September 19, 2010
What I (re)learned on my summer vacation
Two weeks off! Although I did some work this past two weeks, mostly my head was elsewhere, in the waves, in the clouds. Still, a few life lessons wiggled their way through.
At this age, I’d rather forget my birthday but I sure appreciate my friends who don’t. Thank you so much to everyone who sent cards, Jaquie Lawson’s beauties, and best wishes. And humor. Kathy’s birthday greeting was a belly laugh gut buster: “Another birthday....another year closer to driving a gigantic car real slow with your little, gray head peering over the dashboard”. Too funny.
I am so glad I have friends who remember me.
Michael Bublé should have started and stopped with Feeling Good. This song is the best, and only good thing, Bublé has done in my book. For anyone who thinks Bublé wrote the song, or that it’s new, “Feelin’ Good” was written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1964 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd. It’s been covered by everyone from Sammy Davis, Jr. and Frank Sinatra to sixties folkie Judy Henske to George Michael and David Hasselhoff, who, I am certain, sang impeccably.
The video, with it’s 1960s James-Bond-meets-The-Avengers à Gogo style, was inspired. See it here. It inspired me, anyway, to name my birthday present — my new 2007 VW GTI — “Emma Peel.” The car is sleek, slim, black-clad, and fearless, just like her. Driving this pocket rocket, I will not, thankfully, be fulfilling Kathy’s birthday prophesy. (More about the car some other week.)
The Internet is a stupendous invention. Jazz, in the form of streaming audio, is almost always on here in our office. West coast radio programmers must be as enamored with samba and bossa nova as we are, as so many great tunes are played.
Teaming with guitarist Charlie Byrd, Stan Getz made this sultry form of music popular in the U.S. in 1962 with his Grammy-winning album “Jazz Samba” and the hits Samba de Uma Nota Só ("One Note Samba"), and Desafinado, both composed by Antonio Carlos (“Tom”) Jobim. João and Astrud Gilberto followed in 1964 with The Girl from Ipanema and Corcovado (“Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”).
Jobim’s songs with lyrics in Portuguese populate the airwaves today. Águas de Março ("Waters of March") has been recorded by gillions of artists, from Sergio Mendes to Art Garfunkel to the Talking Heads’ David Bryne. For contemporary English renditions, I like Jane Monheit’s.
According to Wikipedia, Portuguese is the 5th most spoken language in the world, the most widely spoken in the southern hemisphere, and the third most spoken in the Western world. Portuguese is also the fourth most learned language in the world.
Which made me wonder: Can you learn Portuguese on-line? Yes, you can. Isn’t that amazing?
We can agree to disagree, and laugh about it. My cousin Sue was born one year and one day before me. A fact we didn’t discover until three years ago (our families weren’t close for decades). To celebrate, Bill and I enjoyed a late afternoon repast on Friday, September 10 with Sue and her husband Ed at Pickle Bill’s in Grand River.
We two couples could not be more politically opposite if we tried. It’s like we live in two different countries. Or two different planets in two different solar systems. We definitely speak two different political languages:
Throughout this slightly heated discussion, we laughed — we laughed a lot — and agreed that we’ll never agree on these issues. When we four left the restaurant, we kissed, we hugged. We love each other. We’re family and we’ll get together again I’m sure.
My mother was indeed a pistol. One of Sue’s favorite childhood memories was my mother giving her a pair of silk stockings (later called “nylons” for you younger women) as an 11-year-old on Christmas Eve in 1957. She had begged her mother for a pair, but was told she was too young.
Our moms did not get along. Not one bit. Imagine her mother’s chagrin when Sue opened her present. Imagine how my mother must have gloated, inside. She was too much of a lady to gloat so others could see.
Unless these two adversaries were really in cahoots? Sue and I will never know.
Summer vacation was made for mysteries. Bill, who has decided he needs a third week of vacation to coincide with the second week of my two, has been spending his time reading James Lee Burke’s newest, one of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins thrillers, and is now on Tana French’s latest, Faithful Place.
I, too, read Burke’s Rain Gods (his best yet); Elizabeth Brundage’s A Stranger Like You which Publisher’s Weekly called an “intense, provocative thriller," which it is; and worked my way through Six Suspects by Slumdog Millionaire author Vikas Swarup. And also Mockingjay, the final installment of Suzanne Collins’ teen-targeted The Hunger Games trilogy which is more post-apocaplyse sci-fi than who-done-it.
Reading a juicy chiller until 2 a.m., with only a single lamp to light the page. Windows open, darkness surrounding, cat by my side. A simple, solitary pleasure.