Archive for February 6th, 2015

Helen Mirren on the NYC subway this past weekend

Dear friends and readers,

I echo Miss Izzy or Yvette: been having a rough number of weeks. I can’t begin adequately to number or characterize ways I’ve missed Jim in these past two months. I no longer have access to a deeply sympathetic intelligence distinct from myself living by my side (the admiral) so seek disinterested informed help where I can. Today I enlisted a few respectful people to help us, professionals as they call themselves (accountant, financial advisor, my counselor who has access to centers for people on the autism spectrum, a super-smart lady named Martha who can explain everything you need explained better than Clarissa ever did), so we are not alone in our unhurried decision making.

It’s been far too cold for me to walk, and I find I rely on NPR classic radio (yes I renewed my membership for this year) as well as old friends in authors, some favorite books and movies, today for example, I studied the screenplay and film of Walt Stillman’s Metropolitan and actors/actresses who embody good and congenial (to me) types of people. I know lots of movie-watchers feel no hesitation in admitting they watch a movie for this or that star. Usually they do not go on to say why this star, to examine the source of their preference, what in the actor or actress inhabiting just that character and shaping his or her contours means to us. Skewed as the use of Maggie Smith has been in Downton Abbey, pay attention to the shots, and you see Alice, Alan Bennett’s Vicar’s wife still finds the occasional opportunity to emerge:


What or who has helped me during this dark (literally sometimes) period: good Net-friends, letters, the occasional phone conversation, even more rare but it’s happened lunch with a local friend, an outing to the shopping mall with another, Dance Fusion and I’ve joined Core too (hard exercise); talk about books and movies with Net-friends, and the books and movies themselves, to say nothing of two promised reviews, two papers and coming teaching keeping me busy as far as I can absorb myself. Trollope said many times “The labor we delight in physics pain.” Our two pussycats have been affectionate companions, and we reciprocate by providing a comfortable home:


Snoopy and Woodstock

I haven’t ignored the news either. The finest thoughtful response to the slaughter of the staff of Charlie Hebdo was written by Slavok-Zizek, whose “In the Grey Zone” (LRB, 5 Feb 2015) will teach you why establishments and hegemonies everywhere recognize in the bills of rights, and civil liberties, a direct threat to their power and that there is no justification for any retaliatory killing. At the same time I too resist any communal laughter that makes fun of fear and pain from positions of power. I liked the wisdom Tariq Ali’s “It didn’t need to be done” too. I note he recognizes the function of derisive persistent bullying by anyone as a self-interested mode of control.

Did you know that Pete Seeger made music for them at Selma?

This week I’ve been studying screenplays, watching the films they transition into (Calendar Girls, The Jane Austen Book Club, the last couple of days), reading two wonderful books on Cornwall (Rising Ground by Philip Marsden, a moving travel-regional book; Cornwall: The Cultural construction of Place, ed Elia Westland, a superb anthology), and even good novelizations of screenplays. They do exist — I just love the debate on the meaning of Disney’s Lady and the Tramp in Stillman’s Last Days of Disco: the argument begins against the tramp “It’s a film that programs women to adore jerks,” proceeds to see who is the true good spirit and hero of the story, “The only sympathetic character, the little Scottie who’s so concerned about Lady, is mocked as old-fashioned and irrelevant and shunted off to the side,” and ends “Isn’t the whole point that Tramp changes …” even if he remains/stands for a “person with low socio-economic prospects … ”

Make-believe, where would we be without it? Off to be allured by the music and photography of the older Poldark mini-series …

The good companions of Calendar Girls

Miss Drake

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