August 2009

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Have some time on your hands, say six hours or so?  Would you like to learn a little Italian as well as some recent Italian history?  Well then, queue up The Best of Youth and prepare to be dazzled.

The film, originally a mini-series on Italian television, follows the lives of two brothers, both brilliant and quite different in temperament, Nicola and Matteo Carati.  The story begins in 1966, as the brothers  prepare for exams and a summer of traveling the continent with their friends.  Life takes a turn, however, when the idealistic Matteo discovers a young woman named Giorgia victimized by electric shock at an internship.  Rather impulsively (a theme for him), he takes her from the hospital and the brothers embark on a journey to bring her home.

When the plan goes awry and Giorgia is taken by the authorities, the brothers, rather than resume their voyage, part company, both literally and metaphorically.  Matteo abandons his plans to become a doctor, joining the army and later the police, while Nicola travels to Norway, then back to Italy to help with the horrible flooding of Florence.  It is there that he meets and falls in love with Guilia, a pianist with violent communist leanings, while becoming a psychiatrist.

It is a story full of love, heartache, laughter, and surprises, exploring the bonds of family and friendship through the lens of forty years of Italian history (so much I didn’t know!).  A marvelous look at the beautiful people, landmarks, and landscapes, it is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

Teddy Kennedy passed away today.  Though I did not always agree with his politics, I most certainly appreciated his passion, wit, and devotion to serving this great nation I call home.  He reached out to people across the country, and more importantly, across the aisle, to create legislation that he hoped would benefit all Americans.

In his own words, what I believe made him a fine man and servant of our nation:

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

“I hope for an America where neither ‘fundamentalist’ nor ‘humanist’ will be a dirty word, but a fair description of the different ways in which people of good will look at life and into their own souls.”

Thank you and rest in peace.

I am a thrifty gal.  I love getting a good deal, or even better, something wonderful for free.  I don’t mind if I have to work a little for it either.  For instance, last fall, when everyone realized, gosh, this really is a recession and tightened their belts, the Willamette Week started running a series of listings for free, discounted, and cheap goods and services in a column called Cheapskate.  The first, at least that I participated in, was a discount at Music Millennium, one of the top rated independent music stores in the country (lucky us!).  For singing at least one minute from any song in the Sound of Music, I would get a 15% discount.  I could have gotten a whopping 25% off my purchase by showing up in a bikini, cowboy hat, and boots and singing any Johnny Cash tune, but totally lacked the cojones for that one – maybe next time.   Though I practiced for half the afternoon, I failed to remember the opening lines of “My Favorite Things,” so nervous was I.  Thankfully, I recovered, pride undamaged, and walked out proudly with my assorted CD’s.

So, as you might imagine, I keep a pretty close eye on the Cheapskate column.  Much to my delight, last week had a listing for a free showing of Vicky Christina Barcelona at the Washington Park Amphitheater, preceded by live Spanish music, of course.  I called the sweet hubster, and we made plans to go, go, go!

As it had been a while since we’d been to this neck of the woods (last year with my Uncle Chris), I was eager to wander around, take in the heady scent of roses and the beautiful views.  As I mentioned earlier this week, I no longer have roses of my own but remain utterly delighted in their presence.  That there could be such a wide variety of colors, scents, and sizes, all in one magical place, is truly marvelous.

Then there was this light, beautiful and bright, filtered through the evergreens.

Even more special was this tree.  I wish I knew the species, lovely, like a full skirt of weeping branches and fluttering leaves, but not a willow.  This photo is me and my camera lens looking up her verdant skirt.

Covering our sweet lady’s torso, and quite hidden by her skirt, was this “secret” assortment of carvings, years upon years of people wishing to make a permanent mark upon the earth, however small.  Though I would never have the heart to cut into a tree’s flesh like this, there is something beautiful about it, humbling.  Look at all the people here before you, but for a short time and then gone, as you shall be soon.  Where are they now?

Back at the blanket and my bestest Buddy.  We sat here, quite happily listening to songs, acoustic and hauntingly lyrical (I’m sorry I can’t remember the name of the band, oy!), him working his Rubik’s cube, and me reading and laughing along with Christopher Buckley (Losing Mum and Pup) as his parents passed from this life into the next.  Though the text was quite funny at times, I found myself cuddling closer and closer to the man I love the most, hoping our days together stretch far into the future.

Then it was time for the movie to start.  There was a chill in the air, and we wrapped ourselves up tightly in the blanket (do you like sausage?) and laughed and sighed, awed by the stunning landscapes, beautiful people, the story as only Woody Allen could tell it, and a magical night beneath the stars.

Seriously.  I cannot think of a single movie, book, or bit of musical genius to highlight, so, instead, poor grammar, random thoughts, and silliness will rule this post.

Bridget and I went to the Bagdad last night to see what could, quite possibly, be the worst film I’ve ever seen in a theater.  I won’t glorify its distasteful and utterly stupid badness by revealing the title, for that would amount to free advertising.  Anyway, about one third of the way through, I leaned over and whispered to Bridget, “Do you want to go to Goodwill?”  Were it not for the fact that she was midway through a glass of wine, I think we had some serious potential for an early exit.  Now I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever actually left a theater before the film was over.  I don’t think so; Buddy, have we?  However, this does remind me of the time I saw Henry and June at the Mayan (it’s so Aztec like) in Denver.  I observed a couple leave early for quite a different reason.  If you haven’t already seen it, rent it and you’ll know, too.

After the Bagdad, we went to Powell’s, and I bought books I hope to enjoy.  Please think good thoughts because I have had some duds this summer and haven’t finished any of them.  Here’s hoping these will satisfy:  Bergen Evans’s Dictionary of Quotations, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, and Christoper Buckley’s Losing Mum and Pup. If the latter is anything like the raucous and witty good time of Thank You for Smoking (film version – I never read the book), I think I will like it, despite the slightly morbid subject matter.  In any case, it will be fascinating to read about what it was like to have William F. Buckley as a father.  I remember watching him on television (Firing Line) as a child, rapt.  I never understood a word he said (then, not now, I’ve grown up some), but, boy, did I love to listen to the man speak.  He certainly had his own way.  Here’s a link to a good example – Buckley in His Own Words.

What more can I tell you? A decaf Americano with heaps of half and half at the Fresh Pot after a satisfying book search (in which there was much discussion about who will buy the book with the cool cover AND remember the conversation if a divorce is ever required) and romp on Hawthorne with one of your best friends in the world is a marvelous way to end an evening out.  Marvelous, I tell you.

Oh, yes!  Thanks for the comments on the new blog header.  I thought it was about time I showed our actual red roof, and I liked the light that evening, so there you go.  Have a super weekend!


Energy rightly applied and directed can accomplish anything.

Nelly Bly

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