Monday, August 04, 2014

This Guy and His Italics

Read a bunch of that Artie Shaw biography by Tom Nolan yesterday and I thought of a bunch of stuff I wanted to tell you about it but now I forgot most of it. I do feel that it's only fair, as I've alluded to the time that Artie Shaw recklessly and accidentally killed a guy, to mention that he saves someone's life at great personal risk later in the book. I'm still in the middle. I haven't even made it to Ava Gardner yet, though Artie Shaw has been intimate with just about every other woman in Hollywood, plus several women from the music business and some civilians of various professions. Betty Grable was married to Jackie Coogan when she met Artie Shaw. Pin-up icon Betty Grable was married to Uncle Fester (above)! "Betty came home one night to find Jackie had sold their wedding presents for 'ready cash.'" And that's one of the nicer things he did. So you can see why she dumped him and took up with Artie Shaw. Teenage Judy Garland was infatuated with Artie Shaw. As a favor, child star Jackie Cooper (not to be confused with the aforementioned Jackie Coogan, who also started out as a child star) would pick up Judy at her house to go on a supposed date, but then he'd drop her off at Artie's place (so Judy's mom wouldn't suspect) and Artie and Judy would take long drives and talk about literature and he swears he never laid a hand on her, but that doesn't mean it didn't BREAK HER HEART when he suddenly married Lana Turner. Poor Judy locked herself in her room and cried and cried! Shaw married Lana Turner so fast that she didn't even have time to change out of the dress she was wearing on THEIR FIRST DATE! Yes, that was hasty. It worked out as you may expect. But now I want to discuss the author's use of italics. Please note in advance that when this "blog" first started I didn't know how to put italics in it, so I used ALL CAPS where italics should go, and even though I think it would be easy to put italics on this "blog" I never have, so I am not going to start now. Same goes, as you can see, with paragraph breaks. So you can always tell when this author is quoting from an interview he did himself, because he has the most peculiar fondness for italics when transcribing human speech. There are hundreds of examples throughout the book, but I will start with the time he interviews Jack Klugman about Billie Holiday, because why would anyone interview Jack Klugman about Billie Holiday (he never shows up in the book for any other reason)? "GOD, she was wonderful... she would sing maybe two or THREE songs... She was sen-SATIONAL!... Aw, I LOVED Artie Shaw's band. He was - he was great; HE WAS AN INNOVATOR." I don't know if this is getting it across. It's really INSANE. Hey, remember how it grossed me out when that Frank Sinatra biographer compared women to flies? Nolan writes almost the same sentence about Shaw, except he makes the women into hummingbirds instead of flies, still gross, I suppose, but it's nicer than saying they "gathered like flies." And then Phil Silvers (!), who went on Artie and Lana's first date with them (!!), says Lana went for Artie "like a bee making for the honey." Phil Silvers is all over the Frank Sinatra biography too. I was going to give you some more examples of weird italics but now I'm tired.