Monday, December 28, 2015

Rooney Mara

Elle January 2016

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)
'There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow.' Here, Yeats inverts the day: the sun shines (glimmers) at midnight at noon is the color of a moon lit dark sky (purple). The topsy turvey day represents the mystical or transcendence that will bring him peace. Even when he is on 'the pavements grey,' possibly, probably, London, he can, through this mystical union, be back to where he is productive, 'nine bean-rows will I have there ...' and in tune to the natural world.

The lovely purple shade on the cover of January's Elle, reminded me of Yeats' purple glow. And the lovely Gucci dress that Rooney Mara is wearing appears transcendent of reality. The cutouts of the dress look almost cartoon like- the gold bow/ruffles and epaulets especially. It is transcendent. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

David Bowie

Rolling Stone December 17-31, 2015
Always a fan of Bowie, it kicked into high gear the fan that I am of his artistry after seeing the Bowie exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Seeing the whole artist- music, art, film, fashion, I had a reawakened appreciation for the man and his work. And more than his music, I appreciate his artistry and process more than the songs themselves.

I did not buy, nor really listen to, Bowie's surprise record that was released two years ago. I didn't seek it out, and it wasn't really ever played on the radio, so I didn't hear any of it. This new record, which is will be released on January 8th, Bowie's 69th birthday, as seen in Andy Greene's Rolling Stone piece, had me checking it out on the Internet. In the article, Greene quotes Tony Visconti, Bowie's producer: "We were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar ... We wound up with nothing like that, but we loved the fact that Kendrick was so open-minded and he didn't do a straight-up hip-hop record. He threw everything on there, and that's exactly what we wanted to do. The goal, in many, many ways, was to avoid rock & roll."

Well, that is awfully interesting. The first song that I searched for is Blackstar, which is also the title of the record. I learned from the article that ITunes doesn't post singles longer than 10-minutes, so Bowie and Visconti had to cut it to just under 10. Imagine a 10-minute single, not a 70's album rock song like, oh, Freebird, but a contemporary piece. The song was produced as a short film. Greene describes it as "a surreal short movie where he portrays a blind prophet in space who comes across a group of scarecrow figures getting crucified." I have viewed it only once, and I can't seem to move it out of head. I was standing in a line for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, and I demonstrated the apocolyptic dance that the characters of the film perform while Bowie, the prophet, sings/preaches. It's mesmerizing and is what, in my estimation, makes Bowie so fascinating.

Part of the MCA Bowie exhibit was a retrospective of his films. I have seen most of them, and this fall, during Halloween, I found The Hunger, a lush, sensual vampire movie made with Catherine Deneuve. It was the perfect accompaniment to a darkening, blustery autumn night. Bowie is captivating. He has a subtle power. It sinks, perhaps permeates, in its intensity. He is magnetic. The video for Blackstar reminded me of this power. He is a vampire in its most romantic sense. He has aged, but not in the way that mere mortals do. His face is experienced, not weathered. He is an handsome man. I can feel his heart beat in this video, and I want to be pulled in by him. His artistic vision is fresh.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pretty Things

Vogue October 2015

I'm not so sure that this was merchandised very well, but the bracelet 
is lovely. I wouldn't mind having one of those under the tree. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lupita Nyong'o

Vogue October 2015
Lupita is stunning as always in this beautiful ice'd shade. This photo shoot was shot long before the recent attacks on Paris. Not her beauty necessarily, but beauty itself is the only thing that can save us. The beauty to let each live the lives that they were meant to naturally, not in some exaggerated radicalism that is fundamentally not what is intended for us.

I love this color for winter. Fifteen years ago, I bought an outfit of the same. The skirt had playful polka dots and the long sleeved t-shirt-like top coordinated. I remember it so clearly because it was the Christmas that my nephew was born, and I went to my sister's house for the holidays because Joey was coming. And come he did on Christmas day. I was happy to be there and able for the first of my nieces and nephews to attend their baptism. He wore a beautiful lace gown, and I wore blue.

The other thing that I remember from this particular trip is that I had the flu. The real flu. My brother-in-law is a physician and decided that I need an array of pharmaceuticals to temper the symptoms. The over-dose of flu medication did not work. He decided that what would really work is the salt of the sea. My sister lives in Puerto Rico, and there's plenty of that there. Naturally, what he really wanted was Titi Carol to come along with him on his trip to the beach so that he could sit in the ocean with all of the papis and drink whiskey whilst I watched the children. There was something about the salty breeze that wafted across the warm sands. Lucky for me, one of the cousins was old enough to keep an eye on the children so that my head that could not be held up any longer could go down. And down it went to a flu-induced sleep. The children were fine, papi was whiskey'd, and I got some needed sleep. The salt air was the trick.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cinderella's Bavarian Castle

Real Simple December 2015
This summer I traveled to Europe with my sister's family: her husband and four children. It was a wonderful trip to Vienna, Austria to Bavaria to Prague. Enrique, my brother-in-law remembered touring the area years before and wanted the kids to see it. I had been to Vienna and Prague before, but never Bavaria. And I didn't know that "Mad King of Ludwig of Bavaria' built a castle that Walt Disney would build an empire with it as its signature princess castle.

The day that we visited the Neuschwanstein castle, Europe was gripped in a heat wave. Heavy air sat on us as we tramped up the hill, up the stairs, and up some more stairs. So many people were on the tour that I wasn't really able to hear the docent describe what I was seeing. I decided to just hang back to catch any air that might move through the darkness of the stone edifice. I've visited plenty of castles in my travels, and I wasn't quite convinced that this was magical. It was like the air: heavy. But the story is an interesting one, and once I was able to catch up to my people, I heard my nephew say to the docent, 'didn't they kill the King because he was gay?' Well, that is interesting. The intrigue of it.

Once down the hill and revived with a couple of beers, we walked over to the lake. Its water was so clear. First my youngest nephew then brother-in-law stripped to their skivvies and dived in. My 11 year old niece was shy, but once wet with the water that the boys shoved at her, I said, 'let's go.' And I enjoyed the happy and cool party enjoying the Alpine view and sweet water. As it turns out, King Ludwig learned to swim in the very lake. The magazine described it beautifully: Along the banks are tall pines, their branches shaggy with freshly fallen snow, and up above, mountains whose dark reflections quiver in the lake's icy water. For us, the water was incredibly icy fresh, but the snow was gone, and the mountains were even more dark without the snow. There, I felt the allure of the place.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Barbra Streisand

Harper's Bazaar October 2015
I guess that every little girl wanted to be Barbra Streisand back in the day. Donna Karan did. It says so in this article that she idolized her and tried to copy her look when she was a teenager. Look where she is now ... at the hand of the great.

Growing up, I didn't want to look like Barbra. I was too young when I was introduced to her to want to look like a grown woman. But oh how I wanted to be able to sing like her. My father was a great one to play records of great women singers. His taste usually leaned toward the jazz singers like Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Diana Shuur, but he had a Streisand record in his collection. And it soon became my favorite.

"Funny Girl" was released in 1968, which made me 6 years old when my grandmother took me and my siblings to see it in the movie theatre. We never went to the movie theatre, so it was quite a treat; even though, it was not a movie that you would think to take four children under the age 9 to go see. But on that Saturday afternoon in Evergreen Park, I was given one of the best musical gifts of my life: Barbra. That movie blew my socks off. I may not have understood everything that was going on in the movie or with a grandmother who didn't have anyone but the four of us to see it with, but it melted in to me. I clearly remember going home and putting the Barbra record on the player to sing with her. I swore that I sounded just like her. I didn't, of course. But I felt it. And I've loved her ever since.

Maybe I should give Donna a call and invite her and her friend over. I have the record player! Wouldn't that be something.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Elle October 2015
This room reminds me of a very modern Glessner House library. The Glessner House (1887) is one of the older homes in Chicago, and it is furnished with most of the original furniture and home accessories that the Glessners owned. The Glessners' son was an amateur photographer and took many interior pictures of the house, so the set-up isn't very different than at the turn of the 20th Century.

The Glessner House Library
My favorite room is the library. The centerpiece of the room is the double desk that the mister and mistress of the house would sit to conduct their particular business. On the desk is one of the original bronze casts of Abraham Lincoln's hands. The cast shows one hand larger than the other as it was created after his election. Apparently, he shook a lot of hands. On the shelves up high is a lovely collection of arts and crafts vases. They are hard to see in the postcard, but definitely worth the visit.

The vases are the point of comparison to this modern room above. A collection, not only of books, is beautifully on display. I love collections and I am a collector of collections. None of my collections are very large. I search for different things at different time and once I get to ten, more or less, I move on to another fascination. I find it is a good thing to always have something to be on the look out for when antique/junk shopping. My collections include, although are not limited to, crystal baskets, compacts, tin boxes, and teapots. I just bought a beautiful vase at an antique store out in the country. It is not a valuable piece, but it fits right into my aesthetic. I would like to collect vases such as those shown above or at the Glessner House, but I could not afford the art that is either of these homes. Not to worry, I can still find treasures.

Of the two rooms, I prefer the Glessner's library. It is much warmer ... cozy. I wonder how anyone buys something that is white. Is it really meant to be lived in? Plus, at the Glessners, they have windows in the room that look out onto Prairie street. It would be wonderful to have a fire going, a partner in work, and the sound of drizzle from the street. Heaven.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gold and Blue

Harper's Bazaar October 2015
I am typically not a fan of 'yellow,' but this hue is more golden than daisy. When I look at it, I can't help but sing 'silver and gold, silver and gold ...' from 'Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.' The silver here is a magnificent shade of blue that is really quite magnificently silvery. It's the same color that my homemade Shaun Cassidy satin baseball jacket was that I've talked about in an earlier post. I would love to still have it, or any other piece in this blue and fabrication. It probably feels wonderful. As soft as the cat! Where did they find this furry charlotte. And its eyes that are its night shade. What were they dangling in front of him to make him so alert and turn on his little cat lanterns?

Unfortunately, I didn't do a very good rip of this page because I don't have the designer information. I don't want to guess ... I have mine, but I would hate to be wrong.

Let's just consider that it is lovely.  And let that be it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rob Lowe is the Grinder

Rolling Stone Magazine October 22, 2015
Not about Rob Lowe, this article, however, reminded me about the new FOX sitcom "The Grinder," which is my absolute favorite of the new shows this fall because he is a genius on it. I watched it tonight and laughed hysterically at what Rob does as the grinder. That is it, totally believable as a drama series queen dropped into the real world as a character, not a person. He's Edward Scissorhands. Down into suburbia from the house of his creator, he plays to his strength, the character that he portrayed on the show that everyone loves.

Aha! but we also see a man that wants to live without his scissor hands. Not knowing how, he uses the scenes from his fictional one to figure things out. He isn't so oblivious of the paradox to not see what he could have and how he falls short for lack of having any real world experience.

Who knew? I have always found Rob Lowe easy on the eye, but I can't think of anything that he's acted in since "St. Elmo's Fire." Here, he is still as handsome as ever, but it isn't that which makes him so appealing in this sitcom. He's vulnerable. And that is damn sexy.

And Fred Saveage? He's good too. I wasn't one for "The Wonder Years." I think that I like him better all grown up. And he's the perfect ... little brother to the man who would be king.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fading Gigolo

Woddy Allen and John Tuturro in a scene from "Fading Gigolo"
When I like a movie, I can easily watch it several times in that week that I first watched it. "Fading Gigolo" is one of those. I watched it three times: twice alone, and once with another. And I recommended it to my sister, who loved it.

Typically, in order for it to go into a quick repeat, one scene resonates and shows a subtlety that is captivating for me. In this movie, one that has Woody Allen's character pimping John Tuturro's character out to make some cash, it is when Woody has connected him to a woman whose husband, a respected rabbi, has died leaving her with six children and having never been touched. The woman is played beautifully by Vanessa Paradis. She can be so plain yet so beautiful at the same time. The idea for their connection is not for Turturro to have sex with her, but to only touch her. Woody sees her loneliness and the isolation that her husband's death has brought to her. She may as well be in the ground in a box. The death shuns her from life. And when Turturro gently places his hand on her back, it breaks her heart open so that she can live again.

This is not a Woody Allen movie. But his stamp is all over his student's work. Either you love him, or you don't. I am a fan. That he acts in this movie is a treat because he isn't in his yearly efforts as much anymore. He is like a pair of snuggly, old slippers that are odd to imagine, but heavenly to wear. He's comfortable in his neurosis, wit, and ageless appeal.

In this movie, without explanation, he lives with a movie and her four children. The scene where he's playing baseball with them are priceless. Woody is clearly a fan of the game. And the exuberance by which he instructs the kids demonstrates that this man finds youth in work. He writes and directs a movie a year. The idea of it is surreal. You'd think that he would be tired, sit down, and play his clarinet. But he moves like someone who still has a lot of story in him to tell. And whether he does it with his friends like he does with John Turturro here, or on his own, thank god. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Nicole Kidman

Vogue August 2015
Isn't she lovely.

A very long time ago when I first met my now brother-in-law, he told me that I reminded him of Nicole Kidman.  It was one of the kindest compliments that I've ever received.

One of the things that I like best about her is for the fact that when she is asked of her marriage to Tom Cruise, she says very little except to say that she loved him and spent many, good years together. And for the sake of her children that she and Cruise adopted, she won't comment on Scientology either.

She's grace.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Adele's new single from her forthcoming album, "25," dropped 
Friday. She is amazaballs. Her voice is like budda.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I'm a Belieber

A random picture of the Biebs and Skrillex
Oh sure! Hate me, but I can't help myself. And I could have chosen a cheesy-ass photograph of him in his Calvin Klein's; instead, here is a photograph with what was an entree into the world of Mr. Justin Bieber (barf, right?!): Skrillex.

Reading Rolling Stone last spring in an interview with Skrillex, I discovered that he is quite a fan of the Biebs. Apparently, he is the best drummer, the best skateboarder, the best basketball player (for a Canadian), and a halfway decent singer. I was shocked by the accolades. Really? Is the punk that I have grilled anytime anyone every mentioned him and his 'baby, baby, baby, ooh?' a rock star? I admire me some Skrillex, so I took a walk and checked it out.

First, I watched the Biebs, this is how I prefer to address him, on Jimmy Fallon. The interview was what it was, but what caught my attention was when he did a drum off with the drummer from the Roots. Of course, the Biebs won, but he could slap some skins. Man. I had no idea. It also came up that he had a number one summer hit with Skrillex. Hm, did I miss something? Well, it was summer, and I wasn't listening to the radio in the car like I do when I work. It is quite possible that I missed the duo's number one, top of the ITunes charts in 50 bazillion countries, amazing hit. I made a note to check it out, for sure!

Next on my my odyssey of the teenage girls' daydreams, I happened across the Biebs on the James Corden show in the bit that has James driving around, listening to the radio, and singing along to that guest's tunes. I love James Corden. He should be my boyfriend and not someone else's husband. Whatever. The Biebs was way cool as he bobbed along to his own songs. There was something sort of endearing about him. It was as if he was almost ... dare I say ... bashful?

On to ITunes. I downloaded Skrillex and Diplo's "Where Are You Now" featuring the Biebs  and his latest, "What Do You Mean." I made a micro CD of the two songs to play in the car, and I CANNOT stop listening to them. They are infectious, and "What Do You Mean" is particularly buoyant. I could levitate, forget dancing, to that song. Who knew? Repeat, repeat, repeat.

So yeah, I'm a Belieber. And anyone can razz me as much as they want for it. I'll just put the needle on the record and turn up the volume. It's all good.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Keith Richards

Four things, aside from his wicked guitar playing and chain smoking, stood out most to me in Netflix's documentary of Keith Richards "Under the Influence." His laugh and easy smile, and his old man hands.

The laugh and the smile is one with the other. The man is amused. He smiles about the past, giggles after a riff, and the lines on his face deepen in front of our eyes for it. He's a magician with that ability to find joy in everything that he's experienced. On the other side of the learning curve, he's found grace.

Process is so much more interesting to me than end product. And in this documentary, we are allowed a glimpse of the music and friendships that have made the man. This is not a Rolling Stone retrospective. Mick, Ronnie, Charlie, and the others are there in a peripheral vision, but this is Ketith's gig. Oh sure, the one isn't as remarkable as the whole, and you may think that it's time to get up to get another beer or go to the bathroom like you'd do during a Stones concert when Keith sings his little ditty, but don't. This song you've gotten listen to.

It's hard to talk about "Under the Influence" and not tell to much. I'll leave it to this. It is worth the time to wait on a friend to tell it for you.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Jeff Tweedy

Rolling Stone Magazine August 27, 2015
While I was in Europe this summer, the Czech Republic to be precise, we were staying in an apartment on the top floor of one the buildings that circle the old square in Prague. It was an exceptionally hot summer there this year, not unlike the time that I visited this magical city 20 years before. Because we were at the top, the apartment was stifling hot. The owners had set up a portable air conditioning unit and said to run it to keep some of the heat out. The lofted space seemed to attract every ray of the long summer day as the unit didn't put a dent in its intensity.

But the apartment did have WIFI. And when sleep evaded me, I scrolled through my IPhone, which worked anywhere there was WIFI, and found a present in my inbox: Wilco's new album. I love me a Wilco album. I have been traveling with a notebook computer as well. And though it can be a frustrating machine with a small keyboard, I was able to download my free copy of 'Stars Wars.' And in that heat, in the garrett above the square, we listened to the whole album.  And I have been listening to it every since. It is one of my favorites.

But what was so sweet about it is the fact that it was free. And didn't I predict that once U2 gifted their latest album to all ITunes users, someone would follow suit. And that the bugs in the system of free distribution would be ironed out, and everyone would be happy with the gift. That's a lot of 'ands.' I didn't hear anyone complain about getting a free Wilco album. I think that U2 took all of the punches for that one. And, here I go again with the ands, is okay. Someone has to go first. Leap into the unknown. And experience what a fickle and critical audience can become when they get something that they don't want even when it is free.

I them both. And both have made me immeasurably happy.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Lessons of the Game

Rolling Stone September 10, 2015
Ah, the NFL season. It's a great way to begin the school year and move into the colder months. Since I am back at school, I've had a lot to think about. Last year, for lack of better words, sucked, and this summer was particularly charmed. The universe seemed to know that I needed a good one to recover from the bad school year.

Back at school in what will be a transitional year for me. I am teaching a different grade level, moving on from some school-wide responsibilities and going toward others. Transitions can be tough. And I want to learn how to manage it without fear.

I was talking to a friend of mine after the first day of teacher back to school business, and he asked me how it was going. I told him that I had decided that if I didn't have anything good to say about my job, I wouldn't say anything. He asked, 'so what was good?' I replied, 'I don't have much to say.' And I left it at that. Before, I might have gone into a 15 minute soliloquy about this and that and the other thing. But to what end? Complaining about ... well, anything, isn't really very productive or satisfying. I know that the next time that he asks me this, I will be able to say something good. Not after the first day, no. The re-entry was brutal, but as time moves, so will I.

And then I read Rolling Stone's NFL issue. I had the mind to just flip through and look at the pictures, but I got caught up in reading about Andrew Luck, Dez Bryant, and Russell Wilson. I love to read about how athletes, especially elite ones, think. I was particularly interested in Russell Wilson. One of my new responsibilities at school this year is Athletic Director. I have watched Russell Wilson speak before, and the thing that I always noticed is his 'Go Hawks' whenever he steps off of the podium. I decided to copy him, so in all of my correspondence, I end with 'Go Eagles.' We are the one of the most rinky dink sports school around, but we can puff ourselves up and learn to live the whole sport experience. Team, pride, and spirit are essential skills that athletics can teach. You don't have to win to learn that.

In the Russell Wilson article, I found exactly what I had thought is how I am going to approach the school year. I watched the Super Bowl, of course, and I rooted the Seahawks because of Wilson. I saw the fumble at the goal line with seconds left and the Hawks' exquisite loss to the New England Patriots. In the article, it is clear that it has become the question that is posed to Wilson, 'what happened?' He typically responds, 'I don't know.' And why not leave it at that. It can be analyzed and explained  until it becomes the only thing that happened in the game. In a career. But not Wilson. Like many professional athletes, Moawad has a motivation coach, Trevor Moawad. In the article, it said: "Wilson and Moawad didn't spend the off-season rehashing the interception; instead, they spent hours watching video medleys of Wilson's best plays. "A lot of people catastrophize things and fall off the mountaintop," Moawad says, "Russell doesn't."

A lot of people catastrophize things and fall off the mountaintop. That is it exactly. He and I are thinking the same thing. Yeah, I'm only going to watch, or talk about, the best plays this year. There's nothing to say about the fumble.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

End of Summer

I have been on an hiatus of sorts in what has been a busy summer. I have the luxury of many weeks off, and this summer was spent well traveling, spending time with my favorite people, and doing only a little work here and there. This post will be simple ... I need to get back into the groove of regular musings, so I will only post some of the snapshots of my most recent jaunt to the West.

A ride through the redwoods in Northern California on the skunk train.
A flight of California reds on an old Pullman car chugging through Napa Valley in California.

A gorgeous display on the foggy coast of Northern California in Fort Bragg.

I love trees. And the redwoods are spectacular.
Made it up to Seattle and couldn't resist driving by Kurt Cobaine's last residence.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Elle's First Look for Fall 2015

Elle May 2015
Hopefully, I haven't attributed this page wrong. I pulled it out a couple of months ago and kept it in a pile of looks to share.

Many pages in the spring editions showed black/white and lace. This is one of the better looks of it. I'm so sure that I could pull off a thigh high, mile high heeled boot, but a white lace dress and a leather jacket? Certainly.

On my recent trip with family, my niece wore an outfit very similar to this one. She dragged her leather jacket out of the suitcase and put it over her white lace dress on the evening that we went to see Mozart being played. Personally, I would have died of heat stroke from wearing leather, but she is a warm climed  girl who isn't afraid of a little hot. Good thing because she was smoking.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Traveling: In a Van from Prague to Vienna for a 5 Hour Tour

Everyone decided that we needed to spend more time in Prague. We wound round the city along the cobbled streets. We were all still high from the performance of Don Giovanni the night before at a local opera house. We sat in the second row for an intimate performance of the players and orchestra. In the old square, we saw our old friends, the medieval bohemian band, and we found a new one to follow: Circus Problem. They were parrt oompa band, marching  band, and very punk. We bought their CD. Reluctantly, we left as we had a drive to get back to Vienna for our flight. The traffic was horrendous. Accidents on the expressway tied up the roads for miles. We switched direction and cut through  Slavakia, which was smoother, but turned what was to be a quick 3 hours into 5. Tired from all of the galavamting and then car travel, the back of the Ford mini-bus got a little rowdy. At one point, I played the teacher and used my teacher voice and took the water away.  But the games continued and our merry group  found its way to thecheap hotel   at the airport for our return bome. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Traveling: Leather on Prague's Old Town Square

As the sun blazed across the morning square, these guys were geared up in leather to put on quite a show. The square was a circus: one man blew bubbles in swirls, an African in a white tutu twirled, and food stalls started their slow roasts. It was hard to leave the show to follow our planned day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Traveling: Toy Soldier in Prague

On a very hot day in Prague, we took the number 22 tram up the hill to Prague Castle. My sister insisted that I carry an umbrella to shade my freckles from the scorching sun. They were hot, but can you imagine this guy? From a distance, it was hard to tell if they were real or not. As we walked closer, they were very real indeed. This one was quite distinguished. I told my family that I wouldn't mind him under the Christmas tree to play with.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Traveling: Prague at Night

I haven't been in Prague for 20 years. It was the summer of 1995 when my hometown scorched as did all of the places that I traveled to in Europe that summer. Of course here, air conditioning was served to those at the Ritz and fans hadn' t made their way to the markets. It was hot. Strange is that here I am now, and it is as warm. My bed is high atop an old building on the square with the scene that you see out of my window. We escaped the crowds of the streets that were filled with people after a nice dinner, still tired from the drive here.  I don't remember as many people as before, but I remember the streets as they wound and weaved around, always getting me back to the square.

Traveling: Meeting up with the Camino de Santiago

I fhink that it was eight summers ago that I walked the Pilgram's Walk, the last one hundred miles across northern Spain. Along the seashelled route, the markers that show the way for pilgrims through countryside and town alike, I carried a Camino passport to have stamped at the churches along the way to verify that I was trecking the miles. There aremany starting   points for the walk and some begin in France, Italy, and Germany, which I had forgotten until we walked up the stairs of St. Jakobskirche, one of the seven churches atop the seven hills of Bamberg. St. Jakobskirche is one ofthe pilgrim's   churches along the route that goes through Germany. I would have never thought to bring my passport, but the stamp marked well enough on my hand. The church itself, over a thousand years old, would have seen many souls pass by on their way to Santiago de Compestela, including me.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Traveling: Bamberg Smoked Beer

Breweries abound in the small, picturesque town of Bamberg. After the climb up the hills to visit the many churches (7 hills\7 churches), though we only visited one before going back down to have lunch at a beer house for another rich Bavarian meal and beer. Three of us decided to try the Rauchbier or smoked beer. It came to the table dark and with a distinct smoky flavor. The first couple of sips were interesting as I inhaled the smoky flavor. As I drank the beer, it grew on me. It was rich with flavor, but wasn't so heavy that it competed with the meat and potatoes. I enjoyed it so much so through several glasses that the walk back up the hill was harder than I remembered just an hour or so before. 

Traveling: Best Brat Ever at Neuschwanstein

My niece MK is displaying what we found to be the best brat ever. We had stopped for a coffee before visiting the castle and smelled the deliciousness wafting from the hot dog stand adjacent. Caroline, little niece, went over and bought two for only 8 Euro. MK and I were thr first, soon to be followed by the rest. What made them so good? The beef brat was perfectly roasted on the outside and tender inside. The bun was was warm and like all European bead, crusty on the outside and soft in the middle.  We enjoyed every bite.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Traveling: Cow Speed on the Luge

I wasn't so sure about the luge run at what looked to be an Alpine play park in Fussen, but I gave it a try nonetheless. I was happy to know that my joystick was in fact a break. As I putzed up the hill, I captured this photo of the cows lounging in the field next to the luge. Once I got to the top and had a small panic attack as I considered the course and the height of the turns, I immediately pulled back on the brake. I lost my friends ahead of me, but  I rather enjoyed what I felt was a swift ride down. Apparently, I moved like the cows and kept not one, but several boys from shooting down the steel chutes like bullets. Next time I go, whenever that is, I am going to go full throttle. I can always crash and land on a cow. They look friendly enough.

Traveling: Sunset on a Bavarian Lake

The sun set behind the mountain which made for a glow rather than a red and orange display. The lake was clear, cold water. After a day of hiking and stairs, the water  called my name. I stripped to skivvies and carefully managed many rocks to jumped in. I shivered, but it was delightful.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Traveling: Street Music in Salzburg

Around every corner is another performance. After dinner, the squares fill with music. These three were in the middle of the main street playing for their suppers. And when I flipped a couple of Euros into the violin case, it looked like they would eat well.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Traveling:Music on the Square in Vienna

On our way for a late dinner, we passed through the square and found music. We chose a cafe close by and enjoyed the inpromtu concert during our supper.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Traveling: Kunst History Museum Original Hipster


This dude caught my eye in one of the many rooms of beautiful oil paintings at the Kunts Museum of History. He looks like a 16th Century version of the hipster   that roams around my hamlet.

We arrived to the museum with little time left to roam through the many rooms of some known, some not, works of art. They were all very accessible. Some, one could reach out and touch. Others not so much. My niece leaned against a wall to see better and sounded the alarms. It took minutes for security to arrive, so she and my sister were able to escape unnoticed.

We left unsated, which I convinced my family was better than being exhausted and overwhelmed.

Traveling: Mozart

The theatre was beautiful, the musicians wore costumes, and the lights stayed on for what was an evening of Mozart's greatest hits. As the pace slowed, my nephew's head hit my shoulder as he got in quick naps, always waking for the explosive clapping at the end of each piece. I found myself tapping my foot and moving my body as if I were at, oh, an REO Speedwagon reunion concert. Strange, perhaps, but the orchestra played the songs with the unrestrained enthusiasm that I have witnessed reunion tour bands play who are so grateful to still have an audience for their greatest hit songs. It was great fun. Don Giovanni was not on the set list, so it was light and easy.

Traveling: Trying to Take Selfie with a Selfie Stick

I was sitting at the big foutain at Schoenbrunn watching these two take a selfie with the omni-present selfie stick and thought, hmm, I should take a selfie with them taking a selfie with their selfie stick behind me. Jump into the game. Sadly, the idea of it did not translate too well. They thought that I only wanted to take a selfie with them. 

We are so connected to the world in the age of WIFI, yet we don't talk to each other: those that we know or strangers in front of a fountain.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Traveling: Cafe Society

Slow to rise, we were out of the door late. A few days earlier, in the night, we passed a traditional Viennese bakery that was worth us going to for lunch. The day met us with heavy rain, but it didn't stop us from venturing forth. We sat outside and though a little wet, we had a wonderful lunch. The kids loaded the table with delicate pastries from what turned out to be a must visit bakery.

At the rear of the cafe, bakers worked on a whimsical cake sporting marzipan soldiers.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Traveling: Seeing a City by Carriage

After the heat of the afternoon, we took a carriage ride through the streets on a lovely Sunday afternoon. The marble city, and Vienna is one, glows in lowering light.

Traveling: Card Tricks

Stopped for an afternoon beer on a warm afternoon in Vienna and taught my nephew a new trick:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Traveling: Crumbs

We are hanging out on a sunny square on a Sunday morning in Vienna. Hector just ordered two more sweets and an ice cream confection. This is the life! The parents are at mass, and we will move, rather roll, over once we finish the last crumb.
A motorcade passed ... John Kerry thought to go to mass as well. Ah well, we were good with crumbs.


For the first time, I am traveling with my sister and her family in Europe. Her husband has a meeting in Vienna so that is our starting point. We are 3 adults and 4 kids (ages 11-18). We have spent a lot of time together over the years, but this the farthest away from home when we have all been together. Papi left his credit card at the airport, so as he and my sister ventured off to the airport, we waited in the apartment that he had rented for our time in Vienna. As we lazed around trying to fight off jet lag, I said, 'it's just like grandma's house, except we are in Vienna.' We do make home wherever we go. And as we waited for their return, the youngest kittens couldn't hold on any more.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Patagonian Wedding

Vogue March 2015
The lace on this dress is beautiful and the he color of it is interesting. I wonder if it wouldn't look wonderful in a sepia toned photograph. I've seen other photographs of this wedding, and it looks to be out in the middle of nowhere with a painterly background of sweeping field and dark mountains nestled under blue skies and fluffy clouds.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Jergen Teller for Louis Vuitton

Source: I don't recall ...
This is a Jergen Teller photograph that is being sold at Louis Vuitton stores from what the fine print reads. The location of the window is not revealed. I imagine that it is somewhere in Paris ... because that is what I want to believe of this lovely wood frame looking through wrought ironwork to trees to be located.

At first glance, I had eyes only for the window and the soft sun filtering through the trees, but I see modernism encroaching at the edges. You'll see in the bottom, right corner of the photograph a sculpture is set on what looks to be a steel base. It becomes distracting as I study the picture. As is the calla lily in the black, what appears to be, glass vase. Oh, and the rug ... it looks to be black with a white geometric pattern on it. The absence of these three images would, for me, make this picture perfect. As I examine it, I don't like it quite as much for the noise that the modern creates in what to be should be tranquil and quiet.

I suppose that some things should not be so closely examined. Perhaps, I should have just turned the page and to be left with a flash of what I thought that the photograph was meant to portray.

Friday, June 26, 2015

U2- The Experience

Bono at the United Center
I've never kept track of how many times that I've seen U2 over the years. It has been many ... and what I saw last night was truly the experience that the boys have meant to put together. It's a visual and audio scrapbook full of the moments of what has made them the band that they are and their journey through the last three decades of sound to a point where they can look back and find that they aren't that far away from the origin of the species (yes, that is a U2 song) or genesis of the band.

The show opened up hard core. Bono loves to explain that they are a punk rock band. The punk being the idea of the band more than the music itself ... their songs have always been more contemplative that what Johnny Rotten offered up. And though the Clash were certainly social commentators, they never looked into the soul of their reason for being quite like what U2 has done, I would argue, all along. I thought that I was in a mosh pit; unfortunately, the guy next to me wasn't real happy when I slammed into him ... gently, of course.

When the Songs of Innocence was released to iTunes, I was over the moon. I had been waiting for a new U2 record quite impatiently. I was so flustered by the news that it had arrived that I had a hard time getting it into my iTunes library. Unlike those that had a bottle of milk delivered that that they didn't want, I thought that the idea of the transaction was very punk. And I listened to it until I warped it and then the retail release came, and I bought it. The release included a couple of new songs and new arrangements of all of the original ones. The reimagining of the songs sooth me. If the bands intent was to write great songs, they accomplished it. The songs are beautiful, poignant, and universal with their themes of love and loss, time and tide. During Song for Someone, I was very close to Bono as he sang from the stage. I had my arms up in the air, my body swayed from side to side, and I belted it out with him:
You let me into a conversation
A conversation only we could make
You're breaking into my imagination
Whatever's in there is yours to take

As I sang it with him, he locked into me. I felt it. And I would have thought that it was a schoolgirl imagining except that my sister also felt it. That's the thing about Bono and the band, I don't mean to leave them out of this, one could be of many, yet it can be one that feels singularly connected to him/them. To the song. To the energy of the venue. To the celebration of heart and purpose.

The show was not without politic. How can Irishmen not be about that. And it resonated and rang bells. I felt particularly sure of it when Bono sang for the victims of the South Carolina massacre Pride. And though I usually feel the pride that he sings of in this song, it became sorrowful. Over and over he said that America is an idea, America is an idea. And he knows from his work in the world that it is when you think that you've conquered something that it rears its ugly impossibility somewhere else. And we, in America, have a lot of somewhere elses of late. I couldn't help but be reminded that a block away from where I work, a drive by hit four people, one of whom has died. What part of the idea allows for these senseless, if that's the right word, acts to occur.

I suppose this is what keeps me coming back to an U2 show. It is an exchange of ideas, emotion, and love. I feel empowered as I walk out the door and wonder what my part is in the idea. I haven't just had too many overpriced beers, I'm thinking. I've been shaken from the stupor that is day to day. And this is very punk.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Crazy Eyes

Oprah July 2015
Last summer, my niece flew into town to attend Spring Awakening, the 3-day EDM festival. She had graduated from high school, and her gift was to spend the weekend with my sister and I. Fortunately, my niece is what is known as 'chill,' and she didn't need to be in the thick of a pounding bass line for every second that the festival was open. She had other things to do ... get a pedicure, eat, take a nap, eat, oh! And watch the second season of Orange is the New Black.

I had seen the listing on Netflix, but I just couldn't see watching a show about women in prison. It didn't seem appealing, but my niece insisted that I would love it, and she was willing to go through Season 1 to get to
Season 2 so that I could see the whole series. And with that first episode, I was hooked.

This year, we had the same diabolical plan to Orange it by day for the newly released Season 3 and EDM it by night. Unfortunately, her school schedule got in the way, and we had to resort to 'fan texting' through some of the episodes. As a college student, even though she had a test to study for, she managed to rip through Season 3 in 2-days. Me? It took a week.

 A lot has been written about Orange, so I won't bother with the usual exploration of the fact that a show is almost exclusively about women and that it has given actresses, who would normally never work on a major television or movie project, the opportunity to demonstrate their skills. I will only say, simply, that it is a great story and the characters are ones that are either deplorable (Piper ... the main character ... I hate her) or so faceted that they are endearing and able to break the heart.

Crazy Eyes is my girl (the actress above). In Season 3, she really came into her own moving beyond the crazy and into the vulnerable and sweet, which she is. If you don't watch the series, Crazy Eyes is socially the equivalent of, maybe, a fifth grader. One of the great things about Orange are the flashbacks that take us to the story of how the character became who she is today. I don't know if I've seen enough of Susan's, aka Crazy Eyes, past to really understand her, but she's obviously broken and desperately in need of love and attention. And she ain't no dummy. In these episodes, she's taken the drama class seriously and when tasked to write a scene, she comes up with a sexual/time traveling/something or another epic that her fellow inmates immediately subscribe to. She's the hapless creator of a prison Fifty Shades of Grey ... and it is revealed that all of the naughtiness has been conjured up in her mind as  she is the innocent that dwells behind her sometimes volatile nature.

In some respects, not many, I understand where ole Crazy Eyes is coming from. In the last season, a bad women comes into the prison, who immediately begins work on Crazy to make her an accomplice. She does so by paying attention to her, making her feel valuable. Naturally, her intentions are not on the up and up, and she will use Susan to do her dastardly deeds. And even after the dust has settled, Susan defends her because she appealed to the part of her that no one else does. It's her vulnerability that allows for this to happen. Though I'm not about to cause bodily harm to someone else or take the fall for another, I understand how Crazy Eyes felt connected to her manipulator, and how it is so hard to believe that that she didn't have the best intention when she trusts everyone to have that.

Uzo Adubo, the actress who plays Crazy Eyes, is marvelous. How she climbs into a character that is not only mentally a cacophony of movement and chaos, but physically has all of the quirks of someone who isn't quite sure that she is alive in this world. Like a baby, her body moves without will or control, except the body is that of a full-grown woman. It really is something to watch. And when, in the last scene of Season 3, she disappears and then is found, the expression on her face is one of someone who doesn't understand how the world is meant to tear you down, not fill you with joy. It's something to consider.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Game of Thrones: Emilia Clarke

Harper's Bazaar May 2015
I've not ever seen The Game of Thrones, and it a series that many of my family and friends say that I need to see. It's in its eighth season, perhaps? That's a lot of catching up to do.

Typically, when I run through a magazine, I skip most of the interviews of celebrities that grace the cover. And, for the most part, it is a celebrity and not a model that is on the cover. For this, I did read it for whatever reason I know not. But Clarke lept off of the page and was captivating in an English, charming way- sort of a flibbertigibbet. I quite know what one of those is!

One of the things that I've been told about Game of Thrones is that a lot of breasts are shown. My sister, who is not endowed in this department, commented that she doesn't feel as bad about her deficiency in this area as she's seen so many on the show that she's come to peace with the fact they do come in all shapes and sizes.

In the article, she describes the first seen that she is revealed: "The crew was a few cliffs over, " she continues, "so it's me, four or five extras, and Iain Glen [the loyal-to-a-fault Ser Jorah]. Iain does this thing where he lifts his head and his face goes, 'aahh, naked lady.' But because they were filming so far away, what he said was 'great tits, love.'"

In the picture above, Clarke is wearing Proenza Schouler. You may recognize it as the dress another person of fame has worn lately on the heel of the news that she is pregnant, except in black. I like the red. It's more powerful, and as she is the queen, no? She needs to wear it. One of the other dresses in the editorial is this dragon one from Valentino. It really is quite exquisite, isn't it. That's there's fire in the foreground is brilliant. If she has, indeed, risen from the ashes of a fire with dragons on her shoulders ... we've got it here.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lily Rose Depp

With the pedigree of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, how could Miss Lily Rose not be beautiful? I will say that I think that she takes after her father's prettiness most. Yes, Johnny hides his beauty behind scraggly scruff and a furrowed brow most of the time, but the man is pretty. Very.

Many years ago, I saw the film, 'La Ville Sur La Pond' or 'Girl on the Bridge' with Vanessa Paradis, Lily Rose's mom. It is brilliant; although the particulars of it have faded through the years, and like many good movies, I am left only with the emotion of it, which for this is despair. The knife thrower encounters the girl on the bridge who is ready to jump, and he saves her life only to put her in harm's way, which is to throw knives at her. She becomes a sideshow attraction. But I also remember the attraction that the two had for each other, and the allure of what it meant to be a target of the daggers. I remember its eroticism.

In this scene (wonderfully accompanied by a Marianne Faithfull song) from YouTube, I argue that it is more ... dangerous ... sexual ... than any red room that has been associated with sex and danger recently even sans Jamie Dornan. With the last dagger, the pain, theirs together, is wholly penetrated, both breathless from the release of its pleasure.

I'm not sure what this young Depp-Paradis will do. She is only 16, but for her party, she did not use 'sweet' as the moniker; rather, she chose sour. Hers certainly has not been a typical coming of age, and the impact of what we know of Johnny and from I have seen of Vanessa, a dark angel she may be. I don't mean in any sort of satanic sense, but in that she will not be full of fluff. Behind her eyes, as the photo above demonstrates, is beguile.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

U2's Songs of Innocence Tour

I can't wait until they come to town. I'm heavy on the U2 rotation, from A to Z-ed, getting ready. Getting? I've been.