Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Most of us are familiar with the old saying, "Quitters never win, and winners never quit." There will always be difficulties, problems, and troubles to overcome in life. But giving up has never been the solution to any adversity you might encounter. Every individual should resolve within his/herself to-never give up.
Don't allow circumstances to make you bitter about life. Push through the problem and it will make you better. Push forward, don't entertain doubt and don't consider "giving up," because you should not allow it as an option. There is nothing to gain by 'giving up' and everything to gain if you don't. Why? Because what you practice becomes a habit. It can become an escape mechanism for you to use every time things get complicated, difficult, or unpleasant; you just give up. Bad habits are hard to break. You certainly don't want to teach those who may be watching you to see you as an individual who faints and gives up in the face of adversity. Remember every "hero" in life does not receive a medal from an admiring crowd. There are many unsung heroes who just won't give up on themselves, some who won't give up on you. There is a reward of personal worth in "never giving up."
Make a life style of never giving up on those things that are positive in your life. Never give up on yourself and this begins with laying a foundation for determining what are those valuable things in your life that deserve your perseverance to continue with. Grant it, there are some things that don't deserve your undivided effort to continue. You need to have some criteria for those things that do deserve your continued attention and energy to keep it viable. You begin with your life style and the goals you have in your life. For example, you should never give up on your education. You should never give up on making yourself a better individual through dreams, goals, helping others, etc.
If you keep forging on, something good will happen. You will be looking and observing to see a change for the better. Sometimes, only you can recognize when that change occurs, simply because it may be so small others may not detect it. Never giving up is important to your mental stability. Never giving up affects your life style and the people "you hang out with." Surround yourself with people who generate positive feelings; they will help you not to 'give up.'
Never giving up is a choice. When you decide never to give up, you decide that if you continue in your effort, a way will reveal itself and you will accomplish your goal or your purpose. This becomes your attitude about everything you endeavor to do. This becomes the way you see life. You choose to see yourself as able to overcome life's challenges because you will never give up or in to them. Never giving up becomes how you see the world and how the world sees you. You build up your "never giving up" muscle and never giving up is no longer an option, It is a way of life, enriching you and enabling you to enrich others' lives.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I thought it would be fun to make a favorites list. What are some of yours?
Favorite Color - Pink
Favorite Childhood Book - The Secret Garden
Favorite Song - My Way, The Rose
Favorite Vacation Spot - Hawaii, Italy
Favorite Ethnic food - Mexican, Indian, Chinese
Favorite Hobby - Reading, Interior Decorating
Favorite Sport - Figure Skating, Gymnastics
Favorite Dance Scenes - Gene Kelly - Singing in the Rain, Fred Astaire - Ceiling Dance, Royal Wedding, Final Scene - Dirty Dancing.
Favorite Quality - I try to be kind and fair.
Favorite Season - Fall. I look forward to cooler weather and the upcoming holiday season.
Favorite Cake - Cheesecake, Black Forest Cake
Favorite Candy - Plain chocolate
Favorite Fruit - Apple
Favorite type music - Easy Listining
Favorite Meal - Dinner
For some reason, most people think that kicking a dog is okay if it is being bad, but laying a finger on a child is way over the line. I don't understand how this can be anyone's creed. Animals are living creatures, just like humans. Even lawmakers only give animal abusers a small fraction of the punishment that someone would get it they performed the same acts on a human being.
We ourselves are animals, which many people tend to forget.
It is very hard to gather information to get statistics on animal abuse, because almost all animal abuse situations go unreported. Even though such a small percentage of people that see an animal being abused report it, 1880 cases were reported in the media in 2007. 64.5% of these cases were situations where a domestic dog was being abused. The incidents ranged from neglecting to kicking, all the way up to burning the dogs, often because the dog was barking. I wonder why it was barking? Perhaps because of the unsatisfactory living conditions that it's forced to live with every day.
I think it's disgusting to see what some people do to animals, some in anger, and some for fun. I have always been strongly against abuse, no matter what animal, human or not, it is aimed towards. But there is something that I suggest you take the time to watch and listen to so you can understand. The music video for Rise Against's song 'Ready To Fall' shows very graphic and terrible acts performed on animals for enjoyment. It shows two garbage men pick up a dog by its legs and toss it into a giant trash-compactor, while Rise Against lead singer Tim McIlrath shouts out lyrics like 'Perpetual motion, the image won't focus, a blur is all that's seen. But here in this moment like the eye of the storm, it all came clear to me. I found a shoulder to lean on, an infallible reason to live all by itself. I took one last look from the heights that I once loved, and then I ran like hell! If you dissect these lyrics you can see how they can relate to him realizing how truly horrible animal abuse is. The music video shows many other clips archived from the Internet though. It shows baby chicks being sorted into bins by a factory worker, like they're objects. It also shows cats being electrocuted by a group of teenagers, and live cows having axes swung at their legs to make them collapse. Do you think these people should have to serve serious jail time, or do you feel they deserve a slap on the wrist?
If you're still saying: Who cares? Animals aren't people, and only people have feelings, understand this; Many murderers grew up as a child abusing and being around others who abused animals, most commonly their pets. It is an early sign that someone isn't headed in the right direction, so they should be stopped before they hurt or kill a human being.
If you still think that animal abuse is okay, I don't know what will help you. And if you agree that animal abuse isn't okay, but don't think those who harm animals should be punished with an iron fist, that's a far different problem. Treat all living things as you would your child, as they feel emotions in the exact same way. Animal abuse is not okay, and should not be tolerated by the law.
A jail sentence is a good deterrent and would stop some cruel attacks on animals, but really what is also needed is mental help for those people who show any signs of aggression to animals. Putting them in jail will not mend their problems. These people need real help or will very likely come out of prison more angry than when they went in. So, while certainly harsher punishments need to be made, better ways of preventing further problems also need to be addressed.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Why is it that people are taught not to show grief, to hide feelings of sadness? I've lost several people close to me, including my father at age 12 and my grandmother in April of last year, yet I pushed that grief inside, thinking that it would go away. But it didn't, and I found myself lately just coming to terms with the impact of these losses on me. I've come to fully understand the stages of grief and how it is beneficial and necessary in order to heal.
The stages of grief.
We are all given indications as to what we will feel when we lose someone we love. We see people crying on the television but never imagine ourselves in this situation. People are too protective and don't discuss things such as death in the western world, and what happens is that the stages of grief are different for everyone depending upon their own understanding. Initial shock is a numbness which doesn't allow you to take in the fact that someone you loved died. You may be talking with funeral directors and making logical decisions about the funeral, though inside, it is extremely surreal as your heart and mind have not yet accepted that the person is dead.
After this stage, many others can follow. Often people get angry, and this is a natural feeling. They turn their anger towards the person who died for leaving them, or God for not being there, but all of these are signs of deeper problems. The problem that people who grieve cannot get to grips with lies within their own mind, and their acceptance of the inevitable rather than in outside influence. The moving on stages may come early in bereavement, but beware. My experience told me that I moved on too easily, and didn't actually go through the real stages of grief. You need to cry. It's not weakness and it certainly is a different kind of crying from normal tears. It comes from within, and until you are able to spill all that emotion, you haven't been through all the processes you need to.
Acceptance comes in many forms. Yes, you can believe that God gave you no choice, and that you have to get on with your life, though that does not necessarily mean that you have accepted the death. When people internalize as I do, that stays inside you and although you think you have passed the acceptance level, often repressed emotions mean that the acceptance takes maybe years to actually happen. In my case, I found myself bursting into tears for no reason, seemingly out of the blue.
Saying that goodbye.
Saying goodbye is not a physical matter of saying the words. It's a matter of closing your eyes, seeing that person and in your minds eye being able to let go. This process took me quite a long time. It was painful. While my father was killed in an accident, leaving me no real chance to say goodbye, my grandmother was my close friend and biggest supporter. And here she was with bone cancer, lying in a hospice bed. How can you say goodbye to someone who had been there for you your entire life?
There was a very strange phenomena which has been proven to me by others that grieve. Up until the moment of letting go and saying goodbye, whenever I saw images of her, they were always like still pictures, never moving, never gesturing. I couldn't remember expressions or gestures. After acceptance, she has become a real memory instead of a stifled one. Once you pass the goodbye level, what you get is richer than anything you can imagine. I still have my grandmother I loved, because she is alive in my memories. so is my father.
The value of grief.
I've learned that the value of the grieving process is that it allows you a richer set of values. Instead of suppressing memories, and diverting your life intentionally so as not to upset balance, what happens is that it allows you to move on, though with a much broader attitude, and self respect. Instead of being a shell of a person, you become whole, and the person you lost becomes a whole memory as well. If you feel like crying, don't stifle it. If you see a friend grieving encourage it,
Getting beyond grief.
All things do pass, and the value of grieving is that it allows you to replenish strength and enjoy all those memories you choose to suppress because it feels easier. It may last a week, it may last a year, it may last longer. I still have days when I just feel lost and sad, but that's ok. I know that what I'm experiencing is not only normal, it's healthy for me.
Tips for coping with grief
Reach out to friends and family. They may not understand what you're going through, but they can offer support. Get additional support from people who have experience dealing with grief: hospice staff or clergy, for example.
Take care of your health. It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but it can make coping easier.
Make an appointment with a counselor or join a support group.
Talk to your doctor about anti-depressants if it's hard for you to function
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Ginger with first husband, Lew Ayres and Lela Rogers in 1934.
Below are copies of two articles about on Ginger Rogers and the lasting impact of Ginger and Fred's dancing. The first really gives a frank, somewhat haunting insight into Ginger as a person as well as an actress/dancer.
An excerpt from an interview with Ginger in Modern Screen by Gladys Hall in 1935.
"Yes, I get what I want from life," said Miss Virginia Rogers to me, "except---except for one thing---I want to go to college!"
"College?" I echoed stupidly, "you want to go to college?" I had expected anything but that. Some nostalgic reference, however, reticent, to the recently divided home of young Mr. and Mrs. Lew Ayres. Some faintly spoken regret, perhaps, for teh mortality of young love....
But---Yes," laughed Ginger, laughing at me, not herself, "yes---why not? Lots of professional women do go, you know. Maybe I will, someday. There are so many things I'd like to learn. And would get so much out of college if I syould go now---more than I would have gotten a few years ago. I'd know now what I want to study, what course I want to take. I've learned concentration---dancing teaches you that. I've learned patience, I think. I'd care more about learning than I would have cared a few years ago. I'd be able to choose what I want and to go after it.
"I really think that I only woke up four years ago. Before that I was asleep or numb, or something. Perhaps it's just that I've grown up. My ideas, like my face, are shaping differently, losing baby contours. I seem to see everything in sharper focus. I don't believe that I saw anything at all---not really---four years ago."
I had been watching Ginger and Fred rehearsing. Tirelessly. Almost religiously---over and over again, perfecting perfection. And watching Ginger, in pale yellow overalls, pale green polo shirt, red-gold hair flying...I'd thought: She has everything she or any other girl ever wanted from life. Yes, in spite of what may have grieved her and caused her separation from Lew. For she is young and famous and wounds heal swiftly for the young, and the rainbow is still arched and her dancing feet are only beginning the arc...She has youth and beauty and fame and jewels. She has riches. She has a mother who adores her. She has cars and friends and fine feathers. And she has Fred Astaire for a dancing partner. She is tops at the box office. There is nothing lacking---nothing that can be replaced or achieved. And then we sat down to luncheon in the RKO commissary and Ginger sipped iced tea and nothing else---because she was rehearsing again after luncheon and one can't rehearse on a full tummy. And I told her what I had been thinking, or some of it. I said: "You have got everything you ever wanted from life, haven't you? In spite of---" Ginger vroke in, grinning, "But I never wanted very much. I never thought about it---"
No but---" I said, "all your dreams have come true, haven't they? All young girls of having fame and riches and---and love. And so you must have dreamed. And even if some dreams never stay true, forever, you've had them all, haven't you?"
And Ginger's pale young face, guiltless of any make-up, framed by that tawny silk hair sobered as she said: "Of course, I haven't got everything. No. Wait---I haven't got everything only because there is no such thing. I mean, there is no such thing as having everything. We are all mortal and being mortal means being limited, and so none of us has capacity for everything. No one can have everything. Because for every dream dreamed there arises another dream. For every hope hoped there emerges another hope." And I found myself thinking "And for every love does there arise another love to take the old love's place?" And Ginger replied: "It is an old saying and a true one---that the more we have the mroe we want. It's like eating---the more you eat the more can eat! 'Everything' is limitless, don't you see? There is no end to it."
"NO, NO, for anyone to make the boast that he or she has everything is like going to school and graduating and then saying: 'Well, now, I know all there is to know. I never need to read ontoher book or hear another lecture or study another subject.' So stupid, that attitude. Because the thrill and the glory and the whole come-on of living is just because there are no limits. There is no saturation point. For every goal is, when you have reached it, only a sign-post pointing the way to the next goal. The end is never reached.
"I certainly never dreamed of being an actress, of all things! I never thought about having a lot of money. Mother earned what would be called a sensible amount of money as a newspaper women---enough to make us comfortable. The people I knew then all lived nicely, but modestly. I never thought about movie stars and their fabulous lives at all...but, if I had thought about them, I would have put them in the same fantastic category as Alice In Wonderland or something like that.
"I never thougt about having a lot of money because I really need so little. If I cared about the things that money can buy I wouldn't go about as you see me now, dressed in cotton overalls anda dollar sweat-shirt. Oh, I like to get all tricked out now and then and go out with a crowd and have fun. But I can live without expensive clothes and still be happy. I don't give a darn for jewels. My first ermine coat didn't make a different girl of me.
"When I was a little girl I only had one ambition that I can remember---I wanted to be a school-teacher. I think that was because I adored my English teacher. She lived at home with us for a term or two and I used to think that anyone so pretty and gentle and wise would be the perfect one to copy. I wanted to be just like her.
"NO, honestly, you can't have everything in a world so 'full of a number of things.' I'd like to go to college as I've said. I'd like to try to write. I don't know whether I could write or not, but I'd love to have the time to try. I'd like to compose music, too. I don't say that I could do that, either---though I have written a song or two.---but I would like the time to work at it. I'd like to have the time to be a little bit domestic. I think I really am a housewife at heart. Most girls are, if you strip off the cellophane wrappings of their professional lives, whatever they may be..." (And I found myself wondering whether this may be the Why Of It...whether the little housewife-at-heart who hasn't time to be a housewife might be teh explantion of a little wife who doesn't perhaps, have time to be a wife? For Ginger is, I think, essentially whole-hearted. And where she couldn't give her whole heart and her whole time and her whole devotion she would rather not give at all...)
"You know," Ginger was saying, "I have to live in my own house as I would live in a hotel. I never get the time even to plan a menu. I never have the least idea what I'll have to eat from one meal to the next. I never have the least idea what I'll have to eat from one meal to teh next. I never have time to count the linens, to arrange flowers, to fuss over things---and I'd love to. When the maid tells me that we need three more table-cloths, I phone a shop and tell them to send me three new table-cloths and then I never see them until they are on the table.
"I'd like to be able to go out more---to do silly, on -the-spur-of-the-moment things, like going on picnics and down to Venice to do the chute-the-chutes and things. But I'm usually too tired when I come home from teh studio to do anything except fall into bed and to sleep. When I'm rehearsing I do go out now and then just to keep in step with life. But when we're in production it swallows us whole and we're seen and heard no more---save on the sound stages."
AND how would that go, I thought, with marriage...? Marriage and its multiple demands. The studio and its slavery. Alien bedfellows, I am afraid.
"So you see," said Ginger, "all of the many things I have---this 'everything' you speak of---I can't use. I remind myself of Midas---everything he touched turned to gold but what good did it do him? He couldn't eat gold. He couldn't inhale any fragrance from golden flowers. And when he turned the one object he loved more than anything or any person in the world, his little daughter, he could get no warmth or affection from her---for she, too, had turned to gold!"
(Perhaps, I thought, perhaps Ginger was saying more than she knew, revealing more than she thought...for may it no be that, here in Hollywood under the greedy grasp of the Great God Studio...young, ardent, hopeful marriages, like Midas's daughter, also turn to gold?)
"I have things" said Ginger, "and more than just things, I know. I have clothes, but I have no chance to wear them. I'd like to do some personal shoping now and then. I'd like to window shop and hunt for bargains and try things on, the way girls like to do. I can't. When I need new clothes I phone again. I call a shop and tell them to send me three or four dresses and then I choose the most likely one and I can't wear them because I haven't been able to shop for the right accessories for them...."
Ginger puased for a moment and looked out the window...spread before her Irish blue eyes were the mammoth sound stages, the machine shops, the offices, the gardens, the whole vast body of the study where she reigns supreme---a star...and I wondered what she was thinking, what values she waws weighing in her mind. She didn't say. I knew that she wouldn't say. For if she talked to one she would have to talk of all---and there are some matters even a star cannot be expected to discuss with all.
SHE said finally, "I'd love to have a baby. Of course, I would, naturally. I shall adopt one some day. It seems to me," said Ginger, her bright blue eyes wistful, as if asking a question, "that it is just as fine to adopt a baby as it is to have your own. Don't you think? To choose a baby beacause of all the babies you have see that baby is the one you want most? I sort of agree with Kathleen Norris when she said recently, that the real motherhood is to love every baby born and not only the babies born to you...
"Movie babies certainly cost a lot, too," Ginger laughed, her eyes coming back from Neverland. "I read in a recent articlesomewhere that a certain very big star;'s last baby cost her exactly $150,000---because of her having to be out of production so long. Time is very valuable to a movie star.
"You see, I am amphasizing the fact, now, that there is no such thing as having everything that meets the eye. I know that other girls must wonder wht there is left for me to want. That's what I'm trying to tell them. And I'm not disparaging the things I have. I not making light nor little fun of fame, so-called, of money and success and all that. Not for one minute. I'm happy. I wouldn't cahnge places with little Susie Glutz who works in a an office for anything. Even though Susie is probably just as happy as I and with just as good reasons. Even though Susie is certainly normal and I'm not. Vecause we are not really normal, not when we are 'movie stars.' We can't be. It is very much, I think, like running a temperature all of the time. And, after awhile, we get so keyed up that we couldn't live any other way. We would feel depressed and weak if we didn't at high pressure every instant. I know that I work better, the harder the pressure. It is literally true that the less time I have, the more I can accomplish.
"I ENJOY 'fame.' I really love it. I get a kick out of being recognized and praised and spoiled. There are times when it is tiresome, of course. But there are times when everything is tiresome. There are also times, most times, when it is thrilling and satisfying to find my name in electric lights. I enjoy the fan letters and the compliments and the consideration of being a star. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit it.
"But just because I do love it and value it, there is a drawback. I think it must be something like having a very beautiful and successful child for whom you have worked every night and day, whom you have watched grow and for whom you feel a great love, a great pride of possession. And just because you love it so much, that love is hot through with fear. For supposing anything should happen to it? Supposing that you should lose it.
"That's the way I feel about my work. Supposing something should happen---the industry or to my part in it? Of course I'd be hurt. Terribly hurt. I'd hate it. I'd be miserable. So that even when you do have everything, presumably, in the work you are doing, at any rate---even that is marred by the fear of loss, accident, of fate..."
In the doorway the assistant director was beckoning. Ginger waved a hand. "Time to go," se said to me. "I can't be five minutes late. I'm always late for everything, except my work. They've got me trained in the studio. So...I guess we can about sum it up like this: I get everything I want from Life except---TIME. Time to go to college, time to be a housewife, time to shop and play and experiment, time to have a baby, time to be normal..."
They Seem to Find the Happiness They Seek
By ALASTAIR MACAULAY
Published: August 14, 2009
This part is especially accurate: "Astaire choreographed, and the specifications he made for how the camera should follow him set unsurpassed standards: Film the dancers full-frame, without close-up; keep reaction shots to a minimum; run the dance in as few takes as possible, preferably just one." That technique revolutionized the way dances were filmed.
WHEN people fall in love, they opt for an experience that others have had before. Very often that’s what they have in mind: they would like to share some of what happened to Romeo and Juliet, or Lizzy and Darcy or maybe just their parents. One of those archetypes of romance was born 75 years ago, with the release of “The Gay Divorcee,” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made nine films together for RKO, including “Roberta.”
The cinema has had many classic couples: several, in fact, in 1934, the year of “It Happened One Night,” “Twentieth Century” and “The Thin Man.” But it has never had another couple who enshrined romantic love so definitively in terms of dance.
Dancing together, Astaire and Rogers expressed many of love’s moods: courtship and seduction, repartee and responsiveness, teasing and challenge, the surprise of newfound harmony, the happy recapture of bygone romance, the giddy exhilaration of high spirits and intense mutual accord, the sense of a perfect balance of power, the tragedy of parting and, not least, the sense of love as role playing. It’s startling how many of those shades are already present in “Night and Day,” their first romantic duet together, in “The Gay Divorcee.”
The story has often been told. Astaire (1899-1987), after years of partnering his sister, Adele, broke through to a new romantic seriousness in 1932, when partnering Claire Luce onstage in London in Cole Porter’s “Gay Divorce,” particularly in the number “Night and Day.” He went to Hollywood as a fully grown star in 1933. When he and Rogers (1911-95) were given fifth and fourth star billing in RKO’s “Flying Down to Rio” that year, their brief fling in the “Carioca” number became its biggest sensation.
“The Gay Divorce” was promptly adapted for the screen as “The Gay Divorcee” for the new star team. Astaire and Rogers went on to make seven more RKO movies together in the 1930s. Astaire choreographed, and the specifications he made for how the camera should follow him set unsurpassed standards: Film the dancers full-frame, without close-up; keep reaction shots to a minimum; run the dance in as few takes as possible, preferably just one.
He went on to partner many other women. (Astaire aficionados like to debate who, after Ginger, complemented him best. Rita Hayworth? Cyd Charisse? Eleanor Powell? Gracie Allen?) But though he developed the artistry of his solos in the 1940s, his screen chemistry with Rogers has never been matched.
Watching “Night and Day” as danced by Astaire and Rogers in “The Gay Divorcee,” we can’t tell how much Astaire adapted it since performing it with Luce, and Rogers is not yet as supple and skilled a dancer as she would be two years later. Yet we see the Astaire-Rogers alchemy in full force. Much of it has to do with Rogers’s multifaceted reactions to Astaire.
Her face is riveting because it has such restraint. Among the breathtaking aspects of her performance are her sudden stops to address him (as if acknowledging the force field between them); the suggestions that at one point she is helplessly sleepwalking but that, at another, having great fun; the very sweet way she implies that love (and dancing with a partner) is something she is happily learning as she goes along; the ripples that pass at different moments through her spine and pelvis; the huge, determined strides she takes to break away from him at one juncture, and then, when he stops her, the mysteriously fluent near-slap she gives him (and the soft way she watches him as he reels back across the room). Astaire leads throughout and is compelling. But her responses, from face to foot, give this duet its depth.
Two years after the “Gay Divorcee” Rogers reached her apogee in “Swing Time” (1936). By now she has a dancer’s body as beautiful as any the screen has ever seen. The glimpses of her legs in their “Pick Yourself Up” number (her calf-length skirts fly as they tap) are enough to make you gasp. Her spine can now arch and bend in many ways, all apparently full of feeling; the slenderness of her waist is always ravishing.
Yet she never looks rarefied or trained. For that matter, she doesn’t behave like a great beauty and isn’t presented as one. Her ordinariness and spontaneity (just watch her arms and hands) are central to her attractiveness. While she always retains these qualities, there are parts of “Swing Time” (and other Astaire-Rogers movies of their prime) in which she and Astaire become divinities and, together, epitomize glamour, love and dance.
Perhaps the high of highs is the “Waltz in Swing Time,” filmed in one take. Astaire is in black tie, Rogers in full-length white. This dance is a novelty number, like several others in their films (“The Carioca,” “The Continental,” “The Piccolino,” the tap dance on roller skates, “The Yam”) and probably the most miraculous in terms of pure dance. They’re moving fast and percussively, yet the impression is of an unbroken slow-traveling legato flow. They’re combining swing and waltz rhythms (it feels like riding two horses at once), yet the impression isn’t of rhythmic virtuosity so much as of impulsive rapture.
It’s my impression that Astaire and Rogers have become even more classic than ever. Now that ballroom dance has been repopularized by “So You Think You Can Dance,” the Astaire-Rogers image is often invoked. (“Burn the Floor,” the skillfully repellent stage musical currently on Broadway, which features 16 stars of “So You Think,” has an episode in which one couple and then another appear dressed as Astaire and Rogers, with the music quoting their “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” number from the 1936 “Follow the Fleet.”)
Only in the 1960s did the Astaire-Rogers duets first receive serious critical attention as great choreography. In 1965 Arlene Croce, who until then had been best known as a film critic, founded Ballet Review magazine (which flourishes still), and one of her two remarkable contributions to the first issue was the essay “Notes on La Belle, La Perfectly Swell, Romance.” (It was republished in 2008 in Robert Gottlieb’s “Reading Dance” anthology.)
In 1972 Ms. Croce followed this with one of the best-loved works in dance literature, “The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book.” In prose that perfectly rises to the thrill of these classics, she herself produced a classic. It has been quoted and cited in innumerable books on Astaire and Rogers, on Astaire, on film musicals and on romantic comedy. It’s out of print now, but since it has been reissued in the past, it’s fair to hope it will be reissued again.
In the 1960s and ’70s you had to wait for Astaire-Rogers movies on television or in revival houses. In the case of “Roberta” (1935) you often had to wait years. Ms. Croce rightly calls this “their most ebullient film.” But MGM (which remade it in 1952 as “Lovely to Look At”) tried to bury it for decades. Now you can get a DVD boxed set of all 10 Astaire-Rogers movies and watch “Roberta” to your heart’s content. The “Swing Time” DVD can be watched with a commentary by John Mueller, whose 440-page study “Astaire Dancing” (1986) is as indispensable to Astaire studies as Ms. Croce’s book.
Ms. Croce’s taste and eminently quotable prose and Mr. Mueller’s detailed analysis hang over two recent books, Hannah Hyam’s “Fred & Ginger” (Pen Press Publishers) and Joseph Epstein’s “Fred Astaire” (Yale University Press). These are, however, diametrically opposite writers. Mr. Epstein casually remarks, “I cannot remember whether I’ve watched ‘Top Hat’ five or six times, but I continue to find new little things in it,” whereas Ms. Hyam, no less casually, says about the “Waltz in Swing Time” that “it is necessary to watch it at least a dozen times before we can even begin to grasp the wealth of detail in which it abounds.”
I don’t need to read 191 pages on Astaire by someone who has watched “Top Hat” only six times at most (“dull as the script is,” Mr. Epstein writes of it) and relies heavily on references and quotations from the writing of others. At one point Mr. Epstein tells us that “Astaire probably overrehearsed,” at another why he needed to rehearse so much.
After quoting from Edwin Denby, Ms. Croce, Mr. Mueller and Charles (Honi) Coles, he gives us this aperçu of his own about “Top Hat”: “You have this pretty girl and this far from handsome yet smoothly attractive guy, and the two of them join together to dance like nobody else, before or since, and some terrific music is playing much of the time, so what the hell, but wouldn’t it be great if life had more such moments: glamorous, romantic, elegant, yes, and uncomplicatedly happy.” By the way, “Top Hat” seems to be the Astaire film Mr. Epstein has watched the most.
Ms. Hyam, by contrast, is an Astaire-Rogers nerd. She has little sense of context outside their movies, she scarcely attends to the music, and too much of her writing consists of plodding exposition. Some of the best points occur in the notes at the back. (In the main text she finds the script for “Top Hat” to be “clever, witty.” You have to turn to the notes to see how she points to the symmetry with which Astaire says, “If I ever forgot myself with that girl, I’d like to remember it,” and Rogers, 20 minutes later, says, “I’ll make him remember me in a manner he’ll never forget.”)
But her book is as knowledgeable as it is loving. When she disagrees, seldom, with Ms. Croce (in “Top Hat,” for example, she finds Ms. Croce misses the point of the “several dreamy backbends” — Ms. Croce’s phrase — in “Cheek to Cheek”), she makes you see why. (This spectacular duet probably isn’t as moving as it should be, not, I think, because of the choreography but simply because this is their least spontaneous performance. Its filming was notoriously complicated by the way Rogers’s stunning dress kept shedding feathers all over the set; even after revisions and multiple takes, a few feathers are still falling on screen.)
As Ms. Hyam proceeds, she makes points that send you back to watch the films again. Of the “Waltz in Swing Time” she quotes both Ms. Croce and Mr. Mueller to good effect before adding, “One astonishing sequence among the so many: when Rogers, facing Astaire, joyfully curves her body for him to vault over it, twice, and a third time presents her slightly inclined back for him to repeat this most intimate maneuver — just before they both rush headlong, in each other’s arms, into the final stage of the dance.” When you check it out, you find that you love the number even more as a result.
Neither book refers to another classic, James Harvey’s “Romantic Comedy in Hollywood: From Lubitsch to Sturges,” which perceptively sets Astaire and Rogers in full film context and gives us much more to see and consider. And neither reflects on the baroque intricacy of the numerous shows within films and dramas within dramas with which these movies abound.
The sense that Fred and Ginger keep playing roles (roles within their roles) ought to make them in these films more artificial, more tongue in cheek; but instead it gives them — and the different aspects of love they express — depth and complexity. Often when they’re doing a dance scene that (the plot tells us) they have rehearsed and that they are performing for an audience (which applauds) they turn out to be at their most spontaneous and piercing, and their love seems at its most real. Ms. Hyam is right: We need to keep returning to these movies. Hilarious and entrancing as they often are, they endlessly repay close study.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I am fueled by my own curiosity, my eyes opening as I plummet
Deep within myself I grasp the nature of my summit.
Gradually establishing higher sights for the standards I have set
Encouraged by my personal victory when my goals have been met.
My mind drifts to a timeless space, taking me to greater heights.
Introduced to new facets of just being in my own rights.
Each new ability makes its debut, tentative as it is released
Then blossoming to become a part of me as its confidence is increased.
I define each aspect I happen upon so that I may use what is found,
Improving the parts that already exist, smoothing the edges all around.
I aways see things a little differently in what I learn and know.
My mind opens to new thoughts and ideas as I continue to let myself grow.
I know I can always improve myself; it's a work that is never finished,
But as I keep moving forward I realize that potential can never diminish.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I saw this video on Made by Swirly Girl's Sidelines and was impressed. Like her, I have worn(and suffered in) pointe shoes, but have never actually seen the process of making them. So I thought I'd share this video so that anyone who likes ballet or is a dancer will see it.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Found on Roger Knapp's Website
It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.
Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The
funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old
newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.
"Jack, did you hear me?"
"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of
him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.
"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were
doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of
the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.
"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.
"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make
sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said.
"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this
business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me
things he thought were important...Mom, I'll be there for the funeral,"
As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his
hometown. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no
children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.
The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to
see the old house next door one more time.
Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing
over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house
was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture,
every piece of furniture....Jack stopped suddenly.
"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.
"The box is gone," he said.
"What box? " Mom asked.
"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I
must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell
me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said.
It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered
it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had
"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better
get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."
It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from
work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required
on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within
the next three days," the note read.
Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and
looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was
difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention.
"Mr. Harold Belser" it read.
Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There
inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read
the note inside.
"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack
Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped
to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack
carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold
pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing,
he unlatched the cover.
Inside he found these words engraved: "Jack, Thanks for your time!
"The thing he valued most...was...my time."
Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and
cleared his appointments for the next two days. "Why?" Janet, his
"I need some time to spend with my son," he said.
"Oh, by the way, Janet...thanks for your time!"
Thursday, August 6, 2009
"God, Grant me the courage to change the things that I can change; the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; and the wisdom to know the difference." The Serenity Prayer stresses the importance of Wisdom, but what exactly is it? Wisdom usually is associated with knowledge. However, there is much more to wisdom than just knowledge. Some other misconceptions about wisdom include: confusing wisdom with intelligence, having a college degree, having common sense, or simply having life experiences. In order to define what wisdom is, then, one should begin by defining what wisdom is not.
Is wisdom merely having intelligence? No, it is not. Many people have intelligence and yet they cannot function properly in life or they use that intelligence to do the wrong thing. Is wisdom defined as having a college degree? No. A college degree is just a tangible item showing that a person has applied his or her intelligence in a certain career field, it does not mean that person has wisdom. Is wisdom the use of common sense? No. Common sense usually implies good judgment. Good judgment can be used to describe the ability to decide between right and wrong, but it is only part of it. Is wisdom attained by experiencing life? No. Life experiences do help a person to be wise within the parameters of the given situation, but life experiences do not make a person wise.
Wise people are happy rather than hostile, no matter how life has treated them. Humans gain wisdom when questions are asked, explore, want to know how things work, and learn valuable lessons from rough experiences. Wisdom is the ability to use the best means at the best time to accomplish the best ends. Wisdom is an awareness to be sensitive to any situation or a person uninfluenced by any corruption of the past. Wisdom relates to developing an eternal perspective on life. Wisdom is looking at things with total perspective-seeing an object, event or idea from all sides.
Wise people are aware of the fact that you can only plan so much and the rest should be done when times allows. Individuals come to know that it is not only impossible to plan every moment, but that this is an ineffective way to live one’s life. Wise people also know that there must be balance in life between business and pleasure. A wise person knows that you can obtain wisdom from older generations.
As long as you have an ear to hear, you can truly be touched by some of the things in which they choose to share. Having wisdom coming from others who have experienced more is better than learning what wisdom is solo. When you’re facing a crisis and coming out with little or no scars mentally or physically ,then you know that you have reached wisdom. Wisdom is also reached when you can discern right from wrong.
Making the right decisions through life, will allow others to see what type of person is before them. Taking in information and knowing how to distribute it to others is a sign of wisdom. Having an open mind is also a sign of a wise person because every one of us can learn from others.
Wisdom is bringing all your knowledge and skills to any situation having a successful conclusion. Wisdom also knows when, and under what circumstances, the information and the knowledge are appropriate, useful, or even true. Knowing when and how to apply the knowledge you have gained. Wisdom is having the knowledge, the insight, and the good judgment to discern what is right and true and possessing the humility to realize that, no matter how much knowledge you possess, there is always more to learn. What are your thoughts on wisdom?
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
"I forgive you" It's something we say as kids, but not so much in adulthood. And as kids, we don't really mean it; somebody just makes us say it. So, what is forgiveness, and how can it impact illnesses, disease, your body and your life?
Webster's dictionary says:
To free from accusation, or the imputation of fault or blame; to clear from guilt; to release from a charge; to justify by extenuating a fault; to exculpate; to absolve; to acquit. To regard with indulgence; to view leniently or to overlook; to pardon.
The first thing that comes to my mind as I read the Webster's definition is "I don't think so."
A wave of resistance just bubbles up in my stomach, my chest and my throat and I further resolve that I'm not going to let my perpetrator off that easily! You want me to overlook what they did? Free them from blame? They hurt me, so they need to suffer. In my mind, the hurt that they caused me validates my feelings of anger, hatred, disgust, blame and more.
Here's the question: Is this what I want? Do I want to be angry? Do I like the thoughts that are going through my head? Every time I think about the incident, I feel more and more hurt and disgusted. My hate grows. What, exactly is that doing to me, physically, mentally and spiritually?
Physically, I get tense every time I think about this person or what they did. Sometimes the tenseness is there even though I'm not thinking about it. My stomach, chest and shoulders tense up, my face frowns and my head will ache.
Mentally, I am so out of focus I have a hard time reading a book, working or even doing simple tasks. I keep thinking of the hurt which just brings a flood of emotions that are uncomfortable, so to cover the emotions I try to think of something else, lose myself in TV or a book or anything that can take my mind off it for a while. My focus is gone, my memory is touch and go and I withdraw into myself.
Spiritually, we're not supposed to feel this way, so I feel distanced, separated, guilty, ashamed and maybe even mad at God, who allowed this injustice to happen to me in the first place.
And what is all this doing to my perpetrator? Nothing. That's right, nothing. He or she's sailing through life, getting promoted at work, forging new relationships, enjoying time, and not thinking an ounce about me and what he or she has done.
All my anger, bitterness, resentment and hatred has done is to hurt me.
So I have to step back for a moment. It seems that the things I'm doing to myself now are hurting me more than another person ever did. I have to ask myself if I'm seeing this for what it really is.
And the answer comes. Maybe people didn't mean to hurt me at all. They're reacting to life through their own beliefs. They are a product of their environment, beliefs, choices and results. In other words, people usually don't hurt deliberately. They may have had things happen to them in the past that have left them bitter or unable to express true kindness or love. For that, I feel pity.
I can't change other people, but I can choose to forgive them, not for their sake as much as my own. I need my control back. I need to free myself from this ugliness.
I can forgive them for being who they are. I can forgive them for feeling how they feel, and expressing their hurt and fear in a way that offended and hurt me.
By forgiving, I set them free, and in doing so I set myself free. I reacted and felt the way I did based on my own faulty programming. When I stop judging and blaming, I regain control of my thoughts, my feelings and my actions. And it feels as if a huge weight has been lifted.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
All of us want to be happy; we are in continual search for happiness each day of our lives. But so many people find the search a futile one.
Before you even work on being happy, you first must realize that happiness is a definite choice. You, and you alone, are responsible for your own happiness. Other people can't give it to you; more stuff can't give it to you; recognition and awards can't give it to you. Happiness is a do-it-yourself proposition. Life hands each of us a personalized kit with everything we need, and we put it together, one piece at a time.
Granted, it is difficult to have the mindset that "I will be happy" each day. If you think of happiness as a long path or journey that continues throughout your days on earth that you will have to consciously work on, the thought alone is draining. A different way to look at happiness is to take only one day at a time. And here are some tips on how to achieve a happier state of mind:
Stop worrying about whether you are happy or not. Observe yourself, find out what activities give you energy, joy and fulfilment, and do more of them. At the same time, reduce those activities which drain your energy, put out the light of joy, and leave you feeling worthless and depleted.
Detach yourself from the everyday cares of the world. Many people have reduced stress (a major key to achieving happiness) by doing such things as not watching the world or local news, giving up their daily newspaper, and avoiding programs with excessive violence, crime, and other happiness busters. It may seem odd or isolating to do so, but if you can weed some of these items from your daily living habits, you may see a big difference in your level of happiness.
Do something each day, if only one thing, that can bring you personal happiness. It can be something as small as stealing an hour for yourself for reading a novel, or finding time to visit a zoo for the afternoon.
Move out of Shouldville, make your own decisions, and deal with the consequences as they come. Your preferences, your emotions, your perceptions, and your needs are uniquely yours. Other people may wish to tell you what you SHOULD think, feel, or be, but they don't have to live with the results. You do.
Get out of your rut. Challenge the way you have always done things. If something isn't working for you, try something different. Get out of binary thinking (this OR that) and think of multiple approaches to the conundrums of life.
As much as possible, live in the here and now. That's where the action is. Even if the past is a nice place to visit, don't try to live there. Don't let worries about the future steal your joy today.
Keep your expectations realistic. Be flexible. If you insist on getting exactly what you imagine you want, you will be chronically disappointed.
Be ready for bumps and bruises. They are part of life. Handling them with grace and courage will build character.
Practice random acts of kindness. Try not to get caught. This is one of the best anti-depressants there is.
Share. Giving helps us feel rich. There is no poverty worse than having nothing to give.
Beware of shortcuts to bliss! That includes mind-blowing substances, get-rich-quick schemes, and any other ploy that promises instant gratification or perpetual euphoria.
Ask for help when you need it; give help when you can.
Develop both your logical side and your creative, intuitive side. Don't be afraid to dance, paint pictures, or write poems. If these activities give you pleasure, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
Commit to discipline and structure. Rigid regimentation squelches individuality and creativity, but the other extreme leaves you floating aimlessly through the day, with no sense of purpose or achievement. There is great satisfaction in making a decision and carrying it out.
If you don't know how to play, learn. Engage in "useless" activities, preferably with animals and children. Learn to laugh for no reason at all.
Look after yourself without neglecting the needs of others. Forgetting ourselves is a gateway to abundant living.
Happiness comes in many flavors. Explore your options, try different strategies, and be open to change. You have only one life to live. Make the most of it.
How to be happy? You are the only one who can create your happiness. If you are waiting for another to provide it for you, you may be waiting a long time because happiness must come from within. There are many directions you can take to get you there. Just don't let another day go buy without finding happiness for yourself.