Thursday, November 26, 2009

Assfuckery & an Apology

Just a quick heads up to most of the blogs and the wonderful bloggers I follow, some of you use Blogger style that have the comments embedded instead of a pop-up window. This is not a bad thing, your pages look nice and read smooth. But the assfuckery that is html and browser compliance and all kinds of geek talk you don't want me to ramble on about has me losing my mind some days.There is never a day when I can post a comment using Firefox (my favorite browser ever), some days (but not today) I can post comments using Safari and some days (like today) I can't post any comments on all your wonderfulness at all. Which makes me frustrated and angry and growly...grrrrrrrrrrr.
So, just so you know I'm reading you and thinking about you and  desperately want to comment, you'll have to make do with these:

The Lunch Hour: Happy Anniversary you two! And you know, it's the little shit that counts. I love that he washed the sheets...there's so much lovin', lustin' and all round sweetness in that one act of goodness.

Xtremely Ragey: Tall you say? Like how tall? I'm the shortest one in my family at 5'10".You don't scare me ya ole busted up, cement head nerd. I know you're a teddy bear and do all kinds of sweet things for your loved ones. 

Everyone is Entitled to my Opinion: Me and Deist had a pity party and you weren't invited! So there! Seriously, you are awesome and your awardees are equally full of awesome bloggy goodness!

Now so long as GP and Spender don't post some do-not-miss-blog-must-read today, perhaps the wicked goblins that reside in my browsers will go back to sleep so I can comment again tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Fairy Tale
I don't usually post things that are personal in nature, you know, the stuff about my relationships, or my family. But now that there are a few people who might occasionally read this crap, I wonder if they are confused at some of my posts that refer to my exile, etc. So I thought I it might be time to tell you a little about my situation, as it were. And it's a pretty good story, romance,star crossed lovers, mean, faceless government officials, rude, over officious Germanic (was that redundant?) immigration employees, a little house built of sweetness and bread and history and full of kittehs...yep this a grand story. So here we go, snuggle down in your bedding and lays your little heads on the pillows...

Once upon a time, in the middle of the cold, snow blown Canadian Prairies, there lived a girl (Brite) who had a couple of brothers (their names don't matter, they are totally superfluous to this story...and they don't read this blog).One of Brite's brothers had the most fabulous friend; a tall, skinny and brilliant boy who also happened to secretly be a prince of purest heart (in fact it was so secret, I'm not sure he knows his true self even now).The heretofore unnamed brother (ok..his name is Jamie) and his prince of a friend, the future Big G, let Brite hang around and occasionally drove her to the Big City (Winnipeg) to watch Monty Python on Friday nights, where much laughter ensued.But was the 70's my children...the decade of me, me, ME and Brite was far too busy indulging in all that 'me-ness' to realize that the love of her life was right there.

And so, the 70's turned to the 80's; Big G moved far away and Brite languished in the deep, wet forests on the Wet Coast.And the 80's dwindled into the 90's and a whole new millenium began. Brite had wearied of the endless drip drip drip on the mosses of the forest floor and moved herself and her young cub (the Max) back to the tundra.One sunny day, less than a decade into this new era (you know, a couple of years ago) the Big G sent an email (because the interwebs had finally been invented) and showed up on Brite's doorstep forthwith.But the Big G lived in far off Switzerland, land of chocolate, mountains, cows and cheese and had to return to his kingdom.The interwebs (bless its little soul) allowed the geographically challenged lovers to pledge their troths ( know...send sappy love letters back and forth and chat aimlessly while supposedly at work) until Brite could stand it no more and packed up the Max, the kittehs and all her worldy belongings and moved to the Big G's domain, Switzerland, albeit not entirely with a visa or permission or all that bureaucratic crap.And it shouldn't have been a problem...but there was this witch...a fairy tale always has to have a witch.I will not dwell on this witch and all her evil ways, except to say that her prevaricating, procrastinating ways prevented (oooooh alliteration) Big G from being free to marry the fair (albeit middle aged at this point) Brite.And as long as they remained in the wonderful land of chocolate and cows this posed no problems.

So the Big G and Brite bought a little house, a former bakery with its very own grange in the backyard, roses, a cave (wine cellar) to stock and roaming room for the kittehs.It was such a perfect home that one day, a beautiful and most forward kitteh decided she would live there.The Max attended school and Big G and Brite were ever so happy.But it was the summer of 2009 and the call of their homeland could not be ignored.There were festivals to attend, people to see and lakes to be dunked in.But returning to Canada was perilous, not only because we were flying in an Airbus, but most importantly because the Swiss had changed the rules in the past year.Suddenly Brite was no longer allowed to return to her happy home( a little more alliteration), because of an evil troll called Schengen .Schengen said that Brite was persona non grata, not welcome, fuck off and cancelled her visa application that had been grinding its way through the Swiss bureaucracy for 2 !!! freakin years (oh I'm sorry...shouldn't swear around the kiddies).Luckily, the troll Schengen did not notice the Max and he returned to the land of cows and cheese and continued his education.

Brite stood on the Dover shore, watching the ferry sail off to schengenland, bitter tears coursing down her progressively wrinkling face. Exiled,with nowhere else to go, she turned north and found a flat in twee ole Blackheath. The Big G makes the journey every weekend to soothe and reassure Brite of his love and faithfulness and over tasty meals in fashionable eateries they have 'the visa discussion' until they are weary.But there are good things to come...a wedding (at last) in January and perhaps the troll schengen will be appeased with a document that says Brite and Big G are legally bound to one another.I am convinced there will be a happy ending to this tale...but it may take some time yet. G'night chilluns...sleep tight.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Track Back

So the Big G has gone home to Switz...and I'm here, looking out from my lonely room.(until he's back again on Friday ...yaaay!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Look what they've done to my art, Ma...

The horror...the HORROR! The National Gallery in London has ripped out my heart, macerated it ruthlessly and spit the shreds out onto the wet pavement of Trafalgar Square. But worse than that, they have destroyed, utterly, irreparably destroyed countless works of art.Why, why would the national conservators of such treasures perpetrate these heinous crimes on the beautiful Botticelli's, Raphael's and countless other masterpieces? All in the name of 'restoration'. But these paintings have not been restored, they have been bleached, blanched and cleansed of countless, painstakingly applied( by the original artists), layers of varnish that just so happened to have collected a lot of dirt of the years. So let's just throw out the baby with the freakin' bath water in the name of cleanliness and a 'modern day asthetic'.These 'restored' paintings are but a white shade of the glory of the originals acheived by the great masters of art.

Oh, oh! I am so aggrieved! As a teen, I spent weeks roaming these galleries,studying, absorbing and imprinting these images on the core of my visual memory. I loved,with all my soul, some of these masterworks of the Early and mid Renaissance.Today,as I started to stroll through the galleries, my initial shock and disbelief soon turned to nausea.After merely an hour (when once I spent entire days at the NG) I fled to stand in Trafalgar Square, smoking a cigarette and choking back tears of anger and despair.

Restoration/conservation has always been a controversial topic in the art world; for the National Gallery, the debate goes back to the 1840's when it's most virulent critic J. Morris Moore wrote scathing letters to The Times under the pseudonym, Verax.More recently Harper magazine published a withering review of modern restorations in the August 2005 issue entitled 'Inglorious Restorations'.

(photo from Harpers August 2005) 
I have also had mixed feelings about restoration in principal and in experience. I followed the 10 year (1984-1994) saga of the restoration of the Sistine Chapel closely, and although I reserve judgment until I see the final product with my own eyes and compare it to my earlier viewing in the late 1970's, overall I feel the team managed to 'clean' the frescoes and yet still retain some of the original varnishes.As I wandered through the Louvre in Paris last spring, I had the same feeling of disquiet as I did today in London; paintings I had studied all my life and had nearly prostrated myself in front of in the 1980's, were now eerily bright, white and almost cartoon like in their lack of depth and shadow.But the French restorers were more subtle and light handed than their English counterparts, preferring to peer through countless layers of dirt to capture a master's brushstroke.The Italians fall somewhere between the two, depending on the restorer and conservator in chief.But the Brits have done something fact it is criminal.In fifty years art historians (backed by the anguished cries of today's critics) will posthumously call for the evisceration and flaying of the fools responsible for the destruction of the finest paintings ever produced by the human species.

And it cannot be undone.We no longer know how to create those delicately flavoured lacquers (ask any luthier or violin expert about this), much less how to apply them as Raphael and Michelangelo did. In the pursuit of 'the original masterpiece', struggling with the knowledge that much of the wonderous detail of the works was obscured by centuries of dirt, the conservators of the National Gallery collection had the temerity and the misplaced confidence in 'science' to CLEAN masterpieces, remove the dirt even if it meant removing the artists' original brushstrokes.

I am sick at heart over this, I cannot return the those galleries I loved and knew so well.I will spend my time at the NG in the Impressionist galleries...for the conservators haven't fucked with them....yet.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Track Back
Yesterday over at Pajiba, they had a comment diversion that revolved around what movies took you back to your childhood.So I got to thinking about what songs take me back to that place of small chairs, big people and not being able to see what was on the back of the counter. I'm talking early childhood here, like before you were 8.  
When I was but a slip of a girl, I absolutely adored this song. I swear I had visions of being freed of family trappings, happily living in some 8x12 four bit room (although I probably didn't know what 4 bit meant) and thought that 2 hours of 'pushin' broom' didn't seem like such a bad deal if that meant you were King of the Road. I swear, all my wandering ways are the fault of Roger Miller.

So fess up...what song takes you waaaaaaaaaay back?
Knobbly Bits
The Big G lived in the UK for some years before moving to Switzerland and he has said, with some affection,"The Brits are a nation of eccentrics." I prefer to think of all those little quirks and tics as 'knobbly bits', much like the tactile paving that is used to facilitate the blind on almost every street corner (I might add that they make navigating in heels a challenge).
So during my exile sojourn here,whenever I run across something that is British in that peculiar way, I say 'knobbly bits' to myself (and invariably giggle out loud).The London Review of Books is a bimonthly publication with well written reviews, interesting editorials and completely 'knobbly' classified personal ads.For your consideration:

Okay. I can actually see some logic in this. But then there's this:

A bit knobbly, I'd say. But the KBOTD (knobbly bit of the day)Award goes to this submitter:


Very knobbly indeed.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Track Back

Cuz, it's ya know...Tuesday.
(and I haven't posted a track back in ages)
CBRII: Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth

As I am currently staying close to the East End of London and spending some time wandering around this area, the title of this book on display grabbed my eye. It is a wonderful memoir of a nurse/midwife who took her early training at a religious house of nursing nuns, in Poplar, East London in the early 1950's.The book is formatted into short stories of life in the Docklands of that time (and some that go back to the early 30's as well) and are a rich eyewitness account of what was a rather grim life in that impoverished and bombed out district of London.The author switches from true memoir to narrative story, weaving characters and plot with historical background and midwifery technique.Be warned, midwives like to talk about vaginas, placentas,umbilical cords and other womanly bits in a frank and open manner.A glossary is provided for medical terms at the back.
The first few stories of the book introduce the author and her fellow midwives,the nuns of the order and the women of the district, many of whom had too many children and never enough money. Tales of the harrowing birth of triplets in a dark,cold shell of a building; the death of a newborn; the sad reality of infanticide,backstreet abortions and illegitimate birth (during a time when this was a fate worse than death itself), told through the eyes of the midwives.As the book progresses, the personalities of the midwives and nuns fill out, the world of Cockney culture and the grey, run down streets and tenements of East London and the colorful characters that lived there come to life.And oh! what characters, I was particularly fond of the elderly Sister Monica Joan, a refined but rebellious, recalcitrant nun that behaved in ways most un-nun like.The sisters MegandMave, the desperate Hilda and Bill Harding and the intriguing Captain's Daughter are not fictional and the author lets us into their lives with humour and without judgement.
The life of a nurse/midwife was not all babies and births.Before the days of the NHS, a nurse/midwife was the first, and often only, stop on the road to medical care.Nursing also included looking after long term patients, doing daily injections of the 'new' drug insulin for diabetics and occasionally mending injuries for those that refused to go to hospital.Despite the bleakness of the area, a crumbling shell of a once vibrant, albeit historically impoverished, community, these memoirs reveal the resilience and humour of the people who lived there.
I found this book to be a good, light read and may be inclined to venture back into the long gone world of London's East End in her other book Call the Midwife.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cannonball Read II Preempted

So I know you're all waiting with bated breath for my first review, a curious little book called 'Farewell East End' by Jennifer Worth, but I got sidetracked this weekend into re- reading 'Measure For Measure' (which doesn't qualify as a novel) so that I can help out the Max with his IB English program.I haven't read this play since a very intensive English Lit course in university, and as always with the Bard, I'm struck by how the themes of his plays (and poetry) ring as true today as they did 400 years ago.
'Measure For Measure' is ostensibly a comedy, but there is little in the meat of the play itself that is amusing.Power, corruption, law vs. morality, cultural mores vs. individual could pluck out the names of Antonio, Isabel, The Duke and supplant them with any number of people who make headlines today.
At any rate, I promise to return tomorrow with my first CBII review.
"Yet (by your gracious patience)
I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver"