Friday, September 29, 2006
I am no art expert and would never presume to explain it to anyone. But I fell in love with art history (classic, impressionist, modern - you name it) in college and took so many elective art history classes that I ended up with a Minor in Fine Arts.
I'm sure real art connoisseurs will just cringe, but here's what I do to keep art - even the stuff I can't make heads nor tails of - fun and interesting:
- I like to know about the artist. If I'm going to an exhibition of a particular artist, I try to find out as much about her/him as I can. It lets me know what to expect and gives me a little insight into the whys and wherefores of their art. If I run across an artist I don't know much about at the museum, I find a crumpled piece of paper at the bottom of my purse and scribble out the name and work. I can look it up later, right?
- I always look at the work of art first and make up my own title before checking the identifier card. It's amazing how often I "get it" after really looking at the scribbles or splotches or weird stuff glued to a bedframe. Sometimes I'm absolutely right - my title of "Crazy Night at the Circus" might actually turn out to be something called "The Circus of Your Nightmares," or some such thing. But just as often, I come up with a much better title than the usual one for works of modern art, which is "Untitled." At least I give it a go, even if it turns out to be something like, "Toddler Makes Big Mess with Jam Sandwich." 'Way better than "Untitled #69," don't you agree?
- I really study the medium of the work. I want to see the relief of the paint glops and the canvas showing through charcoal or pencil up close and personal. So I get close. Front. Left. Right. Does anything show through?
- What caught my eye first about the work? How did I look at the elements of it - in which order? Why? The colors? The pattern? I dissect the parts of the art, even if it's the ugliest, stupidest thing I've ever seen. Something hit me about it right off. What and why?
- Lastly, I back off and give it the "forest" look, as opposed to the "trees." Take in the whole thing. Hm. Then I move on.
Don't know if that helps, Elsie, but give it a try sometime. Have fun with it. And yes, there is a lot of stuff out there - even famous stuff - that is just crap to me. Stuff that lacks passion or light/dark or fun or meaning. Stuff that just doesn't speak to me. But I'm always pleasantly surprised when a work that at first glance looks like something the dog did on the sidewalk this morning turns out to be quite interesting if I take the time to look closer.
Anybody else have "Fun with Modern Art" viewing suggestions?
It's Friday, by the way. In case you hadn't noticed.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
There are lots of honorarily-named "places" here. I'm not really sure why certain intersections are named for the likes of Katharine Hepburn or James Cagney or lots of people I've never heard of (not just actor-people). Did Katharine Hepburn live at the corner of E. 49th and 2nd Avenue? Is it where she first met Spencer Tracy? Where she thought the calla lilies were all that and a bag o' chips? Beats me.
If you want to know what color the lights on the Empire State Building are going to be on any given night, check here. That's pretty cool. I see the lights every evening when I walk Bailey.
The New York Film Festival starts tomorrow. Hmm. What looks good? Anything worth traveling to the West Side for, ya' think?
I know I'm marking my calendar for the Great Read in the Park on October 15. Pretty darn good list of authors.
The dancers are dressed in pre-G-string/leg-warmer dance clothes - very Saturday Night Fever-ish - a reminder of how modest things were then. Sexy, but not the hoochi-mama stuff of today. And the orchestrations kept that great 70's funk sound, lots of Shaft-like riffs.
Cassie's 20-minute singing/dancing tour de force, "The Music and the Mirror," still blows the roof off the theatre. Charlotte d'Amboise completely rocked. She did the part and Donna McKechnie proud. And I thought Val's "Dance 10/Looks 3" (the "Tits and Ass" song) was better than I'd ever seen it (though I never saw the Broadway original). The part of Sheila (originated by Kelly Bishop of Gilmore Girls and Dirty Dancing) was played by a fabulous black woman who brought a different edge to the role.
My feeling that the show is fundamentally about working and sacrificing for something you love did not change after seeing it thirty years after I first saw it. In fact, that feeling resonated more strongly than it did when I was 25.
Face it, a whole lot of us fell in love with A Chorus Line when we were in our 20's - still plenty of time to make those dancing (writing, building, teaching, insert-your-dream-here, etc.) dreams come true. Now, there's not so much time. Were we able to do it - work and sacrifice for what we love/d? Has it been "one singular sensation" or one big ol' mess? Age put a whole new light on the show for me.
And though A Chorus Line isn't my favorite musical of all time (but definitely in the top 10), it reminded me of a poignant connection between myself at 25 and myself at 55. Good show.
Won't forget, can't regret what I did for love.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Yep. Gettin' all tuned up for my evening at the theatre tonight to see A Chorus Line. It's still in previews - premieres next week, I think - which is my favorite time to see a Broadway show. You're pretty much guaranteed that the whole first-string cast will be present and accounted for, especially the closer it gets to opening night. I saw The Producers and Spamalot in previews as well - original casts in tact (plus a surprise appearance by Mel Brooks in The Producers' "Springtime for Hitler" number, yes m'am).
Of course, A Chorus Line is an ensemble thing so no humongous stars, though Charlotte "always-a-bridesmaid-never-a-bride" d'Amboise plays Cassie (originally played by Donna McKechnie) and she finally gets her chance to really shine. I hope.
I saw A Chorus Line for the first time at the Drury Lane Theatre/London in the fall of 1976 - so, thirty (THIRTY!!!) years ago almost on the dot. Ye gods! And I saw it a couple more times in the 1970s-80s in Atlanta.
My brother David - completely hetero and not theatrical in the least - loved this show. I remember Kate's dad and I went to see ACL at the Fox Theatre/Atlanta with David and whoever his main squeeze was at the time. He loved the whole thing. (Yes, my moped-ridin', car-fixer-upper, leather-jacket wearing brother loved A Chorus Line. Go figure.)
"What does he want from me? What should I try to be? So many faces all around, and here we go."
I think the show really resonated with me because of what it says about work and the need to work at something for which you're willing to sacrifice. Every single time I've sent out a resume over the last thirty years, the line "Who am I anyway? Am I my resume?" runs through my brain. I guarantee I was singing it to myself when I came to New York in March for that 2-hour, 5-person interview.
"I need this job. Oh, God, I need this show."
And, this time, I got the "show."
Check back tomorrow for my personal review of the revival of A Chorus Line. Reporting live (not really) from Row N, Seat 2 (inside aisle, baby - eat your heart out).
I do hate saying g'bye to my long-time Atlanta District 5 Congressman, the great John Lewis. He's good beyond good, and what most politicians should aim to be. He fought the good fight, got bashed in the head for it, and has always done the right thing for all. A true gentleman.
On the upside, I don't have to suffer the likes of Bubbas, Sonnys, Joe Franks, and Zells anymore. (Still, Southern political hi-jinx are fun to watch . . . ) My new senators are Charles Schumer and Hillary, so I'm OK with that.
Now I must get to know Carolyn Maloney. And Elliot Spitzer. And Andrew Cuomo.
Georgia -well, progressive Atlanta - will miss my vote. Hang in there, Big John. And thanks for representin' me all these years.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
The first book assigned was J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man. Hm. I did read it. I know I did, because I was a good little girl who read all (well, almost all) of her assignments. But I gotta tell ya'. It went right over my little 20-year-old head. I'd never read anything like it. It was a scorcher! Whoo-eee! Didn't know what to think of the anti-hero Sebastian Dangerfield or Donleavy's writing style or of the plot (?) line. In short, I completely missed the point. I was too young and too life-inexperienced to have the slightest clue about it.
So when I saw The Ginger Man amongst the other thrift sale books on Saturday, I grabbed it. To be honest, the book stuck with me all these years, even though I was clueless about it when I read it the first time. I'd often thought of giving it another go. What a golden opportunity - for a paltry 50 cents!
I started it last night, and the language completely drew me in. Yep, I'm old enough to read it now. This should be fun!
Any books you've revisited because you missed the point the first time round?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
After I hit Friday evening's "Pay What You Will" at the Guggenheim (I tossed in the recommended $6, and it was well worth it - admission normally = $18), I roused up early Saturday to hit the Thrift Sale at Church of the Heavenly Rest.
Whoa, Nelly! These Upper East Side folks know how to toss in the good stuff and price it to sell. I walked away with - er, stumbled under the load of - a go-jas wool dress coat, a 3/4-length brown tweedy sweater with leather fasteners, 3 sweaters (one, Ann Taylor), a brand new deep teal Worth blazer, a lovely wooden picture frame, and five great books. All for the whopping cost of $43 US dolla'. Oh, and a bonus - found a pair of cream-colored dress gloves in the pocket of the coat.
Dropped off all the stuff at Lee's (none of it appeared to need cleaning - but, well, you know . . . ) on the way home. Once I retrieve the goods, I'll be quite the UES lady. All for $43 bucks.
Now, if I can only find a dolla'-savin' apartment. Fat. Chance.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Glad I got to see the Pollock exhibition, which focused on his paintings on paper. And the Thannhauser Gallery is a treat, as well - starting with Pisarro and moving right up through the 20th century.
But as always, the building is the real star.
Tomorrow? I noticed the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest (next block up 5th Avenue from the Guggenheim) is having a Thrift Sale tomorrow. Woo-hoo! Rich folks' stuff - I am so there!
Get some rest this weekend, why don't ya'?
From Mary Hartman Mary Hartman - have a great weekend with your cup of coffee.
Maybe we need to go back to the time when we were first learning to read - stop and smell the printed page, as it were. The New York Times has a great article about several new books written to help us relish the printed page once more.
Books are published at a phenomenal rate these days, so there's loads and loads of sparkly stuff to attract us. Alas, most of us have less and less time to read. What's a book lover to do? With our TBR (To Be Read) stacks filling up nightstands and corners of rooms, it is tempting to fly through everything as quickly as possible, just to whittle down the stack.
I'm so guilty of doing that. I cannot remember plots or characters from something I finished last week, not to mention something read last year. Little absorption level. No appreciation for the language (if there's language to be appreciated). It's kind of like a Cliffs Notes approach to reading a complete novel - scan for story threads, find a few key points, move on.
Am I just looking for a good story? Why can't I stop and appreciate the structure and language? Is there great writing/language out there today? For example, I have a hard time flying through a Rebecca West novel because her use of words and language is gorgeous. Don't want to miss a word or a phrase. These days, I hesitate to pick up one of her books because I just don't have the time to appreciate the richness of her writing.
So thanks, NYT, for pointing me in the direction of some new "how to read a novel" books. But do I have time to read them? Hm.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
The thing that threw me off was when the speaker asked us to discuss two questions with the person sitting next to us: 1) Can you recall a time when you were a girl when you weren't allowed to do something you really wanted to do simply because of your gender? 2) Can you recall a time when you were a girl when you were showed favoritism simply because of your gender?
Oh, dear, though I. Here we go. If I tell the truth, it will sound smug, and if I make up something it will be, well, a lie. Trouble is, you see, I was a pretty kick-ass kid. (Back me up on this, Bro and Sis.) All of us were. I really can't think of a time when my parents or a teacher or whoever didn't let me do something I wanted to do just because of my gender.
I was repeatedly warned about acts of physical double-dog-dare-ya', like jumping off the monkey bars or climbing to the top of a tree, but I reckon that had more to do with saving me from a broken neck.
There was never any understanding in the family that only my brothers would go to college. Neither of my brothers played Little League; I never wanted to be in Little League; so no problem there. Mother and Daddy seemed to have the same expectations for all four of us as far as chores and behavior was concerned. And I was never told to be stupid just to get some guy's attention. My friends were the same way - we all competed fiercely with one another academically throughout elementary school, junior high, and high school.
As far as the second question is concerned, well, yes, of course I've been shown favoritism because I was a girl. Mainly from my daddy. But Mother always bent over backwards for the boys, so it all evened out.
I know so many people - women and men - who have terrible childhood issues. I'm so mindful of those problems, in fact, that whenever such things come up in conversations or at conferences, I usually just keep quiet about my own experience. What's the use? The more I say I had a charmed childhood, the more folks think I'm sublimating something.
But I'm not. I was just really, really lucky. Lucky that it never entered my mind I couldn't do something because I was a girl. Lucky because Mother and Daddy loved each other and loved us. Lucky there was no substance abuse (unless you consider Bro Dave's fondness for fried baloney sandwiches).
All was not perfect, of course - lots of normal fussing and fighting among siblings, mainly over who got the good TV chair, but we all gave as good as we got. Tears and rages over one thing or another, but nothing that lasted more than a few minutes, and certainly not a lifetime. We still speak to one another, plan family gatherings together, enjoy one another's company.
Yes, I'm guilty of having a good family, which doesn't give me much to talk about at meetings or in therapy. But I'm a good listener for others who weren't so lucky.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
When I stepped out of the office, police and security guys were everywhere, though I don't think it had anything to do with me - just sort of a confluence of events.
The scene: NYPD stopping traffic, directing poor pedestrians - of which I was one - police cars, sirens, big black SUVs with Will Smithy-Tommy Lee Jonesy guys hanging out of them (in screamingly dark suits and shades) and mumbling into headsets. Yikes!
And behind them, more big black SUVs with guys in body armor and huge, can-they-be-real? weapons pointed at us poor pedestrians. Whoa! Jump back! It's that kind of thing that makes you look around to see who might be in the "poor pedestrian" crowd and why burley men in Kevlar vests are pointing AK-47s at ya.
My modus operandi was to look real innocent, make sure my Episcopal Church Center badge was prominently displayed, and prepare to take cover. Glad to report I made it safely back to my office.
Just another day in New York, I guess.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
So, you've made it through the Pearly Gates and you get three questions right off the bat. What would you ask?
Of course I'd love to know about the JFK and Amelia Earhart things, but I figure lots of other angels-in-waiting will ask those questions ( and I'll corner them for the answers later). If I died today, here's what I'd want to know:
1. Roaches - Do they serve some meaningful purpose, or were they just an unfortunate upshot of the Big Bang that You kept around for a laugh?
2. What really ticked off my good friend Emily the year we went off to college? Someone said it had something to do with a guy named Scott, but darned if I know; neither of us had a thing for anyone named Scott. What was the real story?
3. Why on earth did Michael Jackson destroy his own nose? (Or was it just an unfortunate upshot of the Big Bang?)
Those are my questions for today. They're very likely to change tomorrow.
Monday, September 18, 2006
We're getting barracaded in here on Second Avenue, one block from the United Nations. The world poobahs are gathering for some serious speechifyin' over the next couple of days. Of course, most of the Code Hot Pink security stuff is for the biggest, poo-iest bah of 'em all, hizzelf da' Prez. It's interesting watching all the traffic and po-lice from our 6th floor window. Sirens blaring and motorcycles weaving in and out of the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Things were much quieter on Peachtree Street, I tell ya'.
I'm not gonna touch the Catholic-Muslim goings-on, except to comment on the Pope's apology. Or rather, the structure of the Pope's apology. Forget the Muslim angle or any kind of angle for that matter. Here goes: Don't you hate it when somebody who owes you a big apology (and I'm not saying the Pope owes the Muslims an apology) weenies out of it by saying, "I'm sorry you got upset by my [insert heinous deed here]"? That's not an apology. An apology is saying "I'm truly sorry for what I did," not "Sorry you got upset by what I did." Aargh! That's worse than a slap in the face. So, Mr. Pope Dude - if you're not sorry for what you said (and many folks think you shouldn't be), don't couch it in a "oops, sorry you got offended" statement. If you are sorry, then be a man (even in that robe and silly hat) and say, "I was wrong. I apologize."
So, that's my world today - from avoiding e-coli to advising the Pope. I think I should be paid more.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Well, why not, sez I. Give 'em a try. I'd only stuck with the hard lenses because every eye doctor I've gone to over the past 20 years told me that harder lenses were better for my eyes. Pah!
Lo! And behold! These little soft buggers are darn good! They never fog up like the gas perms, so everything's really crystal-clear. The only down side is taking them out and putting them in, which I assume will get easier with time.
Now, I look just like Marilyn, but without the glasses.
Old dog. New trick. Yea, me!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Pyramid-shaped - that's right! Got it in four!
Don't think we haven't noticed, Mr. Lipton. Those of us at the mercy of time (who must settle for teabag-tea not pot-made tea) have found over the past couple of years that the old familiar teabag has taken on a new shape. At first, it was just the frou-frou specialty teas that offered up delicate silk mesh pyramids of tea. I kinda hated to dunk them into the hot water, those little works of art, so unlike the flat or flow-through bags we've all come to know and love and press on our tired old eyes after they've done their beverage duty.
But now it seems everyone, even Mr. Lipton , is jumping on the pyramid camel-hump (the equivalent of an Egyptian bandwagon, see). Turns out, we've only been drinking tea bits and residue all these years. That's what was chucked into our little baggies with a string. (Yeah. Thanks for that information New York Times.) Ah, but now, the little mesh pyramids accommodate actual tea leaves, giving us tea almost like Mama used to make in her earthenware pot (except for my mama, who only drank coffee).
So go ahead and dunk away. Teabags are now tres, tres chic-a-mundo.
(You comin' around to this anytime soon, Mr. Twinings? I'm still looking for Earl Grey in a pyramid. Ahem.)
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Monopoly, because it can turn into a marathon session. Endless outcomes, and whoever's "banker" has to keep her/his mind sharp.
Clue, because I'm never really satisfied with the outcome. It should always be Miss Scarlett in the Conservatory with the lead pipe. That girl is so damn guilty. But the game shuffles the culprits every time to keep you guessing. And I like using the secret doorways.
Go to the Head of the Class, because I'm a smarty-pants and like to show off. I never play with anyone as smart or smarter than I am, because I have to win this game. I mean it. I will always be Head of the Class. Or game pieces will fly.
And you, Professor Plum? What would feed your game-playing soul? (Board games only -nothing that needs batteries.)
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
- Has anyone read Jane Gardam's The Queen of the Tambourine? Can you explain it to me? I get that Eliza was delusional and depressed, but what was really happening? Did her husband leave her? Who, really, was Joan? I finished the book, but I must've missed a lot along the way. If you know anything spill da' beans.
- Notice how at least once a day, some brainless television personality says, "That's billion with a B!"? As opposed to? Billion with a C? An F? An X? Yeah, duh, you twit. Billion with a B. We heard ya' the first time.
- Can Lisa Rinna's lips get any bigger? They need their own terror alert system, because when those puppies explode . . .
- Why does Dr. McDreamy on Grey's Anatomy find sullen, pathetic Meredith more appealing than his brilliant, witty, gorgeous wife, Addison?
- What's with the way eyebrows grow weird and long the older I get? I'm trading in my tweezers for a weed-whacker.
- Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight? Really? What if you've only chewed it for a minute or two?
Seems I never slow down, not even when I'm asleep. I always wake to find covers everywhere and pillows (five of 'em at last count) all over creation.
And yet, I'm remarkably rested in the mornings. Maybe I should check under the mattress for a pea. Hm.
Monday, September 11, 2006
There they were. Two blue columns of light rising up from the horizon of buildings. Bails and I pressed on. There was a clearer view from Madison, and the clearest of all from 5th. Two distinct shafts of bright blue merging into one as they shot out into space.
We had a very moving noon Eucharist commemorating the World Trade Center attacks - lots of tears and heavy hearts. The chapel was full of all sorts of contentious and not-so-contentious purple-garbed humans, plus many of us lay worker-bees. Beautiful, moving service.
Just as the service ends, a very loud techno-rendition of Offenbach's "Orpheus in the Underworld" (better known to us peons as the Can-Can song) pierces the silence. It takes a while for someone - I didn't see who but am hoping it was one of the conservative bishops - to silence the thing. Nervous giggles as folks make their way out of the chapel and into the sunlight of a gorgous September day.
Now, all of us with cellphones have been guilty of forgetting to turn the thing off for meetings, church, movies at one tme or another. (Actually, I'm more guilty of forgetting to turn it on. I miss a lot of calls. Shrug.)
But today's incident was a good little life lesson. When chosing your ring-tone, ask yourself: How will I feel when this goes blarring out at a funeral? An intervivew? When I'm in the middle of an argument with my spouse/child/boss? Yeah, maybe it'd lighten the moment, but it's more likely to just piss people off and make a bad situation worse.
Think about that next time you're tempted to use Can-Can or "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" for your ring-tone.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
What I miss most about Atlanta
- The green lushness of the place
- My daughter, family, and dear old friends
- All Saints' Church
- Krystal Hamburgers and cheese grits (yeah, I brought another pound or two of grits back to NY with me)
- Cheap movies ("Twilight" pricing)
- Traffic, driving, anything car-related
- A specific type of Southern pretentiousness (not from loved ones,but from the population in general)
- The blahness of architecture (they tore all the old stuff down, doncha' know)
- The lack of energy (but it could've been the humidity)
Time to move on.