July 21st would have been Ernest Hemingway’s 121st birthday. I am a fan of his writing, though many Women’s Studies’ majors have told me I oughtn’t be. No, I don’t like the bullfighting and hunting scenes in his stories, but I love his view of life, the need for courage and acceptance, his understanding of fear and the vicissitudes of love, and I do so appreciate his unpretentious writing. And, of course, I love his love of Paris and his worship of cats. I found three links about him that are worth your time, dear readers: his Nobel Prize acceptance speech; a letter of advice he wrote to Scott Fitzgerald (wence came the title of this blog post) – a rather macho letter, but so endearing, so preferable to the usual weasel words we get from others; and his list of essential reading for aspiring writers. Sorry to say I have still not read all of his recommended books, but I am getting there.
I loved her in so many fiIms including – trigger warning – Gone With the Wind, a story about the dangers of romanticizing people, ideologies and the past (most of which, the movie tells us, were never what we thought). I loved her with Errol Flynn – what a pair! I have a fond childhood memory of watching The Adventures of Robin Hood. Probably my favourite de Havilland film, though, is The Heiress. Every woman should watch this. The last scene is extraordinary and I have tried to find it on YouTube, to no avail. I did, however, find this – a Carol Burnett Show satire, which captures the original hilariously!
A story of mine on Medium. If you are a member, please “clap” (ugh! silly terminology) for it and please follow me. Sadly, one of my sibs got into quite a snit about this piece – not sure why, as it is merely an affectionate tribute to my recently-deceased brother. And to the power of talented writers like Nevil Shute, Gore Vidal and others. Ah well, families…such fun! Such fun! (If you are a fan of Miranda, you will get that reference.)
Today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene. I love this image of her, by Italian artist Carlo Crivelli, circa 1470. She is giving some excellent side-eye. FYI, this is a detail of a larger painting.
Readers, we get a weekly fruit and veggie delivery from an organic farm just outside Toronto. This week, we got – among other things – beets. Now, I like beets. I like roasted beets and beet and apple salad. I like golden beet soup. I have a friend who makes a mind-blowing salad with grated beets, walnuts and goat cheese. Heaven!
But I decided to try something different – beet hummus. Sounds gross, but was excellent. All you need: roasted beets (peeled – I do so after they are roasted) and garlic (lots of garlic); a tin of chick peas; the juice of a whole lemon; the zest of a whole lemon; salt and pepper and cumin to taste. Tahini if you have it (I didn’t). Put it all in a food processor and voila. Add a dash of balsamic without mixing it in, put some crushed almonds on top. It is pretty and tasty and healthy.
I don’t blog about food much, but I was so delighted with this. One caveat – change into black clothes. Cooking with beets makes the kitchen look like a crime scene and the chef look like the runaway perp.
Today is Bastille Day, which gives me an excuse to post this scene from Casablanca.
Maybe we should enlarge the lens. Frankly, I’m weary of the whole category ‘white people’, which throws folks of wildly different backgrounds, from Russians to Jews to Scots, into one big indiscriminate pot. So let’s talk about people, full stop. As a species, we’ve been treating each other like shit from the year dot. The horrors to which we’ve subjected one another, including slavery but a great deal else, are so incomprehensibly dreadful that no one, as an individual, could conceivably bear the crushing weight of all that torture, mass murder and sadism. If guilt is inherited, then every last one of us should be condemned to Dante’s nine circles of hell.
None of us chose the world in which we emerged. We didn’t pick our race, sex or natal nationality; any inbuilt leg-up or disadvantage these traits conferred at birth was not of our making. We didn’t select which awful history soaks the ground at our feet. It’s insensible to feel ‘guilty’ or ‘ashamed’ about something you didn’t do. It’s entirely sensible to feel regret, sorrow and abhorrence about the likes of slavery. It’s commendable to be informed about the past and to try to understand the nature of its wretchedness, as it’s also commendable to strain to leave the world a little better than you found it. But claiming that what happened before you were born is all your fault is not only ridiculous. It’s vain.
Dear readers, I am currently in the thick of this amazing book, Hope and Memory: Lessons from the Twentieth Century, by Tzvetan Todorov. Here’s an eminently sane Romain Gary quote from the book:
The bombs I dropped on Germany between 1940 and 1944 maybe killed a Rilke or a Goethe or a Holderin in his cradle. And yes, if it had to be done over, I would do it again. Hitler had condemned us to kill. Not even the most just causes are ever innocent.
The great actor Sir Ian Holm died recently. He was wonderful in Chariots of Fire, of course and people tell me he was fine in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I haven’t seen. But the movie I most loved him in was The Emperor’s New Clothes, a movie that imagines Napoleon coming back to France from St. Helena, and not being recognized. The former Emperor, down on his luck, meets and falls in love with a fruit vendor, and decides to help her fix her failing business. This has to be my favourite scene in the film, a moment that captures the importance of leadership and planning. So inspiring – whatever you do, do it well!
I really have to thank Carl Reiner for so much of my childhood laughter, and, come to think of it, my adulthood laughter! I think The Dick van Dyke Show is probably the greatest sitcom ever (perhaps tied with The Mary Tyler Moore Show) – I grew up watching it in reruns in the 1970s – and The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming one of the funniest movies. Here’s a clip from the latter – I love the Norwegian reference, of course. And the mouthy little kid is so funny.