Life magazine has released its image archives for free.


And we are lucky indeed.  Here are some incredible images taken during the filming of West Side Story (1961).


Burt, you genius

I've been on a weird Burt Bacharach stint for the last two hours.  First, I tried to find Ella Fitzgerald and Carol Burnett singing "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" but was unsuccessful.  I like the Elvis Costello duet with Burt himself from the second Austin Powers movie, and of course there's always Dionne.  But what takes the cake is the gem "Close to You", sung best by the brother-sister team The Carpenters, with Richard on wurlitzer and Karen on drums:

Don't worry, I still have a tremendous fondness for this version as well.

Look at this album cover.


At first glance, what does it look like to you?

I totally thought it was a hand coming out of sand holding a Darth Vader helmet.  I thought, "Very cool, Steve Perry!", but it's actually just him taking a bow in a desert.  Barefoot.  Letdown?  Methinks yes.

Part 1 in a 249 Part Series of "Books Maryann Can't Get Enough Of--Literally"

When you find a book you really love, or a series, do you want to own multiple copies of them? I don't mean identical copies, but the hardcover, the paperback, the trade or movie version, and then copies with all the different art covers? I've decided that I want all kinds of copies of Madeleine L'Engle books (surprise all around, I'm sure). Book cover art is an amazing thing. They say you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, and it's true, but some book covers are totally abysmal or cliche or misleading.

Today's candidate is A Wind in the Door. I know I should start with A Wrinkle in Time, but I'm reading A Wind in the Door right now, We'll get to Wrinkle eventually. So here is the cover art on my much-beloved, browning at the edges paperback copy that I picked up somewhere along the road of childhood:

Alright, this is actually a cover of the audiobook, but it's bigger than this picture, which is the true cover for the paperback:

Now, I love this cover. I like the different shades of purple matched with cream and green and aqua, and I always like a cover with characters: Meg, Charles Wallace's face, the Echthroi Mr. Jenkins, and of course, the glorious cherubim Proginoskes, aka Progo. Fortunately, this is my favorite cover that I've found for this book. But here are some others I'd like to find and own:

Obviously Progo was the most popular character for these artist's to attempt to communicate visually. And while many of them are creative attempts, I still have a huge fondness for the rendition on my book's cover.

"The nativity is a time to take courage."


How brave am I?
Can I bear, 
without breaking apart,
this extraordinary birth?

If I accept this birth I must accept God's love, and this is pain as well as joy because God's love, as I am coming to understand it, is not like man's love.

What one of us can understand a love so great that we would willingly limit our unlimitedness, put the flesh of mortality over our immortality, accept all the pain and grief of humanity, submit to betrayal by that humanity, be killed by it, and die a total failure (in human terms) on a common cross between two thieves?

What kind of flawed, failed love is this?  Why should we rejoice on Christmas Day?  This is where the problem lies, not in secular bacchanalias, not in Santa Clauses with cotton beards, loudspeakers blatting out Christmas carols the day after Thanksgiving, not in shops full of people pushing and shouting and swearing at each other as they struggle to buy overpriced Christmas presents.

No, it's not the secular world which presents me with problems about Christmas, it's God.

Cribb'd, cabined, and confined within the contours of a human infant.  The infinite defined by the finite?  The Creator of all life thirsty and abandoned?  Why would he do such a thing?  Aren't there easier and better wars for God to redeem his fallen creatures?

And what good did it all do?  The heart of man is still evil.  Wars grow more terrible with each generation.  The earth daily becomes more depleted by human greed.  God came to save us and we thank him by producing bigger and better battlefields and slums and insane asylums.

And yet Christmas is still a time for me of hope, of hope for the courage to love and accept love, a time when I can forget that my Christology is extremely shaky and can rejoice in God's love through love of family and friends.

- Madeleine L'Engle, The Irrational Season (1977)

This is the irrational season
Where love blooms bright and wild
Had Mary been filled with reason
There'd have been no room for the child.

Merry Christmas, one and all!  God bless you and yours and the world with peace and love.

L'Engle Love


I've been listening to A Wrinkle in Time on audiobook, letting Madeleine's strange New England accent take over my imagination and lead me gently back to childhood/adolescence.  Where would I be without this woman's writing?  (Adulthood?)  I used to claim liking this book least of all, preferring the stories of Polly (Polyhymnia) O'Keefe and Vicky Austin, or even older Meg, Charles Wallace, or Dennys and Sandy.  But now that I'm re-reading it, or re-hearing it, I suppose, I love it dearly, which is no surprise.  I wonder if there was too much mention of math in it, or if I was the youngest when I read it, so it was too much?  It's probably because there was no Adam or Zachary or Seraphim.  But I digress.

Jezebel has become my favorite non-personal blog to read, and it has a great Friday feature called Fine Lines, where a blogger re-reads a beloved young adult book and reviews it sincerely and humorously.  I've posted the A Ring of Endless Light review, and the same blogger, Lizzie Skurnick, reviewed A Wrinkle in Time.  Behold her opening paragraph (that I posted back in June but it's my blog, and since I'm redundant in person, why not here?):

If I had my way, none of us would have to read this review at all. Instead, we'd join hands, hear a great dark thunderclap, and be whisked off to a rambling house in the country, where we'd view odd things bubbling in a lab with a stone floor, then eat limburger-and-cream-cheese sandwiches while swinging our legs at the kitchen table. We'd sidestep for a moment onto a planet inhabited by gentle gray creatures with dents for eyes, then be inserted into some mitochondria. We battle for the soul of Madoc /Maddox, and eat small crayfish with our lesbian kind-of aunt who insisted on calling us our full name (Polyhymnia). We'd hop on a freighter and solve a mystery, then go to boarding school in Switzerland. We would make a brief detour on the Upper West Side by way of Portugal, and be concerned with cell regeneration in starfish. We'd be smacked on the ass by a dolphin. Most important, whatever happened, we'd know we could get through it—because we are creatures that can love.

I'm in the part of AWIT where Calvin, Charles Wallace, and Meg have only just arrived at Camazotz and are still unsure of where Mr. Murray is or what they're up against.  I feel much more capable of embracing Meg as a relatable heroine this time around, perhaps better able to accept her proficient math skills of which I cannot relate.  But I love that she repeatedly tears up without control, is so easily swooned by Calvin, doesn't always get things right away, and as Skurnick says, is kind of a badass.

And the way Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which are constantly spouting quotes and truths in multiple languages to help the children understand without actually giving them any direction.  Love, love, love, love, love.

I'm sure that as I listen on I'll need to write about it again.  I'm currently trying to track down copies of The Love Letters (nuns and true love!) and Bright Evening Star and Camilla (my well-worn childhood copy was lent to a student from my floor when I was PA who never gave it back). Now that I visit my bookshelf I see that I am also missing And Both Were Young.  Son of a bitch! (Entirely appropriate response).

The Lord our God he calleth us and bids us awake and pray


The Wainwrights and McGarrigles on Martha Stewart singing a Christmas song. Musical bliss is this!

And there's always Rufus' "Spotlight on Christmas."

Part 7 and 8 in a 6,837 Part Series of Family Guy Musical References


Season: 5

Episode: 9

Episode Title: "Road to Rupert"

Reference: part 7 is the title, "Road to Rupert," which is a reference to the multiple Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (Brian and Stewie) "Road to..." musicals, of which there are at least six.  The part 8 reference is perhaps the grand-daddy musical reference of them all.  Stewie replaces Jerry the Mouse (they wanted Mickey, but Disney wasn't game--suckers!) to join Gene Kelly in the "The King Who Couldn't Dance (The Worry Song)" dance from Anchors Aweigh (1945).  I almost peed my pants with joy when I first saw this (can you pee your pants with joy?  Hmm.)

Here's both side by side:

Words can't describe my love for this movie, and this scene. Spectacularly entertaining. Seth McFarlane, marry me.

Living On Your Lonesome with Dr. Steve Brule

To all my fellow living-on-their-loners, I think tip #2 is best:

"Go to bed early, you doofus! Cause when you're sleepin', there's no lonely times--just dreams."

Thanks, Rachel.

Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein: Feminist Bookstore


I think it takes place in Portland! Watch it here.

- "I love Ginger!"
-"I like Ginger. I mean, I love Ginger, of course, but I also only like her."

I'm casting my vote


When they finally make the inevitable: a Mandy Patinkin biopic (possible names being Sunday in the Park with Mandy, or Hello, My Name is Mandy Patinkin, You Didn't Kill My Father, Prepare to Be Entertained, etc.), I believe this is who should play him:

Ben Savage!  The resemblance as he ages is craz-ar.  

Emerson, Lake, Palmer & U2

Part 6 in a 6,837 Part Series of Family Guy Musical References


Season: 1

Episode: 7

Episode Title: Brian: Portrait of a Dog

Reference: Brian is about to perform in a dog show with Peter.  It's the morning of, and he's in the bathroom in front of the mirror.  Lois comes in, talks to him, and then leaves.  He then puts in eye drops, pauses, and says animatedly with jazz hands, "Showtime!", ala Joe Gideon from Fosse's All That Jazz:

'Roun dis tiyem, Caesar Augustus wuz like, "I can has cenzus?"


Oh yes. The Bible, translated into LOLCatspeak.

So many one and two and three and four-star generals unemployed...


"Nobody thinks of assigning him, when they stop whining and dining him..."

Sorry, I got distracted. Ann E. Dunwoody has just been named the first female four-star general!

Cooking with Cormac McCarthy.


Here is a great tid-bit from a feature in the December Vanity Fair.  I feel like it's something I would find on McSweeneys.  'As told to' Craig Brown:

But Good.



And salt.
And water.
And Fire.



Place the pasta in the water and the salt in the water and the water in the pot and the pot on the fire.
In the pot?  The fire in the pot?
No.  The water in the pot.  The pot on the fire.
The pasta in the water?
Yes, in the water.
And the salt in the fire?
No.  The salt in the water.
And the water on the fire?
No.  The water in the pot and the pot on the fire.  Not the water on the fire.  For then the fire will die and dying be dead.
Nor will the water boil and the pasta will drain dry and not cooked and hard to the teeth.


The salt falls nor does it cease to fall.
The water boils.  So be it.
Cease from placing your hand in the boiling water.  Place your hand in the boiling water and it will cause you pain.  
Much pain?
Very much pain.


After ten minutes.  The pasta stiff and dry and upright no more.  The pasta lank and wet and soft.  In the eternal damp of water.
Pour water free like some ancient anointing.  The pasta left alone in the pot.  Alone and naked.
The salt.  Where's the salt?
The salt is gone.  Lost to the water and gone forever.
I grieve for the salt.
It is the salt for which I grieve.

There's more, but I don't want to infringe too much on copyright, so buy the magazine to read yourself.

I will read all their dreams to the stars


I took my friend Kristen to see Spring Awakening this Friday. If you remember, I wrote about my desire to see it back in April. So I won't rehash here what I've written about it there, but instead tell you about my reactions to it.

I loved it. I wish I could have seen it again. It was a pretty minimalist show, no huge stage effects or gimmicks, which fit with the late 18th century setting of a strict, modest town in Germany. It would be easy to say that the play is just one big push for a sexual revolution, or at least sex education, and yes, it is. But it's also a hugely humanizing look at adolescence and discoveries of sexuality, both good and bad. The young performers did an incredible job and I was in awe of them. I totally recommend seeing the show if you can (it's on Broadway and on tour) and taking teenagers, even. Who knows how much stronger my reactions might have been if I were a teen when I experienced this show for the first time, though the feelings and confusion expressed are pretty universal.

My favorite songs follow with my favorite lyrics:

1) "My Junk"

See us, winter walking after a storm.
It's chill in the wind but it's warm in your arms.

The stop all snow line, may not be true.

We've all got our junk, and my junk is you.

2) "Touch Me"

Touch me-all silent.

Tell me-please-all is forgiven.

Consume my wine

Consume my mind
I'll tell you how, how the winds sigh...

Touch me-just try it.

Now, there-that's it-oh, God that's heaven.

I'll love your light
I'll love you right...

We'll wonder down where where the sins cry...

3) "The Word of Your Body"

Haven’t you heard the word – how I want you?

O, I’m gonna be wounded
O, I’m gonna be your wound

O, I’m gonna bruise you

O, you’re gonna be my bruise

4) "The Guilty Ones"

And now our bodies are the guilty ones –
Our touch

Will fill every hour

Huge and dark

Oh our hearts

Will murmur the blues from on high

Then whisper some silver reply

5) "Left Behind"

The talks you never had,
the saturdays you never spent.

All the 'grown-up' places you never went.
And all of the crying you wouldn't understand.

You just let him cry, 'make a man out of him.'

A shadow passed, a shadow passed, yearning, yearning
For a fool it called a home.
All things he ever wished are left behind.
All the things his mama did to make him mind,

And how his dad had hoped he'd grow.

6) "Totally Fucked"

Yeah, you’re fucked all right – and all for spite
You can kiss your sorry ass goodbye

Totally fucked – will they mess you up?

Well you know they’re gonna try

7) "Those You've Known"
Now they’ll walk on my arm through the distant night
And I won’t let them stray from my heart

Through the wind, through the dark, through the winter light

I will read all their dreams to the stars

I’ll walk with them now

I’ll call on their names

I’ll see their thoughts are known

Oh, Sherrie


I heard this song on the radio this morning and I am obsessed. Beware: it may get stuck in your head. (It doesn't actually start until about 2 min. in...)

and now the purple dusk of twilight time steals across the meadows of my heart


Happiness is...

Driving home in the rain after a night of pub trivia, listening to Harry Connick Jr. sing "Stardust."  (I never thought I'd like anyone other than Nat King Cole singing this song, but Harry does it really well.  I prefer his version to Frank Sinatra's AND Bing Crosby's.)

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that were apart

You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely night dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

Beside a garden wall
When stars are bright
You are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale
A paradise where roses bloom
Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of loves refrain

What's that? You want more pictures of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman?


Ok, then.

Happy Banned Book Week!


With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one - but no one at all - can tell you what to read and when and how.
– Doris Lessing

I read today that the Twilight series was briefly banned from a middle school district in Orange county last Friday--just in time for Banned Book Week! According to the American Library Association, the week is meant to celebrate "the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met."

Some of my favorite banned/challenged books (source, source):

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (banned in certain school districts of Ohio and Texas in the 1970s for its several references to 'whores')

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (banned--oops, sorry I meant burned outside Christ Community Church in Alamagordo, New Mexico in 2001 along with other Tolkien books believed to be satanic)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

There are a lot more--be sure to read a banned book this week! Yay intellectual freedom!

Truth like a blazing fire: Musicals update!


Sorry I've been so negligent of my duties as a blogger who loves musicals. I recently went to see Phantom of the Opera at the Paramount. It was my second time to see it live, but I went with complete newbies who hadn't even seen the movie! The singing was superb, but I think all of us would have benefited from a libretto in our laps during the songs when everyone sings over everyone else (I'm looking at you "Notes.../ Prima Donna"). There's so much to learn and appreciate from the lyrics but it's impossible when it all sounds like gobbilty-gook. The Phantom was terrifying and sexy, and Christine was appropriately sweet and stubborn. "The Point of No Return" still tingles my spine like no other: "When will the blood begin to race/the sleeping bud burst into bloom/when will the flames at last consume us?"

Yesterday I saw the filmed last Broadway performance of RENT at my local movie theater. I have only seen the movie and listened to the OBC recording, so it was great to see songs that were missing from the film. So much of the show is sung rather than spoken, which I really prefer to the lyrics-turned-dialog of the film. It was a treat to see Tracie Thoms re-creating her film role of Joann onstage--though it made me miss the original cast that made it into the movie. I was blown away by the actors who played Mimi and Maureen--I soon forgot that their roles didn't originate with them and felt no need for comparisons.

The only less-than-perfect moment was the same moment that I dislike in the film: the end. Not the end-end, I love "Finale B", but the end when Mimi's dying, Roger sings "Your Eyes" and then she wakes up and talks about seeing Angel. First of all, I think "Your Eyes" might be the worst song in the entire show, so why it's at the end, I'm not sure. I would have preferred a reprise of "Without You" or "Goodbye Love", though I realize that the point is Roger writing a new song for her. And the way that she wakes up and starts talking about Angel seems almost laughable, and therefore inappropriate. And then Maureen is like, "Her fever's breaking" and it feels so unrealistic and cheap considering how we lost Angel--a song didn't save him. I can't get back into the story and get back "in it" until "Finale B" starts. I'm sad that the show has left Broadway, but it has yet to be retired--they're going to tour and be here in June. I'm curious about what a revival would look like--what would they update or change or re-imagine in the characters, scenery, choreography, etc.?

I also watched In the Good Old Summertime, an adorable Van Johnson/Judy Garland movie from 1949. Highly recommended, even though it isn't going to be one of my favorites. I'd only seen Van in Brigadoon, where he plays the cynical hunting partner of Gene Kelly. When he was the romantic lead in this film he sounded an awful lot like Jimmy Stewart, which is interesting considering Jimmy starred in his role in the original film with the same story-line, Shop Around the Corner (1940), nine years earlier.

And finally, I cannot stop listening to the Jane Eyre musical soundtrack. I've listened to it over and over and over again for hours daily but I have yet to get sick of it. I know that day will come, but for now it's wonderful to be so immersed in it and the story. With musical soundtracks, there's this point that I reach--and I think other people reach it too--where you've listened to it so much and poured over it and 'figured out' the songs to the point that it becomes a part of you--those songs fuse into your brain in a way that time and distance can't touch. I remember sun-bathing in my parent's backyard after seeing Phantom for the first time, and going through the songs with libretto, memorizing them and playing my favorite songs over and over on my disc man. Or when I ordered the RENT OBC soundtrack from my library and listened to the whole show while shelving books in the stacks, blown away by what I was hearing. And sure enough, when I revisited these scores again in the last week, I remembered almost every line, and waited breathlessly when I anticipated the joy I would experience as one of my favorite bits was about to be sung. And now it's happening with Jane Eyre--I want these songs to become a part of me, eager to share them with others. I just hope I get to see a stage version or movie of it someday!

Paul Newman


Paul Newman died yesterday. Ever since I heard of him having health complications, I told people that when he died, I would have a Paul Newman party that would include watching his movies and eating all Newman's Own products. I'm sad that day came so soon.

Of his movies, I think my favorites are Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Cool Hand Luke, What A Way to Go!, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and The Sting. If I didn't already admire him for his acting or philanthropic food products, add his 50 year marriage to Joanne Woodward.

75 Books Every Woman Should Read


Jezebel compiled a list of 75 books every woman should read in response to Esquire's 75 books every man should read. Keep in mind of course that these are must-reads for men as well and, as they said in the post: "most of the extant rosters of must-read classics are full of old white dudes. So our list is going to be mostly women. Which doesn't mean there are not myriad male-written must-reads!"

Here they are, with the very few I've read in bold:

  • The Lottery (and Other Stories), Shirley Jackson
  • To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
  • The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
  • White Teeth, Zadie Smith
  • The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion
  • Excellent Women, Barbara Pym
  • The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
  • Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
  • The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Beloved, Toni Morrison
  • Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
  • Like Life, Lorrie Moore
  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  • The Delta of Venus, Anais Nin
  • A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
  • A Good Man Is Hard To Find (and Other Stories), Flannery O'Connor
  • The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
  • You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down, Alice Walker
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
  • Earthly Paradise, Colette
  • Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt
  • Property, Valerie Martin
  • Middlemarch, George Eliot
  • Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid
  • The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
  • Runaway, Alice Munro
  • The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
  • The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  • You Must Remember This, Joyce Carol Oates
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill
  • The Liars' Club, Mary Karr
  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  • A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  • And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
  • Bastard out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison
  • The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  • The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley
  • The Portable Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker
  • The Group, Mary McCarthy
  • Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  • The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
  • The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank
  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
  • Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag
  • In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez
  • The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
  • Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
  • Three Junes, Julia Glass
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Sophie's Choice, William Styron
  • Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
  • Love in a Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford
  • Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  • The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
  • The Face of War, Martha Gellhorn
  • My Antonia, Willa Cather
  • Love In The Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • The Harsh Voice, Rebecca West
  • Spending, Mary Gordon
  • The Lover, Marguerite Duras
  • The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  • Tell Me a Riddle, Tillie Olsen
  • Nightwood, Djuna Barnes
  • Three Lives, Gertrude Stein
  • Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  • I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
  • Possession, A.S. Byatt
What would you add? I would definitely add more Austen, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, heaps of L'Engle, and loads of autobiographies. Other stuff too, but that's all I could think of right now. What would you add?

Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims and strap your hands cross my engines

In real life I'm in no way drawn to motorcycles, but in Bruce Springsteen songs, they are one of the sexiest things ever. Which is why I would have loved to see him and the E Street Band close their Magic tour at the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary Celebration in Milwaukee. He played his best road songs including "Glory days," "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road." According to Rolling Stone, "as the concert approached the three-hour mark, Springsteen asked guitarist Steven Van Zandt whether it was "quittin' time." It wasn't: Springsteen played for another half-hour, closing the night--and the tour--with a supercharged version of "Born to Be Wild." And to top it off, today he turns 59. Happy Birthday, Bruce!

(Image from

In other Rolling Stone news, James Taylor is doing a covers album! And it includes the Oklahoma! opener "Oh What A Beautiful Morning"! There's a bright golden haze on the meadow...

"Dolphins. Do I even need to write another word? Oh, I know I do, but...dolphins, I had to write it again!"


There's a sweet review of A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle at Jezebel. I always preferred the books with Poly O'Keefe and Vicky Austin to Meg Murray, but I love them all dearly. This may be the young adult novel closest to my heart, if for no other reason than it was easier to understand and follow than the crazy time traveling in An Acceptable Time. After Madeleine died my first instinct was to go out and get a tattoo of Vicky riding Basil the dolphin. I might still do it someday.


"Like Vicky's minister grandfather, the dolphins advocate a unified theory of everything, one in which not only life and death are intertwined, but evil and good. But when Vicky, on the cusp of womanhood, tries to assert her new psychic powers with the dolphins with Adam to form their own unified theory, she is slapped back:
Without consciously realizing what I was doing, I turned my mind toward Adam. Do a cartwheel in the water, like Basil.
I held my breath.
Adam dove down. Up came his legs. Flip. Head and arms were out of the water. Just like Basil.
Adam, do you really think of me as nothing more than a child? I realize I'm naive and backward for my age in lots of ways, but I don't feel about you the way a child feels. I've never felt about anybody else the way I feel about you, touched in every part of me...Is it only my feelings? Doesn't it touch you at all?
He broke in, saying sharply, "Vicky, what are you doing?"
I could feel heat suffusing my face. "N—nothing."
Now he was shouting at me. "Don't do that!"
"Why? Why not?"
"Because—because—" He clamped his mouth shut. But he was telling without speaking. Because it's too intimate.
But I did it with the dolphins. Why was it all right with the dolphins?
And the answer came lapping gently into my mind like the water lapping about my body. Because this is how the dolphins are, all the time. They're able to live with this kind of intimacy and not be destroyed by it.
I have always loved the part of this book where Leo tells Vicky how his parents made love after his own grandfather's death as an "affirmation of life" (it's not creepy, I swear), and it seems to sum up the entire thesis of this book—that sex and death are intertwangled with joy, which is, as Vicky's grandfather puts it, "the infallible sense of God in the universe.""



Finally finished the book, started listening to the Jane Eyre musical's soundtrack (LOVE IT--more to come), and tonight I am watching the highly praised BBC/Masterpiece Theatre version from 2006.

Battlestar Galactica: In Defense of the Best Show on Television


Moomin Light linked to a article about why everyone should be watching Battlestar!

"I think it’s the most difficult thing to do as a film [but] it’s the Holy Grail if you can do it [right]. I would love to do a musical"

Wecloming Remarks Made at a Literary Meeting, 9/25/2001


By John Hodgman (the PC guy in the MAC commercials and frequent visitor to the Daily Show) from McSweeneys:

READING, 9/25/01.


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Every year, we wonder what might be appropriate on this day, and we can never think of anything more appropriate than this piece, which Mr. Hodgman originally delivered at a literary reading shortly after September 11, 2001.

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Good evening.

My name is John Hodgman. I am a former professional literary agent, which on a good day is a pretty small thing to be, and these days feels rather microscopic. Before I was a professional literary agent, I thought it would be a good idea to be a teacher of fiction in a college MFA program because it is easy and you are adored all the time and of course it pays a lot of money.

I used to have a lot of bright ideas.

I even had two lessons planned out, which, by all accounts from MFA programs that I've heard, is one more than you need. The first would address the comfort of storytelling. I would explain to my adoring students that stories hold power because they convey the illusion that life has purpose and direction. Where God is absent from the lives of all but the most blessed, the writer, of all people, replaces that ordering principle. Stories make sense when so much around us is senseless, and perhaps what makes them most comforting is that, while life goes on and pain goes on, stories do us the favor of ending.

Not a very original idea, but one that seemed more or less reasonable before something happened that showed us how perversely powerful stories can be when told into the ears of desperate and evil men, and showed as well how sadly challenged stories are in providing comfort now. What happened on Tuesday was enormous, sublime in the darkest sense of the word, so large as to overwhelm our ability to describe it, to sense it except in parts, and certainly to order it and make it make sense. In the immediate aftermath, we have only our very personal flash memories, but personalizing an event that has touched so many and so cruelly, announcing by byline our own survival, feels shamefully self-involved. To convert this experience into metaphor, into symbolic gesture, feels almost offensive when we are still pressed by such an urgent reality that is ongoing and uncontainable by words.

I have heard a lot recently about the role of writing, song, music, painting, in the tragic blank space in our souls that this event has left behind. Of course, this preoccupation is largely a result of an unconscious bias of the media. If pig farmers had as much currency with NPR as literary novelists, we would be hearing just as much about the healing power of bacon. And knowing that power well, I can say that it is certainly comparable to the reading of a sensitive short story as far as comfort goes; and yet both fall far below the direct aid that is being passed from person to person, below Chambers Street, in our homes, on the phone with strangers, with an actual touch, in the actual, nonsymbolic, unannotated world of grief in which we live. The great temptation is to be silent, forever, in sympathy.

The second lesson plan that I had in those days was a very lazy assessment of storytelling's function, beginning in the oral tradition, when it served a civic purpose aside from getting you invited to cocktail parties. As I would explain to my adoring students, storytelling served initially in every culture three purposes: to inform, as in relay news and record history, to instruct, as in pass down a set of moral guidelines, and to entertain. We are, as regards this event and its unfolding, all too well informed. And as for entertainment: when I thought this was a bright idea, it was when I was younger and war seemed so far away. But I realize now that those in history whose lives were short and mean and threatened by sword and disease gathered and told stories not as leisure, but as desperately needed distraction, and reassurance that they were not alone.

So if art cannot contain or describe this event, and if for now the suffering is too keen to be alleviated by parable ... if stories are for the moment not as critically needed, as courage, as medicine, as blood, as bacon, they can at least revert to this social function. As time goes on, this will all pass away into memory, into a story with a beginning and a middle and finally an end. And that transition from the real into fable will bring its own kind of comfort and pain. Now, though, we may gather and distract one another, take comfort in our proximity, and know that we are, at this moment, safe.

Not many of my ideas seem bright anymore, and I am not a teacher. I am only humbled: to be here, to be alive.

That is all.

At the Arraignment


by Debra Spencer

Read it here.

"The whole front third of my foot feels like it's being eaten by a bear."


If someone has ever made you walk slower because they're in high heels, you should watch this.

Part 5 in a 6,837 Part Series of Family Guy Musical References


Season: 3

Episode: 32

Episode Title: One if By Clam, Two if By Sea

Reference: Stewie teaches the daughter (named Eliza!) of the Griffin's new British neighbors how to speak correctly, making a plethora of My Fair Lady references for me to revel in.  Awesomely enough, Brian McFarlane based Stewie's voice on the original Henry Higgins, Rex Harrison.

Arthur Rackham

Is kick-ass.  It's possible when google-imaging that one gets art that isn't actually by the artist you searched for.  If you see any non-Arthur Rackham illustrations here, do let me know.  And to see one particularly lovely one, visit one of Bridget's posts on 8/22/08.  Bridget herself is practically as close to a faerie as one can get.