2017-08-28

sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
I had clam chowder for dinner tonight. Last night, at Saint Anthony's Feast in the North End, I had a plate of fried shrimp, steaming hot, which I ate as [personal profile] spatch and I wandered among the stalls. The night before that, fried clams with my mother. I do not know if I can make up for a month's absence of shellfish from my diet before I run out of summer, but I am going to do my damnedest to find out.

1. Well, if I was disappointed in the lack of personal letters from Alan Turing, tonight I discovered Gilbert Bradley and Gordon Bowsher. I'm not sure how I missed hearing about them in February except I guess my country was on fire, never mind. I think one of the things I like best about their story is that while it did not apparently end with a happily ever after, it doesn't look like a tragic ending, either: neither of them was lost in the war, nobody got queer-bashed to death, they just broke up. Looking for more information on the internet, I found this project upcoming as part of Heritage Open Days: "Gilbert & Gordon: Then All the World Could See How in Love We Are." It would be a nice thing to attend with [personal profile] rushthatspeaks for our anniversary if we had a teleporter. I hope there will be a published book.

2. Right before I left the house this afternoon, [personal profile] ladymondegreen sent me a photo of a flyer for a "genderbending surrealist burlesque" by the name of Tiresias' Tits. I hoped from the name that it was a burlesque version of Apollinaire's original surrealist play Les mamelles de Tirésias (1903). It was. I couldn't have seen it even with a teleporter, but I'm delighted.

3. Dorothy Arzner's Get Your Man (1927) was delightful if fragmentary; it lost two reels out of six to nitrate decomposition during the decades it was out of the public eye and was reconstructed with stills by the Library of Congress. The proto-screwball romantic denouement is intact, but much of the set-up is missing, frustratingly including the majority of the night in the Parisian waxwork museum where Clara Bow and Buddy (credited as "Charles") Rogers fall in love among the exhibits, mixed-up files-style. Not only were the tableaux considered one of the highlights of the film on release, they were choreographed and staged by Marion Morgan, Arzner's long-term partner, and performed by dancers from Morgan's troupe. What survives on either side of the lacuna where the film bubbles and flickers out certainly looks elegant, with the uncanny valley double whammy of human actors imitating imitations of human life. Otherwise the film is a funny, freewheeling showcase for the force of charisma that is Bow, a New York girl with her sights set on a French boy resigned to going through with his arranged marriage for the honor of his aristocratic family—I don't think it's a spoiler to say that anyone who backs tradition against our heroine is going to lose their shirt. It's not just that she can charm anyone in this film she feels like, and the audience just as effortlessly; she always looks like she's having fun and she wants us to have fun with her. We're in on the joke when she arranges herself dramatically among the scattered luggage of the taxi that fortuitously crashed outside her love object's ancestral chateau, then powders her nose in afterthought before languishing again. She doesn't undertake to bust up a seventeen-year engagement without first verifying that the other woman has her own man on the side, but the middle-aged marquis playing a hopeful flute underneath her balcony had better watch out. She's as tricky as fate; she's exuberant and sweet. David the projectionist introduced the film with an anecdote included by David Stenn in Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild (1988), concerning Bow's initial disappointment at being directed by a woman: "After all, girlfriends like me she could lose, but a gorgeous man was 'divine,' and Dorothy Arzner was going to make one less man around." To which I am afraid my response is: come on, have you seen Dorothy Arzner? Here as Exhibit A is my favorite photograph of the director, actually taken with Bow on the set of The Wild Party (1929), their second collaboration and Bow's first talkie:



Seriously, Clara. Go for it. That was a woman who knew how to wear a suit.

sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
My poem "And All the Brothers Too" is now online at Polu Texni.

It was written last summer on a train passing between New London and New Haven and at a spare desk at [personal profile] ladymondegreen's workplace; it has Twelfth Night and WWII submarines and other people's family stories. Childhood memories of visiting the USS Albacore must be in there, too, although I didn't notice until the poem was done. It may still be the only submarine I've ever been inside. I was five or so the first time and loved its narrow corridors and crowded machineries: they were clever spaces for a child to climb around in. I loved the radio room, the sonar room, the navigation center, the berths. There was a smell inside like no other decommissioned ship I'd encountered, engine grease and former human occupancy, I assume, not unpleasant. I saw it once by night as we drove back from Maine, its hull rising against the stars like a breaching whale.

For [personal profile] nineweaving.
sovay: (Otachi: Pacific Rim)
My niece loved the sharks and rays at the New England Aquarium. Every time a cownose ray slid under her hand with its silt-soft fluttering wings, she let out a shout of delight. She also enjoyed the tidepool touch tank where she held a starfish and listened for nearly twenty minutes to a presentation about penguins, which was considerably more attention for an adult talking than either my mother or I had expected. She seemed indifferent to the lionfish, but loved the harbor seals doubling like dappled pewter between the rocks; ran around two turns of the giant ocean tank to follow a sea turtle, but was really enraptured by an exhibit of yellow garden eels swaying like seagrass in the sand. She wanted me to sign with my fingers to the cuttlefish, but I explained that I was not going to insult a total stranger just so that it would change color. We will probably go back for the special exhibit on sharks: she had worn her shark T-shirt special, but after nearly three hours we ran out of time and had to return her to her parents, which was fine because she had run around happily looking at other pieces of ocean instead. I took some pictures, of which my favorite is the accidental blurred reflection in which she appears mer-like. I got her a small green glass sea turtle which she is still too young to play with, but I told her it was a Glixman sea turtle. The Glixman turtles were invented by my mother in a set of stories she would tell her siblings in the '50's and '60's: because they moved so often, California, Arizona, Mississippi, New Jersey, Kansas, Oklahoma, I may have left a state out, they had to carry their homes with them. At least one of the written stories survived into my childhood. I remember the turtles were very fond, like Paddington with marmalade, of Spanish rice. So far my niece's life appears much more stationary, but I think it's still a good tradition to have access to. She associates it besides with the baby sea turtle rescued by Moana when she passes the sea's test. The toy she got to play with was a blinky translucent blue rubber shark, about which she announced to strangers as we left the aquarium, "I love my shark!"

(She wanted to listen to the soundtrack for Moana (2016) all the way to the aquarium and back, which posed occasional problems when we had to put the songs on hold in order to navigate Boston. I explained this was urban wayfinding, but I think she was unconvinced. At the moment her idea of "How Far I'll Go" mostly consists of shouting on the long notes, but she appears to be making a commendable effort to learn the Samoan and Tokelauan as well as the English of "We Know the Way" and I would love for her to succeed. Sure, right now it's phonetic, but so was Yiddish for me when I was a child.)

In other news, the last forty-eight hours are evidently some kind of jackpot of butch women, since tonight on the 87 I saw a woman who looked like Burn Gorman as Hermann Gottlieb in Pacific Rim (2013). Minus the parka, but she had the plaid, the tight cheekbones, the lean mouth, the short russet hair, and the glasses on a string. The configuration of the bus was not such that I had an easy way to approach her and say anything, also she had her instrument case in front of her and few things in life are more awkward than peering around a stranger's cello (or, God forbid, double bass), but that is a thing that really happened. One writes these kinds of characters, but does not expect to encounter them on public transit. I hope she does cosplay. All she'd have to do is show up.

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