Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wishing all in the USA...

“True thankfulness is being thankful not only for what you have, but for what you don’t have to have!"
~ Debbie Croley

And, as I've said myself, in more than one past Thanksgiving blog post - albeit with questionable grammar, preposition-wise :
In a world in which there often seems little (or nothing) to be confident about, there's still a lot to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Texas Tidbits

Last week we travelled into deepest Texas to visit husband's younger daughter who now lives in Killeen, it's a city just a little northwest of Austin. Here are a few choice Texas sightings from husband's camera. (Clicking on the photographs should bring up larger or clearer versions.)

You know you're in Texas when the hotel chain has had thousands of yards of carpet woven, just to make sure you know it!

On turning a corner one day, I wasn't too sure we were indeed in Texas! Maybe a fellow British ex-pat lives in that house.

I'm always happy to see junk transformed to art!

I suspect this little collage was unintentionally arty - or maybe not:


A car junk Christmas tree - nice!

It was a surprise to see this guy in the hotel bar one evening. He was in semi-civvies, but instantly recognisable: the Killeen Mall Santa of some 18 years' experience.

The old Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells has deteriorated further since we first passed by some years ago. It was once, long ago, a popular vacation destination for "the beautiful people" - its story is available in several places on the internet, including at Wikipedia, HERE.

The city of Mineral Wells, as a whole, now seems depressed and down-trodden, reflecting the dismal state of its once-prized hotel .

In a very, very junky junk/antique store in town we saw a few remnants of the Baker Hotel's brighter days.

LOL! Almost home, but still in Texas:

The Remains of the Day (apologies to Kazuo Ishiguro for use of his book title).

Monday, November 20, 2017

Rhapsodic Music Monday

I'm not an avid fan of 20th (or 21st) century pop/rock, but a handful of songs of that genre did appeal to me. I was always was drawn to, and still have on my favourites list: Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)- see below; MacArthur Park (Richard Harris), Whiter Shade of Pale(Procul Harum), More Like the Movies (Dr. Hook), and Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty).

The first three songs have a whisper, or echo, of classical about them that I enjoy, the fourth, I like just because; and the fifth - I lurve that saxophone!

With regard to Bohemian Rhapsody, I read a couple of interesting responses to questions about the song, at Quora a while ago:

From Neil Anderson
I’ve heard a number of people suggest it’s about AIDS. It absolutely isn’t. The song was released in 1975. AIDS wasn’t even spoken about until the early 80s and Freddie wasn’t diagnosed until 87.

There’s an idea that it’s about coming out.

This sort of works in the first verse, as a man telling his mother he’s gay and had killed his old self. The rest of the song doesn’t work so well with this for me, but I accept it’s plausible.

There’s a version released with album notes saying it’s a cosmic argument between God and the devil over the soul of a murderer. Hmmm.

For me it’s a tale of murder. It does what it says.

A man kills someone for reasons we don’t know. He confesses to his mother and tries to run, but the police arrive and he’s taken away.

The operatic section is complex.
Scaramouch is a clown character. He’s comparing himself to a tragic clown. The hemp fandango is slang for the twitching of a hanged man. He’s asking if he’ll be hanged.

He’s tried for murder and there’s a court case which is hotly debated and/or a public outcry about his position and whether he should be tried and executed when he’s a victim of circumstance. The legal profession feel he should, but many don’t agree.

Meanwhile he feels abandoned by his family and/or lover who refuse to engage with him.

We leave before we know what will happen, but the protagonist realises that life and death for people like him are so meaningless that he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies.

It’s a cross between a tragic opera and a murder ballad.

Freddie was candid about it and often said it’s about what you want it to be about. He’s also said that much of it was nonsense.

Freddie wasn’t always truthful.

It’s what ever you want it to be.

Someone had also asked:
What is the meaning of Bismillah in "Bismillah, no! We will not let him go!" Noam Kaiser replied:
Originally the question asked was "Who is Bismillah".
It isn't a "who", it's a "what".
Bismillah" is a term in Arabic meaning "in the name of Allah" and the beginning of the most common Islamic prayer.
"No, in the name of god, we will not let you go".
It was a nod at Freddie Mercury's upbringing in majority-Muslim Zanzibar.
The meaning of the usage of the term is vague and has been interpreted as trying to spare either the young man's (depicted in the song) life or his soul.

Monday, November 13, 2017

If only, if only.....

It was good yesterday to find this piece, by Keith Burris, at The Blade:
Kucinich: I know why Trump was elected.
We don't hear nearly enough from Dennis Kucinich these days. He was my first choice of US politician during my early years here in the USA. There are numerous posts about him, accessible via the Label Cloud in my sidebar.

If only...if only!

Mr Burris wrote:
"Kucinich was Bernie Sanders long before Bernie..."
I know what he meant but they have both been around in politics, fighting the good fight, for a long time. Americans in general remained too blinkered (or too something) to give them the credit, and the support, they deserved - until 2016 in Bernie's case.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour...

“If one were to stand on a street corner at 9 A.M. and watch the spirits of the British dead march by four abreast, the column would be 97 miles long and would take twenty hours, or until five the next morning, to pass. The French dead would take an additional fifty-one hours and the Germans another fifty-nine hours. Considering all the dead on the western front, this parade would last from 9 A.M. Monday to 4 P.M. Saturday and stretch 386 miles, roughly the distance from Paris halfway through Switzerland or from New York to Cleveland.”
~Joseph E. Persico, Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918.
“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.”
~ Czesław Miłosz, The Issa Valley.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
~ Joseph Campbell.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Big Lies and Big Eyes

Netflix has the Tim Burton movie movie Big Eyes on offer; we watched it last weekend, without any prior knowledge of its theme. It's another of those "based on a true story" movies - a good one too, well acted by leads Amy Adams, as Margaret Keane, and Christoph Waltz as her husband, Walter Keane.
Big Eyes is a 2014 American biographical film directed by Tim Burton, written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.... The film is about the life of American artist Margaret Keane—famous for drawing portraits and paintings with big eyes. It follows the story of Margaret and her husband, Walter Keane, who took credit for Margaret's phenomenally successful and popular paintings in the 1950s and 1960s. It follows the lawsuit (and trial) between Margaret and Walter, after Margaret reveals she is the real artist behind the big eyes paintings.
Not even the kindest art critic would call Margaret Keane's big eyed subjects "great art", some would even refuse to call them art at all; at the time, though, the general public loved these rather sweet whimsical depictions of sad longing, a general public encouraged greatly by Walter Keane's genius-level salesmanship.

From a piece at The Painter's Keys:
Margaret (and Walter) Keane’s “Big Eyes” were called, “the most popular art now being produced in the free world,” by Life Magazine in 1965. New York Times critic John Canaday described them at the time as, “the very definition of tasteless hack work,” and “sentimental kitsch.” Andy Warhol said, “It has to be good. If it were bad, so many people wouldn’t like it.” Margaret Keane is now 88 [in 2017 she's 90] and lives in Napa, California. She paints daily. Walter Keane died in 2000 at the age of 85. He was never witnessed actually painting.
For a quick look at some of the Keane Big Eye paintings, visit Google Image HERE.

What Walter Keane lacked in artistic talent and truthfulness he made up for in cunning and the ability to turn on the old charismatic sales spiel at the drop of a proverbial hat. In the beginning, according to the movie, Walter was a kindly, charming spouse to Margaret. My husband had him tagged, early on, as "a dork", then "a complete asshole". At first, I offered that Margaret's paintings would never have paid (eventually) for their home, her daughter's education etc. without Walter's sales experience. It had to be looked on as a joint business venture, tentatively agreed to by Margaret, partly from necessity and lack of funds; partly because she was infatuated by Walter, his charm and the facade of his being an artist himself. I changed my mind on Walter, agreeing with my husband the minute Walter began strong-arming Margaret, his marital charm turned to abuse and brutish demands on her work. According to this article, from the LA Times, the movie doesn't paint nearly as dark a picture of their marriage as was the case in real life.

 Photograph from Time Magazine 1965: Margaret and Walter Keane.

I see from Wikipedia's page on Margaret Keane, that she was born on 15 September, 1927, she's now 90 years old. As I haven't found her natal chart online already, I hesitate to post one from my own software, it would seem intrusive while this lady is still among us. I'll say just that her Sun and Venus in meticulous, perfection-seeking Virgo would have felt comfortable, at long last, after the truth was revealed about her "big eye" paintings.