Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Armchair Traveler

I've been post-shy lately. In my defense, I've been quite busy, but in the few moments when I have turned to write a long blog post, I get all tangled up in ideas of perfectionism and fears of sounding inane... or worse, overwhelmed by choices of topics to write about. So I take the easy way out, and write nothing. It's the writing curse... postponement. Ah, postponement. And to think, that word is much, much older than the existence of blog posts.

But I had to share this mailbox discovery today:


If ever a catalog captured adventure and possibility, this is the one. It isn't long, but it has packed within its pages so much more than a few select products: it captures eras' worth of intrigue and mystery, whisks you away to places far from home, and hints at cobbled alleyways, cocktails sipped in elegant hotels, silent glances, perfumes that linger in empty rooms. The writing is brilliant. And the illustrations (there are no photos) are wonderful.


What does it say?
You're sipping espresso at the corner of Bleeker and MacDougal, looking out at the world through dark kohl-rimmed eyes...

...Hey, you want to go up to Columbia tonight? Kerouac should be at the West End, and Ginsberg, and Burroughs. Corso, too; he's the one you have to watch out for.




The title of this jacket's page? Real-World Hero. And it reads:

Let's say that a major political party approaches you and asks you to run for President of the United States.

Flattering, but you probably decline.

A lot of men would. Even a quick glance through the diary reveals stuff that wouldn't sound good on the 6 o'clock news.

It's not that we're bad guys, exactly. Life is complicated. Sometimes a man skips shaving. Other things, too.

For those occasions when you want to marshal all your resources, not just the bright shiny ones, I offer this suit.

Some people may think you look a bit dangerous, but that's just the way it is.
I think J. Peterman, whoever he is, might be on my "five people you'd invite to dinner" list.

Along with, let's see... Amelia Earhart, Madeleine L'Engle, Katherine Hepburn and Judy Dench.

Perhaps, I should add more men, for gender equality. All right, 10 people. Four more men and one more woman.

Juliette Binoche, Samuel Clemens, Leonardo da Vinci, Pat Croce and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In Moving Color

Let me sing the praises of Netflix...

I had Netflix once before, for more than a year, and I think I had the last three movies in my posession for six months before I finally sent them back and canceled the account. For some reason, keeping up with the movies felt too much like homework. That's sort of the reason I no longer subscribe to the New Yorker, Sports Illustrated or Entertainment Weekly. I'm just reading Real Simple from Thanksgiving and National Geographics from 2004 (I grabbed one from the magazine basket to take to the doctor's a few weeks ago, and found myself reading that famous prophetic hurricane article. I believed wholly that I was reading about Hurricane Katrina until I got to the word "yet."). How could I possibly keep up with weekly magazines?

Oh, sorry, there's that digression habit again...

Back to Netflix. Al and I decided we would give it a try. And since we signed up just months ago, I have seen more of the movies one is "supposed" to have seen than I did during the entire four years I hung out with the film geeks (if any of said geeks are reading this, dude, you know I consider geek to be a compliment).

Among others: Cool Hand Luke, the Godfather trilogy, Streetcar Named Desire, Network, Taxi Driver, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. I love the way one movie leads to another through recommendations.

And I love the selection of foreign films, especially now that I no longer live near my beloved Ritz theaters. So, last night, Al was at work, and I watched White aka Trois coleurs: Blanc), the second movie in Kzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy (having watched Blue, with Juliette Binoche, a few weeks ago).

I loved it. I am sure more schooled critics than I have written volumes about these movies already, so I won't even try to talk like a film scholar. The way I see it, if I start to wish I had better shoes and a jacket on because it's raining in a movie, then it's a damn good movie. White was well-acted and as captivating as Blue, although they are two totally different films in style, acting, story and characters. And the ending caught me totally off-guard (totally changing my concept of what the movie was all about and rearranging my sympathies for the characters. In fact, my sympathies have been rearranging themselves ever since, back and forth and inside out). Blue was hauntingly beautiful, lovely, sad, and ethereal with underlying strength. White was dirty, gritty, human, tough, and dark (funny enough).

And I am not dissing Hollywood, but there are two great things that are often different in foreign films: even when they are gorgeous, the actors look real, and every second doesn't have to have music and/or perfect audio.

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Red.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Calamity Pain

I'm having one of those days on which everything I touch falls over, rolls away, spills open, blows up, sprays across the room, or gets caught in my clothing. And the cat... well the cat has hit his teenage phase, the little rebel.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I Can Smell Spring!

Yes, I can really smell spring. It's 68 degrees outside and as humid as a mid-Atlantic state in July.

And what do normal people do in the spring? Get new clothes! Not I, normally, because I hate shopping for clothing and will stretch my wardrobe for as long as possible, until I have holes in my clothing. But if no one can see them, then there's no problem, right?

But I have decided that both blogs could use a new outfit. I really liked the black background, because it sets off images so nicely, but I have been told that white text on black background can be hard to read for some people. And black text on white background is very, very hard for me to read, for whatever reason (my eyes are temperamental - I can't see very well in fluorescent lighting or in bright sunlight, either). So I've compromised a little.

Please let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Resolutions by any other name

I gave up New Year's resolutions a decade ago, because they stressed me out and made me feel pressured. I did make one resolution a few years back - I might have been the only person in the world to resolve to watch more television, because I worked in television production and never knew what shows my coworkers were talking about - but it didn't work. I still was distracted by the computer, by books, and, sometimes, even by real life.

But this year, like so many other people, I am in a fresh-start frame of mind. And so, inspired by my friend Laurie's admirable example of making resolutions and checking in on her progress, I made the following list, but I am not calling them resolutions, because that's so strict:



PAINT or DRAW something every day, even if it’s just a doodle.

WRITE IN MY JOURNAL every morning, even on the weekends.

Eat more than one serving of FRUITS or VEGETABLES every day. (Yeah, I just want to get the habit started -- I'll work up to the "recommended amount.")

WORK OUT 3 days a week and gradually increase that to 5 to 6 days a week (I’m not setting a weight loss goal because what I really want is to be in better shape and healthier).


READ A POEM a day, out loud. (I didn't manage this the first three days of the year, but today, I read six poems, so I caught up a little.)

Stop at least once a day and look around to APPRECIATE things that are good.

Write a LETTER to a FRIEND or FAMILY MEMBER, just because, every week or two, even if it's a postcard.

Write a COMPLIMENTARY LETTER a month – to an author I like, a company with a great product, someone who has been important in my life, etc.

Write a LETTER TO THE EDITOR a month (any editor).

Go to one MUSEUM a month. There are 8 zillion museums around here, a lot of them are free, and there are no excuses not to go. And I think it's acceptable to repeat a museum, because I really want to go back and see the Tiffany glass collection at the Chrysler Museum. (This photo doesn't begin to do it justice; it's in a room by itself and the room glows.)

BAKE at least once a month and really get bread right for once.

SEW one project a month.


REACH OUT to my friends and family. Make an effort to keep in touch with the people I care about. I am not very good at keeping in touch with friends, and I deeply regret that.


Practice GERMAN.


BELIEVE in abundance, grace, serendipity and miracles and appreciate them when they come.

Add three NEW DISHES to my repertoire (meaning I don’t need a recipe any more).

TAKE A CLASS, any class. Maybe even two, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

WRITE A NOVEL, even if it’s a very bad and very short one.

Laurie also picked a monthly resolution.


Finish my BUSINESS PLAN. (It has started to feel like a dissertation and I don't think that's the point.)

In conclusion, I am optimistic. I focused on things that will make my life more enjoyable, instead of on things that I "should" or "must" do, with a few exceptions, but those will still make my life more enjoyable. I am really, truly looking forward to the coming year.