if that had been the case.

A truly talented writer with big ideas, R. Douglas Jacobs would be best served concentrating his poetic vision into some aspect of the prosaic world, where it could truly be brought to life. Immense effort was clearly put into the creation of this work, but it would have benefited from 2 or 3 more drafts to smooth it out and bring it to its full potential.

2 stars out of 5.


Book Review – ‘The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide to Her Magical Performances’ by Herbie J Pilato

theessentialelizabethmontgomery

Well, it is finally done. I have FINALLY gotten through every single page of The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide to Her Magical Performances by Herbie J Pilato. And it was an excellent read! I truly enjoyed reading this book, though the information came provided in bulleted clusters of facts. I had honestly never even heard her name before I received this book for review, and though I had heard of Bewitched (the TV show she was most popular for), I had also never seen it. This book changed all that.

I am naturally interested in film history or the acting career of actors I like, so once I found out more about Elizabeth Montgomery, through Pilato’s respectful and positive portrayal of her, and after doing some research of my own, I truly grew to like her. I became interested in her career choices and in the roles she sought after (as well as those she actively turned down – I almost feel bad mentioning that Bewitched is what she is best remembered for, since she did so much other work that had so much more depth as well, and I think she would want to be remembered for that more than anything else). I even downloaded a few seasons of Bewitched, and I am truly enjoying it. What I loved about this book was how Pilato managed to take a stylistic format that would make any other subject seem dry, and turn each section on each episode or movie into an incredibly interesting morsel that left me wanting to experience her work for myself. I was also impressed with the thoughtful way the work as a whole was presented – like a play, in acts: Act I being her ‘Stage Presence’ (ie. her work in the theatre) – with each successive chapter or ‘act’ covering every genre of acting she was ever involved in, like awards ceremonies, game shows and even ‘Intermission’ sections including photographs of Montgomery throughout her career, and even a few that were previously unpublished. There was so much thought and every piece of work she did was carefully interpreted, with connections being made to her personal life, as well as roles she had played in the past or would play in the future. This book felt like a masterpiece, woven together artfully, and it was a pleasure to read.

The only negative feedback I have to give is that after so many carefully pieced-together analyses of her movies or episodes, one or two of them seemed rushed and inconclusive, and there were unfortunately quite a few typos, especially in the last quarter of the book. A great piece of work for Herbie J. Pilato, and I look forward to reading his companion book about Montgomery’s personal life, Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery.

4.5 stars out of 5


20 Years Later, Elizabeth Montgomery Fans Are Still ‘Bewitched’

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It is currently 9:56 pm on Sunday night, May 17th, 2015 and tomorrow  marks the 20th year after actress Elizabeth Montgomery’s passing. When Founder/Executive Director of the Classic TV Preservation Society Herbie J. Pilato sent me some books about her to review (links to where you can purchase them will be below, and full reviews of each will be posted as they are completed), I really didn’t know what to expect. I had watched very few episodes of Bewitched in my life, but was aware of them somewhat in passing. I didn’t know her name, I simply knew her as the ‘witch with a twitch’ (referring to her Bewitched character Samantha’s habit of twitching her nose when she’s doing magic). That all changed when I picked up Pilato’s The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery. I became enchanted with the interesting and confident and gutsy life she lived, and fell in love with the characters I read about her playing. I came to deeply respect and admire a person who had such fame and used it to prove a point or to open eyes or to break down barriers. Ms. Montgomery was an intelligent, empowered woman, and the world needs more people like her. She passed away of cancer at her home in Beverly Hills in 1995, but her political activism and charity work are still remembered. Rest in peace, Elizabeth. Rest in peace.

Who is your favourite starlet of Classic TV? Mine would have to be Lucille Ball (which is interesting, since William Asher, who directed both ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Bewitched’ was also at one point Elizabeth Montgomery’s husband):

2262840-12___i_love_lucy_show            bewitched

For the Elizabeth Montgomery fan, or for someone who just wants to know about her filmography, check out this book: The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery – Herbie J. Pilato (the one I’m currently enjoying)

theessentialelizabethmontgomery

For the Elizabeth Montgomery diehard who wants an in-depth look at Elizabeth’s life and career: Twitch Upon a Star – Herbie J. Pilato

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For any lover of the women of Classic television: Glamour, Gidgets, and the Girl Next Door – Herbie J. Pilato

glamourgidgetsandthegirlnextdoor


Love ‘Bewitched’? Love Elizabeth Montgomery? Check This Out!

So I was contacted by Mr. Herbie J. Pilato to review some books he wrote about Elizabeth Montgomery (star of the original Bewitched show of classic TV fame), in honour of the 20th anniversary of her passing coming up this May 18. Any fans of classic TV or of Bewitched specifically are going to want to see this video or pick up these books. Below is my ‘Package-Opening Video’ of the material he sent me (I’m currently reading The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery, and immensely enjoying it). Do you have a favourite TV series from your childhood? What is it? My favourites were always ArthurBill Nye the Science Guy, Kratt’s Kreatures and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? As a teenager, my favourites were CSI: Las Vegas and MacGyver. Now, with the rise of Netflix, my favourites are so many to name that I could literally make a list as long as my arm. Right now, I am enjoying GrimmPenny DreadfulPuella Magi Madoka MagicaOnce Upon a TimeDownton Abbey, and as always, Doctor Who.

So in honour of Ms. Montgomery, watch some Bewitched reruns and check out this video below!