Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel

I’ve finally finished the third and last season of what might be described as the Spanish Downton Abbey—except it is a hotel. Great scenery, great clothes, and every plot know to humankind crammed in. Revelation scene: I’m your brother! Check. You murdered my father! Ditto. Swapped babies. Certainly. Plus, watching it, I can pretend I am learning Spanish.
I’ve now spent the equivalent of two work weeks in this company. The docile sister (stolen baby, murderess, affair with priest) is one of the mildest characters. But Alicia—feisty and gorgeous—is our real heroine. She is the owner’s daughter. She loves Julio, a waiter.
Well, we love him too. He is an Adonis with long eyelashes. He spends a fair amount of time injured, beaten, shot, bleeding, bedridden, concussed—usually half naked. There is actually a resurrection of a different cute character. Spanish Catholicism? Well, it translates.
As does the cult of the mother. Mothers here are apt to scheme—or kill—on behalf of their offspring. Or pressure and manipulate them. But they are central. No one is too old to cry out to his mother.
This is a very woman friendly drama. Middle-aged and downright elderly women are courted and admired by dashing age appropriate suitors (who sport mustaches and weapons)—plump ladies and downright stout ones are objects of desire (some of them are killers too.) No discrimination here. You don’t need to be skinny and young to have an adorable love interest—or a weapon in your hand and revenge in your heart. This is the early 20th century but women have jobs—ranging from working class maids to hotel manager to lawyer to ladies of ill repute to, of course, murderesses. They are never idle, constantly rushing about moving the plot hither and yon.
And look at Alicia’s character curve. She loves Julio, but gives in to an arranged marriage. Here she suffers from the sadism of her husband, but her spirit isn’t broken. She rallies, survives, and beats him at his own game. Then, she dithers at the end, inhibited about running off to happiness with Julio. UNTIL her mother, the often evil yet somehow sympathetic very well dressed Dona Teresa, engages her in mutual forgiveness and letting go.
Then Alicia can live happily ever after. So it is all about redeeming the mother-daughter relationship. With lace collars, lavish meals, and half naked waiters.

Beautiful Quilts from the Fair Ground Show of Albuquerque Textile Arts

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What About This?

A rubber ball…by American artists Lawrence Weiner:

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Is This A Poem?

PBCLwhole

PAUL SCOTT

Cookworthy, Body Sherds and Plymouth Rock, Alkalon, Pountney and St Vincent’s Rock(s) Ladies of Llangollen, Dillwyn and Cow Creamers Toxteth Park, Herculaneum, and Liver Birds

Commission for:
Contemporary Art Society, and a consortium of four museums: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, National Museum of Wales at Cardiff, National Museums Liverpool, Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery

www.cumbrianblues.com 

Homophobia Strikes

Homophobia Strikes

I’m sitting in a nice pub in Canada reading Dan Savage’s witty and touching book on adoption, “The Kid” in which he and his boyfriend Terry go for an open adoption. The book is about fifteen years old—that child is now part grown—but my daughter Isabel lent it to me and it is terrific.
I am truly minding my own business, eating fish stew, secure in my own gender presentation which I must currently define as “almost elderly classroom teacher.”
A couple at the next table turn to me. Is the book good? Is it funny? I give them a bland go away now smile, but the man comes over.
“What is the book about?”
“Famous sex advice columnist Dan Savage and his boyfriend—two gay guys,” I emphasize, “adopt a baby. It’s very sweet and honest.”
“TWO HOMOSEXUALS!?” the guy bellows.
“Yes,” I beam. “So nice.” He retreats. His wife flutters. I feel smeared, slimed, and disgusted. Why are they in my space? With their evil prejudice?
I write my daughter an e-mail note complaining about them. Well, she writes back, didn’t you feel close to Dan? Yes, I did. Now I want to defend all writers I like in pubs.
My last thought—I hope that couple were Americans so as to not ruin my good impression of Canada.

What I Actually Missed: Jimi and the Blue Mosque

Writing about missing out on things, I decided I’d make a list. But there were only two things on it. By “missed” I’m not counting things I was never truly interested in (punk scene) or too crippled to do (mountain climbing) or had no budget for (Japan). I won’t boast about all the peak experiences I have had–quite a few. Rather, things I ALMOST experienced.
The first was seeing Jimi Hendrix collapse on stage at Madison Square Garden at a huge anti-war rally. My mother made us go home around 1 am, and she was driving. We left, Jimi came on stage, collapsed, and died soon after. This is truly my big regret.
The second was going into the Blue Mosque in Akko, called Acre by the Crusaders, in Israel. It was the mid-1970’s, and in retrospect I was very fortune to have been in the Dome of the Rock, and its silver domed neighborhood. But the bus stopped, I got out, it was Friday and the Blue Mosque locked for prayer. Young as I was, I was assaulted by that raw sensation–I’ll never pass this way again.
And I never did.

What I Have Missed Out On (with Haiku)

One of the things I’ve enjoyed a lot at The Haiku Canada weekend has been the freebie table. Here, I found a little chapbook by Sandra Fuhringer (whose work I didn’t know, I think she is deceased), THE TREE IT WAS from Kings Road Press.

Her haiku: morphine mothwing

Folks were talking about it in a workshop–it really does deliver a haiku punch.

Terry Ann Carter gave me a lovely book mark with some of Kerouac’s haiku. I love his haiku, and she is also a fan, as well as author of a haibun memoir ON THE ROAD TO NAROPA: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH JACK KEROUAC which I’m hoping to read.

From Kerouac:
Grain elevators, waiting
for the road
To approach them

And an honorable mention in The Betty Devniok Award:

child soldiers–
a young buck takes the moon
on its antlers

by Judit Katalin Hollos of Hungary.

So why am I wondering what I’ve missed out on? I went to almost every single thing in the conference until I got too tired (or my legs wore out–I’m admitting that all these days). I’ve eaten fish stew, 2 kinds of chowder, pancakes, eggs florentine, and drunk strong tea. Walked a lot in the neighborhood, been to Emily Carr’s house and garden, met people, and also lain about in a hotel room (My fave). I’ve had a picnic of bread and cheese by the Parliament building with its flower gardens and totem poles. I’ve written a one line haiku there:

pretty girl takes a selfie by monument for the glorious dead

And yet–my husband Rich would be sightseeing now. Someone more sociable would be networking at a late lunch or seeing friends between planes in Seattle. I’m just…watching the breeze in gauze curtains. Feeling pleasantly homesick and pleasantly not yet at home.

Making a list of things I’ve missed in my life.

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