dual personalities

Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?

On this day in 1865 British revivalist preacher William Booth founded the Salvation Army.


Originally a prominent Methodist evangelist, Booth felt constrained by the need to have a pastorate. Eventually he resigned from the ministry and began preaching to crowds of people in the streets of the East End of London. Soon he and his wife opened ‘The Christian Revival Society’ (later renamed The Christian Mission) where they held meetings every evening and on Sundays.

The Salvation Army, as the mission became known, was modeled after the military, with its own flag (or colors) and its own music, often with Christian words put to popular and folk tunes sung in the pubs. Booth and the other soldiers in “God’s Army” wore the Army’s own uniform, ‘putting on the armor’ for meetings and ministry work. He became the General and his other ministers were given appropriate ranks as officers. Other members became soldiers. During his lifetime, William Booth established Army work in 58 countries and colonies, traveling extensively and holding salvation meetings.

Today the Salvation Army is one of the largest and most popular charitable organizations in the world.


George Bernard Shaw wrote a three-act play Major Barbara about a Salvation Army member who becomes disillusioned when the charity accepts money from a arms maker and a whiskey distiller. In the preface to the play, however, Shaw derided the idea that charities should only take money from “morally pure” sources. He points out that donations can always be used for good, whatever their provenance, and he quotes a Salvation Army officer, “they would take money from the devil himself and be only too glad to get it out of his hands and into God’s”.

Vachel Lindsay wrote a poem about General Booth, General William Booth Enters Into Heaven. (You can read the whole poem here. )

And when Booth halted at the curb for prayer

He saw his Master thro’ the flag-filled air.

Christ came gently with a robe and crown

For Booth the soldier, while the throng knelt down.

He saw King Jesus. They were face to face,

And he knelt a-weeping in that holy place.

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

On a lighter note, while toasting the Army tonight, we could all watch Guys and Dolls (1955).


As you know, this is how my mind works…

“This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message, I’ll get back to you.”

When I talked to daughter #1 on Sunday, she told me that James Garner had died.


“You’ll have to break it to dad gently,” she said. Then we chuckled because it has been a family joke for years that the OM has a bit of a thing for old James Garner. I always thought this man-crush was odd because JG always reminded me a lot of the OM’s pater and their relationship was, shall we say, less than familial. But let’s not get too Freudian about it all…

James Garner, you will recall, was the star of the hit TV series The Rockford Files and Maverick and some good films including The Great Escape (1963), The Thrill of it All (1963) and The Children’s Hour (1961). He was only nominated once for an Oscar–for Murphy’s Romance (1985)–and, of course, he didn’t win. (William Hurt won that year for Kiss of the Spider Woman! Remember that one? Me neither.) He was miscast a lot–he played Philip Marlowe in Marlowe (1965) and Ira Moran in Breathing Lessons (1994). Frequently you had the feeling he was the second or third choice for a role.

But you had to hand it to him for being a working actor for all those years–1956-2010–that’s impressive. He didn’t seem to care if he had top billing; he just wanted the work. He gave the impression that he didn’t take his profession too seriously–he knew he was no Olivier–but it paid well and, despite the physical trauma of stunt-work, it wasn’t too hard.

“I’m a Methodist but not as an actor,” he wrote in his autobiography The Garner Files. “I’m from the Spencer Tracy school: Be on time, know your words, hit your marks, and tell the truth. I don’t have any theories about acting, and I don’t think about how to do it, except that an actor shouldn’t take himself too seriously, and shouldn’t try to make acting something it isn’t. Acting is just common sense. It isn’t hard if you put yourself aside and just do what the writer wrote.”

A refreshing attitude, to be sure. He had “exasperated” down to a “T”. You can read all about his career here.

My mother was a fan of those Polaroid commercials he did with Mariette Hartley in the ’70s. Remember those classic commercials? (Remember those cameras?!) She thought they were great and I’m sure she bought at least one Polaroid because of them.


Anyway, I settled in and watched several episodes of The Rockford Files–Season One on Sunday night.


Rockford in all his Sansabelt, poly-wool glory

I find it very comforting to watch The Rockford Files with its car chases through the banal southern California scenery and the really bad ’70s apparel, home decor and hairdos, because I can imagine my parents watching it. It was one of their favorite shows. The 1970s (worst decade ever!) was the decade of my youth after all–when I graduated from high school and went to college. So The Rockford Files is nothing if not familiar.

So rest in peace, James Garner. We’ll miss you. And the walk down memory lane with the The Rockford Files just may continue tonight…I highly recommend it.

Into paradise may the angels lead thee; and at thy coming may the martyrs receive thee, and bring thee into the holy city Jerusalem. 
–BCP, Burial of the Dead, Rite I

We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder


Lovebirds circa 1988

Since my dual personality already posted about her silver anniversary and the wonderful wedding in England that started it all, I will refrain from doing so. My pictures from the big event are pretty much the same.

I will limit myself to this one of daughter #1 (almost 5) and the boy (2 1/2).


The boy, as previously noted, was coming down with chicken pox, but he was enough on the ball to be quite taken with the wedding. It was in the fall, after all, that he came home one day from pre-school and announced that he “had decided.” “Decided what?” I gamely asked. “I’ve decided to marry Lauren B.”

And, reader, he did. Just about twenty-three years later, he did–and in July as well!

I don’t think he would have been contemplating wedlock if he had not attended this great wedding in England. You just never know what your younguns are thinking.

wedding 2

What a bud.

Anyway, how was your weekend? I estate-saled, ran errands, tore wallpaper off the walls of an upstairs bathroom (you gotta have a project), attended church, and planted a rose bush.

As I noted on Friday, I planned to watch Road to Perdition, but I could not find my copy! Can you believe it? Curses again. Instead I watched The Naked  Jungle (1954) with Charlton Heston, Eleanor Parker and William Conrad with a really bad French (?) accent.

the naked jungle

You remember–it’s the one about the plantation in South America that is in the path of a 2-mile-wide, 20-mile-long column of army ants! It was clearly shot on a soundstage, but it is better than it sounds. Charlton is always worth watching.

On Saturday night I watched The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).


I am not a fan of Wes Anderson–he is highly over-rated, if you ask  me–so my expectations were low. I enjoyed it, however, mostly because I am a  minor fan of Ralph Fiennes. He is wonderful (who knew he could be funny?) and elevates the material. There are the usual cameo appearances by Wes’s hipster friends (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Ed Norton, Bob Balaban, etc.) and inappropriate (and an inordinate) use of the F-word, but it is worth watching for Ralph and his sidekick played by the very funny teenager Tony Revolori.

I was a reader once again at church (substituting for vacationing lay readers) and I read the story of Jacob’s dream of the angels ascending and descending the ladder (Genesis 28:10-19a). I also read Romans 8:12-25, which includes “you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” and also “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” Good stuff.

Here is a terrific rendition of the old negro spiritual “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder” sung by a Dutch men’s chorus. (I love that they pronounce Jacob as “Yacob.”) We don’t hear this one much anymore–probably because of the refrain: “Soldiers of the cross.” Listen to the whole thing–it’ll rev your engines to start the week off right!

If you love Him, why not serve Him?

(Here are all the words.)


Here’s to the first twenty-five

Yes, folks, this week my DH and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. A quarter of a century ago, on the 22nd of July, we gathered a few people together in sunny (and uncharacteristically hot) Titchfield, UK (home of my intended) and tied the not.

See the happy couple…

d&s wedding happy couple

…so much younger, thinner, and care-free. Sigh. My sister kindly allowed me to wear the beautiful dress that my mother made for her wedding. It meant a lot to me that I could fit into it to wear it.

pardon the pics, they didn't reproduce too well

the flower girl doesn’t look too thrilled, but then she had just sat through a long C of E service

My wonderful aunt Donna, brother, and dual personality, together with her OM and (then only) two adorable children, flew all the way to England for the occasion.  They were incredibly helpful and supportive, not to mention lots of fun.

It was a beautiful wedding and (despite the bad photo reproduction here) the colors were gorgeous!

the original is in focus and belongs in a bridal magazine

the original is in focus and belongs in a bridal magazine

My soeur was a perfect matron of honor!

the matron of honor, my lovely sis

also belongs in a magazine

We had a grand time, albeit since it was a wedding, inevitable crises caused extra stress. My soon to be step-father-in-law’s father passed away just a day or so before the wedding and my sis lived in fear of chickenpox. My niece, the lovely flower girl, still bore the scars from a recent attack and the incubation period predicted that her little brother would come down with the disease just in time for the flight home.

Does this child look like he's coming down with chickenpox?

Does this child look like he’s coming down with chickenpox?

But it all worked out in the end. After all, incipient chickenpox looks a lot like mosquito bites, right?

How long ago and far away it was –  but a great day to remember. Happy (almost) Anniversary, my DH. And here’s to the next quarter century!


Darn, darn, darn, darny-darn! or What was I thinking?


So we watched The Lego Movie (2014) the other night. One of my nephews reviewed it here back when it came out in February–you can read all about the plot etc. there. He thought it was “perfect” and I will not dispute that. I just think I am getting too old for this kind of movie. There were too many distracting cameos–I spent a lot of mental energy trying to hear whose voice was who–and too much whiz bang action.

I mean I get what the movie is about. We had lots of Lego when my children were growing up and we were not the kind of parents who insisted on keeping the sets whole and “glued,” as it were, together. We got that it’s about the child being creative and making its own world, usually after the Lego world has been mastered. I’m glad they made that clear in the  movie. And I like that they made a point of using Lego-friendly language, i.e darn, dang and oh my g.o.s.h. Isn’t it ironic, however, that it has a PG rating for “cartoon violence” and tense situations?


Anyway, it poked fun at the right things: terrible, mind-numbing theme songs, vulgar one-joke TV shows that are not funny, sports bars, and people who are known for just one thing. It is nice to know that there are still people (in Hollywood especially) who understand that our culture is all about being banal while asserting that everyone is “special.”

I think it is sad, however, that no one can make a movie this good for adults. Or is it that the adults, including the makers of this movie, don’t really want to be grown ups? They just want to be kids forever, making childish inside jokes about imaginary people and super heroes. When was the last time you saw a “new” movie about real people–not make-believe James Bond or Captain America people?

You haven’t, right? I thought so.

Yeah, I know, I’m turning into an old coot. Well, so be it.

Just for laughs I looked at a list on IMDB.com of the “Top 100 Movies of the Decade 2000-2010″. I found six movies that I liked: Gladiator (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001), Road to Perdition (2002), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Crash (2004), and The Hurt Locker (2008). I only own one of those movies–Road to Perdition. So I guess that’s my movie pick for this Friday!

Road to Perdition [R2]

I will refrain from making a joke about the title.


Happy birthday to some real yankee doodle dandies

Today is the OM’s birthday so let’s all sing a rousing chorus of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”!


Gee, this is real keen!

And here’s a special rendition of “Shine On August Moon” just for you:


It should be noted that July 17 is also the birthday of the great James Cagney  (July 17, 1899 – March 30, 1986). I must say I was not a fan of his as a child/young adult. He is an acquired taste, but I have grown to appreciate him over the years. For years he was type-cast as a gangster, but he won an Oscar for playing a song-and-dance man in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). He is sensational in White Heat  (1949) as the devoted son and psychopathic killer. It was his portrayal of Lon Chaney in Man of a Thousand Faces (1957) that made me an admirer.


I remember watching this melodramatic movie with the boy when he was a small child. He was quite struck by the story and I think he actually wept during the scene when Lon’s young son Creighton is taken away from him. It prompted me to take a deeper look at Cagney who is indeed impressive in the film.

He was also quite a hoofer and his distinctive dance style was admired by the likes of Barishnikov, who was actually a pall bearer at his funeral. Check it out here–he’s like a marionette!


By the way, Ronald Reagan (U.S. President at the time) gave the eulogy at his funeral. Now that’s impressive.

So hats off to the OM and to James Cagney–let’s toast them both tonight!


Bonus picture for a Thursday Throwback: Our brother and one dual personality salute the flag in a festive mood in 1980. (My apologies for the ink stain on our poor brother’s face.)

What are you reading?


Once again I found myself casting about for something to read over the weekend. I picked Susan Cheever’s memoir of her father John Cheever (May 27, 1912 – June 18, 1982) from the bookshelf.  I received it as a Christmas present in 1984.

IMGP1065So I have been reading Home Before Dark again and enjoying it very much. Old John Cheever, the “influential twentieth century fiction writer affectionately known as ‘the Chekhov of the suburbs,’” is such a familiar type of dude to me–the waspy, literate Yankee gentleman who is also a terrible alcoholic.


I mean look at him in his shetland sweater. He was even a practicing Episcopalian who said grace before every meal! So familiar. Like my own pater, he made to age 70, but just barely.

It’s true that this “brilliant chronicler of American suburbia” led a tortured double life filled with sexual guilt, self-loathing and immense quantities of booze. Unfortunately his bad behavior went way beyond drinking too much. But I really think Susan Cheever could have stopped after writing her first memoir. Did she need to write another? Cheever’s son Ben has edited a collection of his letters. And they sold his journals in an auction. He has been turned inside out. Does anyone deserve this?

Anyway, I bought a used copy of The Stories of John Cheever and I will re-acquaint myself with his writing, which is what we should remember old Cheever for, right? I will resist reading Blake Baily’s 700-page Cheever: A Life which chronicles every sordid detail and secret of his life. Enough already.

An aged man is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick, unless he sees the bright plumage of the bird called courage–Cardinalis virginius, in this case–and oh how his heart leapt.

–John Cheever, Oh What a Paradise it Seems

Some Thoreau on Tuesday


Saw Perez Blood in his frock,–a stuttering, sure, unpretending man, who does not speak without thinking, does not guess. When I reflected how different he was from his neighbors, Conant, Mason, Hodgman, I saw that it was not so much outwardly, but that I saw an inner form. We do, indeed, see through and through each other, through the veil of the body, and see the real form and character in spite of the garment. Any coarseness or tenderness is seen and felt under whatever garb. How nakedly men appear to us! for the spiritual assists the natural eye.

–Journal, 1851

“To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”*

I had a busy week that flew by and then a quiet weekend filled with my usual musings and meanderings.

I read the second lesson  on Sunday–one of Paul’s attempts at logically explaining the unexplainable in Romans 8. How I do love him. The associate rector praised my reading as I left the sanctuary after the service and when I demurred, he clasped my hand and said, “Oh, no, no. You are a superstar! When you read you give the words meaning…” I blush to remember. But I must say  I was pleased. No one else calls me a superstar!

On the way out I caught up with a man who I have been trying to get in touch with and asked him if he would take part in a course we are offering this fall at our flyover institute. He is the former head of a global architectural firm based in our flyover city. He said yes. I was on a roll!

I decided to go back to an estate sale I had gone to on Saturday to see if a few things were still there. They were not, but I bought three art books for a dollar each. Score.

On the flora and fauna front, my hibiscus, which I planted from seeds (harvested from a friend’s garden) last year, has bloomed!

hibiscus buds

hibiscus blooms


See the bee hard at work in there?

It really is the little things that make us happy, right? Someone saying “good job!” or someone saying “Yes!” or a flower blooming.

I hope this week is full of more positive reinforcement. We musn’t forget to hand out those positive vibes when we are in a position to do so. Say “Yes!” at least once this week.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

–Walt Whitman


Summer, but not ‘on the beach’

Just think. Last Saturday I was enjoying the unparalleled company of my siblings and their spouses. As my dual personality noted, we explored the lake with our brother


we hiked


we shot, talked, antiqued, laughed (a lot, these silly sisters), and enjoyed nature


It was a perfect visit. Let’s do it again soon!

Although not quite as fun and stimulating as my siblings’ company, being home has it’s advantages, too; namely, in addition to my adorable Tim, books and TV/DVDs. This week we were astounded (and thrilled) by Germany’s 7-1 drubbing of Brazil, though we couldn’t help feeling sorry for the Brazilian fans.

so sad!

so, so unhappy!

Now that the World Cup is winding down (3rd place game today and final tomorrow), I have a lot more reading time. At the moment I’m re-reading Neville Shute’s A Town Like Alice about an English woman’s experience as a prisoner of the Japanese in Malaya during WWII and her life after the war. It’s a very good (and romantic) read and I highly recommend it. First published in 1950, it has been made into a film (1956) starring Virginia Mckenna and Peter Finch

One of Peter Finch's first movies

One of Peter Finch’s first movies

and a 1981 mini-series with Bryan Brown, Helen Morse and Gordon Cameron Jackson.

Bryan Brown was a big thing in the early 80s,

Bryan Brown was a big thing in the early 80s, but I think Peter Finch is cuter

I remember watching the 1981 series with our mother and really enjoying it. You can find both versions in full on youtube or, for a better picture, you can watch the 1956 film at Amazon for $2.99. So if you don’t have plans with fun people this weekend, grab A Town Like Alice and start reading or watching.

However, if you are feeling particularly brave and/or masochistic, you can always go for Shute’s gripping, but extremely depressing, nuclear apocalypse novel, On the Beach, which was made into an excellent film starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins, and Fred Astaire in 1959.

On the beach

It’s a great movie, but I don’t recommend it for a happy summer viewing experience. Wait until the depths of winter when you need reminding that there are worse things than ice and snow. I would avoid  the Armand Assante, Rachel Ward film from 2000, although it does have a 7.1 rating on IMDB (the mind reels).

Whatever you do, have a great weekend!



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