I have an affinity for these humble hand-made artifacts. The hands of the potter are revealed in the forms, and the mind of the artist in the decoration. With the exception of the Diné piece, all have an element of randomness that I find appealing in some ineffable way. The Diné vessel has a different appeal, that of the artist trying to impose geometric order in the clay.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my “collections” lately. If the Covid pandemic finally becomes controlled, I may have a sale of my prints and other miscellany this summer, or perhaps in the summer of 2022. It really isn’t about the money, I would consider it a success if only a handful of people really got something meaningful out of it. The guitar sale I had in 2019 was much a social event as it was a commercial one, this would be even more so, I suspect.
I’m not overly attached to anything I own, but I suspect the disbursement of these pieces will have to wait for my final estate sale in… oh say maybe 2040, perhaps?
Circular reasoning, OK. Circular emotions, not so good.
Or is it the other way around?
Visiting the basement of human emotions is not the nicest way to spend one’s time, but sometimes you do have to go down there and sweep out the cobwebs. Probably not the a good place to spend
most of your existence—although the washer and dryer are there—and we can all benefit from taking care of our dirty laundry.
The kitchen of our emotional house is very important. The nourishment we get and give with others sustains and renews us. The living/recreational rooms allow us to spend our free time in way that isn’t so charged with the daily give and take of interacting with our fellow human beings. A study or hobby room (pictured above) allows one to retreat even further from the world
into our own psyches. The bedroom, the most intimate area, gives us a
place to express our utter passion, as well as falling into utter oblivion.
And then, when you leave the house, you again experience the world with all its ups and downs—the cycle starts all over again. Stimulation, boredom, activity, joy, despair, renewal and a hundred other different “moods.” When the mood ring is broken you become an emotional shut-in, stuck in the same room day after day, life loses its meaning.
One of the perks of a having free day in Reykjavík is stopping in to one of the local watering holes. The weather in Iceland is usually on the cool side and often windy and damp, even in the summer. A good way to escape the elements is to enjoy an adult beverage and conversation in one of the many pubs—I sometimes wish that I was more than a one-and-done kind of drinker.
You aren’t supposed to take pictures of people in bars, but in 2012 I felt compelled to capture a bit of the ambiance.
Bars have re-opened in Iceland now; the Covid control measures that were instituted there give it the lowest rate per capita of any European country. There have been fewer than a half-dozen domestic cases in the last two weeks.
That said, it will probably be a long time before regular tourists from the U.S. will be allowed to enter without a quarantine so I’ll have to hold on to my ticket a little longer before I can partake in this ritual again.
In my bohemian days I lived with a dog named Terry. He came with the house.
Terry had the run of the yard; he was an excellent watch dog. Terry liked to dig and made sure that the landscaping was always more of the dirt type and less of the grass type. He was not what a dog trainer would describe as “well-disciplined.”
Joan lived upstairs. Joan liked elegant and clean clothes. Whenever Joan would come home from work, Terry would make a bee-line for her nicely pressed linen trousers. Life was always interesting with those two around.
Terry, in his old age, did finally become unmanageable and we had him put down when we left the inner-city for the small-town life.
Joan left a few years later, also for a small town. Our house was bought by the city, torn down and sold to a transit company to make room for a bus garage.
This picture is all that remains of that quirky confluence of the space-time continuum.
Elvis Presley, Howdy Doody, Perry Mason… and a fan dancer?
Q: What is the common thread that ties together those three iconic 1950s figures to an exotic performer?
A: Judy Tyler.
Judy first came to national attention in 1952 as the character Princess Summerfall Winterspring on The Howdy Doody Show, a program for children, broadcast on NBC:
Judy was popular with audiences and the Howdy Doody staff; it was obvious that she was headed for greater things when she left the show for a role on Broadway and was featured on a Life Magazine cover. Judy also did modeling and pin-up work, and went to Hollywood where she starred as Elvis’ love interest in the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock:
While in Hollywood, Judy filmed a pilot for the then-new Perry Mason television drama series: The Case of the Fan Dancer’s Horse. An interesting curio, in it Judy’s character is a fan-dancer performing as “Chi-Chi”. She does a very provocative routine (pictured above) for Perry and Della. After the dance (and she has put some clothes on) she kisses Perry on the lips!
Della was amused by these shenanigans:
Later on, Perry visits Chi-Chi in her apartment. Her flirtation level increases, but Perry manages to keep his cool:
Throughout the series Perry was surrounded by curvaceous cuties and had a stunning and highly competent secretary but never had a romantic involvement with any of them. Hmm…
And the horse? One doesn’t watch Perry Mason for its animal husbandry (although another episode did feature a burro—as a witness!) or its legal issues.
Alas, in real life Judy Tyler’s story had a tragic ending. On July 3, 1957, she died in a car crash in Wyoming, having never seen any of her films or this Perry Mason episode.
After she died, Elvis could never bring himself to watch Jailhouse Rock again.
It has been wonderful to see how her life has developed since she dropped in to an unsuspecting Flippist World Headquarters over twelve years ago (Annie pictured at right at a 2008 Halloween dance) Her thick Welsh accent is almost gone, she has published books and she is at the pinnacle of her profession! Her greatest accomplishment, however, is that she is now a mother—with another baby due in June!
Lovers, Ráðhús Reykjavíkur and Tjörnin, Reykjavík, October, 2012
My Covid Confinement musings have returned to Iceland with the gradual rollout of the vaccines giving me hope for one more visit in the not-too-distant-future (I already have a ticket!) And what better way to nurse these dreams than by resuming this weekly photo feature?
Some other good news about Iceland, besides their effective Covid control measures (4 cases diagnosed in the last two weeks!), is that the canceled Iceland Writers Retreat of 2020 is going to happen, albeit virtually. While it won’t be the same as being there, it will actually have a wider slate of writers, and I’ll be able to take in as many seminars as I want. Hallgrímur Helgason will also present there, a fact which makes me very happy!
The Night Searchers
A Sharon McCone Mystery
By Marcia Muller, 2014
The Color of Fear
A Sharon McCone Mystery
By Marcia Muller, 2017
A sure sign of mid-winter madness is my hungering for San Francisco mystery novels.
I’ve reviewed one of Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone books before; she cranks out about one per year and has been doing so for three decades! They are easy to digest and about as flavorful as vanilla ice cream. I read these strictly because they were set in San Francisco, and Muller does not stint in her use of the Bay Area. They also contain undercurrents of social awareness with themes touching homelessness, racism, and SF real estate.
The Night Searchers concerns a client who is sure that there are Satanic Cults doing human sacrifice in building sites. The Color of Fear starts off with Sharon’s father, a Native American Artist of some renown, being attacked in an apparent race-related crime. Those premises are certainly more than enough to get the plots rolling and both books are certainly “breezy”, moving along at a rapid clip with some nice set-pieces that are truly exciting.
If you are familiar with San Francisco it helps in filling out the story, there are even some locales that I wish had been developed further. Like a vanilla cone, any additional scoops are the same.
Not exactly high cusine, but it does satisfy, in an empty calorie sort of way.
I’ve been on a Patricia Highsmith binge lately. She was a pioneer in LGBT literature, active from the late forties to the early nineties. Her novels and stories have been made into numerous movies, I recently re-watched The Talented Mr. Ripley, from 1999. A tale of class struggle, deception and repressed homosexuality, the film features an all-star cast at the peak of their powers. The schematic of its plot is typical Highsmith: a social climber uses various fraudulent methods to ingratiate himself with a spoiled rich kid and his society. Obsession and sexual desire fuels the madness. A great cringe-fest.
Strangers on a Train was Highsmith’s first novel and a successful film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The homosexuality is even more understate than Ripley, but it’s there, especially in the English version. The same attraction/obsession is seen here, but this is a real thriller, full of Hitchcockian tricks:
The most successful recent highsmith adaptation is Todd Haynes’ Carol where the obsession/attraction theme is played out beteen two women, and it even has a sort-ot happy ending! All three of these movies are great, anti-Hollywood, and challenging.
Which brings us to the novel Tangerine, by Christine Mangan. It is set in the mid 1950s and features two Bennington college women in a one-sided homo-erotic relationship. Playing out like a mash-up of Ripley and the film Casablanca , it has all of Highsmith’s tropes: class, repressed sex, impossible triangles, murder and deceit. If Highsmith hadn’t handled this plot so well in Ripley, this would have been a good book, but it has trouble standing in the shadow of Highsmith’s masterpiece.
In real life, Patricia Highsmith was often mean and, as she grew older, increasingly strange. Her love of snails and sex (not with the snails, I hope!) and her open hatred of numerous groups of people made her into a figure to be feared, but her writing has always been respected. In the cinema her influence is wide.
Highsmith had no illusions about her writing or morality; she once said that her books should never be allowed in prisons.
Ólafur Arnalds is an Icelandic composer of note, I’ve featured him here a few times.
Last December, on the equinox, he assembled a group of musicians in Reykjavík to perform a suite of his music, starting at sunrise (10:30!) and continuing on into the afternoon. This is real music, played by real musicians in real time. It also features JFDR (starting about 8:30) singing one of the compositions.
JFDR has also been in the news, with a new EP Dream On and in an interview about its gestation and the creation of her “chicken video”.