Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Web

I can't stop finding and seeing connections between almost everything I watch. A few weeks ago, I watched "Cambridge Spies", purely to watch Toby Stephens. And today, I watched "Another Country", purely to watch the heavenly Colin Firth and a stunningly young Rupert Everett. However, as I watched "Another Country", I was struck by how similar some of what I saw was to "Cambridge Spies". After a little bit of research, what do I find, but that Julian Mitchell had loosely based Everett's character Guy Bennett, on Guy Burgess’ life. Guy Burgess was one of the original Cambridge Five. Now that is definitely a coincidence! As I was musing about coincidences, I remembered how about a month ago, I talked about another coincidence like this linking "Rumpole...", "Edwin", and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy". And what should happen next, but I find a link between "Tinker, Tailor..." and the Cambridge Five as well (the cryptonyms should have given me a clue earlier)! Also, the character of Pym was based on Kim Philby, the Third Man, played on "Cambridge Spies", by Toby Stephens, whom I wanted to watch in the first place. Now, if that isn't eerie, I don't know what is! There are other connections among them all too, which I don't really want to put down, in case I actually start believing that I am paranoid!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Sweet Shovelers

We had an ice storm last Saturday, and it snowed most of Sunday. By the end of it, all the trees at Gateway Hills, and the rest of Ames, had bowed down to the ground under the weight of the snow and ice. It's a most unusual and breathtaking view. Each twig and branch is encased in a mold of smooth, clear ice and great clumps of snow sit on these icy boughs. Their sight is so pretty... they look like large clusters of fluffy white flowers on crystal branches and trees.

The other, less pleasant side of the ice storm was that my car was buried under ten inches of snow. My property managers were clearing the parking lots, and asked that everyone remove their cars. So, though I was sick, I had to go out and do it. It is the very first time I have ever had to shovel snow, and believe you me, it is not easy work. At least, not when there are ten inches of it. So there I was, scraping my windows clean and digging away all around my car for all I was worth, feeling like this would add at least two more weeks to my dastardly flu, when two magnificent young men came over and offered to help. Between the three of us (mostly the two of them), the snow was out in under ten minutes, and when I had thanked them and gotten in my car, they pushed it so my wheels wouldn't spin on any clumps of ice. Now, how often do you get to see sweet neighbors like that? I parked a couple of blocks away, and walked back, thinking that I would like to invite them back home for some mulled cider, but they had vanished by then. My two angels!

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Dim-Witted Academy

Martin Scorsese won the Oscar last night, after five previous nominations. Finally!! I am sick and hoarse, but I was positively screaming in delight. I would have thrown a fit if Clint Eastwood won again. I think Eastwood’s wonderful, but Scorsese has deserved it for so long. The sad thing about it all is that though I really liked "The Departed" very much, I don’t think it is Scorsese’s best work. What about "Taxi Driver", and "Raging Bull", and "Goodfellas" and all those other wonderful movies? According to me, "Taxi Driver" was his best work. But, he wasn’t even nominated for "Taxi Driver". I can’t understand why the Academy is so stupid! However, they weren’t as dim-witted at Cannes. He was nominated and was named Best Director in 1986 for "After Hours". And "Taxi Driver" had already won the Palm d’Or in 1976. However, even though I was enormously angry that he won the Oscar for "The Departed" rather than for some of his finer work, I was thankful that the Academy had finally acknowledged him as a first-rate director. Thirty-one years too late, but still!

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Frugal Chariot

All of last year, I probably read only one book. This is such a terrible disappointment, given that ever since I was old enough to read, I have been devouring them at the rate of several books a month. However, as television adaptations of my favorite genre became more accessible to me, my reading dwindled, and I seem to be heading rather positively toward couch-potatodom. This is a real pity because on the rare occasions that I do read a book, I am enthralled, enraptured, ecstatic, cannot place the book down, and am oblivious to the world around me.

As Emily Dickinson put it:
"There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress or toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!"

In an attempt to rediscover the joys of reading, I resolved this year to read at least one book a month. I have been better than that and have already read two, and am on to my third, and have a fourth one already planned. I’m so proud of myself that I’m patting myself rather vigorously on the back.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Rakish Mr. Jingle

Patrick Malahide is my GOD!!! I remember watching him years ago as the rakish and dubious Mr. Jingle in a 1980s production of "The Pickwick Papers", with a mixture of terrified fascination and almost unmitigated horror. He was so devilishly charming, that I almost sided with his Mr. Jingle as he got the Pickwickians into one shocking scrape after another. Dickens no doubt meant him to be hated - he was a loud, swaggering monster. But he stole my heart. Imagine my surprise then, when I recently rediscovered him as Ngaio Marsh's Rory Alleyn. The character he was playing was so dramatically different, that it took me a whole half hour to place him. I must say that among all my movie heroes, he is the one who has aged most gracefully. As Alleyn, he is subtle, painfully quiet, and has the most deliciously tormented look in his eyes. I wouldn't swoon for many people - not even for my beloved Anthony Andrews. But I would swoon in an instant at Patrick Malahide's feet. You wouldn't think so to see him. He's a middle aged man of average height and slender build. He's got some terribly crooked teeth, which I find rather shockingly attractive. He has a receding hairline, and is not what you would think would be "GOD" material. But he does have the most gentle eyes, his head tilts endearingly to one side when he smiles, and that tormented look of his makes him seem so beautifully vulnerable. I feel with all my heart that if I melted into his arms, I would be safe.

I am smitten... this has to be love!!! In a joke that possibly only he would understand: "Your health, Sir!"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Her Infinite Variety

The other day I was watching Peter Egan on television, quoting Shakespeare. These very famous lines reverberated in my mind:

"Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety. Other women cloy the appetites they feed, but she makes hungry where most she satisfies."

When Shakespeare wrote those immortal lines about Cleopatra, he rendered her immortal. When I was a child, I was convinced that one day I would do something that would make me famous and immortal too. Nowadays, I think I don’t really want to be famous or immortal. I would however like to be indelible from the minds of people I meet. Not because of any one particular ability or charm, but for the same reasons as Cleopatra – because of infinite variety. What does it take to be a woman of infinite variety? How many things constitute the infinite? I have a new fancy every week, and try as hard as possible to dabble in as many things as I can, provided they interest me. Is that enough? Perchance, I already am a woman of infinite variety! Or maybe my variety needs to be enriched by things that I have not hitherto tried or experimented with.

That is my ideal, and if Cleopatra was that woman, I would like to be her. Sans the asp, of course!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Color Purple

It’s rather gratifying that my favorite color is also the name of a Pulitzer prize winning novel, a smash-hit musical and a critically acclaimed film. Not to mention, it is hailed as the color of royalty. One of my favorite pieces of jewelery is a heart-shaped amethyst set in a heart-shaped pendant that I have worn almost constantly around my neck these past five years.

My favorite clothes are purple. It is also the color of my favorite pen, bedspread, scarf, and even plant (the Wandering Jew)!! I must point out that I didn’t buy, make or plant these things because they were purple and thus elevate them to “favorite” status. All of these small belongings, I have cherished in their own right, and they all happen to be purple.

An interesting sideline about my lovely color: Purple is often used to represent the mortal sin of pride. It is also associated with sorrow and mourning, as in purple vestments worn by priests during the season of Lent. However, for me purple symbolizes neither pride nor sorrow – it is beauty and joy, freshness and love, vivacious and vibrant. And before I start to wax poetical, I’ll stop going on about purple, save to quote Robert Burns, who called my color, "… proud, imperial purple".

"Purple-is fashionable twice-
This season of the year,
And when a soul perceives itself
To be an Emperor."
~Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love Unspoken

2/7/07 ~ Joyous winter!!! I think that's the first time I've said that this whole year. At this moment in time, I feel incredibly in love with everything in the world. I don't know what it is... it could be that Nisha's birthday's coming up and that I am going to visit her... out of Ames at last!!! It also could be that Valentine's day is approaching, and love is in the air. Whatever it may be, I am this moment the happiest person I know.

To supplement my "love" mood, I've been listening to love duets from the operas. The love duet from Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" has hitherto been my favorite, but I recently have been listening to Adrian Ross' "Love Unspoken" from Lehar's love duet in "The Merry Widow", and I am almost crying tears of joy at the sheer prescence and magnitude of love in it.

"Love unspoken, Faith unbroken
All night through
Strings are playing, hear them saying
Love me, true!!!
Now the echo answers, "Say you want me too."
All the world's in love with love
And I love you!"

~ Adrian Ross' translation for Lehar's "The Merry Widow"