Category Archives: Blog

Vancouver

I was in Vancouver for a conference for a few days last week. Pretty city – so nice to walk along the waterfront. Saw my lovely hipster niece. Brought to mind this Veronique Sanson song.

Peter Schjeldahl and Ada Calhoun

About two years ago, I posted about Ada Calhoun and one of her books here. At the time, I did not know that she was the daughter of Peter Schjeldahl, the art critic and essayist. He wrote a phenomenal essay about his cancer diagnosis three years ago and died last week. Only a month ago, I read Calhoun’s latest, Also a Poet, which was, in large part, a tribute to her father and their less-than-perfect relationship. She writes about the struggles of wishing you had had parents that were, for example, more attuned to you, prouder of you, but then also understanding this: you get what you get and good things can come from difficult bonds or even bonds that do not feel strong. Noteworthy for me that Schjeldahl was Norwegian-American. I recognized the unwillingness to praise one’s child, a trait my mother certainly demonstrated. I also recognized the frustration of having parents that seemed perfect (or close to it) to the outside world, while being only human at home. Rest in peace to Schjeldahl and may his daughter continue to write.

Dame Angela Lansbury

What a career – and yet Lansbury was never an A-List movie star, which shows you how stupid those rankings are and how silly Hollywood can be. The first time I saw her in a movie I was a kid, and it happened to be her first movie, Gaslight. I remember it well, because the movie scared me and she was wonderfully nasty. That she could hold her own against/wish Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman is quite something. She was a teenager. Another Lansbury performance that I love – I believe her third movie – is The Picture of Dorian Gray. In the film, she was the victim of the protagonist though in real life, she and Hurd Hatfield became firm friends. He guest starred on Murder, She Wrote several times and she apparently convinced him to buy property near hers in Ireland.

Impossible to do her versatility justice – think of how wonderfully creepy she was in The Manchurian Candidate, for example. (She also played Elvis’ mother in Blue Hawaii – truly, a terrible film.) She had a remarkable stage career, as well. I mentioned Murder, She Wrote above – sue me, but I loved that series. So fun. There was a reason it was so successful and has such staying power. It is crazily popular in Italy, by the way.

FYI, I had a lovely aunt who looked so much like her. Obituary – of Lansbury, not my aunt – here.