The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Sunday, March 18, 2012


It can’t be any secret that I thoroughly appreciate and enjoy the Harry Potter series.  I didn’t expect to.  When reviews of the first book came out, I thought it was probably a simplistic book for young people, but our grandson was, at that time, just at the age when I thought he might enjoy what I thought was ‘that sort of book’, so I got a copy so as to keep up with his interests.  Even when the books became totally omnipresent, I didn’t read them, although I bought them all as they appeared.  Then the first movie came out and I became quite thoroughly hooked, even though the story was all new to me.  But not for long.  After that movie, I read all the books published up to then, which were the first four, then as soon as each book came out I grabbed it up like a kid, then insisted on watching each subsequent movie as they came along.  At one point, when the movie of the Half Blood Prince was due to appear, I re-read all the books through that one.  When The Deathly Hallows was released, and the two movies of that book appeared, I was there.  Our whole family shared my enthusiasm.  Even those who did not choose to read the books still enjoyed the films.  And here is why:  those seven books and eight films are simply superb.  They illustrate what I perceive the author to be saying:  that family and extended family and friendships are more important than anything else, and that they will sustain us through even total evil.  And further, that they do not prevent evil, that evil is there, but that it can be fought.  In other words, to me, these stories are about real life.  And full of life lessons.  And the writing is so deceptively simple, the stories so layered and imaginative, that it is easy to take it all for granted.

And of course that is exactly what the World of Hollywood has done.  Because, as Daniel Radcliffe, a/k/a our Harry, has remarked, Hollywood simply took all the amazing phenomena that is the Harry Potter World as obliviously as possible, and what recognition was received for the films, by obscure nominations, was almost a non-event.  So what we have is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an organization theoretically created to recognize creativity and art in film, which has almost completely failed to recognize one of the most incredibly creative and artistic accomplishments of the entire film industry.  An accomplishment of such rich writing, acting, directing and special effects that it presented an entire world, populated by some of the best acting talent on the planet, and encompassing an incredible eight films, with the original cast, save for Richard Harris’s death and replacement by Michael Gambon. 

And this situation simply compels me to state that the Academy, by failing to recognize properly such a unique and splendid entity that is the Harry Potter oeuvre, has sadly diminished itself.   So the Academy will straggle along with its narrow and diminishing impact, choosing, this year, a silent film of all things, charming but light, as Best Picture, while the World of Harry Potter will live on for a very long time, in books and film and hearts.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

And I still don't like Picasso

Quite often, one picks up a magazine or a newspaper or sees an article on the Net wherein some piece of art has sold for ‘millions and billions’.   Although the ordinary individual has a bit of difficulty in comprehending all that money, period, all that money for one item is simply beyond the ken of most of us. And all that money for one item that is similar to a child's scribbles is beyond belief.

As one who has had the privilege, via fine museums, to see many works of art, I can certainly understand the wonderful experience of seeing a painting or a sculpture or a photograph or a drawing that immediately draws one to it, that passes my personal test:  would I want to see it every single day if it were in my home?  For instance, about fifteen or twenty years ago one of our fine local museums had an exhibit of Monet.  Impressionism is a school of art that I am drawn to, and Monet is a particularly fine artist of that school.  And there were many Monets in the exhibit, room after room after room.  I managed to go to that exhibit about four times, one more time than the rest of my family.  And I applied my ‘every-day test’ and there were, I think, about four, perhaps five of the paintings that passed it.  Some of them (and this is getting into ‘she’s got a nerve’ territory) I did not care for.  It seems that Monet does not, in my opinion, capture sunlight on the sea very well at all.  Oh, well, nobody’s perfect.

And there are so many other artists I’ve encountered who pass my test:  Van Gogh (some – definitely Starry Night), Manet, Cezanne, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassan, oh, and speaking of an artist who can capture light on the sea, Winslow Homer.  I’ve even appreciated an Andy Warhol or two.  How about Grandma Moses?  (But absolutely not Thomas Kinkead.)

So it is very curious to me when I see artists such as Hirst or Twombley or David Hockney so highly regarded.  So highly paid for.  Oh, and those artists who take a canvas and paint it white and call it ‘White on White.’

But the single thing that will forever mark me as an art-illiterate, lacking ‘true’ sophistication, is that, most of all, I prefer a painting’s subject’s eyes and/or mouth and/or body in the traditional places, and I just cannot like Picasso.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Being a gardener and intense flower lover (hence the ‘Flowers’ part of this blog title), I notice plantings everywhere we go.  Just riding down the streets, headed to buy groceries, since I’m not usually driving, I look at the front areas of each house.   I see the flowering trees.  I see the beautifully potted blooming plants that flank some doorways.  I see carefully tended lawns and carefully pruned hedges.  I see interesting arrangements of plants that would not have occurred to me and that I both appreciate and envy.

But then I see the others, too.  The lawns full of unmowed weeds.  The completely barren fronts with not even one little shrub to soften the transition between ground and house, or maybe only one sad survivor.  And I wonder if perhaps the insides of those houses with the barren front areas and even the lives of those who live there are as spare and bare and empty-seeming as the outsides.  Our choices not only reflect who we are, but also whatever we are dealing with at any given time, small children, busy schedules, illness, so we must spare concern for the barren front gardens.

You can be fools, as we are, and work as we have done for the last two days, to finish out our mailbox planting, encountering unexpected roots and rocks and working far harder than we intended, in order to plant a hawthorn which has flourished in a pot for the last three years while we figured out where to put it, and which now looks as if it is about to bloom.  Or if you can, you may put just a pot of something evergreen such as boxwood or even something as tough as ligustrum near the door, if you want to pass up blooming plants. 

But the appreciation we have is inexpressible for those who plant the shrubs and flowering trees, who mow their lawns and water their plantings in drought, or who at the very least place a pot or two of geraniums or ivy by their doorway in welcome.  They do it for the strangers who drive by as well as for themselves.  And I hope that the lives of those who make these gestures, not solely for themselves but for unknown folks such as we, are as enriched inside their homes, as we are, just passing by.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


When is an apology not an apology?  In Rush Limbaugh's case, it is when the 'apology' is first framed as a futile attempt at 'humor', and then when a second 'apology' is prompted by both public outcry and loss of sponsors.  So the conclusion has to be that Limbaugh did not have the courage of his convictions, initially, in which which case why is he even on the air?  And since he was persuaded to 'apologize', by himself or others, for the most obvious reason of loss of sponsorship, the question still occurs:  why is he on the air?  And after using some of the most disturbing and objectionable language, directed toward a specific individual, that has ever been aired on radio, why ... is ... he ... on ... the ... air?

Friday, March 2, 2012


Playing out across our national stage are perfect and interesting illustrations of the definition of the word ‘different.’  For instance, we have a veritable array of political candidates, religious representatives, commentators and anyone else who can inject their opinions into the fray, all of whom are indignant at the sacrilegious idea that a business operated by a religious institution must provide health care for their employees that includes coverage for birth control, if the employee wishes it.  These folks do not see birth control as an element of women’s health, they see it as a sacrilege.  But the women employees involved may have a different viewpoint.  They, and lots of others, may see the refusal of these people to allow access to birth control as an effort to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else.  You see, it can work both ways.  And there are those of us who are amazed that there was never any such furor about products such as Viagra being offered for men.  So it’s okay for men to have sexual enhancements covered by insurance, but not for women to choose what happens to them.  No, this seems to be a religion versus women situation, being turned for political reasons into a healthcare/President versus religion situation.  But I suspect that regardless of the rhetoric, women fully realize what it is really all about.  Women know the difference between their bodies and those of others.  Between their religion and that of others.

And now we have an illustrious radio commentator weighing in on the situation, against a young law student.  And here the differences in this argument become even clearer.  The radio commentator, whom I can only describe as a truly nasty old man, has actually verbally attacked this young law student for standing up for her beliefs and concerns, not only for herself but for all other women who would be affected by removing birth control benefits from the new health insurance programs.  Here we have a young, intelligent, articulate, educated woman giving testimony about the economic burden of obtaining birth control, for married and single women, and being attacked vilely for doing so, by a commentator who claims to be conservative, but apparently has no values.  It is obvious that this commentator does not care about women, about decency, about anything except promoting himself and what increasingly appears to be his twisted and vulgar viewpoint.  And here again, the difference is clear.  And women know the difference between what is right and what are the ravings of a dirty old man.