Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 22, 2015

MVNews this week:  Page 11



 Mountain Views News Saturday, August 22, 2015 

Jeff’s Book Picks By Jeff Brown




By Sean Kayden


The New York Times 
bestselling author of 
the Maisie Dobbs series 
turns her prodigious 
talents to this World 
War I standalone novel, 
a lyrical drama of love 
struggling to survive in 
a damaged, fractured 
world.By July 1914, 
the ties between Kezia 
Marchant and Thea 
Brissenden, friends 
since girlhood, have 
become strained—
by Thea’s passionate 
embrace of women’s 
suffrage, and by the 
imminent marriage of 
Kezia to Thea’s brother, Tom, who runs the family farm. 
When Kezia and Tom wed just a month before war is 
declared between Britain and Germany, Thea’s gift to 
Kezia is a book on household management—a veiled 
criticism of the bride’s prosaic life to come. Yet when 
Tom enlists to fight for his country and Thea is drawn 
reluctantly onto the battlefield, the farm becomes Kezia’s 
responsibility. Each must find a way to endure the ensuing 
cataclysm and turmoil.As Tom marches to the front lines, 
and Kezia battles to keep her ordered life from unraveling, 
they hide their despair in letters and cards filled with 
stories woven to bring comfort. Even Tom’s fellow soldiers 
in the trenches enter and find solace in the dream world 
of Kezia’s mouth-watering, albeit imaginary meals. But 
will well-intended lies and self-deception be of use when 
they come face to face with the enemy?Published to 
coincide with the centennial of the Great War, The Care 
and Management of Lies paints a poignant picture of love 
and friendship strained by the pain of separation and 
the brutal chaos of battle. Ultimately, it raises profound 
questions about conflict, belief, and love that echo in our 
own time.


The life and times of the 
wealthiest man who ever 
lived—Jacob Fugger—
the Renaissance banker 
who revolutionized the 
art of making money and 
established the radical 
idea of pursuing wealth 
for its own sake.Jacob 
Fugger lived in Germany 
at the turn of the sixteenth 
century, the grandson of 
a peasant. By the time he 
died, his fortune amounted 
to nearly two percent 
of European GDP. Not 
even John D. Rockefeller 
had that kind of wealth. Most people become rich by 
spotting opportunities, pioneering new technologies, or 
besting opponents in negotiations. Fugger did all that, 
but he had an extra quality that allowed him to rise even 
higher: nerve. In an era when kings had unlimited power, 
Fugger had the nerve to stare down heads of state and ask 
them to pay back their loans—with interest. It was this 
coolness and self-assurance, along with his inexhaustible 
ambition, that made him not only the richest man ever, 
but a force of history as well. Before Fugger came along 
it was illegal under church law to charge interest on 
loans, but he got the Pope to change that. He also helped 
trigger the Reformation and likely funded Magellan’s 
circumnavigation of the globe. His creation of a news 
service, which gave him an information edge over his 
rivals and customers, earned Fugger a footnote in the 
history of journalism. And he took Austria’s Habsburg 
family from being second-tier sovereigns to rulers of the 
first empire where the sun never set.The ultimate untold 
story, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived is more than a tale 
about the richest and most influential businessman of all 
time. It is a story about palace intrigue, knights in battle, 
family tragedy and triumph, and a violent clash between 
the 1 percent and everybody else. To understand our 
financial system and how we got it, it pays to understand 
Jacob Fugger.

Making his directorial 
debut, writer/actor Joel 
Edgerton’s creepy thriller 
is a purely entertaining ride from beginning to end. 
It’s a small, contained film, but impactful and quite 
effective. The slow-burn, psychological tale isn’t 
your typical stalker film and that’s a refreshing sight 
to see. There’s a big twist of sorts that comes into 
play in the later half the second act of the film, but 
we are informed of the circumstances by a minor 
character. The exposition was an easy way to get the 
point across, but I much rather have wanted to see a 
little more for this major plot point to be revealed. 
Other than that, there are really no qualms to be 
had with the film. In the end, The Gift proves to be a 
sleeper hit this summer and a launching pad for Joel 
Edgerton behind the camera too.

The Gift

Written/Directed By: Joel Edgerton

Rated R for Language 

Release Date: August 7th, 2015

Review By: Sean Kayden

 The Gift, which stars Jason Bateman and Rebecca 
Hall, is about a couple who decides to move from 
back east to Los Angeles because of Bateman’s new 
job. It’s a big change for Hall’s character Robyn since 
she didn’t grow up in a suburban landscape. For 
Bateman’s Simon character, he’s basically returning 
to the place where he grew up around. Fairly early 
on in the film, an old classmate of Simon’s runs 
into him over at a retail store while he’s with his 
wife. The man mentions his name is Gordo and it 
somewhat jogs the memory of Simon. Nevertheless, 
Simon doesn’t seem to remember Gordo all that well 
or at least care to. At first things begin to feel very 
innocent if not strange. Gordo sends over gifts to 
Simon and Robyn’s home without ever asking for 
their address. He’s eventually invited over to their 
house for his lovely gestures. Everything about this 
guy seems weird yet he hasn’t done anything wrong. 
If anything, he’s been respectful, but eccentric. Once 
Gordo, played by Edgerton, starts paying Robyn 
unexpected visits when she’s home alone is around 
the time things just don’t seem all that right. Then 
again, there’s no proof Gordo is guilty of doing 
anything other than just being simply peculiar. 
Simon eventually tells Gordo one night he shouldn’t 
visit or talk to them anymore. This doesn’t seem 
to boost well for Gordo. After a series of strange 
occurrences, there’s no way to point the finger at 
our suspected villain since there’s no evidence. As 
the movie flows, we find more troubling things 
about Simon than his former classmate. At the same 
token, Robyn is emotionally breaking down, feeling 
anxiety, as well as fearful while home alone. After 
all, another reason they moved to LA was a fresh 
start after she had a miscarriage. 

 Without going any deeper with the summary of 
the film, I must say I was impressed. Jason Bateman, 
mostly known for his comedic work is solid as pretty 
much this kind of snarly guy. He’s not a bad person, 
just a questionable one based on some of things he’s 
done prior. Rebecca Hall is great to watch too as she 
provides much of the trepidation of any character in 
the film. Lastly, Joel Edgerton is simply great as a low-
key weirdo of a character. You almost feel sorry for 
the guy. Almost that is. In the end, The Gift is kind 
of a sick and twisted film in what subject matters are 
brought up. Nonetheless, as a piece of entertainment 
that isn’t trying to be anything besides a good 
thriller, The Gift definitely delivers worthy chills 
and thrills along the way. At any cost, it’s great to 
see an original film during a bloated summer movie 

Grade: 4 out of 5

She Turned Cotton in Gold

by La Quetta M. Shamblee

On the Marquee: Notes from the Sierra MadrePlayhouse

Decades before the advent of instant music 
downloads, Brenda Lee Eager first joined the 
ranks of recording artists to earn the “Gold 
Record” distinction for her recording of “Ain’t 
Understanding Mellow” with Jerry Butler in the 
early 70’s. This Mobile, Alabama native grew 
up on her family farm and was inspired by all of 
nature that surrounded her, to become one of the 
most prolific songwriters of our times. The oldest 
of 11 siblings, she always had chores, which 
included helping to pick cotton. She always 
enjoyed writing and by the time she was in 3rd 
grade, she had discovered the world of poetry. 
“I would sit under a tree with pencil and paper 
and write songs about life and anything in my 
surroundings, describing whatever I was seeing 
or experiencing in detail.” If she saw a butterfly, 
she would describe the colorful pattern on its 
wings or the way it landed on a flower.

Time was all that Brenda had on her hands after 
she had finished her daily chores. She filled much 
of it doing one of the things she loved most, which 
was reading. She enjoyed stories like Huckleberry 
Finn, which allowed her mind to sour beyond the 
Alabama homestead. Her favorite book was Great 
Expectations. By the time she had reached the 
9th grade, she was building a collection of short 
stories and had already refined her own process 
of adding melodies and music to her poetry. She 
had developed into a songwriter who could paint 
pictures with words. This laid the foundation for 
her to build an impressive songbook years later, 
which solidified her musical legacy long ago. 

After graduating high school, Brenda Lee packed 
her belongings and headed to New York City 
to seek fame and fortune in the big city. Her 
mother’s support meant everything, “God is 
in New York too, baby,” let her know that her 
mother had the utmost confidence in her eldest 
child. The famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem was 
Brenda Lee’s first destination and after taking 
the train to finally arrive at 253 W. 125th Street, 
she was told she had arrived too late to audition. 
She was devastated after traveling such a long 

She got a job working in the New York garment 
district in what she describes as a “sweat box.” 
After about six months, she reluctantly returned 
home to Alabama and on the day that she 
returned she met her husband. They moved 
to Chicago and she gave birth to her daughter 
on April 4, 1968, almost to the minute that Dr. 
Martin Luther King was assassinated. Fired up 
to do something about the social injustices, she 
became a key participant on the civil rights scene, 
as one of four singers in the Piperettes of Freedom 
along with Sue Conway, Patti Henley and Dolores 
Scott. They sang at rallies, participated in sit-
ins, voter registration drives and other activities 
that could be quite dangerous during those times. 
The four remain close friends to this day.

Information about Brenda Lee Eager, the 
accomplished professional soul singer and soul 
writer, is plentiful. But the opportunity for a 
conversation with her provides a glimpse into 
what has inspired her to write songs that have been 
recorded by iconic artists like Aretha Franklin, a 
double-platinum song for Prince, and numerous 
projects working with Ray Charles constantly 
during the last 12 years of his life. Equally 
respected as a singer and performing artist, she 
has toured or recorded with a diverse list of R&B, 
jazz and blues “Who’s Who?” including Jerry 
Butler, Nancy Wilson, Smokie Robinson, Diana 
Ross, Linda Hopkins and the late Teena Marie. 
Her repository of writing creativity includes at 
least five stage plays, including a musical about 
the Pipperettes titled, “We Were There.”

How did the little girl who loved to sit under the 
tree and write make it from Alabama to Southern 
California? Many years ago during the month 
of February, Brenda Lee Eager and Jerry Butler 
boarded a plane in Chicago, headed for Los 
Angeles to appear on the top-rated television 
dance show, Soul Train. They thought they might 
not be able to make it in time due to the snow and 
harsh winter weather conditions that almost had 
their flight grounded. When they landed at LAX 
and she saw the sun and palm trees, she told Jerry, 
“I’ve got to move here.” Southern California has 
been her home ever since.

Years later, Brenda Lee Eager continues to 
express gratitude for having always had a job 
here in the entertainment industry, doing what 
she loves to do. From teaching songwriting and 
vocal workshops for Quincy Jones Productions, 
to participating in the Agape International 
Choir based in Culver City, she is immersed in 
her craft and loves to share it with others. An 
accomplished music educator, she currently 
teaches a master vocal workshop at the Barbara 
Morrison Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. 

The title of her latest stage play under development 
highlights the lighthearted, humorous side of her 
personality. “I’m In Love With A Deadman” is 
a new play about her lifelong fantasy love affair 
with soul singer Sam Cooke. She was only 16 
when he died, but states, “He’s been a teacher for 
every other R&B singer in the world, the rifts, the 
inflections that added that soulful element to the 
music. We all listen to Sam Cooke.”

When asked what advice she offers about the 
pursuit of one’s dream, she shares, “Be in love with 
whatever it is that you do, with love, laughter and 
expectation – and do the work.” The audience 
at Santa Anita Race Track is certain to be loving 
every note delivered by this masterful, soulful 
singer as she takes center stage at the inaugural 
MADCatfish Blues Festival at 11am on Saturday, 
September 6, 2015.

For information and a time-limited, special 2 for 
1 ticket promotion, visit or 
call (800) 838-3006.

YOU..... come 
see Patsy 

Nikki D'Amico stars as Louise 
in Always....Patsy Cline 


Photo by Gina Long

Always....Patsy Cline, the 
Ovation Recommended, 
Smash-hit at the Playhouse 
continues to sell out for a 
fourth straight weekend. 

The play has been extended 
to September 27. Get your 
tickets early because several 
dates are either sold-out or 
close to it. Groups of ten 
or more prepaid get a 20% 

Contact Mary Baville in 
our box office to arrange 
your reservation or go to to 
purchase your tickets online.