dual personalities

Month: January, 2013

Ravenstown

I am not a big professional sports fan, and I certainly could not care less about the Super Bowl unless the home team is playing. Even the ads of late have been disappointing.

But who can’t root for the Ravens when they have fans like this:

According to Pigtown*Design, the “mother church of Episcopalianism” got into the act here. You gotta love it. Watch the whole thing; it is hilarious.

Fight! Fight! Fight! for Baltimore!

Hipster dad

It occurred to me that we haven’t posted an embarrassing picture in quite a while, so it behooved me to do so. Inspired by the tumblr Dads are the Original Hipsters, I give you this:

paul wrc

Here is a real ’80s hipster in a Canadian leisure suit, complete with Mini-Me. Bad ass times two.

A hat tip to Jane

Sunday, January 27 marked the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. My how time flies!

jane-austen

I first read this book in the sixth grade. It is the first book I remember reading all day with only minor interruptions. It is really saying something that this 200 year old book (and many of the author’s other books) still can rivet a 12-year old to that degree and also interest that same girl 40 years later. Well, that’s how it is, right, with great literature?

You can check out the Wikipedia page here to read about the many film versions and theatrical adaptions that have been made and the rip-offs that have been perpetrated on this excellent book over the years. Amazing. I think she would be pretty horrified by some of them. So many sequels by other authors. There should be a law.

I will leave you with this.

Elizabeth, feeling all the more the common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances. The happiness which this reply produced, was such as he had probably never felt before; and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do. Had Elizabeth been able to encounter his eye, she might have seen how well the expression of heartfelt delight, diffused over his face, became him; but, though she could not look, she could listen, and he told her of feelings, which, in proving of what importance she was to him, made his affection every moment more valuable.

They walked on, without knowing in what direction. There was too much to be thought, and felt, and said, for attention to any other objects.

Weekend update

This past weekend I spent some time perusing the “Watch Instantly” section of Netflix.com. Friday night I settled on an old chestnut called Secret of the Incas (1954) starring Charlton Heston, Robert Young and Thomas Mitchell. It is notable mostly for having been filmed in part at Machu Picchu and the town of Cusco in Peru which at the time were extremely remote locations.

The plot involves an Inca legend and a gold and bejeweled starburst that several people are trying to find. Nicole Maurey plays a mysterious Romanian beauty with a distinctly French accent with whom Heston and Young form a love triangle. Pretty standard stuff with the exception of Yma Sumac, a Peruvian singer with a 4 1/2 octave range, who intermittently launches into creepy performances of “Virgin of the Sun Gods” and the like.

Charlton Heston is very convincing as the slightly seedy adventurer out to make money. We forget how sexy he was back in the day. He is well suited to his clothes in this film.

secret-of-the-incas_36088_600x450

Clearly Steven Spielberg thought so too as Heston as Harry Steele has got to be what everyone had in mind when they were dreaming up Indiana Jones in their typical derivative way. And there is all that archaeological stuff to boot!

I remember watching this movie as a child and enjoying it immensely. I’m sure it was one of the reasons why my sister (and dual personality) wanted to be an archaeologist from an early age. She no doubt was taken with Robert Young and his sartorial splendor. Don’t all archaeologists wear jodhpurs and riding boots and smoke a pipe? Aren’t they all charmingly shy and tongue-tied around women and fall head over heels in love with inappropriate ones whose naked shoulders they are called upon to bandage? Don’t they all propose marriage (spoiler alert!) the next day?!

No photos from the waist done could be found, but perhaps you can use your imagination. He had a pipe as well.

Nothing from the waist done was available, but perhaps you can use your imagination. He had a pipe as well.

Anyway, it was a good few hours spent. Since I had started down the pre-Columbian road, I continued the next day with another family favorite, Kings of the Sun (1963) with the inimitable Yul Brynner and who cares who else. Clearly this film was an excuse for Yul to walk around half naked (and at times nearly naked)–not a bad excuse.

Yul-KingsOfTheSun

The plot here, such as it is, has to do with a Mayan king (George Chakiris of the amazing hair) who escapes ferocious invaders by boat (with his people, including Richard Basehart, Shirley Anne Field and Brad Dexter) to a new land, where he meets up with Black Eagle (Yul Brynner), a Native American. Uh huh.

Suspending disbelief, this movie is quite entertaining. Filmed on the Yukatan, there are many attractive sun-burned people in this film, foremost among them, of course, our hero, Yul Brynner. Quiet, peace-loving, handsome George Chakiris seems way out of his league and knowing it, hands over the scenery for Yul to chew. We appreciate his sacrifice.

kingssun_11

Also over the weekend I read The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, which I had picked up at an estate sale for 50-cents a few weeks ago. I had never read it before. Published in 1961, it tells the story of a little boy names Milo, who has many adventures in his search for Rhyme and Reason. It is frequently compared to Alice in Wonderland, but it reminded me of The Wizard of Oz. I enjoyed it. It is always worthwhile being reminded to pay attention and that there is much to be learned, even in your own backyard.

“Carry this with you on your journey,” he said softly. “for there is much worth noticing that often escapes the eye. Through it you can see everything from the tender moss in the sidewalk crack to the glow of the farthest star–and, most important of all, you can see things as they really are, not just as they seem to be. It’s my gift to you.”

What did you read/watch this weekend?

A preview of coming attractions…

I’ve been doing a little genealogical research in my copious (ha!) free time just to stay sane and have pieced together a few interesting tidbits, which I will share more fully as soon as I can put it together. Don’t expect any major revelations — this isn’t cable TV after all — but what I’ve found does shed a kind of light on those who preceded us.

The story begins on September 21st 1857 when my great, great grandmother appeared personally at the registrars office in London to apply for a marriage license… a most unusual step for a woman (note the crossed our masculine pronoun).

cameron wedding extract

But then she was attempting to marry a soldier of the 10th Lincolnshire regiment,which was stationed in Hampshire and soon to embark for South Africa. To top it off, my great grandfather was due to arrive on the scene at the beginning of November so the circumstances required great initiative on her part. She must have been an intrepid (or desperate) lass.

Now don’t you want to find out what happens next?

Retail therapy

I am all about buying myself a present now and then to keep my spirits up.

TULIPS

I love tulips from the grocery store or a vintage Vera scarf from eBay.

vera

Used books are a good splurge.

booksebay

But still, the best things in life are free, right?

sunset

What is your idea of good retail therapy?

Rest in peace, Winston Churchill

As you know, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, DL, FRS, Hon. RA was a British politician, best known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He died on this day in 1965 at the age of 90.

Churchill_V_sign_HU_55521

Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century, he served as Prime Minister twice (1940–45 and 1951–55). A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer, and an artist. He is the only British prime minister to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature and was the first person to be made an Honorary Citizen of the United States.

I remember how really sad my parents (especially my father) were when Winston died. We watched the entire televised funeral.

churchill_funeral

In our family, it was a Big Deal. My father probably used it as an excellent excuse to drink way too much and to entertain gloomy thoughts about the state of the world.

A few years later, my family went to visit the Churchill Memorial in Fulton, Missouri when it opened in 1969. This Church, St. Mary the Virgin Aldermanbury, had stood in London since 1677 when it replaced an earlier structure that had sat on the same site since the 12th century. A magnificent building, it was badly damaged during the London Blitz, and was moved stone by stone to the campus of Westminster College in Fulton and rebuilt to Wren’s original specifications. Beneath this Church is the National Churchill Museum itself. I have always meant to go back.

St Mary Aldermanbury

Maybe this year!

Anyway, a toast to Winston Churchill and to our pater who revered him!

“All the greatest things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honour; duty; mercy; hope.” (1947)

Our common everyday lives

moonlight woodcut

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”

― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Three-day weekend: thought for the day

“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools–friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty–and said, Do the best you can with these, they will have to do. and mostly, against all odds, they’re enough.”

–Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

A Gift of Poetry

I once complained to my mother, in the exquisitely petulant tones that only a 15 year old girl can produce, that there was nothing in the house (a house chock-full of books) to read. I probably went off in a huff. Not long after, my mother brought me a slim, purple volume. It was a poem in blank verse by Edwin Arlington Robinson called “Tristram” and she said that when she was about my age, she had particularly liked it. She didn’t say much more, but something about the way she gave me the book made me realize that it was special to her. I still have it and it is very special to me.

DSC00084

Well, Edwin Arlington Robinson is not fashionable among the literati (or my colleagues), but I must say that if you are in the mood for beautifully written Arthurian romance, you can’t beat him. And he sure captured my teenage heart. In honor of my mother’s birthday (she was the ultimate cool mom), I give you some passages from “Tristram” with a few appropriate pictures taken on a memorable trip Tintagel Castle in Cornwall in 2005 (?).

Partly to balk his rage, partly to curse
Unhindered an abject ineptitutde
That like a drug had held him and witheld him
In seizing once more from love’s imperial garden
The flower of all things there, now Tristram leaned
Alone upon a parapet…

digital camera 199

…below the lights of Tintagel, where gay music
Had whipped him as a lash and driven him out
Into the misty night, which might have held
A prmonition and a probing chill
For one more tranquil and less exigent,
And not so much on fire…

the ruins of Tintagel

the ruins of Tintagel

He gazed at nothing, save a moving blur
Where foamed eternally on Cornish rocks
The moan of Cornish water; and he asked,
With a malignant inward voice of envy,
How many scarred cold things that once had laughed
And loved and wept and sung, and had been men,
Might have been knocked and washed indifferently
On that hard shore, and eaten gradually
By competent quick fishes and large crabs…

digital camera 196

And finally, poor Isolt of Brittany — the other Isolt — whose love goes unrequited:

Alone, with her white face and her gray eyes,
She watched them there till even her thoughts were white,
And there was nothing alive but white birds flying,
Flying, and always flying, and still flying,
And the white sunlight flashing on the sea.

digital camera 153

Stephanie Meyer eat your heart out. I mean, really, wouldn’t you rather read “Tristram”?