Thursday, September 20, 2007


"Sometimes all I want is for someone to tell me that eveything is going to be all right. I want someone to tell me this over and over again in a sweet but firm voice, the way you would tell it to a child crying in the dark after a nightmare about a hairy green monster under the bed. I want someone to tell me this often enough to banish my doubts and make me believe it."
-- Diane Schemperlen, OUR LADY OF THE LOST AND FOUND.

This novel is about a writer who one day, quite unexpectedly gets a visit from the Virgin Mary. Mary shows up at her front door, not levitating and radiating a glow of stars off her head, but wearing a trench coat, white running shoes, a large leather purse and holding the extended metal handle of a small suitcase on wheels. I need a place to stay for a week, she says, I am so tired, I need a break. The writer is no more startled than if an appealing stranger had made the request. And gut instinct tells her this stranger is not making things up.

Mary and the writer settle down to a cozy, girly time, making lunch together (Mary insists on doing the dishes,) driving to the mall (where she makes a withdrawal at the ATM) and spending evenings with Mary sharing deetails of her visitations over the centuries in the same nostalgic tone one would use to describe a lifetime of Carnival cruises.

The writer is motivated by this extraordinary visit to look into the history of the Saints on her own. Her descriptions (Ms. Schemperlen's, that is) are also couched in gossipy, off the cuff, page-turning style. Sandwiched along the way, are the writer's introspective takes on her own issues with doubt and faith, faith and reason, faith and fear and despair. And wether they are really opposites or can one make better sense of life if we accept them as a package deal.

There's another quote I liked, which brings up my own doubts and inconsistancies about embracing the Buddhhist's way of disregarding anything but the present moment, of shoving aside all projections of past and future. I couldn't have said it better:

"Sometimes I feel completely defeated by the daily struggle of trying to understand, of trying to be mature, responsible, happy, and good. Sometimes I long to throw off the yoke of reason, to crawl out from under what Cervantes called 'the melancholy burden of sanity.' Sometimes I want to get out of the way, stop trying so hard, and just let things happen."

Thursday, September 13, 2007



The Edmonton Film Society showed "All About Eve," which I could probably get up and recite playing all the parts from beginning to end. Again, I'm thrown into a space with people past their 60s and I think "ah, an older crowd," like I'm Gregg Kinear or something. I don't relate to "older people" as peers. I don't know if that's denial or I just don't see myself reflected in the way they come across. All that aside, it was great fun to watch "Eve" with an audience, less sophisticated than NY, and notice what they found funny and what went straight over their heads, like my favorite line "If she can act she may not be bad. And she looks like she could burn down a plantation."

As always, the great Thelma Ritter makes everyone's scenes shine. And since this is the second time in two entries that she's come up, I think it's good that I post a picture of the old girl.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


I've been putting off having a blog for so long, I wish I'd done it a year ago when I moved here from New York City. Here is Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. There was a LOT to post and, maybe, I can create a "Flashback" section here where I'll publish copies of my emails to others during that time, a kind of retro diary.

But that was then, and now it's a rainy Saturday night and I'm waiting for laundry to dry while a piece of salmon is in the oven and from the periphery I watch parts of "The Picture of Dorian Grey" on TCM.

TCM is one of the reasons I continue to keep in one piece while living here. It was the only TV I watched in NY, and now it provides comfort, continuity and entertainment I can't get anywhere else. I remember coming home one miserable day when I felt like a cranky, lonely puppy and turning on TCM to watch THE VERY START of "The Model and the Marriage Broker," one of my favorite all-time movies, the only time the great Thelma Ritter had a featured role. Who needs crack?

Tonight TCM was running an Oscar Wilde programme (sorry, the spelling conventions up here have gotten to me) and I watched parts of "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "An Ideal Husband." "Earnest" is always a treat because Edith Evans and Margaret Rutterford never fail to make me laugh out loud -- and this is the rarest thing that a movie can do for me. "Husband" plays on the heavy-handed side. Only fun is watching Paulette Goddard negotiate the demanding Cecil Beaton gowns.

Laundry must be dry by now. Salmon almost done. What to do first, what to do?