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?
I wanted to do a follow-up post on the previous (see below) about Alfred Hitchcock's Holocaust documentary, Memory of the Camps. I watched it again yesterday -- was having a bad day and wanted a reminder that things could be worse - and it is truly something. Made in 1945, right after the camps were discovered, and absolutely a million times superior to any film or documentary about the Holocaust since. And this is to not to put down, say, Schindler's List, or Shoah, for example, both of which were extraordinary. But there is something so right about this Hitchcock documentary, and not just because the narrator is Trevor Howard (though that helps). The script touches exactly the right tone, especially where Germany and the role of 'ordinary' Germans were concerned. Far less mealy-mouthed than we would be now, for example -- pointing out that 'Germans knew about Dachau but did not care' and in reference to the camps in general that 'no German can say he did not know about them' -- but also far more in tune with history and the deep significance of the Holocaust in history.
Today is the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army, an appropriate date to post Alfred Hitchcock's documentary about the Holocaust. The director made the film right after the war and for reasons largely having to do with politics it was not released. Now we can -- and should -- see it. He himself was 'traumatised' by the footage. Very hard to watch, very necessary to watch.
Dear readers, I have been reading Dale Carnegie's How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, as I am a terrible worry-wart and have been known to grasp for help in this regard. And you know, I have to say it is excellent. I was prepared to mock it, because everyone I know who likes Dale Carnegie is annoying and uses other people's first names a lot, but there's nothing mockable about it. I mean, yes, most of the examples in it are of 1930s businessmen, but you can easily take their 1930s businessmen experiences and apply them to your non-1930s businessman life and benefit. Because things have not changed where it matters. Everyone is still worried about the same stuff.
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is also full of great expressions, such as 'You can't saw sawdust'.
The response of some of the so-called young militants does not represent the position of the vast majority of Negroes. There are some who are color-consumed and they see a kind of mystique in blackness or in being colored, and anything non-colored is condemned. We do not follow that course ... Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect her right to exist, its territorial integrity and the right to use whatever sea lanes it needs. Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality.
You know, a friend of mine (a Greek, no less) was saying that he sometimes thought the world would have been better off had the Ottoman Empire not fallen. But then, he noted, 'Lawrence of Arabia' would never have been made, and we both agreed what a tragedy that would have been. That's a bit of a long-winded way to say I hope the insanely talented and charismatic Peter O'Toole rests in peace (and gets to drink in Heaven) and that I think you should all read this wonderful Fouad Ajami piece on the subject of 'Lawrence of Arabia'.