dual personalities

Month: January, 2012

Words of wisdom from Ben Folds

I have been listening to old mixes that I unearthed while putting away CDs and DVDs one day. They are wonderful and always set one to remembering what was going on when such and such a song was popular. You know. Anyway, I was playing a mix that daughter #1 made when she was preparing to drive to Indianapolis for a January internship her senior year at DePauw back in 2007. Remember Shania Twain? Rascal Flats? And then ol’ Ben Folds came on and his song Cooler Than You, which was always a favorite of mine. You remember the chorus:

Make me feel tiny if it makes you feel tall
‘Cause there’s always someone cooler than you
Yeah, you’re the s**t
But you won’t be it for long
Because there’s always someone cooler than you

I do appreciate my children introducing me to all kinds of new music. I shudder to think that I could be one of those people who is still listening exclusively to Beatles tunes or Motown medleys.

It is fun to go to estate sales and see the LP collections that people who must be the same generation as my parents leave behind and that clearly their children do not want. They all have the same records that my parents had!

Harry Belafonte!

Tijuana Brass!

Show Tunes!

The Kingston Trio!

I’m sure they thought they were pretty cool back in the day, forward-thinking and not shackled to ol’ Blue Eyes and those other crooners. Then their children started bringing home Bob Dylan and the Kinks and Joni Mitchell…Sometimes it’s hard to keep an open mind, but my parents tried, and I try, and I’m sure my kids will too when the time comes. But you know, there’s always someone cooler than you.

P.S. I still have all my parents’ old records. Will my children want them? Will they even have a record player?

It’s embarrassing picture Monday!

How better to start the week than with a little chuckle at the expense of one’s dual personality! What a cutie-pie.

Hello to the imagery

Buffy: If you have information worth hearing, then I am grateful for it. If you’re gonna crack jokes, then I’m gonna pull out your rib cage and wear it as a hat.

Whistler: Hello to the imagery. Very nice.

Thank God it’s Friday.

Happy Birthday Paul Newman

I miss Paul Newman. None of the young guys out there now (hot though some of them are) quite measure up in terms of presence and cool. I like a lot of his movies, but his best role ever was definitely “Cool Hand Luke”.

I watched this movie recently with boy #3 and it has certainly stood the test of time. I love the scene when Luke meets his dying mother and later when he mourns her death by playing the banjo and singing “dashboard Madonna” (who knew Paul could sing?). There are so many great scenes in this movie and the supporting actors — George Kennedy, who won an academy award for his portrayal of Dragline, Joe van Fleet as the mother, Strother Martin as the commandant, Anthony Zerbe with his dogs, Dennis Hopper, Wayne Rogers, Harry Dean Stanton, and Jo Don Baker — are perfect. But Newman owns every scene. I was struck by how little he actually says in the movie, which just goes to show that the truly great actor can own a movie without saying a lot — and I don’t mean in a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western way. There’s a big difference between taciturn and quiet. Personally, I don’t think Clint’s movies have aged particularly well, but we can get into that another time…

I think my second favorite Paul Newman movie has to be “Hombre” — and again, Newman brings so much more to quiet cool than Eastwood ever did. If you haven’t seen this movie lately (or at all), watch it, it’s great. After I saw it as a kid, I went around trying to walk quietly like an Apache for days (I hope no one realized that at the time!). Here he is with co-star Diane Cilento (who recently passed away) in what has to be her best role.

I also really like in “The Sting”, “Long Hot Summer”, and “Road to Perdition” — what are your favorite Paul Newman movies?

Visiting Gertrude Stein

I was talking to daughter #1 yesterday about Gertrude Stein. She had gone to the exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery and was thinking about visiting the Met in New York where they have an exhibit on Stein as well.

Picasso's portrait of Gertrude Stein

It got me thinking about the expatriot writer and her salon in Paris. People started coming to her house at the turn of the 20th century, visiting in order to check out her Matisse paintings and the Cézannes: “Matisse brought people, everybody brought somebody,” she wrote, “and they came at any time and it began to be a nuisance, and it was in this way that Saturday evenings began.”

During the 1920s many great writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Thornton Wilder, and Sherwood Anderson were welcomed into her home. Among those American writers was my grandfather, who, according to my father, went to visit one Saturday with his wife and baby son. In fact, the infant Newell actually sat on Gertrude’s lap! Apparently she thought he was a very cute baby…and why wouldn’t she:

He was pretty adorable, wasn’t he?

A bit of trivia: Gertrude Stein was the godmother of Ernest Hemingway’s son Jack.

He was pretty cute too.

Happy Birthday Virginia Woolf, part II…on a (slightly) happier note

I confess that this dualpersonality is not a huge fan of Virginia Woolf. However, a passage from Orlando, which struck a note with house-loving me, describes the fate of Knole Park in Kent, which is a bigger house than anyone but a Renaissance monarch should live in (and Henry VIII did own it for a while) and looks like this:

It ended up belonging to the Sackville-Wests and Virginia Woolf, a friend of Vita Sackville-West, spent a lot of time there. In Orlando her main character

…passed down the gallery whose floor was laid with whole oak trees sawn across. Rows of chairs with all their velvets faded stood ranged against the wall holding their arms out for Elizabeth, for James, for Shakespeare it might be, for Cecil, who never came.

the brown gallery at Knole House

The sight made her gloomy. She unhooked the rope that fenced them off. She sat on the Queen’s chair; she openeed a manuscript book lying on Lady Betty’s table; she stirred her fingers in the aged rose leaves; she brushed her short hair with King James’ silver brushes; she bounced up and down upon his bed (but no king would ever sleep there again, for all Louise’s new sheets) and pressed her cheek against the worn silver counterpane that lay upon it.

King James' bed Knole house

But everywhere were little lavender bags to keep the moth out and little printed notices, “Please do not touch”, which, though she had put them there herself, seemed to rebuke her. The house was no longer hers entirely, she sighed. It belonged to time now; to history; was past the touch and control of the living. Never would beer be spilt here anymore, she thought…or holes burnt in the carpet. Never two hundred servants come running and brawling down the corridors with warming pans and great branches for the great fire-places. Never would ale be brewed and candles made and saddles fashioned and stone shaped in the workshops outside the house. Hammers and mallets were silent now. Chairs and beds were empty; tankards of silver and gold were locked in glass cases. The great wings of silence beat up and down the empty house.

Now I don’t much care about the goings-on of aristocrats and the American in me finds those English estates (and, indeed, many of our own) over the top, but I can’t help feeling sorry for any house that has become a museum even as I’m glad it’s been preserved. I think Virginia Woolf perfectly understood that and beautifully described the way the past lingers in an empty house. So Happy Birthday, Virginia!

Happy birthday, Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen on this date in 1882. Fifty-nine years later she waded into the River Ouse, her pockets filled with stones, and drowned on March 28, 1941. The author of many essays and well-known novels, she also wrote one of the great suicide notes of all time:

Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier ’til this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V

Really, don’t you think so? I am not being glib. You have to hand it to Virginia–she really did not want Leonard to feel guilty about what she was doing. And she must have felt that she had no choice. This makes me want to watch The Hours with Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep and Ed Harris wearing the rocket ship bathrobe from Garnet Hill.

In the bleak midwinter

It’s that time of year when we stay in a lot. It is a good time to clean closets, organize drawers and cupboards, and…needlepoint. I have done a lot of needlepoint in my time:

I love these elephants from Ehrman Tapestry in England.

…and this exotic blue water bird.

Not to mention these great bees on a brick = doorstop! Brilliant.

I did this millefleur design many years ago.

And this hooty owl as well. Now I am trying to psyche myself into getting back to my needlepoint, which I abandoned a few years ago as a really challenging Ehrman design and my failing eyesight combined to thwart my good intentions. Sigh. I am inspired by a friend of mine who turns 91 this year and still makes a lot of her own clothes! What do you think?

The way I (frequently) feel

I found this comic in an old high school scrapbook of mine. It so perfectly sums up my altar ego! If only.

Confessions of a bad housewife

I have to admit it. I’m not a great housekeeper — in fact, I’m really quite awful, although since I live with four guys, I probably deserve a little sympathy. Still, there’s no denying the house could be cleaner. But finally, after lots of online searching, I found some help and now I’ve had a cleaning epiphany. I see redemption in my future! Meet Barkeeper’s Friend

Yes, it’s for real; it’s cheap and you can get it at amazon.com for about $4. It cleans the gungyest gunge off anything. My kitchen sink looks like new, the bathtub (almost) has no rings, and the hard water buildup around the bathroom faucets is soon to disappear. Yes, it’s a sort of acid and you should wear gloves when you use it and refrain from snorting it, but it doesn’t smell and it works!!! Yee-ha!

Next on my list: the greasy, dirty kitchen cabinets.