Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

If Only

The other night, Jim and I watched The World According to Garp.  I read the book long ago and this was the second time I’ve seen the movie.  Watching it again, at this point in my life, seemed pertinent to two things that are nearly always on my mind but perhaps have been more in the foreground lately: parenting and writing.

My favorite thing about parenting was sharing as much of my knowledge with Mycol as I could and expanding his world to include as many experiences as possible.  I loved teaching him the academics, like reading and math, and I loved talking philosophically with him, at any age, in an effort to get him to consider the relationship between himself and the world.

When Mycol was 13, John Irving was on the schedule of presenters for the Drue Heinz Lecture Series.  Because I’d read nearly every one of his books, I was excited to go and hear him speak.  He was promoting his then yet-unpublished novel Until I Find You.  I took Mycol with me.  A prominent theme in many of Mr. Irving‘s stories is that of an only-child; a son, raised by a single mother.  At the lecture podium he spoke to the audience about the pros and cons of this relationship, which was again featured in the upcoming book.  He spoke about how only-children often get included in adult conversations, and in particular, only-children of single parents are likely engaged in even more still, because the parent relies on the child to be a sounding board for venting daily struggles they would otherwise dump on a spouse.  And to top it all off, Mr. Irving felt that this situation is most exaggerated when the only-child is a boy and the single parent is a mother.  So, there we sat, my 13 year-old son and I, in the Carnegie Music Hall, listening to John Irving talk about how the single mother in Until I Find You treated her son like an obligated boyfriend, and when I looked around the room all I could see were couples, not one single other pubescent child at all.  True, I’d wished my boyfriend would’ve gone with me, but I also felt glad that my son said he’d go when I asked him.  I was proud when he participated in things of that nature without so much as sighing, as if he really had learned to thirst for knowledge and new experiences (from me, of course!).  But when John Irving started to say those things, I felt like a spot-light was on us and I was flushed with embarrassment.  He’d called me out and announced to everyone that it was inappropriate to bring a child to adult programs.  After all, he was (is) John Irving.

Well, thank God, my son wasn’t scarred for life!

It reminds me of how my brother and I grew up in a house filled with books.  I am by far a more avid reader than he is, which I can only imagine is a direct result of the trauma incurred by Richard III when he was merely 3!

Then there is writing.  Another prominent theme in Mr. Irving‘s novels is a main character who is a writer.  A writer who struggles.  Authors are always saying the same thing about writing – that it is hard.  It is so hard to find the necessary discipline to keep at it, to not think everything you write is crap, to stop procrastinating by doing everything under the sun other than write something and just do it.  John Irving had a lot of athletic discipline as a wrestler.  I’ve been inspired every time I remind myself of what he used to do.  He used to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning and sit at his desk to write.  He set an alarm clock on his desk to ring at 8:30 am, at which time he would push away from his desk and lead the rest of his life, which was the life of a father, husband, wrestling coach, and teacher.  Whether he got anything on paper in those 3 hours was not necessarily the most important thing.

I have a slightly different clock than John Irving.  I don’t ever plan to get up before the sun rises, it makes my stomach turn.  But I am pushing myself, challenging myself every day to try harder, to do my best, and looking for inspiration.  Sometimes I think that I could pour all of my parenting energy into writing discipline and I may end up with yet another creation (besides my only child).


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Au Revoir, Avril

Did anyone know that April was National Poetry Month?  I’m sorry I didn’t realize it earlier.  So, to finish out the month, here is a poem I wrote long ago:

Trust Knot

He has not grown far from the slope

of her belly, and yet

he cautiously lies

on my shore.

He is still afraid,

born of the wind

he cannot trust.

There is no map for this.

The blackbird must rely on instinct

to find the rough-barked branch of the elm

where it will nest.

Always wanting the wind, always broken

when it does not come.  I want to dance

like a thousand Monarchs across his pillow,

but he will not lift his head.

Now if you’ll excuse me, in true poetic fashion I’m going to go and hang myself because GD WordPress will not allow me to lay out my stanzas exactly as I wish.  I have never experienced this problem with Word, or a typewriter, or a pencil and paper.  Why on Earth do they torture me?

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Custom Header

Somebody wants to know . . . “Where did you get the picture of the garden in your header?”

Well, I shot it!  I have a Nikon D-40 and I took that picture at Phipps Conservatory.  I use my own photos in my header.  If for some reason I use the default header, I will say so.

I play around with my camera but it is still way beyond me.  Still, I mean to get a telephoto lens for it so that I can take shots from afar.

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Museum Musings

Back in January when Yim and I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art to see the Paul Gauguin exhibit, we had a good bit of fun.  Museums are great diversions.  They open your mind and leave you feeling alive and a part of this world.  Anyone with a creative cell in their body and a pulsating heart in their chest will recognize this.  And hasn’t everyone my age wanted to have a day like this for themselves since 1986?:

Thank you, Ferris Bueller.

And that’s not all.  Woody Allen fans can certainly relate to the museum as a location for dramatic emphasis.

Back in Cleveland, Yim and I had time to tour some of the other wings of the museum before heading home.  We found expression amidst the sculptures.

In Gallery 9 (my favorite number), the gallery of European Art: Mythology, History & Portraiture, I saw something that caught my eye. 

The useless little toe on this alabaster foot looked familiar.  As did the plump hanging lobe of this ear.  You know, either your lobes hang or they don’t.

The conclusion?  Napoleon’s niece looks like young me.

That’s Elisa Baciocchi, daughter of the Grand-Duke of Tuscany.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Now, when Lord Mycol was a baby he had a halo of blond curls framing his chubby cheeks, blue eyes, and plump lips.

He was just like a little cupid.  And while baby cupids are cute, teenage cupids can sometimes be comical.

Do these guys resemble each other? That’s Cupid on the left and Lord Mycol on the right.  If you click on the link you will see the painting in its entirety.  The description calls this ‘humorous eroticism’, and the museum decided to up the ante with their first question to the right of the photo.  Go ahead, click it.

When we left Gallery 9 and turned the corner into the Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection, I was in utter awe of this painting.


I saw it from a distance and approached it directly.  I was pleased to read the placard beside it.

And once again I was struck by the European resemblance.  19th century Italian peasant child on the left, 21st century Italian pleasant child on the right.

A visit to the museum will show you how everything has changed, and yet it has all remained the same.

Lastly, before going to see the Gauguin exhibit we researched some of his works online.  I really liked The Swineherd and decided I would like it as a gift for my birthday.

I was good and got my wish.  Now it is matted and framed and above my mantel, where every time I look at it I can remember all of the good memories I just shared with you.

And F**k you very much WordPress for making it so extremely “easy” to put up posts like this.  If someone can explain to me in logical terms why the dashboard editing page should not be identical to the product that will publish for public viewing, I’d love to hear it.  It was absolutely not my intention to place words between my photos, but after toying around with the editing page for THREE HOURS and still not being able to reach a true solution, I settled on publishing this sub-standard layout.  Please excuse me, it was not meant as art.

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As I was saying,

I had heard that there was a casting call for extras for a movie being shot here.  I didn’t think twice about it, but then a friend said, “Hey, it’s a mafia movie and they are looking for Italians.  You should go.”  And so I did.

The “movie people” called me about two weeks later and told me to be at a local funeral home at 3pm on the given date.  I should expect to stay for up to 8 hours,  and could I come looking as if I were attending a funeral in 1985?

I was going to be paid $50 for what could potentially be 8 hours of sitting around and waiting until the director was ready to do a 6 minute scene that I may or may not even be chosen to appear in.  I thought it would be fun.  I hit the thrift stores looking for the appropriate outfit.

On the day of the shoot I wore eyeshadow, lipstick and nail polish, all in shades of purple.  I let my hair dry curly and teased it and sprayed it.  I brought a collection of old ’80’s style earrings with me to choose from on location.  The rain wouldn’t stop that day, and by the time I got to the funeral home my hair had become a frizzy Afro.

The extras were told to wait in the basement of the church across the street from the funeral home, which was the location of filming.  When I walked in it was like stepping back in time.  The room was filled with old men wearing dark suits and fedoras, none of them over 5’7″, and women, mostly in their 40’s, any of which could possibly be wearing the same clothes and hair-style they wore the day before to work, but to see them come together in one spot was a sight.

Hours passed and us extras were served box lunches for dinner.  We started talking with each other, playing cards, and telling stories.  I found out that some of these gals had done this before.  Many times before.  They were professional extras, maybe hoping to get that break one way or another.

Eventually, a casting director came in with a clip board and scanned the room with his eyes.  A hush fell over us as we tried to act nonchalant.  I could see in my peripheral vision that he was taking second glances at me.  I held my breath.  I knew what was coming.  He pointed to me and directed me to follow him.  He beckoned two older gentlemen, as well.  As we left the room I sensed the disappointment of the others staring at our backs.

Across the street the funeral home was electrified with lights and quiet, quick action.  Crew members were all over the place, like bees on a honeycomb, adjusting sound equipment, duct taping wires to the carpet, moving cameras, and setting up lamps.  I must admit I was rather in awe of this behind-the-scenes display.  All of this was taking place in and around what appeared to be a funeral viewing, with an open casket, floral arrangements galore, and family and guest seating.

The two gentlemen and I were introduced to our director and promptly given instructions.  Okay, let me set it up for you:

At the front of the room is the casket surrounded by flowers.  There is a man in the casket with his eyes closed.  To the right of the casket are four chairs lined up for the immediate family.  The main area of the room has 4 to 5 rows of chairs for other random viewers.  Two of the four chairs for immediate family are empty.  Those are the two closest to the casket.  In the other two chairs?  That’s where Brad Renfro


and James Marsden are sitting.


The two gentlemen extras are taken towards the back of the room, behind the rows of seating.  I am taken over to Brad and James and we are introduced to one another.  We exchange names and shake hands.  “You are a cousin of the deceased,” my director tells me.  “When you hear ‘ACTION’, you will pass down the line, hug your ‘cousins’ with condolence, first Brad and then James, then walk to the back of the room and mingle with the ‘priest’ (the extra holding the Bible) and the other visitor.”  We extras are advised that we must not make a sound, but rather mouth all of our conversation.  The highly sensitive mics on the set must only pick up essential dialogue; background noise will be filled in post-edit.

This is exciting!

James Marsden is my cousin!

But wait, it gets better.  If James Marsden is my cousin, then this guy must be my Dad?


Huh.  Well, no shit, a guy like Dennis Hopper could be my dad.  But in this case I think he was playing my uncle.


Right.  So, as show time approaches the atmosphere on set changes.  Things get a little slower, a little less tense, a little quieter.  We are in our places and waiting.  Fifteen to twenty of the other extras are filed in and seated.  Giovanni Ribisi


and Lesley Ann Warren


come in and sit in the first two chairs for immediate family.  That’s right.  I am standing there, in front of Brad Renfro, looking down at Giovanni Ribisi to my left and James Marsden to my right.  Lesley has headphones in her ears and her eyes closed.  She is getting into character.  She is rocking slightly back and forth, drawing on a deep sadness from somewhere in her youth.  I’m guessing.  I mean, she’s really putting on the show, you know?  I was not, apparently, the only drama queen in the room.

Lesley takes the earphones off, an assistant buzzing around the room takes them from her and quickly, oh quickly, quickly, makes a last-minute sweep to insure all is ready.

Aaaaand . . . . . ACTION!

Dennis Hopper is suddenly RIGHT BESIDE ME offering his condolences to Giovanni Ribisi as I hug Brad Renfro, then, when I move to hug James Marsden, Dennis Hopper hugs Brad Renfro, then, when I walk away to mouth a conversation with the priest, Dennis Hopper hugs James Marsden.

Aaaaand . . . . . SCENE!

Did you notice what I noticed?  That Dennis Hopper is a copy-cat who wants to be me?  I thought so.

Anyway, when I got down the aisle to “talk” with the “priest” and the “other guy”, the priest was actually whispering his words rather than mouthing them.  He kept saying things like “I’m so sorry,” and “It’s such a shame,” and “I just can’t believe it, couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.”  All of which are appropriate things to say at a funeral.  The problem was that we could hear him!  So, our director comes over and explains to him that he should just mouth the words.  Please.

Aaaaand . . . . . ACTION!

Aaaaand . . . . . SCENE!

Again, Dennis Hopper copied my every move.

Again, the “priest” whispered his dialogue.  The other extra and I mouthed to him, “Shut.  Up.

This time our director was not as kind when he came over to reprimand the priest.  He emphasized the utter importance of complete silence.

But the priest would not be stifled.

So we moved on to the next scene.  This time, all of the extras, minus the priest, were asked to mingle in the funeral parlor, while the real action of the scene took place between James Marsden and Brad Renfro out in the foyer.  Our mingling bodies would be a backdrop to the action.  And to my sheer joy, I was again chosen as the only extra directed to actually move during the scene.  When I heard “action”, I was to walk diagonally across the parlor and re-convene with another group of extras.

The night ended after that.  We’d all been there for about 6 1/2 hours.  It was still raining outside.  But I went home with a new and exciting experience under my belt.  And $50 in my pocket.

Would you believe that the next day I ran into Brad Refro?  I spoke to him for about 5 minutes.  I said, “Hey, I worked with you last night.”  I asked him where he was from and how he liked our city.  He was personable, but I have to say, he seemed like a dolt.  I walked away thinking, “How did that guy make it?”  And then he died.

But before he died, the movie, 10th & Wolf, premiered here at the Byham Theater.  Zia, UB, and Mycol came with me to see it.  The producers introduced the film and discussed it’s conception before the lights went down.

Remember yesterday’s post?  “Coincidental Teaser”?  The coincidence was that Yim and I saw Rodrigo y Gabriela at the Byham, which is where the movie 10th & Wolf premiered.  Which got my brain thinking about other coincidences, minor though they are.  Oh, they are so minor.

Zia is from Italy.

Dino De Laurentiis is from Italy.  He is an Academy award-winning movie producer.

Zia wanted to be an actress and one of her favorite Italian actresses is Silvana Mangano.


Silvana Mangano was married to Dino De Laurentiis.

10th & Wolf was produced by Suzanne De Laurentiis.  She was born and raised in New Jersey, not Italy, so in spite of her last name, I can’t figure out how she fits in.  Is she now married to Dino?  Just related?

On the other hand, Veronica De Laurentiis had a small role in 10th & Wolf.  She was born in Italy.  She was born to Dino De Laurentiis and Silvana Mangano.  She was also at the Byham that night talking about the movie.  Zia said, “Hey, I think that must be Dino De Laurentiis’ daughter.”

A couple of times I have been told I look like Giada De Laurentiis.


Minus the cleavage.  Giada is Veronica’s daughter.  She is Dino and Silvana’s grand-daughter.

My Zia admired Dino and Silvana, and I resemble their grand-daughter Giada, whose mother Veronica was in a movie with me, to which Zia accompanied me to the premier of, in which Dennis Hopper pretended to be me.  Isn’t that a coincidence?

Anyway, we all sat through the excruciating length of the film, posted on the edges of our seats, waiting to see the brilliant funeral scene.  Here, take a look for yourself:

See the white blob of hair to the right of Brad Renfro’s head?  See the dark fuzzy Afro blob of hair to the right of that?  Follow it down to the slender legs in dark stockings.  That’s me!  Don’t I look like Giada?  Sadly, this is what made it onto the big screen.  The entire scene with the casket was cut, because THE “PRIEST” COULDN’T MOUTH IT!  (I bet you’ve heard that one before.)

A small portion of the casket scene was used in the trailer, but you can bet you won’t see me in it.  This is largely considered the reason for the movie’s lack of success at the box office.

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Coincidental Teaser

Last night Yim and I saw Rodrigo y Gabriela perform at the Byham.  They are extraordinary guitarists and after the show I turned to Yim and asked, “Now, what are we going to do with our guitars?”

I think that Rodrigo is highly skilled in a way that is learned, while Gabriela’s relationship with the instrument makes me think that she played with a guitar in her crib.  She has an instinctual talent for producing sounds from that flat-top box that I’ve never heard come out of a guitar before.  And yet, neither of them can stand alone.  Without a back-up band and lyrics, 2 hours of manic guitar strumming would be monotonous if it weren’t for the way in which they each compliment the  other’s  style.

The crowd clapped along most of the time, but I felt a little ashamed for the collective lack of enthusiasm when Rodrigo tried more than once to goad people to their feet.  I’ve never before seen a performance that would warrant standing at the Byham, and the theater seating is certainly why people were reluctant to get to their feet.  In the end, however, the crowd could no longer contain their energy when Rodrigo y Gabriela began their encore performance of “Tamacun”.  Finally the vibe was like that of a Mexican street party celebrating liberty and people ran down the aisles towards the stage to dance and clap as close to the heart of the driving rhythms as possible.  Ole!

After the show, Yim and I headed over to my favorite spot in town, Shadow Lounge and Ava.  The night was coincidental.  We met up with Alison.  It was open mic night for spoken word on the Shadow Lounge side.  We ran into a cast of our favorite people creating great stuff for the enjoyment of the masses; Ricardo Iamuuri, Gene Stovall, and Brian Francis.  Brian performed Here I Am, Awkward, and we reminisced. (Didn’t I just post about that recently?)

Throughout the night people mingled back and forth between Shadow Lounge and Ava, and every time someone passed through the doors between the two venues we heard a snippet of whatever the DeeJay was spinning over on the other side.  Eventually, a bubble of sound from Ava slipped through the doors to where we sat on the Shadow side.  When that bubble burst, Alison, Yim and I all looked at each other knowingly.  We had to go over and dance to Luther singing “Never Too Much.”  (Didn’t I just post about that recently?) Is my life on a loop lately?

We were hooked.  The three of us danced until Alison had to leave, and then the two of us danced until we’d had enough fun for one night.  What?  You can never have enough fun for one night!

Incidentally, not coincidentally, I think the last time I was at the Byham was for the premier of the movie I was in, 10th & Wolf.  The movie is based on Donnie Brasco‘s tale of a mafia war in South Philly.  It was a bomb.

I had heard that there was a casting call for extras for a movie being shot here.  I didn’t think twice about it, but then a friend said, “Hey, it’s a mafia movie and they are looking for Italians.  You should go.”  And so I did.

The “movie people” called me about two weeks later and told me to be at a local funeral home at 3pm on the given date.  I should expect to stay for up to 8 hours,  and could I come looking as if I were attending a funeral in 1985?

But I am getting away from myself, here.  I am so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open and I realize that what I want to say about being cast as an extra in the movie 10th & Wolf is longer than I can stand to write.  Reconvene for the story here on Friday morning, 9:09 am.

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Last holiday season I decorated with pine boughs, both plain and flocked with snow, on my mantel.

This holiday season I treated my bedroom to a new duvet cover.  I love this pattern more than I thought I could.  In the mornings when I open my eyes and see my covers in the light of day I consider it a simple pleasure.

Next, I am coveting John James Audubon’s Little Screech Owl print.


I am not surprised as pine tree symbolism includes creativity, life, longevity and immortality.

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