Valentine’s Day: A Perspective
Family circumstances kept us
apart from our betrothed this past Valentine’s Day.
And just as we were about to lament the missing of this “special
day”, with its price-gouging menus at over-booked restaurants,
a simple ratio— one perhaps inspired by the SAT’s
our son is about to take— popped into our heads:
is to Love
New Year’s Eve is
We were fine.
Up Close And Personal
In our December Muse-Letter,
we mentioned that we would be making a pilgrimage to New York
to check out The Gates for ourselves,
before rendering an opinion as to whether this indeed, is
or is not art. No doubt you have been holding your breath
in anticipation of our findings.
Having now returned from this
once in a lifetime experience, we more or less have been rendered
mute. Our conclusion is that The Gates must speak
But before offering you a sampling
of snapshots we took from a disposable camera (and how apropos
given the disposable nature of this exhibit….it was
only up for 16 days!) we offer a couple of interesting yet
disparate observations. Taken from the current issue of The
New Yorker, they seem on the mark:
“It feels vaguely
deplore ‘The Gates’ as ugly aren’t wrong,
just poor sports.”
And now, without further adieu,
we bring you but a few of the many shots we took of The
Well? Whaddaya think?
Death of a “Tales”
With the passing of Arthur Miller
last month, arguably, the last of America’s three greatest
playwrights is gone. (Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill
being the other two).
Yet unlike the other two, he
lived a very long life—free of alcoholism and other
addictions— and was active to the very end. His last
play at age 89, Finishing the Picture,
was produced last fall at the Goodman Theater in Chicago (see
Muse-Letter October 2004).
While being a conveyor of “the
big message”, Miller was fundamentally a populist playwright
from Brooklyn, telling tales to which the literati and the
man-on-the-street could equally relate. Essentially his main
theme was one of “Everyman”, whose life had somehow—despite
best of intentions— gone awry; whose dream had fallen
apart at the seams. Most notable of course, was Death
of a Salesman, with its iconic figure of Willy
Loman, forever etched in our collective psyche.
Though at times, it seems as
if that play has come from out of some Stone Age; an age when
a “Serious Broadway Play” was not an oxymoron.
A “once upon a time”, when the economics of Broadway
was such that a story could be told minus music and dancing;
the absence of glitz, special effects and Andrew Lloyd Weber.
For example, in post-war America
during that five year period of 1946-50, the Broadway stage
was ablaze with the likes of such classic drama as…:
All My Sons (Arthur
The Iceman Cometh (Eugene O’Neill)
Another Part of the Forest (Lillian Hellman)
A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams)
Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller)
Anne of the Thousand Days (Maxwell Anderson)
The Cocktail Party (T.S. Eliot…yes he wrote
The Member of the Wedding (Carson McCullers)
Come Back Little Sheba (William Inge)
… to name a few.
In fact one might suggest,
that despite his passing, Arthur Miller is not the one who
is dead. It is Broadway. Or at least the Broadway to which
he gave so much life.
Beware of the Nones
Well, we are all aware of the
significance of the Ides of March. Ya know, the 15th
of this month, when Julius Caesar got whacked. Although, as
to what exactly “Ides” are anyway, has always
been something that has escaped us. This year we decided to
get to the bottom of this, once and for all! We’ll spare
you the research and try to simplify our findings.
Seems “Ides” is
a term that comes from the Roman calendar which was devised
by someone(s) who had a love for complexity. According to
a piece by Borgna Brunner (editor of Time Almanac books):
The Roman calendar organized its months around three days,
each of which served as a reference point for counting the
Kalends (1st day of the
(the 7th day in March, May, July and October; the 5th in
the other months)
(the 15th day in March, May, July and October; the 13th
in the other months)
The remaining, unnamed days
of the month were identified by counting backwards from
the Kalends, Nones, or Ides. For example March 3 would be
V Nones— 5 days before Nones (the
Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words,
the Nones would be counted as one of the days).”
Cockamamie as it all sounds,
we couldn’t resist re-figuring? re-naming? re-terming?
our birthday of August 20th. In Roman times, that would have
been said to have been XIII Kalends (i.e.
the 1st of September minus 13 days, with September 1st inclusive).
This convoluted method of date
keeping, also suggests still one more reason, for the fall
of the Roman Empire.
Finally Catching Up With “The
And speaking of convoluted, we finally
read The Da Vinci Code last month. We caved
in and figured that any book that has been on The New
York Times bestseller list for 100 weeks, deserved our
attention. In fact to continue to ignore it, might have seemed
downright snooty of us. Having now read it, our first thought
was to imagine ourselves pitching it to a movie studio for
Indiana Jones Meets The New York Times Sunday Crossword
And in fact, it will of course
be a movie (to be released in 2006). And in fact, of course,
it will star Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, the hero.
As a piece of literature, it
leaves much to be desired. Like, well, literature… for
example. And as a whodunit, it is totally lacking in even
a smidgeon of subtlety. But what it does have, is an intriguing
premise that deals with the question of: just how close
were Jesus and Mary Magdalen (upon whom we had formerly
expressed some thoughts; Muse-Letter October 2004)
when all is said and done? Which could conceivably
become an explosive issue when the movie is released depending
upon how closely it keeps to the book.
It’s one thing to see
something written on a page. It’s another to hear Tom
Hanks saying it aloud. Never underestimate the power of a
movie in today’s culture, to hit a nerve within the
body politic. (Fahrenheit 9/11 or The
Passion of the Christ anyone?). Conversely, ALWAYS underestimate
the power of a book to do so. Even one on a best seller list
for 100 weeks.
So to encapsulate our “book
review”: As a book, it will make an interesting
Questions and comments always welcomed. We’ll
see you next Kalends!