For lovers of throwback historical and gothic romances, vintage pulpy reads and spy thrillers, or old movies and magazines, the name Robert McGinnis might be familiar. But if it isn’t, then his works of art surely are.The Art of Robert E. McGinnis by Robert McGinnis and Art Scott — Introvert Reader
June 20, 2021
Life has a way of catching up to all of us eventually, and one’s health is part of that. In my family recently, we have had a couple of close calls with relatives. I had a bad spell around Mother’s Day and have just been recovering from another set of ailments that hit me hard early last week. I’m here and am thankful that my problems are not life-threatening, not yet, thank goodness.
Living with an auto-immune disease dictates having to work within limits. That means that some plans must change as circumstances do. My upcoming book, The Savage Noble, is near finished, but with meta-reading, editing, marketing, etc., it won’t be released until September. I had wanted What She Says with Her Eyes to be finished by year’s end, although now it likely will not be. I may release it as a multiple-part series of novellas or through Amazon Vella, but I won’t be certain until The Savage Noble is completed.
As for my blog, Sweet Savage Flame, I love doing it and want to do more! It’s growing, slowly but surely, and I’d like to supply quality content, not just rants. Research takes time, especially when you want to get it right. I also plan to do more podcasts or vlogs, and that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms to open up.
Thank you for being so patient and understanding!
Telenovelas were always supposed to end happily ever after!
(Reposted from my Non-Romance blog)
Manana Es Ayer
A couple of weeks ago, I was in the hospital (nothing life-threatening), and I turned on the tv to see an old telenovela, Manana es Para Siempre starring Lucero and Fernando Colunga. Our household cut the cable cord over a decade ago, so I’m not familiar with too many modern-day tv programs unless we stream them on Amazon or Netflix.
I forgot how terribly awesome this show was. It ran sometime in 2009 and was a remake of a much better Colombian original, Pura Sangre. Of course, the Mexican version cheesed it up with the dramatic music, the extreme closeups, the exaggerated acting (Mexico is like Latin America’s version of America when it comes to remakes).
Telenovelas used to be great. Recently, I saw part of one at my Mami’s house, and they are not filmed in the way they used to be. Unfortunately, they seem to have lost part of their charm. It’s all digital now. But then, everything is digitally filmed. Nothing is on video anymore.
Fernando Colunga, who was probably in his early forties when Manana first aired, played the virginal twenty-something Eduardo, posed as the wealthy businessman Franco Santoro. Eduardo had been about 10 or so and was caught kissing Fernanda, the youngest daughter of the Elizalde family. Barbara Greco, the purported assistant to the Elizalde family–who had a secret revenge plan of her own–, concocted a ruse and said he forced himself upon Fernanda. And so, Eduardo was sent away for many years to study in the States. Upon returning to Mexico, he sought to avenge his mother’s premature death and save Liliana Elizalde. Barbara had kept Liliana heavily medicated and sedated in a mental institution for 15 years, as Liliana knew the horrific secret that Barabra Greco had killed her mother.
Actress/singer sensation Lucero, wearing raccoon-eye makeup, played against type. Although usually she was the heroine of the telenovela, here, she played Barbara, the villainess nicknamed La Hyena. Barbara married into the Elizalde family and planned a labyrinthine plot of revenge on her husband. She ended up imprisoned and lighting herself on fire after her long-lost daughter refused to have anything to do with her. Co-starring as the object of Eduardo’s desire was Fernanda, played by Silvia Navarro, who spoke at a ludicrously rapid speed and seemed way too smart for this turkey of a convoluted plot.
For some reason, Dominican hottie Carlos de la Mota wore a roadkilled squirrel wig on his head, and actor Rogelio Guerra hammed it up in a dual role as the mastermind villain and the hapless family patriarch. At the same time, Guillermo Capetillo underplayed his role as an impotent, cuckolded husband. Sergio Sendel was charmingly sleazy, as always, as Fernanda’s fiance/husband, Damian. And Mario Ivan Martinez played Eh-Steve Norton, Eduardo’s gringo-accented friend from New York.
The show was extended to a whopping 160 episodes, way more than the original program’s 100 episode run, and I think I watched every drawn-out minute. My daughter refers to Manana es para siempre as the milk company telenovela, which is true as the big business that kept la familia Elizalde living in fine style was dairy cows. I remember some ads would say this show is sponsored in part by “Company X,” which has been providing Mexico with fine dairy products for years.
I’m going to try to relive every wonderfully cheesy telenovela I can. A few American soap operas are still on the air, but they’re practically dead. At some point in my life, I watched all of them on all the main channels, General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives, and many more. I think 3 or 4 soaps are still on the air, but there used to be about a dozen daytime soaps back in the day. Santa Barbara, All My Children, As the World Turns… Now all long gone.
The American soaps were always inferior to the Latin ones anyway because the Latin ones had a complete and finished story that had a beginning and an end. What was the point of rooting for your favorite super-couple like Eden and Cruz, Bo and Hope, Patch and Kayla, or Luke and Laura to make it, only to see them break up when an actor’s contract was not renewed three years down the road? The Latin soaps always ended with a “Fin” emblazoned on the screen, usually at a wedding.
I remember to my horror, the gran final of El desprecio, which was the first telenovela I saw that didn’t have a happy ending. In it, a shy, stuttering, thick-glasses-wearing heroine raised by nuns fell in love with a married man whose mother was one of the best villains–male or female–in tv history. But, unfortunately, they didn’t end up together! I didn’t know they were allowed to do that! I remember crying, and my mother couldn’t understand that my illusions had been shattered. Telenovelas were always supposed to end happily ever after!
Incidentally, RCTV in Colombia remade El desprecio several years back to great acclaim. I can see this generation preferring a gritty ending like that. Unfortunately, happy endings are quaint and old-fashioned.
Chapter One: Sin Made Flesh
The tavern was not a rough sort, just the place that a certain ignoble breed of noblemen would frequent. Even so, when the two gentlemen entered the establishment, heads were quick to turn.
The men were handsome in a way that only elegant aristocrats could be. It was not their manner of dress that attracted attention, for although the quality of their clothing was exceptional, their garments of worsted wool in shades of deep grey and navy blue and pristine cravats did not mark them dandies. What drew the focus of every inhabitant of that darkened room was the inborn haughtiness both men emanated. They carried themselves as two princes would, with airs of entitlement that set every servant in the barroom to attention.
Both men were tall and slim of build, but broad-shouldered. One had hair the color of ripened chestnuts and rich brown eyes, the other was black-haired, with eyes such a dark and mysterious shade of green they appeared black in the dim light. The gentlemen were seated within seconds, then promptly served by a buxom wench who tossed them a flirtatious smile as she procured their requests before hastening to fill the orders.
“So my friend,” said the first man, a proud gleam in his eyes. “It’s been a year to this day.”
“A day you’ve been dreading,” replied the other gentleman, with an even more superior air. “I know that quite well that you were not looking forward to this.”
The chestnut-haired fellow laughed. “How arrogant are you about winning this contest!”
“Not arrogant, Ravenhill. Confident. The extents of my exploits are no secret, we both know.”
“Yes,” Ravenhill rejoined. “But simply because I’m not one to boast doesn’t mean that I cannot verify my adventures. Let us compare, and you’ll see I’ve earned my winnings this year.”
The black-haired lord’s haughty air did not waver. “That, we have yet to determine.”
The men pulled folded papers out from their coat pockets to spread upon the table. Each looked diligently at the pages, comparing their notes of the past year’s events.
“Ah, yes, Mrs. Cassandra Lethridge. That was quite an escapade for you,” said Ravenhill as he gave a side-long glance to his companion. “A previously faithful and devoted wife whom you convinced to elope to Paris, only for her to return alone in humiliation. Then, of course, you wounded her husband in the subsequent duel.” A brow was raised as if to say: “You only injured him, dear boy, when you should have killed the man.”
“Yes, I know it was only an injury,” responded the black-haired gentleman, “But the poor sap had already been so humiliated! ”
“And that is why you will lose this year’s challenge, Chelmsford. For I had no such compunction when I deflowered the young Miss Anne Fleming. When her aggrieved brother foolishly dared to defend the family honor, I was not so merciful as you.”
“Ravenhill, you did not deflower the lovely Miss Fleming! It’s well known she was but used goods and her brother was a dupe to defend her non-existing honor.”
“How are you so certain that she was not chaste?”
“My dear fellow, don’t be stupid. Who do you think took her in the first place? How ever did she fool you? You must have been three sheets to the wind not to notice.”
“Now Chelmsford, you’ve gone too far. Don’t you think I know a virgin when I have one? I deflowered her all right, but not in the ‘traditional fashion.’”
Chelmsford sputtered on the brandy that had provided for him moments earlier by the buxom serving wench.
“Now that is an accomplishment!” He raised in glass in appreciation. “I’m ashamed I didn’t even try!”
“Now, about Miss Carmilla Danvers…”
“I had her first!”
“Only after I ruined her by taking her out to Hyde Park, unchaperoned, and did not return until nightfall. In society’s eyes, she was as good as deflowered.”
“Ravenhill, even though you quibble semantics, I must say you may have a point.” Chelmsford’s dark green eyes glimmered with wry humor. “Yes, I’ve been too lax this past year. I’ve gotten soft. In the past, I would have had this won by Summer’s end.”
Ravenhill laughed at his friend’s bemusement and patted Chelmsford’s arm. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Even the best racehorse is put out to pasture after a few good years,”
“Yes,” Chelmsford replied sardonically. “To stud.”
Ravenhill laughed even harder at that remark as they went on comparing notes, each one assured that he had ruined more decent women, fought in more duels, and gained more notoriety in the past year than the other. The matter of who had bested whom in order to be declared winner was a serious one indeed.
The men had a carefully established method of ranking their debaucheries. Ladies of the evening and tavern wenches did not count. Only females of breeding and quality mattered in this match. The points were distributed in a fixed manner. One point given to widows and two to unchaste wives; three points allotted to hitherto faithfully married women. A lady such as Miss Danvers, whose reputation had been ruined via subterfuge, was worth two points, but to have actually plucked her chastity was worth five. The duels were classified into three categories: deaths, wounding one’s opponent, and being wounded oneself. They were five points, two points, and negative one point, respectively. Engaging in a duel was a matter of pride between the two lords, and losing to a scorned husband or enraged family member was shameful so could not be awarded any merits. The final category was reserved for ladies so shattered by their ruination, that they would resort to self-harm. Five points were given to suicide attempts and ten points for successful accomplishments.
After several stiff drinks, which were not enough to cause either man the slightest hint of inebriation—for, after all, they were professional imbibers—the statistics thoroughly compared, the points tallied, when Ravenhill and Chelmsford realized they were tied with fifty points apiece.
“A bloody tie!” Justin, Lord Tollemache, the Earl of Chelmsford, said in disgust. He could not believe it. After three consecutive years of defeating Baron Edmund Ravenhill, he’d been unable to best him this time!
“You’re slacking,” Ravenhill crowded. “You’re getting on in age and not as fresh as you used to be. By next year, I expect to beat you soundly.”
“This year’s sport does not end until midnight,” Chelmsford said. “Which by my estimation is more than six hours away.”
“And within six hours do you think you’ll be able to find a pigeon to poach?” Ravenhill shook his head. “No my friend, no loose women as a tiebreaker; it would be too easy for you to pluck one or two of these tavern wenches and complete the deed. If we are to break the tie, it must be with a woman of quality. Not even you are capable of seduction under such short notice.”
“That is a wager you will lose.” Justin Tollemache stretched his long legs out before him, a devilish smile on his face. “My Aunt Betsy is having her first soiree of the season tonight.”
“And she has invited you?” Ravenhill snorted contemptuously. “Not damn likely. She despises you and if you weren’t her only living relative, I daresay she’d never speak to you if she could avoid it.”
“No, she has not extended an invitation to me. Shameful, can you believe that? Even so, I owe her a visit and she is far too polite to throw me out, thus causing a scene. There should be plenty of young beauties to look upon.”
Ravenhill wondered if Lady Betsy Tollemache-Kent would allow either of them into her home, for she was always angry at her nephew for his dissolute ways. Ravenhill was twenty-and-four, Chelmsford but a year older, and already the two were the most notorious rakes in London. If it were not for their titles and extreme wealth, no respectable household would allow them entry. Despite their reprobate ways, they were still perceived as eligible bachelors in many circles.
“Look at you, Edmund, worrying like an old woman. I assure you that I can charm my way into Auntie’s good graces. Scoundrel I may be, but family is family. Besides Norton adores me, and would never deny me entrance,” he said, referring to his aunt’s majordomo.
Edmund met Justin’s vulpine smile with his own. “Why not? It’s high time your reign as the most notorious rakehell in England comes to an end and tonight I will take your place.”
“So we shall see, my friend, so we shall see,” Justin said.
…The story will continue…