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