Tell me the truth. You saw the prompt, and in your head, this song was playing. No? Then … hear this.
Last night, we watched Casablanca. We watch a lot of old movies, but last night, it was Casablanca, arguably the best of breed. The greatest of the great.
There are other, more exciting movies, more thrilling movies, though I find Casablanca pretty thrilling. What Casablanca gives us is immersion into the war where the passionately dedicated French underground is fighting for freedom and the world is full of the anti-Nazi heroism of ordinary people, willing to put their lives on the line for the greater good.
“What if you killed all of us? From every corner of Europe, hundreds, thousands would rise up to take our places. Even Nazis can’t kill that fast.”
Not the way it was, but the way we wanted (maybe needed) it to be. Even now, we want the grandeur of people at their finest. Truth be damned.
And love. Undying love that lasts through war and loss, no matter what the world brings. As we watched — and we know the movie well enough to hear the line coming — Garry looked at me and I grinned back. Wait for it … wait for it … Ah, there..
“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine…”
There’s the first of many great lines, There are many more. We went to the movies to see Casablanca on The Big Screen when TCM sponsored a release of the 1943 Oscar-winning classic a few years ago.
“We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.”
The filming of the movie was a crazy time. The script was written — and it’s a great script — page by page. The actors didn’t know what they’d be doing any day until the pages arrived. The set was chaotic and Ingrid Bergman wasn’t happy. Bogie was underpaid — a bad contract with Warner’s he had signed before he was a big star. Casablanca went a long way to fix that. Claude Rains earned more than Bogie — arguably worth it.
(Standing in front of the plane in the fog.) “I’m saying this because it’s true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”
“…But what about us?”
However it happened, Casablanca is movie magic. Brilliant, witty script that plays even better on the big screen than it does at home.
“…When I said I would never leave you…”
“And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.”
(Ilsa lowers her head and begins to cry.)
(Rick gently places his hand under her chin and raises it so their eyes meet, and he repeats–)
“Here’s looking at you, kid.”
Maybe it’s something about how differently we focus when we watch it in a theater than when we see it at home, with the dogs, the refrigerator, and a “pause” button. A difference in the “presence” of the film. The clarity of the visual presentation.
“Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
I’m sure it was and somewhere, it still is.
The end of May through early June would normally be when the garden is at peak. Not this year. Instead of flowers, we bloomed with millions of caterpillars. They came, ate all the leaves from the maples and oaks, then disappeared. Either they are all in cocoons awaiting rebirth as moths … or — maybe — they are really gone. I have a professional coming tomorrow to look around. He should be able to tell me more.
NOTE: They were in cocoons. Since I wrote this 24 hours ago, there are a lot of moths. Lots and lots. And if we don’t do something to stop them, they will lay many eggs to make more little caterpillars … so spray we must!
Meanwhile, it is safe at last for me to go outside. I admit it. I’ve been hiding. I have serious issues with many-legged crawling things. They give me nightmares. The kind from which I wake up screaming.
So. It has taken me awhile to get past my phobias and return to the world.
My garden has grown into a riot of flowers while I completely neglected it. A month late, but this is the richest crop of flowers I’ve seen in years. An act of defiance by nature against nature?
It’s that kind of day around the house. The Tall Son is stripping and refinishing the kitchen floor. I’m waiting for the garden crew to come and remove a tree that is determined to infiltrate our well.
My job? Stay out of the way. I am, today, officially a tourist in my own home. Oddly, I don’t mind one bit. It’s rather … nice. Refreshing!
“What do you mean, you’re fracking here! In the valley? Why?” I asked.
I was horrified. Ever since “fracking” became the latest, greatest trend in assaulting the earth, I have been sure it was going to do serious harm. How can anyone believe drilling through earth’s bedrock is okay? Could be safe or sane?
What about hidden, previously dormant fault lines? Or not so dormant fault lines. The aquifer and who knows what else? And about those nukes?
The utility companies are telling the government they can’t supply enough power if they aren’t allowed to drill and drill deep into the earth. Drill down to and through the supporting stone, the spine of the planet. And … oh, by the way, they also said: “We’ll pass the costs on to consumers.”
Naturally. You are going to destroy my world and make me pay for it.
The valley already has the highest number per capita of nuclear generating plants of any region in the country. You don’t see the nukes because they hide behind trees and fences. Big fences with barbed wire on top. Not the kind of fencing you expect to see in a park. So when you do see it, you know. There’s a nuke back there. One of many. When the mills moved south, the nukes moved in. Can’t leave that river idle, can you?
Now, they’re going to do a little “harmless fracking.” Right next door to all those nuclear plants. What could possibly go wrong?
This would be the first time, but it wouldn’t be the last. Well, on second thought, maybe it will be the last. Some mistakes are final. Irrevocable.
From some disasters, there’s no coming back.
I couldn’t help it. Me and a million other English speakers saw this prompt, and instantly thought:
“Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.”
The verse is extracted from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 7-part epic poem, “THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER.”
When I say epic, I’m not fooling around. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (originally The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere) is the longest major (define major, please) poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It took two years to write (1797–98) and was published in 1798. It’s long. No kidding. LONG.
Everyone who went to school where English is spoken probably knows of — or at least has heard — the “water, water, everywhere” verse … but do you know how many verses this poem has? Do you, huh?
One hundred and forty-three.
I think Coleridge wrote the poem to punish the old guy for killing an albatross. Albatross killing was a totally uncool thing to do, at least if you were aboard a ship. Really bad luck, not only for you — the albatross slayer — but for the entire ship’s crew. When The Gods punish a misdeed, they don’t go with “surgical strike.” More like general smiting to produce mass death and associated damnation. Gods want to be sure everyone got the point. And always, there’s one poor slob left alive to tell the awful (long) tale.
What? You mean … he didn’t write the poem to punish someone? Ah, I see. He wrote it to tell us the terrible tragic story that befell the mariner for his shameful destruction of an innocent bird. Maybe it was the innocent wedding guest to whom the mariner confessed his crime … all 143 verses of it …who was being punished.
I’m a better person than that. I won’t regale you with the long, sad story except to say that, in my opinion that one famous verse is the best one in the poem and if you know that one, you can fudge the rest. Also, it’s surprisingly hard to find a full text of the poem. You can find a lot of stuff about the poem. Analysis, history, context, criticism … but the whole poem? Most places just do sections. Me too.
However, for those who really need a full Coleridge experience, please feel free to click this link and go the full distance. Albatross, mariner, wedding guest, and becalmed ship upon the cruel ocean. Note: The version to which I have given you a link contains side notes so you don’t forget what’s going on while you travel through time upon the briny deep.
On June 28, 1969, we went to see a play with a group of friends. When the show ended, we left the theater to fine the street full of people. Crowded. It was the first ever New York Pride Parade … and we were there — accidentally — but there.
I’ve been seeing pictures from Pride Parades taking place all over the world. With all the hate rhetoric and negativity we are seeing these days, it’s encouraging to see how the concept of Gay Pride has spread all around the world. It’s a much-needed antidote to the awfulness of the rest of the political scene.
The narrow-minded, stupid, loud-mouths of the world make the most noise. So much noise, that sometimes they drown the rest of us out, as if we don’t really exist. We exist. We care. We aren’t going away.
Despite plague and panic, we have faithfully watered the fuchsia every day. Garry, my brave knight, has gone out there with the watering can, even when it was raining poisonous caterpillars. My hero!
Our good luck that the gypsy caterpillars don’t like fuchsia! They left them in peace while devouring acres of oak and maple.
We got out of the plague with our two catalpa trees, the ash tree, the lilac (which had already bloomed) … and the day lilies. The maples have new baby leaves, but the oaks are still starkly bare.
The fuchsia are madly blooming. How I love my fuchsias!
SCOTUS, aka the Supreme Court of The United States, had itself one big day yesterday. They come down solidly on the side of women’s rights against the state of Texas. The ruling will put a serious crimp in the campaign to sneak around Roe-V-Wade and make abortion impossible, if not illegal. The war against women just lost a battle. Yay team.
In another decision yesterday, SCOTUS voted 6 to 2 supporting Maine’s right to prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence — felony or misdemeanor — from possessing guns. Not merely buying a gun, or even “owning” a gun — but possessing guns. This opens a lot of doors to questions about the meaning of the second amendment. Or, as Rory Little noted, “an unremarkable gun case may be harbinger of things to come.”
I’m not going to present myself as any kind of legal scholar, but since I started following ScotusBlog, I feel I’m getting real information plus a sane interpretation of what it might mean — short and long-term. I recommend it. It’s good to have a source for data on current issues.
With reality becoming increasingly slippery, with opinions more and more being proffered as a substitute for evidence, this is my antidote.
After a complete defoliation by voracious gypsy caterpillars, there are signs of recovery in the woods.
It’s hard to find an up-side to a gypsy moth infestation, but if any exists, it’s that you not only get more light without the trees blocking the sun, but you can actually see the birds. I hear them, but usually they are hidden high in the trees.
Right now, there’s no place to hide. You can see the beginnings of a new crop of leaves. A second spring is coming. In another few weeks, most of the trees will have leaves again.
Some places seem to be rebounding a lot faster than others. I don’t yet know what that means … if it means anything.
And so our forest, stripped of most of its leaves, deprived of the means to manufacture nourishment, endures. Hints of a second spring give us hope that our beautiful woods will make it through the siege. Most of the oaks and maples will survive. I hope losses will be few.
I normally wouldn’t write a blog about a Broadway show since most blog readers would not have the opportunity to ever see the show themselves. However, I just saw “She Loves Me”, a delightful and thoroughly enjoyable musical that most of you will be able to see because the show is being filmed, live. It will be streamed starting on June 30. So you too can revel in this charming piece, with the added benefits of close-ups, which I didn’t get in my viewing from the nose bleed seats high in the Mezzanine.
“She Loves Me” was nominated for a Tony Award for best revival of a musical. It also got glowing reviews, all well deserved. It was often referred to as “old-fashioned” and “a jewel of a musical”. Those phrases aptly describe it’s character and ambiance.
It is definitely an old style romance set in a Parfumerie in 1934 Budapest. The story is based on the book that also provided the plots for two movies, “The Shop Around The Corner” and “You’ve Got Mail”. The latter is the more modern, computer age version. In all three, the main characters work together and don’t get along. However, unbeknownst to them, they are falling in love as anonymous “pen pals” through a lonely hearts club (an online dating service in “You’ve Got Mail”).
In the show, there are seven main characters who work in the Parfumerie. Each has his own plot line and solo number. The delivery boy who dreams of being a sales clerk; the brown-nosing employee who will do anything to keep his job; the young woman who is “used” by the womanizing co-worker she is having an affair with. You get to know and like all these people as well as the verbally sparring leads.
The dialogue is well written and quite funny. The sets are sophisticated and beautiful, as are the costumes. The lead actors are perfect. The music is melodic and the lyrics artfully develop character and move the plot along. The staging and choreography are brilliant, intricate and fast-paced. The full cast, including eleven subsidiary characters, work together like a well oiled machine.
The show creates a sense of intimacy that you don’t get often any more in the musical theater. I prefer like this kind of “small,” character driven show. It’s the thing theater can do better than movies or TV. Seeing this kind of show gives you an experience you wan’t readily get from other entertainment medium.
You can see a video montage from the show at http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/Shows-Events/She-Loves-Me.aspx. Scroll down to Videos / Montage
But I urge you to sit back and enjoy 2 ¼ hours of pure entertainment and simple joy. You’ll be smiling and tapping your foot through most of it.
Here’s how you can watch it:
“She Loves Me” will be streamed by a new company called Broadway HD. Their goal is to stream as many theater performances as possible so theater will reach a wider audience. The show will be filmed using nine or ten cameras, so I expect the watching experience will be somewhere between live theater, and movies or TV. It will cost $9.99 to watch it on the Broadway HD website. It will also be available via Roku and Apple TV ( I don’t know about costs on those).
Since the invasion of the hideous caterpillars, I’ve been hiding. Even though the creepy crawlies seem to be gone, the weeks when they took over my world left me jittery and anxious. I don’t know whether they just died after eating everything there was to eat … or they have turned into cocoons and will return soon as a massive moth invasion … but I figured it was time to get over myself.
Today, after finally admitting I’ve been hiding, I took courage … and a couple of cameras … in hand and went to shoot some pictures. Outside, in the world. And saw many dead caterpillars littering the landscape. Definitely dead. Ex caterpillars. Unmoving. Finally finished.
I tell people that I’m sure we have squirrels, but I never see them. When summer comes around, our tall oak trees typically form a solid canopy. You can’t see the stars or the moon … and definitely not squirrels.
Except … today I saw birds and squirrels. Sadly, the squirrels saw me a little too soon. But I got the tail end of the story …
This is as iconic a view of Boston as there is. Taken from the top of the tallest building on State Street, overlooking the harbor, Custom House, Logan airport, and East Boston across the harbor.
Taken using my not-very-good cell phone because I didn’t have a camera. Through a window. Nonetheless, a view worth preserving.
The buildings change as time goes on, yet I’m sure Sam Adams and the other revolutionaries would easily recognize this view. It is Boston. Totally, absolutely Boston.