Miss Tinker Tries to Sleep

From Duke’s WIP

tin hats

You left me all those years ago and now I am without your dreams of turning stream pebbles into light, without your technical drawings of how stairs to the clouds can be built with smiles

I toss and turn with my new face

It’s difficult to move around on this bed

It’s like living inside a tree, everything silent and tightly wrapped as if the night is cut up into large black safes and the steel combinations spin into place, leading me into yet another hollow brick where I suffocate and grow old

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MAGA hats in the make believe band

In general I don’t correct other people, especially in public. So what if someone doesn’t know a Monet from a Manet? Who cares? Not me!

However if someone says “I love this song from the musical Carousel” and then proceeds to name a song from the musical Oklahoma, I become an obnoxious know-it-all  who must correct this hideous injustice posthaste and with no sympathy for the miscreant.  Embarrassing confession but there it is.  I can be a bitch. But there’s a reason why.  As a kid I had most of the songs from the musicals written by Rogers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Loewe memorized. 

Rodgers and Hammerstein – true geniuses

I had no television growing up.  Just a record player and a father who loved musicals. As a girl, I was vaguely aware that some of these musicals tackled serious issues however my focus was on the romance.  Would Nellie Forbush overcome her prejudices and accept Emile?  Would Eliza Doolittle take old Henry Higgins down a notch or two?

Now when I happen to catch one of them on Turner Classic Movies, it’s definitely not the romances that pique my interest. Let’s face it, there’s not much chemistry between Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn!

I mean really? He’s ninety-nine years older than her.

I’m more interested in how the source material was altered for the musical and why. For example, South Pacific was based on James A. Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, a collection of stories set during WWII.  One of the underlying themes is cultural intolerance.   Can an army nurse and young lieutenant from Little Rock Arkansas overcome their prejudices towards those “they’ve been carefully taught to hate”?

The nurse eventually does but in the original story, Our Heroine,  the man she loves has four mixed-race children from four different women none of whom he married. Horrors! An audience in the early sixties would definitely have trouble seeing him as a hero.  So in the musical, R&H gave Emile de Becque only two mixed race children and they are both from his deceased wife making his sin (marrying a heathen) in part redeemable.

R&H had a similar dilemma when writing the musical Carousel.  It was based on an earlier play called Lilliom by Ferenc Moinar.  In Moinar’s play, the main character, Billy Bigelow kills himself after being caught during a robbery but is still given a second chance to enter Heaven.  Recognizing this might make Bigelow less sympathetic to some in the audience,  R&H revised the storyline.  In Carousel Billy Bigelow falls on his knife while fleeing and thus is eligible for heaven.

I could go on but I’m sure you get the point.  Which brings me to The Music Man. This musical is not based on a previous publication but on Meredith Willson’s childhood band experiences in small town Iowa.  For the life of me, I do not understand WTF he was trying to say.  See if you can.

 

Here’s the plot for those of you who’ve never seen it.  A flimflam man who calls himself Dr. Harold Hill is looking for a town full of people gullible enough to scam and decides River City Iowa might be the ticket. His modus operandi is to play upon people’s fears (sound familiar?) but the good folks of the River City seem content and so he decides he’s got to create a problem that only he can solve.  The arrival of a new pool table gives him his hook.

He decides to convince that townspeople that the pool table will ruin the town and turn all their children into shiftless bums. The first thing he does is whip up fear.  Then hatred.  Finally he proclaims he alone can save them by creating a wholesome boy’s marching band. 

Of course, Harold Hill knows nothing about music.  But by the time he’s finally revealed as a con man, the whole town has been brainwashed into believing they can have a world class marching band.  They no longer care that they’ve been lied to and manipulated.  They just want to march happily through the town behind their savior.  (I’m not sure what he saved them from – their rationality?)

The musical ends on a truly bizarre note.  A small group of kids making noise with their instruments morphs into a full-fledged marching band.and around and around the town square they march. I could swear I saw a few MAGA hats in the crowd.

What are we supposed to make of that? What’s the underlying theme? Was Willson predicting a future where we no longer care if we’re lied to as long as we’re given a good show?  I just don’t get it.

Never surrender to nincompoops or madmen

There are some movies I will watch again and again for just one scene. 

In the movie The Darkest Hour, Winston Churchill rides the Underground for the first time as his advisors urge him to surrender to the Nazis. The bulk of the British army is surrounded at Dunkirk and the Americans are refusing to join the fight. Surrender seems to be the only way to avoid catastrophic defeat. Those politicians on the side of surrender have talked themselves into believing they can come to reasonable terms with a depraved madman but Churchill knows otherwise.The scene I love in that movie opens with Churchill gazing out at ordinary Londoners trying to escape the rain from his limousine. It’s a stark reminder that wars are begun by men in chauffeur-driven limos but it’s the man on the street who pays the price. Suddenly he disappears. When next seen he is trying to figure out the system map much to the surprise of the commuters. Aristocrats don’t ride the Underground everyday. Once they warm up to him, he asks how they feel about surrendering to Germany and to a man, woman and even a child they say “Never Surrender.”

 And of course Churchill weeps and I wept along with him.

After the movie I made the mistake of watching the news. Good grief.  Today a senate committee questioned some muleheaded nincompoop determined to stonewall them unless he could expound upon the dignity of human life (code speak for “take away a woman’s right to choose.”)  Any time a committee member came up with a reasonable question about his credentials, some jackass from the other party interrupted their time by yelling “point of order” which actually had nothing to do with order but had more to do with defending a nincompoop put into enormous power by a madman and I wanted to yell “NEVER SURRENDER” loud enough that it could be heard in Washington D.C.  

On a lighter note, here are a few favorite scenes from movies I’ll take the time to watch just for a few unforgettable scenes:

  • Mortimer discovers his dear sweet aunties are serial killers.
  • Ralphie gets a rude awakening from Santa
  • Winger and Ziskey discover they’ve joined the “wrong” army.

There are many more of course.  And we need them these days, we surely do.  Is there a movie you’d watch again just for one scene or am I the only one addicted to sentimentality? 

Republicans Oppose Cupid’s Plan For Universal Love

Once again, the Modern Philosopher! Enjoy!

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

Valentine's Day, Cupid, love, politics, humor, Modern PhilosopherApparently, President Trump and the Republican Party do not believe that everyone deserves to have a happy Valentine’s Day, Modern Philosophers.

The Republicans today vowed to shoot down Cupid’s proposed plan for Universal Love.

According to the plan set forth by the little archer in the diaper, love would be made available to all, free of charge.

The members of the GOP, which I’m assuming stands for Gang Of Partypoopers, said there is no way such a plan would be allowed on their watch.

“America is a country of freedom and independence, not socialism,” President Trump reminded everyone in a Tweet.  “Love is not a right.  It is a privilege, and wealthy white males get first crack at it.  Cupid can’t just demand that everyone gets love.  Free love was outlawed after the sixties, and it’s going to stay that way!”

Trump wasn’t done (Is he ever???).  “If we were…

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The Volcanic Activity of Buses

tin hats

I have a book with scribbles in it

the air is a clock

the temperature is time

the alarm is people dying from the weather

snow falls in Seattle

the man and the woman sit side-by-side on the bus

their faces are slices of the Cascades

strained with hidden volcanic activity

his fingers are ingrained in her throat

like the purple veins on the exposed rock of a river bed

I ask them if the bus is going downtown

I ask them where is the driver

the woman looks at me as if the earth is rising up and the #10 bus is about to be pushed down the street and into the sound with garbage containers and trees and shoppers from Macy’s and young pan handlers and Native American alcoholics whittling in doorways

why did she choose him I think

the man can hear me and says shut up

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Rip off the bandaid or go to Mars

Let me just say this fast so it’ll be like a ripped off bandaid and only sting for a few minutes.

Pretending to be a hero.

John Wayne, you should be ashamed. You were an empty vessel for fear mongering propaganda. You were a barbarian parading as virtuous. You shouldn’t have an airport named for you;  your name should be on toilet paper.

There I said it. Readers, are you still with me? 

I was a mere whippersnapper when John Wayne made his last films and, since Westerns interested me in the least,  I watched most of them as an adult and thought they were rather silly. Real cowboys don’t act or look like the Duke. They’re almost never clean, they spit a lot and some sleep with their horses. But, John Wayne was a frequent visitor to the town where I grew up and even rode in Nevada’s annual parade celebrating statehood.  He cut a mighty fine figure, even in his sixties, and I was proud to share a birthday with him (different year lest you try guessing my age.)  But alas, some things I was too young to know.

In the clip above, the empty vessel mouthpiece, John Wayne, claims that Congress can override the Bill of Rights for the purpose of national security.  Sounds like a lofty principle but what he meant was, Congress can imprison or blacklist anyone suspected of discussing subversive ideas, such as communism.  Suspected, being the key word.  Not tried.  Not found guilty. Suspected. If you didn’t like your neighbor, all you’d needed to do during that deadly time was call up the FBI and say you saw a Communist pamphlet in their house and voila!  You could ruin their life. But, like John Wayne, America’s hero, you would be upholding a lofty principle.

In the 1950s a successful screenwriter named Dalton Trumbo was accused of being a communist by a less successful colleague.  This led to his imprisonment and subsequent shunning by friends, neighbors and potential employers.  A punishment known as “blacklisting.” Desperate for income, he organized a group of fellow blacklisted writers and together they convinced the producers of B movies to hire them incognito and far cheaper than the going rate.  And since no one much cared who wrote such masterpieces as This Female is Deadly, they were able to survive.

Until Roman Holiday.  That movie won an Oscar for best screenplay and convinced Otto Preminger to ignore the fear mongering, anti-communists and openly hire him.

The above scene from Spartacus, written by Trumbo for Kirk Douglas is a rebuke to the name-calling and finger-pointing that went on during the McCarthy era, a time when the Bill of Rights was ripped and trampled and few people stood up and said “I am Spartacus.” 

Black Bread

P

tin hats

There’s a sound in your head and it’s driving you crazy

You complain to the photos, but it doesn’t matter and then you start feeling guilty for things that happened somewhere unexpected in the night

Skin and face close over an African hole like a book in your bag and you’ve carried it your whole life, reading from time to time, trying to see where the plot falls, hoping the end is good enough to warrant the effort

You know the end

A fly lands on your hand

It’s wearing six high heels and four thousand pairs of sunglasses

You flip it away and turn on the light to write an email

The dark edge tells you to stop like a cop on the sidewalk and you do, because strangers and friends have no interest in things without meaning

You remember the woman who carried her dead child around for…

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