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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Weekly Wisdom from Mr. Trollope

Remember this, there is no tyranny to a woman like telling her of her duty.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

When Brooklyn Was The World

I would have had to take some train to renew my driver's license. The 2, the 1, or the Amtrak. For some reason, I deemed it easier to just go to Albany rather than one of the three locations available to me here. So I can legally drive again. And I got a pretty new picture. I'm hoping that my new license inspires the car gods to stop messing with my vehicle: two attempted thefts, three "relocations" (can I get some compensation from the city film commission for my parking spaces?), two illegal tows, one smashed window, a dead battery, and an inoperable radio. The tow pound is (vaguely) amusing. A small scene of misery today, with a man from Georgia who only had 90$ to his name who plead "please, miss, I want to pay you but this is all I've got," and the attractive lesbian who yelled "Fuck off, Dickhead" when asked for an itemized list of the belongings she wanted removed from her car--apparently "all of them" wasn't good enough. After finding my way deep into Brooklyn to leave my beloved Pre at the Honda dealership on Nostrand Avenue, I called a car to come and take me home. The trip was an inexplicable 50 minutes but provided such a beautiful little tour of Brooklyn that I hardly minded: through Ditmas Park, where my great grandparents lived, past Erasmus Hall where my grandmother and great aunt went to high school, the Botanic Gardens, and the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, across a little street lined just with apartment buildings named Tennis Ct.

Trains, Cars, and. . .Ships. RS and I went to the Titanic exhibit in Times Square yesterday. We were given identities as we entered--I, a Miss Henriette Yrois, 23 year old Parisian model and mistress to William Harbeck, a filmmaker hired to film the maiden voyage and he, a Mr. Daniel Gronnestad, third class passenger from Norway--and were to learn our fates at the end of the tour. It did not end well for either of us. Perhaps I can take my transportation misfortunes more in stride. . .

When not getting towed or ticketed, I am immersing myself in home improvement,1950's films, and being a chair for Cesar. I plan to have a date with Biscuit this week to hear Arlo Guthrie, and am soon to finish The Woman in White, which continues to amuse with highly judgemental descriptions of people's corpulence.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Weekly Wisdom from Mr. Trollope

She could write after a glib, commonplace, sprightly fashion, and had already acquired the knack of spreading what she knew very thin, so that it might cover a vast surface. She had no ambition to write a good book, but was painfully anxious to write a book that the critics should say was good.


I scorned the weeks of rain last month and welcomed the rain that fell today, along with the temperature. A cancelled lunch date, a cat by my side, coffee and Hit cookies, and four blissful hours of Wives and Daughters made my cocoon for the day. Wives and Daughters is one of several BBC miniseries I've been watching this summer, having already gone through He Knew He Was Right based on the Trollope novel and North and South, which like Wives is based on a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, an author I've been interested in for a while and whose writings I have never been able to finish once started. I got through less than half of MaryItalic Barton though I can't remember why. I can't get enough of the dramatized adaptations--the Hamley brothers who send little bouquets of flowers to the young ladies before the ball (if I were a man I'd do just the same thing); the angry and surly Mr. Thornton, the proud Margaret Hale. Yes, sharing her name made me that much more attached. I can't help it. I've thought a lot about my name recently, as I deliberated on the domain name for the website that I've been working on. To include the middle name or just the initial--or no initial at all. My father wanted to name me Stillpoint. My mother's choices were Nora, Laura, and Anna, all of whom I'm fairly sure are also characters in a Gaskell novel. A search on Google for "Margaret Robinson Actress" found a curious posting on that includes one show that I was in as a teenager in 1994 along with several other Broadway credits of mine beginning in 1900 and ending in 1913. Further inqueries into my illustrious Broadway career provided this review from Feb. 6 1901: "Many of the other parts are well acted. . .the dainty prettiness of Margaret Robinson in her new blonde wig. . ." And yes, there's the Margaret Robinson who--like the MR who got to the MR at AEA before me--got to the .com before me. A bisexual Canadian writer. Never have been able to find out who the other me at Equity is. I imagine her a Floridian octogenarian, regularly sending in her dues biannually with a relish for self celebration reserved only for actors. . .

Monday, 13 July 2009

Weekly Wisdom from Mr. Trollope

Oh the City, the weary City, where men go daily to look for money, but find none.

Between the Mug and the Wump

I was delighted to learn a new word this past week, found in the character description of part I was working on: Chippy.
chippy:or: chippie, a disparaging term, possibly derived from cheap / cheaply / cheapy, for:1. A wild or delinquent young girl , usually sexually active or promiscuous . See playgirl for synonyms.2. A prostitute . See prostitute for synonyms.3. A cheap woman .
My mom identified the name right away--said it was in my grandfather's vocabulary. As it is now in mine.

A few weeks ago, I was re-watching Vertigo in preparation for an appointment and was intrigued by Barbara Bel Geddes. Since seeing the film for the first time--in college I think--and now, I had heard stories of the actress but never quite got who she was. Wynn Handman used to speak about her, and it's a name that stayed in my mind. Geddes was the original Maggie in Cat and had a fairly prolific Broadway career. She also starred on Dallas, and was an artist who illustrated books for children. A charming detail in light of her role in Vertigo--and in light of who I discovered her father to be; as I was browsing the Stage Design exhibit at The Morgan last week, I stumbled upon several sketches by a Norman Bel Geddes.
Besides that discovery, I was very taken with some set designs on display that featured the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge. One, for a 1935 verse play called Winterset by Maxwell Anderson, and another for a musical, Kelly. Kelly, produced in 1965, closed on opening night but did feature a song called "Ode to the Brooklyn Bridge."http://http//
I was struggling with what to title this post--nothing really seemed a good fit. Theatre 101, Ode to something -or-other (didn't get very far on that one), A Patron of the Arts. The latter struck me as having some possibilities and so I checked out what Wikipedia had to say on the subject. I found myself laughing out loud at its message--I wonder if my daddy read this when he dubbed Mugwumper my nickname:
"In the United States during the Gilded Age, patronage became a controversial issue. Republican Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York became a powerful political figure by determining who in the party would be given certain lucrative positions. Conkling and his supporters were known as Stalwarts. The Republican reformers who opposed patronage and advocated a civil service system were known as Mugwumps—their lack of party loyalty seen as having their "mug" on one side of the fence, their "wump" on the other. Between the two were the Halfbreeds, who were less patronage-oriented than the Stalwarts, but not as reform-minded as the Mugwumps."
And I guess that brings my total of words learned to two. . .

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Weekly Wisdom from Mr. Trollope

A man will dine, even though his heart be breaking.

Are You There, Blog? It's Me. . .

I spent a delightful, long overdue evening with JG, seeing Waiting for Godot. I was never a Beckett fan until I read his seminal work in college. I wrote a kick ass paper on it. I thought, and felt silly thinking (as I have yet to enter the third decade of my little life), that this is a play that will always resonate differently as one ages. It's the same rule that made true my mother's statement when I was a teenager that listening to Paul Simon is rougher as you grow older; the things he sings about, romantic when heard from adolescence, painful in adulthood. In Godot, life is "exactly as it is," but that "is" to Beckett means the essence of life, a life in which relationships are infertile, directions are arbitrary, and speech doesn't necessarily identify a particular speaker. Stripped down to an essence, life becomes inconceivably complex. Time waits for no man, but man is continually lingering around, about, and for time. There is no potential for change in Godot; the only change is from morning to night, and even then, there is no sunset, only a rapid shift into darkness--only the essence of night, not its gradations. The sunset is what we live for, but what Vlad and Etstragon must live without. Essence does away with the symbolic day's end, therefore making day to day existence strangled by a sort of binary on/off system that won't work. As JG would say, "blech." At least Gristedes came through with some superfluity that makes life worth living.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

We Should Have Remained a Colony

July 4, 2009
Strands of American History
It’s a kind of calligraphy, these ringlets and waves, hair combed, twisted and pinned. A first lady’s coiffure is a pattern, chosen as deliberately as the White House china, but prey to wind and rain, especially on cold Inauguration Days. It’s also prey to public opinion, should she dare to make quixotic changes in her ’do — a sign of flippancy and flip-flopping. Notice there are no flips. In the beginning, we see a newborn empire in those Josephine curls. The mid-20th century is marcelled. And in recent decades, increasingly liberated first ladies sport more leonine locks. Interestingly, there are no bangs. Perhaps this has less to do with hair and more to do with campaign promises of marital harmony and world peace. --Laura Jacobs, NYT