Those whose work and pleasures are one are fortune’s favorite children.
Like most Americans, my memories of 9/11 invoke deep emotions. I wrote a short piece based on one account of that dreadful morning.
At the 34th floor, firefighters with set chins and mournful eyes carry axes and oxygen tanks up the stairwell. “Keep moving ma’am,” one of them says as I inch downward. My supervisor, Carl, says the opposite: “We’re all clear to return to the office.” He nods and my coworkers retrace their steps to the floor marked 76.
Some instinct keeps me moving away from my desk and out onto the crowded sidewalk where I turn to look back at the cathedral of commerce. Flames lick at its body and plumes of smoke belch from its wounds. The sky fills with shards of glass and shreds of paper and I moan the sound of three thousand human souls.
A boy died (again) last night.
Taken from the bliss of his teenage invulnerability. The reason was something that wasn’t love.
20 kids died on a recent morning filled with promise. The serenity of kindergarten shattered by something that wasn’t love.
A President, no two, no three…more. Even a King. Shot. Down. Love forgotten in the frenzy triggered by long-held ideologies.
Love and life denied by high-powered, concealed, semi-automatic, long-range, rapid-fire fear.
Chard is a leafy, green vegetable often used in mediterranean cooking and is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables available. It’s often called Swiss chard.
It’s nutritious. And, it’s pretty.
I cooked chard recently and, Good Golly Miss Molly, I fell in love with it. I sauteed it in olive oil with diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, and assorted spices. Here’s a Recipe using chard from the Christian Science Monitor.
Then, there’s Little Richard. He’s also pretty.
Those of us distant from the tragic events of Newtown, Connecticut crave some kind of answer and, absent that, some kind of action. There are cries for gun control, increased mental health support for families, more security at schools, and additional attention to the culture of violence that permeates our media—unfortunately, we’ve heard those calls for action before. Maybe this time policymakers, health care professionals, law enforcement and engaged citizens will listen. I hope so.
Condemnation turns to Commendation
I am changing my life settings to autocorrect all negative thoughts.
I am really an aficionado of the work of Alfred Hitchcock. By all accounts he was a quirky, often mean, task master but a genius at storytelling I am as much fascinated by his ego and his personal aesthetic as by his cinematic technique.
I adore his fascination with blonde leading ladies (I don’t know what this says about me).
His leading men are most often older, strong and handsome but not in the style of today’s Hollywood pretty boys (Cary Grant excepted).
He makes his locales and landscapes an integral part of his storyline. In fact, these geo-characters are very often antagonists or serve to foreshadow a film’s resolution.
I admire his collaboration with prolific film composer Bernard Herrmann who has scored the music for nine Hitchcock films.
His works have an elegance to them. Even his bad guys (or girls) are usually sophisticated, well dressed and prone to impeccable manners (unless they happen to be birds).
He loves to play mindgames and his heroines are almost always flawed. He is both a lover of women and a misogynist; a great observer of human behavior and a narcissist. He is an auteur with both a spanning vision and attention to nuance.
Three of my Favorite Hitchcock Films:
North by Northwest –I love the sexy interplay of Cary Grant (Roger O. Thornhill) and Eva Marie Sainte (Eve Kendall). Mt. Rushmore is displayed as an amazing and frightening player much in the way the Statue of Liberty is used in Hitchcock’s Sabotuer (1942). Actor, James Mason is a delicious spy with a villainous, flat-toned voice dripping with British accent (although we suspect he is a German spy). His henchman, portrayed by Martin Landau embodies simmering danger. Grant’s mother is played with campy fun by actress Jessie Royce Landis. Finally, there are highly memorable scenes: the crop duster on a desolate road, Cary and Eva clinging to the nostrils of Abe Lincoln on Mt. Rushmore; Grant in the auction house and careening drunkenly along mountain roads. There is great atmosphere and acting in 1959’s North by Northwest.
Rear Window–In this 1954 Hichtcock film beautiful, floating, blonde fashion publisher, Lisa Fremont (played by Grace Kelly) pursues rugged, unglamorous photojournalist, Jeff Jeffries (James Stewart). In Hitchock’s prototypical cat and mouse banter, we immediately begin to understand the tensions of this romance. There is also biting comic delivery from actress Thelma Ritter as Jeffrie’s housekeeper. The setting–the courtyard of a New York City apartment complex–is key in this film. From the vantage point (sometimes seen through the special effect of binoculars) of a rear apartment we witness the comings and goings of the development’s residents including the brooding, lumbering, un-neighborly Lars Thorwald (played menacingly by Raymond Burr). When Jeffries suspects Thorwald has murdered his wife, the fun begins. This film is wonderfully confining. The Stewart character is wheel-chair bound, still recovering from an injury received in one of his harrowing assignments. The view is layer upon layer of cramped, personal scenes of domesticity and drama where even the violence is small: a body in a trunk, a curious puppy found killed; a thwarted suicide and finally, a climactic death battle (with flash bulbs as weapon) in a single room. The claustrophobia of Rear Window adds to the brilliant tension of this film.
Marnie–This film is a personal favorite. It does not have the critical acclaim of other Hitchcock films but has an eerily fascinating dark side that is less flamboyant and more interesting than Psycho. There is the requisite blonde (Tippi Hedren) and the older love interest (Sean Connery) involved in romantic gamesmanship. But in this film the game is more erotic and dangerous born out of a hunter’s fascination with its prey and the hunted’s determination to remain untamed and secretive even when caught.
Louise Latham is memorable as the disassociative mother for whom Marnie longs. Baltimore, Maryland has a secondary, but important role capturing a place where shameful secrets can flourish. In the foreground young girls skip rope on a narrow sidewalk of rowhouses and in the background is a matte-painted harbor where, surly, shipbuilders, laborers and sailors still congregate. The film ends on this scene–a long shot–as the children’s sing-song blends into the stirring score of Bernard Herrmann. It is the detail, the turns, the contrast of wealth and poverty and, ultimately, the compassion that gives Marnie its rich palette and makes it a formidable spellbinder.
Hitchcock will continue to fascinate fans like me along with writers, film critics, and new audiences lucky enough to see the Alfred Hitchcock Presents dramas in syndication on cable.
Meanwhile, there is a new film Hitchcock starring Anthony Hopkins as the venerable director during his filming of Psycho in 1959. The film opens this week (November 23, 2012). There was also a recent HBO film The Girl depicting the alleged sexual harassment by Hitchcock directed at Tippi Hedren during the filming of The Birds and Marnie. Hedren has said Hitchcock embodied both genius and evil.
The results of this week’s presidential election point to a larger issue in the way politics must be conducted in the future. People really do prefer hope to fear, compassion versus cynicism, civility rather than mean spiritedness.
Any thoughtful citizen wants our country to balance its budget but knows and remembers that numbers represent real people. Most engaged voters understand tough (and likely unpopular) decisions will need to be made over the next few years to continue the trajectory of economic growth. But we want to use balance, moderation and shared sacrifice.
Let’s put partisanship aside and act together to secure our future. We are one nation…indivisible.