dual personalities

“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”*

IMG_2749.JPGWell, I’m back from my whirlwind weekend in New York. We arrived on Friday around noon, and while the OM napped, daughter #1 and I hiked through Central Park and visited a few of our favorite UWS spots. Then we cleaned up and went to happy hour, dinner and the wonderful Morgan Library.

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IMG_2751.JPGwhere we saw the Thoreau exhibit.

IMG_2757.JPGThe next day we had breakfast with daughter #1 who then went off to work and we headed to the Guggenheim Museum.

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The building is quite amazing and the collections it houses are fun to see although not really my thing. But I did finally get to see some wonderful Joseph Cornell shadow boxes. (He has always fascinated me.)

IMG_2763.JPGThen we set off to Long Island for the Big Wedding at Oheka Castle.

1200x1200_1386870737947-ohekacastle130buildresizedwe.jpgYes, that Oheka Castle. I think Peta and Maks were married there…but believe you me, their wedding didn’t have anything on this one.

IMG_2769.JPGWell, we headed home on Sunday and it sure was nice to get back to our flyover home. I can only take so much of cab and Uber rides and busy, busy streets and all. those. people!

*H.D. Thoreau,Walden

This has been a day to die for*

Son #2 is in town this weekend, so we decided to go see the much-anticipated “Dunkirk” on its opening day. The movie has been receiving rave reviews. The New York Times called it one of the best war movies ever made. All I can say is that the NYT reviewer can’t have seen many war movies. Dunkirk is stylish and not without merit, but I wouldn’t call it a war movie and it certainly doesn’t do justice to the events it purports to record.  But let’s start with what’s good about it.

Christopher Nolan clearly wanted to do something new with the genre and avoid comparison to hyper-violent movies like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Hacksaw Ridge.” Refreshingly free of gore, Dunkirk is rated PG-13 (although I would not recommend taking a child to see it). He used real Spitfires for the aerial combat scenes, which were beautifully shot and lyrical.

The cast did a fine job with what little dialogue there was. Mark Rylance, in particular, shined as the civilian taking his small yacht to evacuate troops, but he wasn’t in it enough.

Unfortunately, my objections far outweigh what I liked about the film. For clarity and brevity, I’ll list only what bothered me most (I could include other points).

  1. The audience gets no context. No one identifies the time (1940) or the enemy as the Germans — not once. We are just told that the British army needed a miracle. The film starts with soldiers arriving on the beach. We learn nothing whatsoever of how they got there.
  2. Characters were so underdeveloped as to be manikins (though admittedly, Mark Rylance could humanize a rock and Tom Hardy is expressive, even when masked).
  3. Nolan chose to concentrate on three young soldiers who were essentially cowards willing to do almost anything to save themselves. It’s true that two other groups — Mark Rylance and his son as well as the pilots — behave bravely, but the fact is that Nolan did not just downplay the heroism of Dunkirk, he subverted it. The officers (especially Kenneth Branagh) stand around looking decorative and doing nothing to help their men. You never get the sense that the army and navy have a plan or are trying to help themselves.
  4.  Aside from the aerial combat, there is no fighting in the movie. Sure, some soldiers shoot at planes from the beach, but you would never know that those 400,000 stranded men had lifted a finger against the enemy at any time prior to their evacuation. No naval ship mans anti-aircraft guns and the French (!) provide the only visible defense. In other words, Nolan depicts the British as almost entirely PASSIVE VICTIMS.
  5. We get no sense of the scale of the disaster. A few hundred men, a couple of planes, a handful of ships, and about 30 small craft stand in for 400,000 men and the hundreds of ships, sailboats, yachts and craft of all types that laboriously evacuate them while under continuous fire from the German army and Luftwaffe.
  6. The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer is painfully intrusive and jarring. Presumably designed to create tension in the viewer, it seems like a form of torture. Perhaps that was intended.
  7. Just as son #2 predicted, the film ends with one of the characters reading the famous passage from Churchill’s speech: “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” But Nolan couldn’t leave it at that. No. He had to go on and remind the audience that despite the heroism, the evacuation had been “an unmitigated disaster.” God forbid anyone should leave the theater feeling admiration for what the British had done or with a sense that the worst was yet to come. Certainly, at the time the British were painfully aware of that fact.

I cannot recommend Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” If you want a different understanding of those events, read a history book or Paul Gallico’s novella, The Snow Goose (1940), watch the (undoubtedly patriotic) 1958 movie, or listen to “Piper to the End” by Mark Knopfler, whose uncle, Freddie, according to Wikipedia, “was a piper  of the 1st Battalion, Tyneside Scottish, the Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment. Freddie was killed with fellow fighters at Ficheux, near Arras in the north of France in May 1940. He was just twenty.”

It wasn’t all waiting around on beaches, and young men were not just helpless victims.

*Mark Knopfler, “Piper to the End”

“I tramp a perpetual journey.”*

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 1.51.34 PM.pngThe OM and I are heading off to NYC tomorrow to visit daughter #1 and then attend a wedding on Saturday on Long Island.  I am looking forward to taking one more walk through Central Park.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 1.24.07 PM.pngA month from now daughter #1 will be back in the Show Me state and a hop, skip and a jump down the road in Columbia.

Unknown.jpegWe can’t wait, can we?

*Walt Whitman

Fix our Thoughts on Thee

You may have noted that yesterday was the bicentennial of Jane Austen’s death.

Jane_Austen_coloured_version.jpgI thought this article was very interesting.

And, of course, the new bank note is in the news.Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 11.03.38 AM.pngI have a feeling Jane would be non-plussed by the whole bank note thing. Especially with the quote on the note which is causing twitter controversy.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 11.08.49 AM.pngI have to say, I concur. We can assume that no one involved in designing the note had ever actually read one of her books. But there are memes galore, so…that counts, right?

C6Z62VEWAAIKWzO.jpgOne more big eye roll and then we’re done.

This probably didn’t sell out.

But this made me tear up a little. Amazing Americans.

Have a good day!

Give us grace, Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address thee with our Hearts, as with our lips. Thou art every where present, from Thee no secret can be hid. May the knowledge of this, teach us to fix our Thoughts on Thee, with Reverence and Devotion.

It’s too darn hot

We are on the verge of another heat wave here in flyover country. Our local meteorologists are saying that this week we will have days on end of 100+ temperatures. C’est la vie.

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We can survive–as long as the AC holds out. I mean it’s not like in the “old days” of my youth when we had no air-conditioning and we sweltered. Somehow we survived with fans. We didn’t have an ice-maker either–just those old fill-them-up-with water ice cube trays. Nowadays we are quite wanton in our ice cube consumption.

bondjulep.jpgI sound like an old lady I know. However, I am not old enough to remember the scorching summer of 1936 when for 13 consecutive days in July the average high was 103.2 degrees. “Pavements buckled and swimmers were told to stay out of the Meramec River because the low water level had caused severe pollution. Fans blowing over ice provided some relief for City Hospital patients, but all hospital emergency rooms were so crowded that it was impossible to handle the case load…Many St. Louisans took to the outdoors for whatever relief they could find, sleeping in city parks and along highways on the outskirts…Heavy rains in August ended the ordeal.”*

Zut alors! Anyway, here’s a little Ella Fitzgerald to help you keep your “cool”…

…and while you’re at it, have a cold one!

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And as always, count your blessings!

*St. Louis Day by Day by Frances Hurd Stadler

Weekend update

How was your weekend? I went to an auction on Saturday but didn’t buy anything. I sat and watched and learned. I realized that I really go in case there is something there I can rescue, something no one wants. There was an old 19th century wardrobe that they basically gave away for $100, but I had nowhere to put it and no way to get it home. If the boy ever gets a pick up truck, I may be in real trouble…

Meanwhile I continued to tie up loose ends from the wedding. I took the wedding dress to the cleaners and such. I had coffee with my girlfriends. The wee babes came over to celebrate Pappy’s birthday with their parents.

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The little gal conked out after awhile,

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but the little guy was raring to go…

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(BTW Earlier in the week the little guy even stood up on his own! He may be in the one percentile for weight, but he is mighty!)

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Well, the good times continued after they went home for bath time and we wound up our evening watching The Rockford Files, Season Two, which the OM received for his birthday.

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Have a good week!

To instruct us in the lives of the men of other days

On our recent epic road trip, we stopped at the Heart of Ohio Antique Center, the largest and most well-organized antique mall I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. When I say large, I mean HUGE.

It covers 26 acres and has parking for 300 cars, tour buses, etc… Open 362 days a year, they “observe Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.” They also hold auctions, offer a personal shopper service, and will ship anything you buy. This picture of the DH gives you a good idea of the size of the place. He’s standing in the corridor that runs the length of the building, from which the five wings extend.

They have a great system worked out. When you find something you want, you hand it over to a friendly sales person, who gives you a ticket and then takes the item up to a cubby at the front. It’s kind of like a coat-check. When you’re ready to leave, you hand in the ticket and pay, while they wrap your things. Since it takes so long to go through the place, they have a cafe in the middle and also a comfortable lounge with large-screen TV for the husbands who can’t stand trailing after their wives for hours. I’m proud to say, my DH didn’t need the lounge.

Sure, there’s a predictable amount of mid-century glassware and kitchen stuff, but it’s all well displayed — some of it cleverly, like this booth, in which the pots and pans are all piled in the sink as if waiting to be washed.

There’s something for everyone: guns and militaria; tools; china; textiles; taxidermy (everything from bison heads to moose), and books. I thought of my Dual Personality when I saw the books in this case but, alas, I did not get the chance to look at them.

There is also quite a lot of actual antique furniture. Take, for example, these 19th century chairs, which are just like a set our family has.

Prices can be on the high side of reasonable, depending on what you are looking for, but if you poke around you can find some bargains. We were very restrained and only bought a couple of little (non-antique) things, including this neat print.

We looked through the whole thing in 3.5 hours, but we were rushing a bit at the end. It really needs at least one whole leisurely day.  I want to go back. I’m not looking for anything in particular — I just enjoy being around old things:

Even when she had to make someone a present of the kind called ‘useful,’ when she had to give an armchair or some table-silver or a walking-stick, she would choose ‘antiques,’ as though their long desuetude had effaced from them any semblance of utility and fitted them rather to instruct us in the lives of the men of other days than to serve the common requirements of our own. (Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way).

Road trip anyone?

“And life barrels on like a runaway train:*

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I was chagrined to realize that yesterday’s post included a poem and a painting that I have previously included on the blog. Oy. I really am getting old. But then again, my taste in stuff does not change, so bear with me. And, yes, I know I’ve used the quote in the today’s title before…but it’s a good one, right?

This week went super fast because it was very busy at work. Occasionally I would pause and think, gee, last week I was doing such and such with my DP or my daughter, who were actually here in town with me!

I didn’t have time to be really sad about this, because another thing that happened in this week of weeks is that daughter #1 got a new job which will bring her back to our great flyover state of Missouri. We are all so pleased and thrilled! Of course, this requires numerous myriad, a multitude, yea, an array of tasks to do on both ends. After 10 years in the Big City, she will have to learn how to drive a car again! Zut alors!

And now the weekend is upon us. I am looking forward to watching this movie tonight,MV5BNDlkZjJjYTktZDI4OS00MWFkLTg1MzMtNTY3MmI2OTBkMTU1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUzOTY1NTc@._V1_UY1200_CR78,0,630,1200_AL_

which I saw for the first time when it was released the year I was a freshman in college.

Also, the wee babes will be coming over to celebrate their Pappy’s birthday.

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They sure are enjoying their strained bananas and oatmeal!

Have a good weekend!

*Ben Folds, Fred Jones, Pt. 2. The embroidery is by yumiko higuchi.

 

Very star-like

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Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,

And here on earth come emulating flies,

That though they never equal stars in size,

(And they were never really stars at heart)

Achieve at times a very star-like start.

Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.

–Robert Frost

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We are currently experiencing the dog days of a flyover summer with daily temperatures soaring to 100+ degrees. There is still much to enjoy. I hope you are enjoying your summer!

The first picture is Fireflies at Ochanomizu, 1880, by Kobayashi Kiyochika; the second is John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Rose.

“Timbo, go away!”*

I read yesterday that Elsa Martinelli, Italian fashion model turned actress, had died. Coincidentally I have just recently watched Hatari (1962) in which Ms. Martinelli starred with John Wayne.hatari poster.jpgHatari is one of those easy-going travelogue-cum-romance movies of the early sixties that is very entertaining and a good stress-reducer when you need one. Add wine and you are all set. The ensemble cast appears to be having a good time too.

wayne317.jpgAnyway, a toast to the beautiful, skinny, chain-smoking Elsa Martinelli, who got to kiss John Wayne and play with baby elephants. It doesn’t get much better than that.

*Dallas (Elsa Martinelli) in Hatari