Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Love Will Tear Us Apart

I can't resist a mash-up between the Joy Division's "Love will tear us apart" and the movie, "The Misfits". Saw the Misfits a few days ago and LOVED IT. Marilyn's character Rosalyn despairs at the emptiness of most relationships. Being with someone yet really being alone. The callous disregard that develops between partners. So too, she decries the repeated self-abuse that Perce, the rodeo cowboy, (Montgomery Clift), subjects himself to. But it is the brutality her male friends inflict on a herd of wild mustangs that brings her to a breaking point of repulsion and outrage, and leads to the film's climax.

Marilyn is great in this movie. Her character Rosalyn has just gotten a divorce in Reno, but along with her liberation is a persistent sadness, over the realization that in time, all love is bound to disappoint. She says, "Maybe all there really is is just the next thing. The next thing that happens. Maybe you're not supposed to remember anybody's promises." Marilyn's friend Isabelle, an older woman resigned to getting the short end of the stick calls Nevada the "Leave It" state. "Ya got money you want to gamble? Leave it here. You got a wife you want to get rid of? Get rid of her here. Extra atom bomb you don't need? Blow it up here. Nobody's gonna mind in the slightest."

Marilyn really is incandescent on the screen. It's hard to take your eyes off her. She hooks up with a cowboy (Clark Gable) and his pilot friend (Eli Wallach) in Reno, and charms them silly, but gives them more than they bargained for when she starts asking deep questions about life and love. She says, "We're all dying aren't we? We're not teaching each other what we really know, are we?" When the pilot recalls how saintly his wife was before she died unexpectedly, he says, "She wasn't like any other woman. Stood by me 100%, uncomplaining as a tree." To which Marilyn's character says, "Maybe that's what killed her."

Arthur Miller wrote this as a short story and then wrote the screenplay for the movie. He was married to Marilyn Monroe during the making of the film, but their marriage had fallen apart by the shoot's end. The movie was shot on location in the hot Nevada desert, with heat in the triple digits at times. According to IMDB, both Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift had problems with drugs and alcohol that sometimes delayed filming. Clark Gable was 59 but insisted on doing many of his own stunts, including one where he was dragged by a horse 400 feet across a dry lake bed, at 30 miles per hour. Some think that may be why he had a heart attack three days after filming ended, and died eleven days later. This was the last movie for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn taking break on the set. Her acting coach Paula Strasberg is in the car.

Final note about the movie: the real scene-stealer is this terrific dog.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Keep Looking Up

Jack Horkheimer is awesome. I use to watch his 5-minute TV spots as the "Star Hustler" on PBS when I lived in Miami in the early 90's, then forgot all about him--for years. But when I was home at mom's last Christmas, and the channel was turned to PBS, there he was! I was kicking myself for having missed out on him all these years. I guess you can tell he's a lot older. On this spot he just sits on Saturn's ring most of the time. But back in the day, the special effects sent him zipping all over the cosmos.

Now of course, Jack has a website and a web presence. For that reason, he went from being the Star Hustler to the "Star Gazer." When kids tried to find his site online, putting "Hustler" in the search had unfortunate results.

When the girls and I were out in Ness last weekend, we went out to the tennis court after dark and played tennis. Actually it was more like sticker ball. Whenever we'd hit the ball off the court and into the grass, the ball would get stickers on it, and we'd have to pull them off before re-serving it.

When we were through playing, the girls ran over to the little merry-go-round while I picked up the rackets. They sat on it as it spun, and then lay down. And then they called out to me to come see what they saw. If you lie down on a spinning merry-go-round on a playground under a big sky on a clear night in a rural area, it's like being in a planetarium, only better, since it's real. What you do is stare up at the sky, but instead of looking directly at a star or the moon, you cast your gaze just beyond it, at the darkness, and this has the effect of making all the stars and the moon look like they are circling the sky fast in big wobbly loops. It's a really cool optical illusion.

The girls pointed out Mars to me, and indeed, I could see it's fine pinprick of red light. Tonight is your last chance to see Mars so well until 2012, because it will be traveling out of range until then. But tonight it will be a bright star next to the moon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The kids and I went out to my mom's last weekend, since it was their spring break. When we drove out, the temperatures climbed to 73 degrees. It was warm and sunny. I sat on the front porch and soaked up the sun. The warmest I've been all year. That was Thursday. The next day, it was blowing snow, and it snowed all day. Crazy. But by Sunday it was back up in the 50's and the snow melted fast. On Saturday, we visited Aunt Virginia and enjoyed watching The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency with her. I'm afraid we kept her from the very important KU game, which sadly, they lost. I heard the results while I was lying on the floor next to the heat vent. I was hoping they'd go all the way.

On Sunday, we went with mom to Dodge City and visited Boot Hill. There is an exhibit on the "Plains people" in a small building next to the cemetary, that has a stuffed buffalo, and a video that shows a buffalo herd stampeding. When the buffalo start running, it sounds like thunder, and you feel it in the floor beneath your feet. There were a lot of interesting artifacts on display. Even the girls seemed to enjoy exploring the various parts of the museum.

When we got home that night, we cooked frozen pizza and washed it down with bottles of sarsparilla we bought at the Boot Hill gift shop. I have to say that sarsparilla was really quite good. For four days, we lazed about. I read my book for Teen Lit, a historical novel titled "Peril on the Sea," about English privateers who were really like pirates, but who helped the Queen's navy fight the Spanish Armada, though more out of greed and hope for bounty than any noble feeling for the crown. I also read part of a story (not for teen lit) about a New York couple who moved to a cottage in a remote part of Ireland that didn't have a stick of furniture. They relied on "turf fires" for heat ---made by burning the dried up peat from the bog.

Back to the grind this week. Back to homework I've put off, and soccer practice and 6:00 am alarm clocks. And it's raining again, of course. But it's spring now, and that does make everything feel so much better.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


This is about a minute-long video we were assigned to watch for our Teen Lit class. A model is prepared for a photo shoot through all sorts of cosmetic and hair enhancements. Then after the shoot, her face is photo-shopped so that she doesn't even look real. Free the human girls from the tyranny of impossible-to-attain beauty!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Reclaiming readers will rejuvenate the spirit of a society that's run ragged, stressed out, overconnected, intellectually complacent, and emotionally dissatisfied.

That's from a book called "Reviving Reading" by Alison M.G. Follos.

I've been reading lots of fiction for my Teen Lit class. Most weeks, we have to read two novels. So I spend hours every week with my nose in these books, barely coming up for air. It's been good for me. It feels like I'm recovering my mind, from some mothy old place I left it. Story after story after story, I can almost feel new neural connections forming, I swear.

Monday, March 8, 2010


It's sprung!

This past weekend, it was a whole new world. A world of puppies and bunnies and duckies and soft furry sunlight. A world of warmth and laughter. People hanging outside, relaxed, sun on their faces. People in light jackets, in no jackets, limbs hanging loose and open. Easy. It felt easy to go places, easy to walk. I met my sister Laura for coffee, which we haven't done in like forever. And it was like I was light and floating on sunlight. Driving to Westport, the air was sweet. Having to park a ways down on Broadway and walk up the hill was absolutely fine. We sat and drank lattes and shared vegan pumpkin bread, and enjoyed the light coming in through the big pane window. Feasted our eyes on the parade of characters lining up for java. Fanciful peacocks in full spring plumage. Tights, ripped tees, combat boots, jagged hemlines, zippered leather, vintage knits, tight jeans, funky skirts, crayon hair. The music while we were ordering started out the Beatles, then I lost track. But as Laura and I talked, I would occasionally catch a strain of Depeche Mode, the Smiths, other Brit bands.

Later in the afternoon, I took the girls to the Unitarian Universalist church to see Roger playing with the Westport Art Ensemble for their Jazz and Beyond concert series. They played some of my favorites --"Dot of Oz," "Almost Hit that Lady," and two of Roger's compositions, "Labyrinth Therapy" and "Hehnemehr." The last song, "Hehnemehr," is named after this thing Roger used to say to Lilah when she was a baby. Somehow her babyness just inspired him to say, "Hehnemehr!" all the time.

Last night I noticed something different. Maybe it was just that my homework load was lighter this weekend, or maybe it was the coffeetalk with my sister Laura. But I felt better than usual towards the end of the day. I couldn't help but wonder if it was the change in weather. Usually, the last hour or two, I'm dragging myself through the evening chores, everything feels hard, I'm about to give out. But last night I had more bounce in my step than usual. I wasn't hitting the wall. And I wondered if it was because I hadn't been bracing myself against the cold all day.

I heard it's supposed to rain most of this week, so the cold and damp chill will return. And I will probably run back into my cocoon for awhile longer. But yesterday I remembered what it was like, to strip off the bundles, walk straight into the fresh air, and open up to life again.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Typing Fool

Ack! I hate it when I don't have time to blog.

But the Jerry clip is me right now. I have been trying to keep up with my homework, which has been hard in the last week. There has been so much going on in the evenings, my time is always fragmented. When I try to work on assignments after everyone has gone to bed, I'm too tired and I just fall asleep. What keeps me going is knowing that I have only *Ten Weeks Left*!!! So I will hang in there, if by a thread. NEED STIMULANTS NOW.