Montparnasse Cemetery

We spent a few hours wandering around Montparnasse Cemetery yesterday and today — peaceful and yet full of surprises. (I’ll post more pictures on this site later, I hope, but do check my instagram and Twitter feed, as well.) I wanted to post this picture not because I admire these two dead souls — I rather don’t, thinking them to be contenders for two of the top spots in my Gallery of the Overrated — but because I find it so bizarre that there are lipstick marks on the headstone. Yes, those marks are from girls (and maybe guys) slathering on gloss or lipstick and kissing the headstone. Ew! And really, do these two clowns deserve it? I think not. (Still, rest in peace and all that.)
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In Frankreich

Dear readers, I am in France. Paris. Parigi. My better half (he is here, as well) asked me why I always call it “Frankreich” and it is because when I was a student at the Sorbonne, many moons ago, I had nowhere to be at Christmas one year and a Swiss-German classmate invited me to come to Switzerland with her and stay with her family at Christmas. So I did. And as our train pulled past the French border she screamed out — in contempt — “auf wiedersehen, Frankreich!” I  might have forgotten that but for what ensued when we arrived at her family home. “Judgment at Nuremberg” happened to be on TV that first night and when I expressed a desire to watch it — her mother asked me what I wanted to watch — the entire family went bonky and were all, like, oh wow, the war ended over 40 years ago, why do we still have to hear about Jews and how  bad they had it?

It was truly creepy. I could not get out of there soon enough, but unfortunately, I had to wait till December 27th. Have never spoken to that girl or her Jew-hating family since. (I had the good manners to send them a thank you note, though.)

If you want to see some pics of our time here, please do check my instagram and my twitter feed. Will try to post here, but ’tis a bit difficult to do so on a regular basis.

I’m Still Here and I’m Callling all Yentes

As the song said.

I’m still here. Just been a combination of busy and dealing with a great upsurge of various emotions. My better half pointed out that we are coming up on the anniversary of my mother’s death, so I’m guessing that is a trigger. Will try to post more devotedly, but right now I direct your attention to My Uncle’s Letters from the War, a tumblr I started a while back (and which I have already linked to on this site). I have been so happy (though ’tis also rather bittersweet) to be in touch with people who either knew him or are the children of those who knew him and I’m hoping for more such feedback as I continue posting his letters.

Currently, I am calling all Yentes.

Leonard Nimoy: Of all the Souls I Have Encountered…

Sad about Mr. Spock’s death. I became a classic Trek fan thanks largely to one of my brothers. He used to watch it religiously in re-runs in the ’70s and I really had no option but to watch, as well. (We probably also watched the original together, though I don’t remember that far back.) My first thought when I heard Nimoy had passed was to that brother and to a dear friend in Ottawa who has always adored him. I also thought of Sheldon Cooper — speaking of, here is an article (in Italian) about Mr. Spock’s legacy and influence, including said influence on the Big Bang theory characters.

Of course, Nimoy was a fine actor in other roles, but he will always be Spock to most of us. And what was great about him was that he didn’t seem too ungrateful about that — he appeared in the Star Trek movies and had tremendous humour about the role that made him so famous. He was proud of his Jewish heritage, incorporating it into the “Live long and prosper” sign. He was also a vegetarian, I recently learned, and he loved cats! What is there not to admire here, people? As I tweeted yesterday, I have rarely seen the internets so united in grief. And no wonder.

Kitty Foyle

Kitty Foyle is one of my favourite schlocky movies from days of yore: it’s sort of an early rom-com, though short on comedy, more of a romance novel (and it actually was a novel) turned vehicle for Ginger Rogers (who was terrific in the role). One has to take it, though, as being “of its time,” so to speak. There is, for example, one particularly cringe-worthy moment where Kitty says that she is “free, white and 21.” Oy.

I watched it recently on Turner Classic, and I realized that for me, it represents  a connection to both of my parents. My dad told me once that in his youth, he had a big crush on Ginger Rogers, though he got over it when he discovered that she was, in his words, “a fascist.” Now, I did some reading on Rogers, and she was not a fascist. She was a Republican and not a fan of the New Deal or FDR. That said, when the war started, she abandoned the Republican isolationism of the era and became a full-on supporter of the war effort – she owned a ranch that donated milk to soldiers and she performed in numerous USO tours.

It connects to my mom, at least in my mind, because of her love of the word “pill” to describe a certain type of man. What type of man? Well, just watch Kitty Foyle and you’ll see that she is torn between two pills. In the end — spoiler alert — she chooses the pill who wants to marry her, rather than the pill who just wants her as a mistress. It’s a smart choice, I suppose, though one senses Kitty preferred the latter pill.

Here is the original trailer of the movie, in which you can see both pills, and Ginger rocking the role of a white-collar gal. (By the way, I like to think of myself as a “sassy mick,” just like Kitty!)

Sun TV

I was sorry to see Sun TV go under, though I had pretty much stopped watching it over a year ago. The more voices out there, the better, and, of course, nearly 200 journalists out of work is never a good thing. And yes, a number of those journalists were/are friends of mine. In fact, when it first started, I remember a friend and I were joking about how it felt like our friends had started a news network in their garage.  I knew so many people in the original lineup, both people in front of and behind the camera.

That aside, the amount of glee certain people are getting out of Sun’s demise is unseemly, especially when the gleeful folks tend to be fans of the CBC and tend to say things like, “Canadians don’t want Sun TV! Sun wanted a free market, and the free market has spoken!”

Um, well yes. It has spoken for Sun, because Sun didn’t get a billion dollar hand-out from the feds every year, the way the CBC does. If the CBC ever had to answer to the free market, it would go under, and probably much more quickly than Sun. The CBC’s ratings are dismal, but their ratings don’t matter, because they are guaranteed funding. In all probability, if Canadians had the choice of whether to pay for the CBC or not, they wouldn’t want our public broadcaster anymore than they want Sun.

At any rate, there were some talented folks at Sun, not the least of whom is Ezra — I wish him luck with this venture.

Pessimism

As previously mentioned here, I have started a tumblr of my uncle’s letters from World War II. I was thinking about the post I just put up, the beautiful quote from one of his letters, the absolute moral clarity and it occurred to me that in the current generation of my family there is someone who said, a few years back, that every day he woke up and hoped that more American soldiers had died in Iraq.

I hadn’t thought about those awful, stupid words in a while, thankfully. But today they came to me, in stark contrast to my uncle’s wonderful words.

My late brother, Alan, was appalled by the comment in question, as was I, but more to the point, he was shocked. I really wasn’t shocked, because I had a clearer view of the person who said it. (Alan had a certain naivete.) But it made me deeply depressed, nonetheless.

One lives in hope, as I always say, but one can contemplate “devolution” and become quite pessimistic…

Israeli Election

One of the things many people outside Israel don’t understand about it is that none of the mainstream political parties are going to be anything but tough on matters pertaining to Israel’s security (thankfully). While Likud members might have different ideas about the economy or social issues than more left-of-centre parties, that is pretty much where significant differences end. It was, after all, Ariel Sharon — hardliner of all hardliners — who made the decision to have Israel disengage from Gaza. In other words, labels like “right” and “left” can be inadequate. As long as the party the Israelis elect protects Israel, I’ll be happy. That said, it would be fun to see Netanyahu win again for one reason: it would make Obama’s head explode.

On that note, enjoy this Likud campaign ad, which I find very fun. It could actually be adapted to Canada — I would trust Harper with my kids, but I would never leave them with Justin. And while I think Mulcair would probably be a responsible babysitter, I also think he would frighten the children.

2 Broke Girls

I have become totally hooked on 2 Broke Girls. Yes,  I know, I am always late to the party. It has been on since 2011. I started watching it in Italy (in Italian) and now am catching up on re-runs (in English). It is terribly funny and I can’t believe some of the stuff with which they get away, especially given their 8 p.m. time slot. A friend of mine, who has a ten-year-old son, tells me she cannot let him watch it because she finds herself having to answer too many awkward questions.