When helping my sister make up a playlist for mum's memorial service, I, of course, looked up Georges Dor's version of 'La Manic'. It was a song -- and a version of the song -- mum loved. I found it and I also found this, a Leonard Cohen cover of the same. Glorious.
So we said farewell to our mom this weekend. It was sad and lovely and I hope she would approve (does approve). I feel that same let-down I felt after my brother Alan's death and service and something more. With mom gone, I realize that no one will ever love me unconditionally again, and no one will ever again warn me that something might poke my eye out. This is a real tear in the page of life, especially as I realized that there are some family members I will likely never see again, people who had to see me because of our shared relationship to mom. And now that is over. You really see keenly in these situations where you place on the totem pole of family, and I not only don't place, I barely show. But I am used to that and I did good this weekend, thanks largely to the fidanzato who kept me from snapping.
And as a bonus gift, please watch this clip from six years ago, when Hirsi Ali puts mental midget Avi Lewis in his place. 'Tis truly a glorious moment when she tells him that it is easy for him to spit on freedom, as he has never lived without it. It is also fun watching him trying to keep his head from exploding as this atheist, woman of colour -- whose life is under threat from Islamists -- challenges his sophomoric, spoiled-son-of-lefties-in-the-Annex world-view. Good times.
My mother died in the early hours this morning. The wee small hours. I think she waited till April Fool's Day so that she could wink at us with great love as she left us. For those of you who follow my blog regularly, you will see from the previous post that we have been dealing with mum's fading health for a while, so I am not in shock right now, but do feel as though I have been jack-booted in the gut and heart rather mercilessly. She was truly a force and I will miss her forever.
This is from last week's New Yorker and will also be a published memoir later in the year. The wonderful New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast has written/drawn about her aging parents: trying to convince them to allow help; to move into an assisted-living place; and ultimately, losing them. As the saying goes, you'll laugh, you'll cry. Simply brilliant and few people over a certain age will fail to relate to it.
I'm apparently not the only one whose junior high teachers made her memorize The Charge of the Light Brigade. Nazi f**k Baldur von Schirach (among other things, he was in charge of the Hitler Youth) quotes from the poem in this short snippet of an interview with David Frost, from 1968. Would love to find the whole interview, btw, though the bit available here is nauseating enough. Basically, von Schirach says to Frost (who does a good job of not letting von Schirach twist the truth) that he was just so busy (because he had so much work to do!) that he never noticed that industrial genocide he was in part responsible for going on around the corner and down the block and in every country the Germans invaded. He had a job to do and hey, he wasn't perfect! (Yes, he actually says this as some kind of defence.)
The only redeeming (and I use that word loosely) part of the exchange is at the end, when von Schirach quotes from Lewis Carroll and surprisingly, the quote is a propos and does at least indicate that he understands the scale of the crimes in which he was deeply and actively complicit.
Things are heating up in the Ukraine, are they not? Will not comment on the politics, or what actions I believe Washington should take -- that being said, 'twould be nice to see Obama get some sort of spine. It's painful to see how little respect or fear he inspires.
What I would really like to do with this post is thank my Grade 7 English teacher -- someone whom I did not particuarly like at the time -- for making us memorize The Charge of the Light Brigade. Now that everything old is new again and the Crimea is in the headlines, being able to recite it might be at least a fun time-waster, if not useful.
I don't usually plug my new articles but my latest at HuffPost is worthy, I think, especially for those of you who are animal lovers or fans of the movie 'Patton'. The latter will be the only ones who 'get' the article's last line.
This is excellent -- both the content and the presentation. I have to say, though, that as a half-Norwegian, I don't much like the use of the word 'troll' to describe what are really just bullies. At any rate, this is advice I could have used as a child and teenager. But it's helpful now, as well. I've had to block or unfriend certain people on some social media platforms. It is rather sad when you see how desperately some folks want to be taken seriously and want one's attention or just want to fight.
I have been very sick this week -- I think it was food poisoning, but then I have a couple of friends who tell me they have had a kind of stomach virus or something. Whatever it was, it was a deeply unpleasant experience. The silver lining is that I am in my skinny, skinny pants! Yay. It won't last, though, because I have my appetite back. On Wednesday and Thursday all I could manage was herbal tea, saltines and a banana. (And I wondered, after the banana, if it had been a mistake. Thankfully, I kept it down.)
I know I am not well when I don't want coffee in the morning or wine at night. Rare days indeed.
It's a good reminder that one should be grateful for one's health. It truly is everything.
Also Ralph Waite died! I really loved The Waltons. It was a show that got disparaged for being sentimental, but it was actually quite good. It would never fly today. It was cast with mostly not-beautiful-by-Hollywood-standards people, it was plot-and-character driven and it covered a lot of history -- the Depression, World War II -- in a sane, realistic way. I liked the relationship between the parents because you could tell they were hot for each and still got it on, even after seven kids.
Shirley Temple died -- she was so talented and obviously an intelligent woman. She became involved in politics and even ran, unsuccessfully, for Congress. I don't get how her run could have been unsuccessful, because, really, who would not vote for Shirley Temple?
My favourite Temple movie was 'Heidi', with 'The Little Princess' running a close second. I loved 'Heidi' so much that, as a child, I thought if I ever had a daughter I would name her Heidi. But then, when I worked in Japan, I had a colleague named Heidi who was really mean to me and I changed my mind, but I still love the movie, which I present in full here.
Ok, so everyone is complaining about gay rights in Russia, and while I agree that Putin's laws on the matter are terrible, I can think of few gayer things than this, from the opening ceremonies on Friday: the Russian Police Choir singing 'Get Lucky'. The sound isn't great, but it's so fun. And gay.
Maximilian Schell has died, and he was a crush of my youth, and of my 20s, 30s, 40s...and ever will be. So handsome in Judgment at Nuremberg, Topkapi (as a former resident of Istanbul, I could never resist this movie) and so wonderfully, attractively villainous in The Odessa File. A tremendous career, a tremendous person from an anti-Nazi Austrian family, to boot. Talented as all get out.
And Schell's death reminded me that I went to high school with a girl whose father was German and looked almost exactly like Schell and had a great, thick accent, and she and I became friends and I developed a whacking huge, teenage girl, hormonal, wild, lustful crush on him. I used to love to go to my friend's house because occasionally, Herr Schell-Lookalike would place his hand on my shoulder or if I got really lucky, would drive me home and all my adolescent hormones and urges would bubble. So I spent last night googling my old friend and her father and, lo and behold, he is online!! He and his wife look like those couples you see in those ads about people who invested well for their retirement and now travel a lot and sit in jacuzzis.
And yeah, he still looks great, though my lust for him has died because he is, like, 85 or so.
Here is a clip of Schell accepting his Best Actor Oscar for Judgment at Nuremberg. I believe his comments about Spencer Tracy being 'old' are actually meant to be respectful -- lost in translation. Gotta love Joan Crawford and Bob Hope!
People: is it wrong that I'm happy about Andrea Pirlo's divorce? I mean, ok, he already has a new woman (and from what I've read she is the reason for the divorce) but still, it indicates he is capable of straying, which means that at the very least fantasies about tawdry nights of passion with him aren't necessarily doomed to the realm of fantasy, yes?