Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Haunting

I hope those of you with little trick-or-treaters have had a wonderful evening. We've had a lot of cuties show up at the front door so far.

It's an uncharacteristically beautiful Halloween night here in Halifax. I watched an orange sunset through the newly-bare trees as I waited for the little dashing figures, running over the crunchy leaves I haven't raked up yet.

So while I give out treats with my mom, here's a peek at my post from last Halloween - 10 of my favorite spooky films. Boo!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 79 - 13 Songs and Music From the Second World War Era, 1939 - 1945

1 - Sing, Sing, Sing, written by Louis Prima, 1936

Performed here by the Louis Prima Orchestra and danced by the Floogees, a Dutch Lindy Hop group. This is my favorite wartime music, no comparison. When I was 18, I performed in The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo as a civilian dancer, and one of the two pieces we danced was a 40's medley which started with Sing, Sing, Sing. Unfortunately I broke a bone in my foot before the show, so I had to drop out of the 40's piece, which had a lot of hopping moves. I did manage the Rockettes piece, though, which was mostly kick-stepping.

Meanwhile...who knew the Dutch could groove like that?!?

2 - Swing jam session by Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart, 1941

This has got to be the most ferocious swing dance sequence you'll ever see. Performed by Whitey's Lindy Hoppers in a sequence from the film Hellzapoppin, a group of domestic employees puts on an impromptu jam session and explodes into dance backstage. To me, this scene foreshadows the coming breakout of African Americans from their pre-war social roles. Once again, their wartime travels to Europe exposed African American culture to a worldwide audience.

3 - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, written by Don Raye and Hughie Prince, 1941

Performed by the Andrews Sisters. I can't separate wartime music from the sound of the Andrews Sisters - and this song is the quintessential WWII song for me.

They made him blow a bugle for his Uncle Sam
It really brought him down, because he couldn't jam
The Captain seemed to understand
Because the next day the Cap' went out and drafted a band
And now the company jumps when he plays reveille
He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B

4 - Strip Polka, written by Johnny Mercer

This tune appeared on the album For Our Armed Forces Overseas, one of a series of recordings by V-Disc, a wartime collaboration between the US government and private record labels. Meant to 'motivate soldiers and improve morale,'(Wikipedia) Strip Polka was on the 1942 Hit Parade for the Andrews Sisters.

There's a burlesque theatre where the gang loves to go
To see Queenie the cutie of the burlesque show
And the thrill of the evening is when out Queenie skips
And the band plays the polka while she strips

"Take it off", "Take it off" cries a voice from the rear
"Take it off", Take it off" Soon it's all you can hear
But she's always a lady even in pantomime
So she stops! And always just in time

5 - I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire, written by Eddie Seile, Sol Marcu, Bennie Benjamin, Eddie Durham, 1941

Performed by The Ink Spots

The Ink Spots were a highly influential quartet whose rich vocal style led to the doo-wop groups of the 1950's. Their song currently appears on the trailer for Fallout 3, an action role-playing game just released Tuesday.

I don't want to set the world on fire
I just want to start
A flame in your heart
In my heart I have but one desire
And that one is you
No other will do

I've lost all ambition for worldly acclaim
I just want to be the one you love
And with your admission that you feel the same
I'll have reached the goal I'm dreaming of

Believe me!
I don't want to set the world on fire
I just want to start
A flame in your heart

6 - Moonlight Serenade, written by Glenn Miller, 1939

Performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the clip is from the 1954 film The Glenn Miller Story starring James Stewart in the title role. Moonlight Serenade typified the Miller Sound, which features a clarinet lead for the saxophone section.

7 - Minor Swing, written by Django Reinhardt, 1937

Performed by Django Reinhardt's Quintette du Hot Club de France, featuring violinist Stéphane Grappelli. Reinhardt was a Belgian gypsy who became one of Europe's first important jazz musicians. He survived the war even though gypsies were among the targets of the Nazi's ethnic cleansing. "He was especially fortunate because the Nazi regime did not allow jazz to be performed and recorded. He apparently enjoyed the protection of the Luftwaffe officer Dietrich Schulz-Köhn, nicknamed 'Doktor Jazz', who deeply admired his music." (Wikipedia)

The photo above was taken by Doktor Jazz and shows Django Reinhardt standing in front of La Cigale in Paris with a Nazi officer, four African-American musicians and a Jew. So much for Nazi ideology. Swing, baby, swing!

8 - When You're Smilin', written by Mark Fisher, Joe Goodwin and Larry Shay, 1929

Performed by Bing Crosby, a towering presence in music, film and television. By the war years, he was a top star in radio and film, with 18 films released between 1939 - 1945, including Road to Morocco, Holiday Inn and Going My Way.

The clip features Hollywood's efforts to boost morale through USO shows. USO stands for United Service Organizations.

When you're smiling
When you're smiling
The whole world smiles with you

When you're laughing
When you're laughing
The sun comes shining through

But when you're crying
You bring on the rain
So stop your sighing
Be happy again

Keep on smiling
Cause when you're smiling
The whole world smiles with you

9 - I'll Be Seeing You, written by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal, 1938

Performed by Billie Holiday

Holiday was a big band vocalist during the war years, fronting for Artie Shaw among others. This made Billie Holiday the first black woman to work with a major white orchestra.

The clip features scenes from The Notebook.

I'll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day through.

I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summer's day;
In every thing that's light and gay.
I'll always think of you that way.

I'll find you
In the morning sun
And when the night is new.
I'll be looking at the moon,
But I'll be seeing you.

10 - You'll Never Know, written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon, with lyrics based on a poem by war-bride Dorothy Fern Norris, 1943

Performed by Michael Buble, a modern-day crooner originally from British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada.

You'll never know just how much I miss you
You'll never know just how much I care
And if I tried, I still couldn't hide my love for you
You ought to know, for haven't I told you so
A million or more times?

You went away and my heart went with you
I speak your name in my every prayer
If there is some other way to prove that I love you
I swear I don't know how
You'll never know if you dont know now

11 - It Had to be You, written by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn, 1924

Performed by Harry Connick, Jr., another modern-day big band leader from New Orleans, Louisiana. The clip is from the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, a film about opposite-sex friends who discover they actually love each other, which I went to see about a month before my 2-year friendship with Brad turned into love. Ask me if I found it excruciating to sit through...especially the awkward New Year's Eve kiss that's in the clip!

It had to be you
It had to be you
I wandered around
And finally found
The somebody who

Could make me be true
Could make me be blue
Or even be glad
Just to be sad
Just thinking of you

Some others I've seen
Might never be mean
Might never be cross
Or try to be boss
But they wouldn't do
For nobody else gave me the thrill
With all your faults I love you still

It had to be you
It had to be you
It had to be you

12 - Night and Day, written by Cole Porter, 1932

Performed by Frank Sinatra, this is one of my favorite songs sung by one of my favorite singers. The women in this clip wear a fabulous array of 40's hairstyles and glamorous dresses.

Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon or under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
It's no matter darling where you are
I think of you
Day and night

Night and day, why is it so?
That this longing for you follows wherever I go
In the roaring traffic's boom
In the silence of my lonely room
I think of you
Day and night

Night and day
Under the hide of me
There's an oh such a hungry yearning
Burning inside of me
And this torment won't be through
Til you let me spend my life making love to you
Day and night
Night and day

13 - We'll Meet Again, written by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles, 1939

Performed by Vera Lynn, an English singer known as The Forces' Sweetheart. Singing for several dance bands, including Bert Ambrose and his Orchestra, Vera Lynn's radio series Sincerely Yours sent a taste of home to British forces overseas.

Possibly the most well-known and touching of any song from the war years, this song bravely states that the singer and listener will meet again - hopefully in this life, but most definitely in the next.

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day

Keep smilin' through
Just like you always do
Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away

So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won't be long
They'll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day

I hope you enjoyed this look back at the songs and music of World War II. Join me next week for another special Thursday Thirteen in time for Remembrance Day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday - 72

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poetry Monday - 72 - Wuthering Heights

More lyrics for Poetry Monday. I'm really enjoying this - hope you do, too.

Since it's Halloween this week, I figured a shivery tale would be just the thing. What could be better than Catherine Earnshaw haunting her tormented lover, Heathcliff?

Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite stories/films/songs. I own several editions of the 1847 novel by Emily Bronte. The 1939 film with Laurence Olivier is one of my favorite films of all time, and this 1978 song by Kate Bush has been a favorite of mine for 30 years.

So for Halloween, enjoy this song written from the ghostly Cathy's point of view as she calls to Heathcliff from across the moors.

Wuthering Heights

Out on the winding, windy moors
We'd roll and fall in green
You had a temper like my jealousy:
Too hot, too greedy
How could you leave me
When I needed to possess you?
I hated you. I loved you, too

Bad dreams in the night
You told me I was going to lose the fight
Leave behind my wuthering, wuthering
Wuthering heights

Heathcliff, it's me - your Cathy
I've come home. I'm so cold
Let me in your window

Ooo, it gets dark! It gets lonely
On the other side from you
I pine a lot. I find the lot
Falls through without you
I'm coming back, love
Cruel Heathcliff, my one dream
My only master

Too long I roamed in the night
I'm coming back to his side, to put it right
I'm coming home to wuthering, wuthering
Wuthering heights

It's me, your Cathy - I've come home
I'm so cold
Let me in your window

Ooo! Let me have it
Let me grab your soul away
Ooo! let me have it
Let me grab your soul away
You know it's me - Cathy

- Kate Bush, 1976

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Peace Meme

Mimi, Queen of Memes tagged me for The Peace Meme. She's the originator of the Blogblast For Peace event in which I'll be taking part on Thursday, November 6th.

This will be the 5th Blogblast event, though for me personally it will be the second one I'm doing. I didn't know how to make a graphic for the Dona Nobis Pacem badge until this past winter. Here's what I came up with for my first Blogblast, this past June 4th:

If I've tagged you, please check out the link to the Peace Meme for instructions. She provides badge templates to get you rolling.

What is the Blogblast For Peace, you may ask? Well, Mimi feels that a worldwide intention for peace, sent out into the universe on the same day by bloggers far and wide, will create healthy ripples in the fabric of this world we share.

And I feel the same way.

I invite you to throw your desire for peace into the blogosphere, and to tag as many bloggers as you'd like. Join us for an extraordinary day on Thursday, November 6th.

Now, a-tagging I will go, a-tagging I will go...

East Coast Life
Miss Sniz
Sans Pantaloons

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 78 - 13 Songs From the First World War Era, 1914 to 1918

Many people are born on holidays, and I was born on Remembrance Day. This aspect sums me up perfectly. I feel a deep kinship to the warrior spirit, and I have always admired soldiers who have fought throughout the ages. Yet inside me, my heart moves toward peace. To be born on the day when the Armistice was signed is perfect, for the laying-down-of-arms is the sweetest victory of all.

Last Friday I went to see Passchendaele, a new film about a soldier from the Canadian Expeditionary Force's recovery from the front and eventual return during WWI. Very, very important to give Canadian films some opening box office love: it scored second in Canadian box office ranking for its opening weekend. Go, Paul Gross, go!

Heading towards Remembrance Day, for today's Thursday Thirteen I'm showcasing songs and music from the era of The Great War.

1 - Tres Moutarde (Too Much Mustard), written by Cecil Macklin, 1911

This is Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing the Castle Walk, a dance which was popular during the war years. This clip is from The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle.

2 - Castle House Rag, written by James Reese Europe, 1914

This is the new wave of dance music that spread during the war years as African American regiments served in Europe. They brought their musical polyphonic style and synthesized it with European waltz and polka music. The precursor of jazz, ragtime is the First World War's cultural reaction to social upheaval, which was extreme at the turn of the 20th century.

3 - Oh, Johnny, Oh, Johnny, Oh!, sung here by the Andrews Sisters when it enjoyed a hugely popular revival during the Second World War

Oh, Johnny! Oh, Johnny!
How you can love!
Oh, Johnny! Oh, Johnny!
Heavens above!
You make my sad heart jump with joy,
And when you're near I just
Can't sit still a minute.
I'm so, Oh, Johnny! Oh, Johnny!
Please tell me dear.
What makes me love you so?
You're not handsome, it's true,
But when I look at you,
I just, Oh, Johnny!
Oh, Johnny! Oh!

- Music by Ed Rose, lyrics by Abe Olman, 1917

4 - How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm sung here by Judy Garland from the film For Me and My Gal. This song was popular during the First World War, and appeared in the 1942 film which was set during the earlier war. In typical Hollywood fashion, the men are shown in WWI uniform, but Judy Garland is costumed in what was 1940's contemporary style.

How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm
After they've seen Paree'
How ya gonna keep 'em away from Broadway
Jazzin around and paintin' the town
How ya gonna keep 'em away from harm, that's a mystery
They'll never want to see a rake or plow
And who the deuce can parleyvous a cow?
How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm
After they've seen Paree'

- Music by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by Joe Young and Sam M. Lewis, 1918

5 - Mademoiselle from Armentieres sung by Lew Dite

Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parley-voo?
Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parley-voo?
Mademoiselle from Armentieres,
She hasn't been kissed in forty years,
Hinky, dinky, parley-voo.

- The tune dates back to the French army of the 1830's. The updated WWI lyrics have no official credited author.

6 - Over There, sung by The Eric Rogers Chorale and Orchestra

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there -
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming
So prepare, say a pray'r,
Send the word, send the word to beware.
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over
Over there.

- Music and lyrics by George M. Cohen, 1917

7 - Keep the Home Fires Burning sung by Linda Williams with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra

Keep the home fires burning,
While your hearts are yearning,
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There's a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out
'Til the boys come home.

- Music by Ivor Novello, lyrics by Lena Ford, 1914

8 - There's a Long, Long Trail A-Winding, sung by John McCormack

There's a long, long trail a-winding
Into the land of my dreams,
Where the nightingales are singing
And a white moon beams:
There's a long, long night of waiting
Until my dreams all come true;
Till the day when I'll be going down
That long, long trail with you.

- Music by Alonzo Elliott, lyrics by Stoddard King, 1915

9 - Oh, It's a Lovely War, from the 1969 film Oh! What a Lovely War by Richard Attenborough

Oh, oh, oh it's a lovely war.
Who wouldn't be a soldier, eh?
Oh it's a shame to take the pay.
As soon as reveille has gone
We feel just as heavy as lead,
But we never get up till the sergeant
Brings our breakfast up to bed.
Oh, oh, oh, it's a lovely war.

- Music by J.P. Long, lyrics by M. Scott, 1917

10 - Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that’s the style.
What’s the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.

- Music by Felix Powell, lyrics by George Asaf (aka George Powell), 1915

11 - It's a Long Way to Tipperary, sung by John McCormack

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.

- Music by Jack Judge, lyrics by Harry Williams, 1912

12 - Land of Hope and Glory, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer, Sir Edward Elgar

Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee ?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set ;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

- Music by Edward Elgar, lyrics by Arthur C Benson, 1902

13 - Dinky Di, performed by the Herndon High School Guitar Ensemble from Virginia

This Australian trench song was sung to the tune of Sweet Betsy From Pike, a popular folk song from the 19th century.

Well, the lousy Lance Corporal said, “Pardon me, please,
You’ve mud on your tunic and blood on your sleeve,
And you look so disgraceful that people will laugh.”
Said the lousy Lance Corporal on headquarters’ staff.
Dinky di, dinky di, for I am a digger who won’t tell a lie.

The digger just shot him – a murderous glance,
Said he, “I’m just back from the balls-up in France,
Where whiz-bangs are flying and comforts are few
And brave men are dying for bastards like you!”
Dinky di, dinky di, for I am a digger who won’t tell a lie.

“We’re shelled on the left and we’re shelled on the right
We’re bombed through the day and we’re bombed through the night;
And if something don’t happen – and that very soon –
There’ll be nobody left in the flamin’ platoon!”
Dinky di, dinky di, for I am a digger who won’t tell a lie.

Well, the question soon came to the ears of Lord Gort
Who gave the whole matter a good deal of thought;
He awarded that digger a VC with bars
For giving that Corporal a kick up the arse.
Dinky di, dinky di, for I am a digger who won’t tell a lie.

Next week, I'll be featuring songs and music from the Second World War era. Join me!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday - 71

Monday, October 20, 2008

Poetry Monday - 71 - Believe

My Poetry Monday has evolved into something closer to a Lyrics Monday, but I'm quite enjoying this. Especially since I haven't been writing any new poetry lately. I'm closer to song lyrics than laying any claim to being well-read in poetry, so my instinct is to turn to music when I want to post poetry by other writers.

Tonight I went to see Lenny Kravitz at the Halifax Metro Centre with my writing buddy, Annette. This picture of us was taken this past July at the writers' retreat. Tonight we were gettin' down at the Love Revolution. Though he didn't perform this song tonight, I'm posting the lyrics to this track from his Are You Gonna Go My Way CD, because I love this song, and because the words hold special meaning for me this week.


I am you and you are me
Why's that such a mystery?
If you want it you got to believe

Who are we? We're who we are
Riding on the great big star
We've got to stand up if we're gonna be free yeah

If you want it you got it
You just got to believe
Believe in yourself
'Cause it's all just a game
We just want to be loved

The Son of God is in our face
Offering us eternal grace
If you want it you've got to believe

'Cause being free is a state of mind
We'll one day leave this all behind
Just put your faith in God and one day you'll see it

If you want it you got it
You just got to believe
Believe in yourself
'Cause it's all just a game
We just want to be loved

The future's in our present hands
Let's reach right in
Let's understand
If you want it you've got to believe yeah

If you want it you got it
You just got to believe
Believe in yourself yeah
'Cause it's all just a game
We just want to be loved

- Lenny Kravitz and Henry Hirsch, 1993

Friday, October 17, 2008

Heading out to give Passchendaele my opening night box office ka-ching

Passchendaele is the film-of-his-heart for multiple-hat-wearing star Paul Gross. He wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in this World War I drama about a Canadian soldier from the 10th Battalion, 1st Canadian Division who is good at soldiering but suffers from moral conflict over what that entails. He meets and woos a nurse while recovering from his injuries at Vimy Ridge, but must return to the grimy trenches of Belgium to fight for another few inches of blood-soaked ground.

I can't let Paul Gross down - not when I featured him as #6 on my 13 Canadian Hotties list.

This film was inspired by stories his grandfather told to Paul when he asked about his experiences in the war. Specifically, the distressing opening sequence - it's basically Paul's grandfather's life-defining moment. One that haunted him on his deathbed and confused family members when he asked forgiveness of a German soldier whom no one else but Paul knew anything about.

Passchendaele is a chapter in Canadian history that was never publicized at the time due to the army's need for new recruits. Who would join if they knew what living hell was really like?

"I fell in a trench," said Passchendaele veteran Harry Patch. "There was a fella there. He must have been about our age. He was ripped shoulder to waist with shrapnel. I held his hand for the last 60 seconds of his life. He only said one word: 'Mother'. I didn't see her, but she was there. No doubt about it. He passed from this life into the next, and it felt as if I was in God's presence. I've never got over it. You never forget it. Never."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 77 - 13 Reasons Why Fall is My Favorite Season

1 - Yes, the glorious color of Fall makes my heart sing inside like a symphony. Here's a Thomma Lyn style photo essay of my walk home from the bus, so I can take you through my woods to see the wonder of it all.

2 - Once I get off work, I walk along the Halifax waterfront and get the ferry over to the Dartmouth side. The bus that rolls up in just a few minutes is a different one than I take on my way into work. In the morning I get the bus that goes right past my place, but after work I end up in the subdivision behind my own.

This is the cut-through that takes me from the street into the path system that winds all through the neighborhoods here. It's like having a narrow park stretched for miles and miles, tucked between the backyards of two streets. In fact, if you think of the letter H, and imagine each column of the H as two streets, there is woodland in between the two columns, with the crossbar acting as entryways into the woods. The people here make full use of this path system. There are always dog-walkers, joggers, bike riders, walkers and kids playing. And after work, people strolling home with briefcases.

3 - Once I get onto the path I hang a left and head this way. Out of range of this photo on either side, peoples' backyards are visible through the trees, but there's still a sense of cocooning into the woods as I walk along.

This section is a good example of the recovery the forest is making from Hurricane Juan, which tore up these woods five years ago. This area was once towering fir trees, which all became a tangle of trunks, roots and evergreen boughs. These days the forest has become a young hardwood area. This happened completely naturally, which has been a source of wonder to me as I realize it's not every day a person gets to watch a forest rebuild itself.

4 - When I get to the tree on the right side, behind the spray of red leaves, I usually turn right and make my way through a charming path that leads to the backyard of my neighbors, Heather and Bernie. They invite everyone to cut through their yard, as their house is at the curve of our street and halfway between access points onto the path. They have a beautiful garden with a little pond, grapevines, ornamental poppies and colorful bursts of perennials.

5 - But we'll keep going along the path. In only a few steps we get to this open area that took a lot of the remains of the downed trees. City crews fed the twisted wood (that couldn't be carried off by the locals as firewood - the locals who carved up the trees with their own chainsaws so people could get back onto the paths) - the rest went into huge woodchippers and got spread all over this section. It's a bit boggy naturally, so it was a helpful addition to the woods.

6 - This part of the path isn't paved and is bordered by grasses and purple asters.

7 - Here's a swath of asters along with rosy raspberry bushes fronting a stand of young maples and beech trees. They've grown above my head in only a few short years.

8 - Heading into the woods along the path.

9 - Gorgeous bronze-colored ferns.

10 - These are the stately firs that survived the hurricane intact. In the foreground is the ballfield to which the path leads. It's part of an elementary school playground. Our house is beside the ballfield.

11 - Just past the ballfield and an excellent playground is my bus stop where I catch my ride into work. Or rather, I stumble aboard and promptly go back to sleep until I reach downtown Halifax.

12 - We're coming full circle. I took the picture from the sidewalk next to our yard. The pine in the foreground and the line of maples within the black fence is part of our woodland garden. In the distance you can see my bus stop.

13 - Back home - that's my side woodland garden to the right, and our white house is visible through the trees.

Hope you enjoyed our trek through the woods. And I hope you're able to get out and enjoy the Fall colors in your area.

Wordless Wednesday - 70

Monday, October 13, 2008

Poetry Monday - 70 - Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

It's Thanksgiving here in the Great White North (referring to snow, of course, which actually fell in southern Saskatchewan this weekend. A lot of it! Yikes. We've got a gentle rain falling today here in the Maritimes. The grey sky only makes the fall colours more intense for me. They're absolutely heart-achingly beautiful. I took the picture above in my woodland garden yesterday.

Here's one taken in the side yard.

This one's looking into the woodland garden from my apartment entrance at the back of the house.

Which brings us to my Thanksgiving Poetry Monday. This is Sly and The Family Stone in all their autumn funk finery. They're a groovy fave of mine, and I particularly love this song and its sentiments. This band featured black and white musicians in the late 60's, which was almost like a racially mixed marriage. Not only that, but their drummer was white - proving white men do have rhythm, baby - and their trumpet player was a woman. Definitely not the norm. And their choice of apparel - what could be better than leopard print widelegs and matching vest? Or as you'll see in the clip, shiny fringed pants to make the bass player's gettin' down even groovier?

In my world, I cherish acceptance and tolerance above most other things. This song and this group says this with exuberant joy and gratitude.

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

Looking at the devil
Grinning at his gun
Fingers start shaking
I begin to run
Bullets start chasing
I begin to stop
We begin to wrestle
I was on the top

I want to thank you for letting me be myself again
I want to thank you for letting me be myself again

Step off'n the collar
Slugged me in the face
Chit chat chatter trying
Shoved me in the place
Thank you for the party
But I could never stay
Many things are on my mind
The way

I want to thank you for letting me be myself again
I want to thank you for letting me be myself again

Dance to the music
All night long
Everyday people
Sing their simple song
Mama's so happy
Mama starts to cry
Papa's still singing
You can make it if you try

I want to thank you for letting me be myself again
I want to thank you for letting me be myself again

- Sly Stone, 1969

And here it is, in all its trippy, funky glory. Get down. And have a glorious Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blogging over at missmakeamovie - Please drop by for my look at the recent arts funding brouhaha in the Canadian federal election

Hi everyone -

Please join me at missmakeamovie for a look at what this remark by Prime Minister Stephen Harper evoked during these final days of the federal election campaign:

"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people, you know, at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough - when they know those subsidies have actually gone up - I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people." - Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 76 - 13 Highlights From My Garden This Season

My husband and I live with my mom, so our garden is shared between my mom and me.

1 - My beautiful forsythia, which I bought as an 8-inch cutting from the Yarmouth Garden Society when we lived there. I dug it up and brought it to Cole Harbour with us. The bush is 8 years old.

2 - Mom's bleeding heart, tulips and heuchera in her front garden, with shasta daisies, liatris and yellow loosestrife just coming up as greenery.

3 - Red leaf Japanese barberry in the front rock garden, plus white alpine flowers, purple creeping phlox and tulips about to open.

4 - Mom's morning glories which she grew from seed, wrapped around the trunk of one of the maples in the front yard. That's the leafed-out forsythia in the background.

5 - Lavender and strawberries from my wildflower garden in the side yard.

6 - Hostas and astilbe in the woodland garden.

7 - English ivy beside Brad's and my entrance to our apartment.

8 - Lady's mantle on the slope beside my wildflower garden.

9 - A glossy dark euonymus evergreen shrub, a new rugosa rose from my sister's boyfriend, a wonderful hosta and purple clematis at the edge of Mom's front flower bed.

10 - Feverfew and ferns in Mom's back flower bed.

11 - Yellow loosestrife, plus a rose my sister gave to me. These are in a bed in the backyard which my sister's boyfriend dug up for us. So we call it Newt's Garden.

12 - Pink phlox in the side flower bed by our neighbors. I got these from my other bus buddy neighbor a few doors down, when she was splitting up her perrenials.

13 - Rosy sedum at the edge of the woodland garden.

Wordless Wednesday - 69

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Poetry Monday - 69 - Don Quixote

Once again I was privileged to attend the ballet on Saturday. This was the Cuban National Ballet's version of Don Quixote, performed while on tour in Paris, France at the Palais Garnier. The story actually follows the romance of Kitri and Basilio, young lovers in a town where the wandering knight Don Quixote takes shelter. Because Quixote is always in search of Dulcinea, his ideal of romantic love, he helps the young lovers when their plans to wed seem beyond reach.

Here is a compilation clip of highlights from the same production of Don Quixote I saw by the Cuban National Ballet.

Below is the Act III Pas de Deux from Don Quixote, showcasing the astounding Viengsay Valdes as Kitri. That's Valdes at the top of the post in the red dress executing a flawless grande sissonne that I've never seen anyone do better. Her balances were truly awesome, and her pirouettes were steady as a rock and could have gone on forever. Best of all, her acting was perfect for Kitri, who is supposed to be saucy and full of life. Often, she's danced by reserved ballerinas who couldn't imply 'saucy' if their lives depended on it. Viengsay Valdes exuded sultry energy and the ability to join steps so that the choreography sang as I have rarely experienced.

Photo by Francesc Casals

Basilio was danced by Romel Frometa. He had very natural comic timing, which is important for this role. His jumps were explosive with really impressive height, and his partnering was magnificent, especially during Valdes' incredible balances. The overhead throw of Valdes as she did a split jump, where he then caught her into a swan dive at the end of the pas de deux was a total jaw-dropper for me. Don't try that one at home, kids!

The Don Quixote pas de deux is often performed on its own in mixed programs and galas, because of its bravura choreography.

For Poetry Monday, I've included the lyrics to Dulcinea from Man of La Mancha, based upon Don Quixote.


Did my lady think to put me to a test?
Ah, sweet sovereign of my captive heart. I shall
not fail thee, for I know...

I have dreamed thee too long,
Never seen thee or touched thee.
But known thee with all of my heart.
Half a prayer, half a song,
Thou hast always been with me,
Though we have been always apart.

Dulcinea... Dulcinea...
I see heaven when I see thee, Dulcinea,
And thy name is like a prayer
An angel whispers... Dulcinea... Dulcinea!

If I reach out to thee,
Do not tremble and shrink
From the touch of my hand on thy hair.
Let my fingers but see
Thou art warm and alive,
And no phantom to fade in the air.

Dulcinea... Dulcinea...
I have sought thee, sung thee,
Dreamed thee, Dulcinea!

Now I've found thee,
And the world shall know thy glory,
Dulcinea... Dulcinea!

- lyrics by Joe Darion - 1964
(music by Mitch Leigh)

This is Dulcinea sung by Placido Domingo, a huge favorite of mine.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tagged - I'm It! - 32

Nikita tagged me for this 40 Things Meme. And what would a Friday be without a meme at A Piece of My Mind?

1. Height? 5'1" - I'm from a French background. We're all shorties.

2. Have you ever done heroin? If you mean heroine - as in the main female character of a novel work-in-progress - then I've done five of them.

3. Do you own a gun? No - I'm much more of sword person, anyway. I'd love to own some reproduction swords someday.

4. (for some reason, there was no question 4 - so I added one of my own) Did you have a favorite babysitter as a child? When we were kids, my sister and I went over to my aunt's when our parents went out, and vice versa. Definitely Auntie Noel was my favorite babysitter! She's a second mom to me.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? When I was a kid, the car ride to the doctor's might as well have been the walk to the gallows. I'm totally serious. I had massive dread. Now I'm cool. I can remember the exact moment I found my courage. I had a very long, hot wait in the waiting room for an allergy shot, and by the time I got it I was too exhausted to get worked up about it. I was seven.

6. What do you think of hot dogs? I love broiled or barbequed hot dogs best - a little crispy on the outside. In a bun with ketchup, mustard and lots of relish. But I always need way more bun and condiments than hot dog. Not a big meat eater, me.

7. What's your favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Waltz by Frank Sinatra.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Strong coffee, with one sugar, one milk. Dark European roast, mmm.

9. Is your bathroom clean? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha - the How Clean is Your House ladies would faint dead away if they ever dropped by.

10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry?(or accessory) The diamond cluster ring left to me by my Aunt Sheila.

11. Do you like painkillers? Like 'em? I live on them.

12. Do you have A.D.D.? [Attention Deficit Disorder] I don't, but I'm very sure my mom has undiagnosed ADD issues. How do I come to this conclusion?

- Mom's mantra - 'Focus, Paulette, focus, focus.'
- "Tendency to tune out or drift away in the middle of a page or conversation.
- Tendency to say what comes to mind without necessarily considering the timing or appropriateness of the remark.
- An intolerance of boredom.
- Impatient. Low tolerance of frustration.
- Changing plans, enacting new schemes.
- Physical or cognitive restlessness.
- Impulsive, either verbally or in action, as in impulsive spending of money.
- A sense of underachievement, of not meeting one’s goals (regardless of how much one has actually accomplished.)
- Many projects going simultaneously. Trouble with follow through.
- Often creative, intuitive, highly intelligent.
- Mood swings.
- A tendency toward addictive behavior.
- Family history of ADHD or manic depressive illness or depression or substance abuse or other disorders of impulse control or mood." (Wikipedia)

13. What's your name? If you don't know that by now... Oh, alright, it's Julia.

14. Middle name? I'm from a French background, so we had to be named for the Holy Family or a saint's name. I was named for Mother Mary, so it's Marie.

15. Favorite singer of all time? I do love Elvis. He's been a lifelong favorite. Since my 20's I've really, really admired Frank Sinatra, as well.

Here's my favorite Elvis gospel recording.

16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink: Coffee. Green tea. Water.

17. Current worry? Getting a submission ready (cue nail-biting...)

18. Current hate? Stephen Harper. (See top of sidebar.)

Please, people.

Get out there in droves and remove this horror from Parliament. Every dangerous ruler builds up his army and criminalizes artists. Stephen Harper has increased military spending by $30 billion, cut $45 million in arts funding and buried censorship legislation in a tax reform bill called Bill C-10.

19. Favorite place to be? On the couch, curled up with my dog Xena and my husband. It's our Pack time. Because let's face it - to Xena we're her Alpha Male and Alpha Female.

20. How did you bring in the New Year? After a day spent at Toronto General Hospital with Brad's dad, Brad and I and his mom sipped New Year's drinks, nibbled on New Year's nibblies, watched The Royal Canadian Air Farce New Year's special on TV - then kissed and hugged the new year in.

21. Where would you like to go? To the ballet, of course - luckily I'm going to see Don Quixote tomorrow at Park Lane.

22. Do you own slippers? Yes - they're a soft plum color, and they're comfy and I love them.

23. What shirt are you wearing? I've got a baby blue button-up blouse on, which I wore to work. In fact, it's this one.

24. Favorite color(s)? Reds, pinks and golds are my favorites.

25. Would you be a pirate? No - I'm too much of a square to want to be terribly piratical. I do love the Pirates of the Caribbean films, though, and The Pirates of Penzance is one of my favorite musicals. I know it's technically an operetta...

26. What songs do you sing in the shower? Whatever I wake up hearing in my head. I have an all-Julia music channel playing in my head, 24/7. It might be the music my choir is working on, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, a Smiths song, a Kate Bush song, Lenny Kravitz, The Doors, Muse, a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack or the music from The Fountain.

27. What did you fear was going to get you at night as a child? I had a lot of unnamed dread at bedtime when I was a kid. Basically, I think it was anxiety. We tend to have anxiety problems in my family. Now I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow.

28. Best bed sheets as a child? My generation pre-dates the pop culture sheets phenomenon. But when I was in junior high, I got a book of Star Wars transfers for Christmas. I ironed Luke Skywalker onto a golden pillowcase and was absolutely thrilled.

Yes, that very Luke Skywalker on the bottom right corner there.

29. Worst injury you've ever had? Tripping over a homeless guy in Toronto and landing on my knee has had major consequences. Fifteen years later, I've had surgery on it, I'm going to physiotherapy for a new injury to it and take daily painkiller for it.

30. How many TVs do you have in your house? One for myself and my husband. Upstairs, my mom has one in the living room, one in the kitchen and one in the studio. She likes having the chatter of the TV in the background.

31. Who is your loudest friend? My old roommate, Dave is probably the loudest.

32. Who is your most silent friend? My dog, Xena. She's my furry chum. She hardly makes a peep.

33. Does someone have a crush on you? My husband does... (tee hee)

34. Do you wish on shooting stars? Definitely.

35. What is your favorite book? That's an impossible question. Sorry. A few stand-outs:

Devilish by Jo Beverley
Blood Games by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

36. What is your favorite candy? Chocolate. Especially chocolate and coconut. Chocolate raisins. Chocolate almonds.

37. What song do/did you want played at your wedding? For my walk down the aisle, I had The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. I had to change a few lyrics: 'The first time ever I lay with you' became 'The first time ever I knew your love'. I couldn't consult with the lyricist, but I felt my change kept the integrity of the original lyric. It's sung here by the amazing Roberta Flack.

For our first dance, we had Pretty World by Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66. We even took ballroom dancing beforehand so we could samba.

38. What song do you want played at your funeral? Because I'm Catholic, there's not a lot of room in designing a personalized funeral. It's the funeral mass - period. Having said that, one of my favorite hymns is the St. Francis of Assisi prayer, sung here by Sinead O'Connor. It sums up everything about me, and I love the gentle melody.

39. What were you doing @ 12 AM last night? I was finishing up tightening my submissions for a few writing projects.

40. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? I felt quite horrible (it was 4:00 am) - my head was giving me trouble, so I took my migraine medication and got back down to sleep. Even made it into work today.

And now - a-tagging I will go, a-tagging I will go...

Thomma Lyn