Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I haven't pulled out my Mets piece. I've thought about it but that isn't good enough. I need to start submitting that soon.
I went back to the gym but hit a snag there-- I missed last week. At least I got there this morning.
I have extra to catch up on for December.
Monday, November 29, 2010
We walked out into warm bright sunshine. I stuffed my gloves into my pockets and unbuttoned my coat. Spike and I headed down Maple; the sky was a cloudless blue.
Our morning walk morphed from a procrastinated chore in the cold to a pleasure--a bonus--to get the morning off on the right foot.
Later on our midday walk we passed a neighbor from Highview Condominiums who we hadn't seen him in months. "Is that Spike? It's good to see he's still around." I told him Spike had just celebrated his tenth birthday.
I realized that Spike's been a fixture of this neighborhood for nine years. He's touched many lives.
I thought about the dogs that I have met and now miss. Paul, Booker, April, Bonnie, Lucky, Fly, oh I forget some names. I even miss Pumpkin the cat. I assume he/she died because it's been so long since we've seen him/her. That was a cool cat; Spike could aroo all he wanted--Pumpkin wouldn't even react.
Walking with Spike has connected Jeff and me to our neighborhood as nothing else could. Our neighborhood is a mixed bag--and evolving. But it is our neighborhood.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
High school history would be much more interesting if schools taught the messy violent reality.
Recently we watched Iron Jawed Angels, a HBO movie about US suffragists. I had seen parts of it and have had it saved on our DVR for over a year.
Less than one hundred years ago, women were denied the simple act of voting. Most of us take this right for granted (Ann Coulter thinks women shouldn't vote--don't take anything for granted.)
Alice Paul and Lucy Burns among others were tortured for trying to gain these rights. Iron Jawed Angels focused on Alice Paul (Hillary Swank.) While Patrick Dempsey is likeable as the semi-romantic lead, the subplot detracts from the main exciting plot. More coverage of the Night of Terror would have been welcome. We did see a beautiful (unfortunately true) scene in which Lucy's cuffed hands are hung over the jailhouse door. Her fellow suffragists hold their own arms up in protest of her treatment.
What these women sacrificed for us should not be ignored. They should be praised and celebrated in our textbooks.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Tonight I saw my favorite scene--when Frodo volunteers to go to Mordor during the Council of Elrond. The reaction shot of McKellen is incredible--Gandalf's face reflects his fear, pride and acceptance of Frodo's destiny.
Gandalf knows he is at the crossroads--the end of the age of wizards and elves and the dawn of the age of man. At this point, Gandalf can only assist as part of the Fellowship.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Whatever the origin, I an not a participant in Black Friday. It goes against my every instinct for a successful shopping trip.
Jeff and I relaxed today. He started some work he needs to do and I prepped for tutorials this weekend. Karl sent us home with leftover turkey and pulled pork from the party last month. We had delicious pulled pork sandwiches with a carrot/raisin/dried cherry salad for dinner.
Time to relax again.
Not a good attitude. Daily blogging was the only goal that I had kept up with this month. I could have written a few lines and saved it. At least I would have a heading with November 25th, but that didn't seem right. Plus I am probably the only one keeping track of this goal; I can't fool myself.
Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. It was a time to get together for good food and company without the bother of buying Christmas presents or going to church.
I never thought about it from the Native American viewpoint. There are issues with the whitewashed history that we learned in school. But Thanksgiving isn't tainted like Columbus Day--it's apparently similar to some Native American traditions.
In this crappy year of 2010, what do I have to be thankful for? Jeff and Spike are at the top of my list (even when they drive me crazy.) I'm thankful that despite financial challenges, we haven't been in real trouble.
I'm thankful that we didn't have to travel for Thanksgiving this year, that we spent the holiday with Jeff's family--I can trust them not to sue me or rob me--unlike the people from my side of the family.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Getting there was fine. We didn't do as well on our return. The traffic in northern Florida was pretty intense on Saturday as we ventured north.
This year we only have a 45 minute drive to Ridgefield, CT. I'm making pumpkin swirl bread and a salad. We also have two bottles of a nice Riesling Weishaus Max Ferd Richter (not too sweet) and some beer--Lagunitas Censored Rich Copper Ale.
Looking forward to a nice meal with relatives who aren't despicable.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I can't say that I was glad to do it. But of course this was the least that I could do. My mother joked that she had changed my diapers. I asked how many diapers the ride today was worth.
Anyway we learned my mother broke two bones in her hand, not her fingers. Her hand is still too swollen for a new splint so she has to return on Monday. Luckily she'll see the doctor in a closer office.
It'll be a tough few weeks for her until she recovers. She doesn't like to depend on the kindness of strangers (or daughters.)
Monday, November 22, 2010
My mother fell this afternoon and hurt her hand. She ended up in the emergency room tonight to have her wedding ring cut off. Her hand was bruised and swollen; her band is so thick, it took a special tool and several attempts to cut through the ring.
Ultimately, it was good that she went to the hospital because she broke her middle and ring fingers. The doctor put her in a splint and referred her to an orthopedist.
Around ten, she was released and Jeff, Spike and I drove her back to her place. She seems more annoyed with the inconvenience than in any kind of pain. As falls go, it could have been much worse. It's nice that she leaves nearby and is no longer fourteen hours away.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Great timing; it's one of my favorite lines in a witty, snappy script.
I'm not sure where I would rank this film. I have always loved Bette's performance. She is sophisticated, glamorous, smart and sexy. I also enjoy the work of George Sanders, Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter. Marilyn Monroe is memorable in her few scenes.
A quibble--Anne Baxter's performance is the weak link. She's good but she's just a little over-the-top. There's something in the tone of her voice that brings me out of her scenes. Everything she says sounds so fake. In a way that works for the character because she is constantly creating her own history. But it's hard to believe that people find her sincere.
I also have issues with the 1950's gender roles. Bill tells off Eve when she comes on to him. One reason for his rejection is understandable--he's in love with Margo. But then he insults Eve for making the first move. He goes after what he wants; it doesn't come after him.
I cringe when I hear Margo's theory about woman's career of being a woman. In true 50's fashion, a woman can't be happy or fulfilled without a man. I try to focus more on Celeste Holm's face during that scene--her guilt over her trick on Margo. Holm is very powerful and subtle.
Great film, even with the 50's baggage.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Then she made a comment that stuck with me. She mentioned a beautiful tree in the parking lot--its leaves were a flaming red, and said, "We are blessed."
I don't think of myself in terms of being blessed. Instead I may call myself lucky or privileged. Lately, I've been thinking more negatively--unlucky, screwed, but not cursed.
My neighbor was right; it was a beautiful tree. I had obviously seen it before, but had I really seen it or did I rush past with blinders on?
As part of a writing exercise I did earlier this year, I listed things that made me happy. I mentioned the morning sky from my living room window. I don't have a view in the usual sense of the word, but I can find beauty and happiness in the everyday views.
Spike has helped me appreciate things. I notice so much more walking around the neighborhood rather than driving through it: a man practicing tai chi on the lawns of Morningside Gardens and a goat grazing in a backyard on Highpoint Street.
Spike is my blessing.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
We started a loop around the park and saw Ella and Maisie coming down the path from the woods. I called Ella's name; she ran to me. Maisie was on a leash, but her human (never learned his name) released her and she ran toward us. Maisie sat by my feet and Ella rolled over so I could rub her tummy.
Their greeting reminded me why I am a dog person. They find joy in such simple things--running across a field, following a scent, rolling on their backs. They're so appreciative of simple gestures--calling them by name, patting them on their heads.
The other night, I dried Spike off after a walk in the rain. He seemed so happy and appreciative of my caring gesture. In that brief moment, I felt an even deeper bond between us--although we have already shared eight years together.
Loyalty, devotion and love. Right back at you.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
We did an exercise today: write nine things you forget and nine things you remember (in ten minutes.) I didn't get the exercise until we shared our lists. In some cases, the lists were rich enough to pass for lines of poetry. Other lists were great for writing subjects. Some focused on specific days or events; other lists seemed disconnected.
I can write several memoir pieces from the list of things I remember--I already wrote about the limo from hell for the New Canaan memoir class. The list of things I don't remember could be weaved into some poetry.
Pretty good writing exercise.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I don't remember the singer's name. He had a good voice, but the lyrics were absurd. The worst part was a little boy singing about a shiny new nickel and all kinds of candy--puke-worthy. By the second verse the kid's onto marriage and children's visits to grandparents. Very bizarre. Searched for a few seconds on youtube and didn't find anything--believe me, that is a blessing.
Since I heard it, the song's been stuck in some loop in my head with lyric fragments randomly popping out.
Prior to Playground, I was singing Rocky Horror--a reaction to a Halloween day marathon. At least I like the Rocky Horror songs.
Playground is slowly receding from my consciousness; soon to be relegated to the dark crevices of my mind.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I have good, logical reasons why I didn't attempt Nanowrimo. I won't bother listing them. The main reason was that my heart just wasn't in it; I knew that I wouldn't have a chance to succeed.
One of my writing goals was to blog here daily. For the most part, I did so--although I saved two posts instead of posting them--d'oh!
My other goals were rather vague, so it was easy for me to neglect them. Let's make one reasonable goal for November. I'll watch the recording of "the game" and then do a final edit of my Mets piece. It's time to start selling it.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I was lucky to see Bette in person twice. She appeared in a program called Bette Davis In Person and On Film in Philadelphia in April 1974. The film clips included scenes of her movies from the thirties through the sixties: Of Human Bondage, Jezebel, Now Voyager, All About Eve, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The "What a dump!" line from Beyond the Forest, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3zShjyaTr8&feature=related, further immortalized in the Albee play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVim5DUasyk. Bette then appeared on stage to answer questions.
Six months later, I saw Bette as Miss Moffatt. There were numerous problems with the play, a musical version of her film, The Corn in Green, before the production closed. As much as I love Bette, even I could see that she was not the best choice of musical lead. But it was great to see her perform live. I also liked the new setting of the school in the deep south. Dorian Harewood was a revelation--he had a powerful voice--like James Earl Jones singing.
Bette Davis was an incredible actress; I love to watch her work.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
I started tutoring a new student today. Walking into her home was like entering a Christmas wonderland: a ten-foot tree in the entry, poinsettias, nutcrackers, garland. Later I attended the 32nd Annual Winterfair. There were a variety of gift options--clothing, soaps and make-up, ornaments, vinegars and oils, pies and candy. Holiday season keeps sneaking in earlier each year.
I thought I would get an early start on Christmas decorating this year. Major cleaning and organizing in November--putting up decorations the first week in December. Guess I'm behind schedule already.
2010 has been a rough year for me. I'm hoping to turn things around and close out the year on a high note. Can the holidays help me do that? More often than not, I find Christmas stressful. I hope I can overcome that.
Friday, November 12, 2010
From the opening scene when Leslie empties her revolver into a man running down her veranda--you are drawn in her world: the Singapore heat; the moonlight; the rhythm of the ceiling fans. Leslie Crosby's explanation of the shooting is clear cut; her husband was away--an acquaintance's visit grew sinister. She defended herself as any woman would.
But there is more to Leslie's story. Her crochet lace work grows more intricate throughout the film as her clear cut story is obscured and contradicted by the evidence in, you guessed it, the letter.
Bette Davis is my favorite actress. Of all her roles, I believe Leslie Crosby is her best. (Margo Channing is a close second.) She also has an incredible supporting cast: James Stephenson, Herbert Marshall, Gale Sondergaard and Victor Sen Yung.
Don't forget director William Wyler. He had to work around Hayes office censorship and make his film make sense. He succeeded brilliantly.
But that's the luck of the draw. Those are the breaks. Enter the trite saying here.
We still had a nice weekend away last weekend, but I was too cold for hiking or even walking around Kent.
I hope our next getaway is nicer.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
It's surprising that I will start three new tutorials this weekend. One student needs a little more work before the December test; another wants to focus on reading for the January test; the third is starting a full tutorial for January.
I'm happy for the work, especially at this time of year. I enjoy tutoring and I like the kids that I meet.
But I feel for them. I went to high school in a different time and place. The students I tutor are under so much pressure: AP classes, extracurricular activities, standardized tests. On the other hand, they are receiving a much better education than I did.
I wonder how I would stack up.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Here are two:
Queen Anne Lack-head
previously known as
the Happiest of Women
Never naive, but nonetheless a pawn
buffeted by a tide of rising family fortunes
and the caprice of an absolute monarch in a midlife crisis
Raised to "the king's own sweetheart"
wife and queen
the happiest of women
But there were some who rose with her
that they could use but not control her
biting back retorts to her clever jibes
They didn't object as she was plunged into a maelstrom
of lies and manipulation
Arrest, sham trial, guilty verdict and execution
It was the king's will
Hadn't he once said that he who could raise her so high, could also drop her so low?
In that, he was as good as his word.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I've been fascinated by Anne Boleyn since high school when I read the novel, The Concubine by Norah Lofts. I even wrote my senior year term paper on Anne. I currently have 12 novels/biographies about Anne on my bookshelves. I started to expand my reading of the period beyond Anne and now have 5 books on other Tudor subjects.
Most of what I've read about Mary has been tangential to other subjects and focused on her early years. Her world was thrown upside down by her father's repudiation of his marriage to her mother; she went from princess to illegitimate offspring in a flash. From her reign, I remember that she had an unpopular marriage to Philip of Spain and that she executed many enemies.
I still have about a hundred pages left to read, so I can't make a final review. But I have been impressed with how Mary protected England in her marriage contract. The fear of a female monarch was that once she married, England would become an afterthought in the king's realm. Mary avoided that pitfall by putting England first.
She should be applauded for that, if nothing else.
Monday, November 8, 2010
It's weird to be thinking about Harding/Redfield of all the characters/performers when this is clearly Jack Nicholson's film--he is brilliant. I used to be a big fan and then got tired of him. It's arrogant of me to say that--maybe it's more accurate to say I'm tired that he seems to get major acting nominations for every film appearance. But there's no arguing that his work in this film wasn't great. His first Oscar win was for Cuckoo's Nest--after four nominations for Chinatown, The Last Detail, Five Easy Pieces and Easy Rider.
Louise Fletcher also contributed an Oscar winning performance as a memorable villain (Nurse Ratched ranked number five on AFI's villain list.) I also appreciate Fletcher's portrayal on Deep Space Nine of Kai Wynn--a religious leader with her own agenda.
Lastly I want to mention Brad Dourif's haunting performance as Billy Bibbit. In his second film, he was nominated for an Oscar.
Somehow a stray memory or dream fragment got me thinking about a film that I haven't seen in years. It's time for me to add it to my Netflix queue so I can revisit it.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I once wrote a poem called Spring Forward. It gets a lot of laughs when I share it. I need to write a companion piece called Fall Back, but I'm just not as inspired.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
We couldn't make it for our anniversary or Jeff's birthday this year, so we picked this weekend. We are only going for one night and want to get an early start. We'll stop in Kent for shopping at one of my favorite stores Foreign Cargo http://www.foreigncargogallery.com/ and will head over to Millerton, New York to visit the tea tasting room at Harney's http://www.harney.com/visitus.asp.
It's going to be a great weekend.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Spike in honor of his tenth birthday.
For as far back as I can remember, I've been a dog lover. I was born into a family with a loving, loyal, protective collie named Susie. Jeff is also a dog lover. We talked about and thought about getting a pet for a long time. Dogs v. cats--would we rather deal with a litter box or walk a dog daily and pick up poop? Was it fair to have a dog in a condo without a yard?
A Maltese named Clyde helped us make up our minds when we watched him over the holidays at the end of 2001. We loved having him around, he seemed to have plenty of room and we didn't mind the daily walks even in cold weather.
The adjustment was tough on Spike. He was used to having a pal around and would howl when we left him alone. But living with us had some benefits: Spike was a vegetarian with Sarah. We changed that.
Spike was just over a year old when he came to live with us. He is ours and we are his. He has made us very happy. Because of him we have discovered wonderful parks and preserves and beautiful buildings just off the main roads near our condo. We are more engaged in our own neighborhood.
I can't imagine our life without Spike. He is a joy.
Happy birthday Spike!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I was particularly interested in the term "sketchy." I remember one of my SAT tutoring students got a question wrong using the slang definition of sketchy rather than the standard dictionary definition.
As I read on, I was blindsided by a throwaway line about halfway through the article. The linguist studying slang said, "female students are putting themselves into more dangerous situations than they did in my day..."
WTF? Women are putting themselves in dangerous situations. So the dangerous people are just sitting around waiting to see who shows up to be victimized; they can't help themselves. Then there's the comparison of what students did in her day--apparently they didn't put themselves in dangerous situations. In contrast, the female students today are reckless, stupid, slutty or all of the above.
As I said this was a throwaway line in the article. But this kind of attitude is prevalent in society. This is the type of attitude that leads to blaming victims for being raped. "What was she doing being there, wearing that, doing that?"
Why are women responsible for situations around them, the things that happen to them? Why are they the gatekeepers? It doesn't make sense.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
There were a series of posts on Shakesville last week about fat shaming--being fat shamed, doing fat shaming, etc. that started here http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2010/10/today-in-fat-hatred.html.
The infamous Marie Clare piece, Should "Fatties" Get A Room (Even on TV) also appeared last week. That article included the gem that the author has a problem with fat people walking across a room.
Check out Jersey Shore and you'll hear the fat insults flying. When Angelina says she's hot, the Situation tells her to lose five or ten pounds and then they'll talk. In Miami, Pauly mentions two beached whales on the beach; oh wait it's Angelina and her friend. By the way, these girls are not fat. But it doesn't seem to matter.
When did fat become the ultimate insult and the ultimate sin?
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I'm a registered Democrat, but I'm not crazy about the Democrats. For example, Obama has disappointed me-not because I think he is a socialist/communist--but because he has taken his supporters for granted. He reminds me of a victim of bullying who is trying to get in good with the bullies by picking on someone even lower on the totem pole than he. This kind of leadership doesn't inspire me.
Just saw a graphic on CNN that across the country, most people are voting against candidates rather than for candidates. Then I switched to Fox News--Karl Rove says voters have to be voting for something; if they are just against something--they won't vote.
I'm not sure about that.
There is so much anger against politicians in general. The nastiness of campaigns can only make it worse. I'm not sure if this is the nastiest year in campaigns, but it seems that way to me. I suspect the "relaxed" spending laws have been a major force behind the nastiness. No one is accountable.
As of now, Republicans have a majority of the House. The make-up of the Senate is still undetermined. Dick Blumenthal beat Linda McMahon for the CT Senate seat. Many of the other CT races are undetermined. Bridgeport had approximately 40,000 less ballots than needed and polling hours were extended in several locations.
I was a political science major in college. A part of me watches the campaigns dispassionately--fascinated by campaign strategies and tactics. Then there's the part of me who is appalled.
I wish I could be hopeful.
Monday, November 1, 2010
My first two attempts were pitiful; I only lasted a few days. In 2008, I made it to 40,000 words. I was proud of myself--it was the longest piece I had ever written. Last year I won. NaNoWriMo showed me that I can write consistently; I can write every day; I can produce output.
NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality. Quality is for another draft.
Of my two novels I completed, one is like junk candy. The other has some good features, but not enough to salvage the novel as a whole. It would be more efficient to pull out the good and put it in another work than to try to fix the the novel.
This year, NaNoWriMo is not for me. For one thing, I don't think I can win. I know that's a bad attitude. I know I can learn from failure. I know that I have to be willing do something badly in order to do it well. I know.
Right now my heart isn't in writing a novel. But I want to set some writing goals for the month.
1. I will blog every day this month.
2. I will review and finalize my Mets piece.
3. I will work on my travel memoirs, starting with Russia and Egypt trips.
4. I will make my goal number 3 more concrete (i.e. decide on a word count.)
Let's get it started.