Friday, January 27, 2017

Bruno Mars

Rolling Stone 
Versace and Gucci man! I don't know anyone who doesn't love 'em some Bruno Mars. Whether James Browning it at the Grammy's or through the songs that he writes for other artists (like Adele), the man is full of sparkle and shine. And he's got the gear to reflect it.

I love his outfit here! I'm guessing that it is Versace. It's a tear-out from a months old magazine pull-out that I found on my desk. My magazines have been coming late because my key is still broken off in the mailbox, and I still refuse to pay the $100 for a locksmith to come fix it when I am renter, and I believe that my landlord should fix it. It's not as if I broke the key on purpose or was negligent. It was old and weak. It broke. Now, I'm at the mercy of the mail carriers in what is considered one of the worst postal codes in the whole of the United States. All I have is this cover. No article. No descriptions. But I think that it is Versace. And this is why ...

In 1995, I traveled to Europe for many weeks right before I started my high school teaching career. My travel partner was a software designer who worked as a consultant, so he was able to block the time out for the trip. We flew to Frankfort without any reservation except for our flight. We wandered through Prague, Budapest, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, and arrived at our last stop in Final Ligure, on the Mediterranean in Italy. There, we were ready to get home and found that we were in the least cool place from our trip. It was a beach town. The restaurants were under tents on the ocean, and each one had the same menu and the same, same old. We discovered one part of the town that was more charming that the rest. And we stumbled across a restaurant on a cobbled street where wonderful aromas emanated from within and six tables that begged for a sitter that hugged the street. We asked for a table and were denied. We fixated on this little jewel and finally after asking twice the next day, lunch and dinner, the man finally sat us down for lunch on the third day. It was worth being denied three times, as the fourth time was more delightful that we could have ever guessed. Six tables was all that they sat for lunch or dinner, and we were at the mercy of the waiter, who brought out to us course after course of wonderful food. We sat down at Noon, the first to sit, and left at 3 or 4, the last to leave. The chef came out to the table to ask us how the meal was and congratulated us on our appetites ... for food and wine.

As we drifted off into the afternoon gullet filled, we ran across a Versace store. We looked in the window at what was predominantly men's clothing. My travelling companion said, 'let's go in.' And we left out after he had purchased a pink themed Versace shirt. I encourage his extravagant purchase. I was in no position to buy something so dear as I had been student teaching, had no 'regular' job, and wasn't sure that I had a teaching position secured for the school year start. It was a beautiful shirt. Well constructed, and the colors were so vivid. I don't think that he ever wore the shirt. He was too conservative to wear a pink shirt that exploded with color.  I wore it once. And now that I think about it, I should've kept it. He is gone now, and the shirt probably ended up in a bag for the Goodwill, his mother not understanding the beauty of it.

Ah, but it looks good on Bruno. It reminds me of the meal at the little restaurant on the street tucked away from the crowds of Italian vacationers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kurt Seyit ve Sura

I ran across this Turkish delight on a sleepy, winter evening last week on Netflix. I wasn't sure that I was ready to commit to sub-titles when I could barely keep my eyes open, but the snowflakes that swirled around the opening scenes made me feel nostalgic and cozy under my warm throw. And so like love, Seyit and Sura caught me by surprise. The series is based on true stories of a Turkish man from Crimea who fought for Czar Nicholas at the time of the Russian Revolution. He meets a beautiful Russian woman of noble birth, and the two fall in love at first sight. Always running from the forces that will change Russia forever and the families who don't approve of their match, theirs is a wistful tale of all-consuming love and the stubbornness that keeps it together, only to tear it apart. It is a soap opera to be sure. The villains are horrible, and I find myself yelling at  Petro, in particular, who is a horrible man ... jealous of his childhood friend Seyit and in love with Sura. But their constant reconnection after harrowing escapes and escapades is sublime. It is a truly romantic story. Produced and filmed in Turkey, I am determining that it is filmed according to a more traditional code. Seyit is more likely to kiss Sura on her forehead than her lips. Somehow this makes it all of the more ethereal. 

And Seyit ... what can I say about the man that I love. Wowsa. He had me at hello, good-bye, and see you later. The man is beautiful. And I have watched episode after episode to watch him explode across the screen. He has an intensity that is so attractive. With a gesture, I feel myself move closer to the screen to meet his command. I've Googled the actor, Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ, and have read up on the story of the story. I was overjoyed when I discovered that Season One meant over 30 episodes. I would not have to wait for more when it kept coming at me. Sadly, I was beginning to see that Seyit and Sura might succumb to the pressures that surrounded them- Petro is working really hard to kill Seyit, send him back to Russia to face execution, and murdering someone to put the the blame on him. He is a dirty scoundrel, who is always trying to ingratiate himself into Sura's arms. And she nearly always falls for it as if he will be the savior of her lover.

And I did look ahead as it is reported online, and it made me sad. Yesterday, I saw an episode that showed a reconciliation between the lovers, and I am tempted to leave it at that ... stay away from the final episodes so that I don't watch it fall apart. Yesterday, when I was getting ready for work, I remembered that I had a ring from Turkey. I helped a friend organize the estate of one of his friends when he had died suddenly. When I was going through a drawer, I found the rings. I remember the owner telling me that when he traveled to teach in Turkey, he found the men to be very handsome. He was very happy being there and in their company. He suggested that I follow him and work there as well. I would have my choice of men. If they are anything like  Kıvanç Tatlıtuğk, I think that I might have passed up a good thing. In the series, when Seyit finally asks Sura to marry, he gives her his man's ring. She wore it happily on her index finger. Yesterday, I wore my Turkish man's ring. I walked around in a swirl of imaginings of flight, struggle, and the romantic beauty of Istanbul.

What better way to occupy oneself in a fantasy of true love on short, dreary, wintry days. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

On Monday, I was sending out a text to a friend to wish them a happy Dr. King day. I linked in a video of U2 singing at President Obama's inauguration concert in 2009 when he first took office. The President invited Bono and the boys because they are great ... no really, the campaign had featured U2's music prominently. Naturally, U2 performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial "Pride, In the Name of Love," which commemorates Dr. King's legacy.

When Obama won and the inauguration was being planned, HBO announced that they would televise every moment of the momentous occasion of America's first black president being elected into office. And for this, HBO extended a temporary membership to cable subscribers so that subscribers everyone would have the  opportunity to follow the events of the days that surrounded the big event. I signed up immediately because I didn't want to miss any part of the celebration, and that U2 was performing made it even more enticing.

Re-watching the performance this week, I became so aware of my feelings about the 2016 election and my reaction to it. Watching Bono bound out child-like (or geeky teenager) excitement across the marble steps leading to the Lincoln Memorial, I remembered how optimistic I felt about the country at that time, the President, and the change that would come with his promise. In this shot, Bono sits on the stairs after the performance and looks ready for the possibility of it all. It was an amazing time for everything that Obama said that we needed to call on: hope, change, and the ability to make it happen. Yes, we can. Yes, we did. The first months of the presidency were tricky. The leftovers from the previous administration would seem to be the sledge hammer that would fall on hope and change, but it never did. For eight years, through times that moved in a pattern of up and down as all time does, possibility was never lost.

I have no interest in the Inauguration today. I don't want to listen to President Trump mumble through mesh ideas that aren't fundamentally American. I live next to the state that Mike Pence ran with intolerance and weak ideologies. Come live in Indiana, we have a balanced budget reads the billboards out to my mom's house on the border. No, that's all right. I would rather live in my broke-ass, broken down mess of state than move somewhere that allows for a business man to refuse to make a cake for a gay couple's wedding. In Bono's words, "I want to close my eyes and make it go away." It won't. But I am not so sure about how much of this sideshow that I can actually take. There will be no HBO for me this time around.

But I will not give up hope. I made a promise 8 years ago which was to say that I can. So, I will. And if we all will ourselves to move forward in grace and with hope, we can't lose. We just can't.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Haley Bennett

Vogue December 2016
Do you know her? I've been reading her name a lot lately, but I haven't seen her in "The Girl on the Train," "The Magnificent Seven," or "Rules Don't Apply." What I did see was this spectacular dress that she's wearing on  the pages of Vogue. I don't typically like the sheer dress/underwear look, but this Valentino number is truly magnificent. I love the up to the neck, sleeves to the fingers, and covering bib that gives the illusion that the dress is prudish. It isn't, of course. But it seems like it might be if the lace was replaced by some good old-fashioned cotton lawn. Maybe I like it because the red pops out from a dull background. It brightens the perspective. Although it was published in December, it came to me in January, after the lights, champagne, and general frolic of the holiday season. I reminds me to rage against the dull of shorter days colder light.

For Miss Haley, after having read the associated article, I have seen her on screen in "Music and Lyrics," which starred Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant. I own a copy as I do most of Grant's work because he is adorable. In the movie, Grant is a wash-up teen idol who hasn't written a hit song for years until he meets Drew Barrymore. Together, they write a new song for a pop star, who is played by Bennett. It's a cute movie, and Bennett is believable as a, for the time, Britney Spears kind of personality. About two years ago, my nephew learned to play the song that she sings for the piano. A crush liked the song, so he played it. How adorable, right? Well the movie and Bennett were just that too.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Winter Blue

A few weeks ago, as we battled extreme cold in our building, a woman said to me, 'don't you hate winter?' Actually, I told her, having lived in Chicago for my whole life, I'm fairly used to plunging temperatures, piles of snow, and dark evenings. Sure, it's dipped back down to the single digits now, and the wind chill is pulling it even lower, but it has blended into the cycle of my life. And in times of uncertainty, knowing what to expect is a great comfort. Plus, when it is really cold outside, the sky is a spectacular shade of blue. Cold burns through clouds and finds for me the color of the Caribbean waters that I have swam in Puerto Rico's western beaches, which is the islands most beautiful encanto. I see that and find a great warmth in the sky, even as cold as it is.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Lovings

Vogue November 2016
A pretty picture to begin the New Year. Always a fan of pattern play, I'm drawn to the interest that the red flower brings to make the look less blue. For 2017, instead of wearing pant suits to make a point, I say we all tuck a red flower into a headscarf to identify the movement for a brighter future than what is on hand for us this month for what is being served to us.

The actress, Ruth Negga, stars in the latest version of the story of Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, who, as a bi-racial couple, were not allowed to marry in a 1950's State of Virginia. The couple was raised in a community where it was not unusual for a 'mixed race' couple to form, yet they were forced to move to Washington, D.C. to marry and live. At the suggestion of another, Mildred wrote to then U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy to expose the injustice of Virginia's law that kept her from living her life where it was meant to be lived out, in her home state with her family and friends. Kennedy got the letter, and the Lovings became quiet activists who turned a personal desire into a national concern.

Their story is not unfamiliar to me. In 1996, Timothy Hutton, Lela Rochon, and Ruby Dee stared in a version of it. I recorded it from a television showing, and I have shown it to students for years. The tape doesn't include the last fifteen minutes of the movie for an unknown or resolved reason, but students don't need to see the whole film to be pulled into discovering real events of the Civil Rights movement in our country. Since it is the story of two 'star crossed lovers,' it captures their attention and draws them into the bigger ideas of the movement.

I haven't seen the 2016 film, "Loving," that is in theaters now. I'm not so sure that I will see it in a theater. I love Lela Rochon's portrayal of Mildred. She plays the role simply and with the naivete of the bigger world that I would imagine a mountain girl would possess. Hutton is awfully cute, and the Australian actor who plays him in the newest version may physically resemble Loving more, but he and Rochon have a chemistry that makes even the hardest nosed boys in any of my classes swoon a little bit. It is a love story after all. And though they faced a huge state bully, which hasn't changed much in light of how Virginia voted in the election, continued to be a couple. It didn't break them; they broke it.