December 2008


Bong! Big Ben still rings out 150 years on – Times Online
As we ring out the old year and ring in the new year here in DC, I remembered that it’s already next year somewhere else. I can’t imagine a better place to do that than in London to the chimes of Big Ben. I had no idea that the clock is still hand wound — take that digital technology! So it’s not the most precise instrument (head to Greenwich for truly precise time keeping). I’m chronically 5 minutes late in my life so I can forgive a clock a few minutes here or there.

2009 seems likely to be a strange year for me personally (I’ll be 50 in August) but I truly hope it will be better for everyone. Looking forward to a new (better?) president, some kind of better economic upturn, and a little more peace anywhere.

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Karolyn Grimes

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Child star Grimes’ Wonderful Life

Click the above link to a very interesting interview with Karolyn Grimes. She played Zuzu in the holiday classic film It’s a Wonderful Life.

Here’s a quote from the intro:

Grimes was Bailey’s six-year-old daughter Zuzu and uttered the now immortal closing line: “Teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”

Her Hollywood career was brought to an end in her early teens with the death of her parents, which led to her being sent away to live with her “mean” aunt.

She became a medical technician but experienced more tragedy with the death of several close family members, including the suicide of her son.

But since being “rediscovered” by a journalist in the 1980s, she has travelled the world as an unofficial ambassador for It’s A Wonderful Life – a film, she has since discovered, that has brought comfort to many a person, including herself.

I love this film and never tire of it. It’s one of the finest Christmas films but not because it takes place at Christmas. It’s about the good in everyone and the potential of every human life. However, it didn’t shy away from showing the meanness in people, too.

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National Portrait Gallery | Face to Face blog

I admit I’m not in the loop at work. I go in, do my job, I go home. I tend to ignore the other stuff. As a result I miss things, too. This is one thing I missed. The National Portrait Gallery has a blog called Face to Face which updates the public on events. It’s a pretty good blog, too.

Today, there was a truly special event – the unveiling of the portraits of the president and first lady. It’s the first time that a sitting president has had a portrait added to the collection for permanent display. I’m not going to comment on the portraits themselves since that’s not the focus of this entry. Draw your own conclusions. ‘Nuf said.

Anyway, check out the Face to Face blog. That’s the good thing for today.

I was hard pressed to find something good today and feel lucky that I stumbled upon this so late in the day. Whew.

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Whenever I need a lift, I’m sure to wander over to icanhascheezburger for some fun with LOL cats. How can you resist them?

Dress ur cat in gay apparel

Dress ur cat in gay apparel

This picture illustrates exactly why I don’t dress up Sumi for the holidays. I’m certain she would kill me in my sleep as punishment.

Like Charlie Brown, Christmas depresses me on the whole. Perhaps because the build-up is so long and disappointment is practically guaranteed by the time the day arrives.

I confessed this sentiment last year and I still stand by it. I’m trying to get better – really. These days I’m sorely tempted to blog all depressing stuff but I really shouldn’t. We know everything is going to crap these days but I don’t need to rub anyone’s face in it. Instead, I’m going to try to find some funny stuff (although not necessarily Christmas stuff) and hope it makes you chuckle. Here’s my effort for today (the article title alone is great):

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Ginkgo-Lined D.C., Capital of the U.S., and Now P.U.

The bouquet of a ginkgo tree’s fruit has strong notes of unwashed feet and Diaper Genie, with noticeable hints of spoiled butter.

For the District government this winter, it is the smell of defeat.

This year, arborists working for the city tried a new solution for the stinky fruit, which has plagued residents for decades. They injected more than 1,000 ginkgo biloba trees with a chemical to stop them from producing the fruit.

Whoops.

The chemical didn’t work, for reasons that scientists still don’t understand. Now, instead of less ginkgo stink, Washington has its worst case in years — a bumper crop of nastiness that is studding sidewalks and sliming dress shoes from Capitol Hill to Kalorama.

“Uuuuugh. Uuuuugh,” said Christine Lombardi, working the front desk of the Hotel George near Union Station. Out front, a ginkgo had been dropping berries for days. “It’s just awful because people step on it outside, and then they bring it inside the hotel, and people think somebody got sick.”

I always knew that Washington stinks but I had no idea I should be blaming the ginkgo. Go figure.

Exhibition Review – ‘One Life – The Mask of Lincoln’ – The Faces of Lincoln, as Revealed in Books and a New Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery – NYTimes.com

It’s been a while since I shamelessly plugged anything but I couldn’t resist today. This is a wonderfully positive review that mentions the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition called ONE LIFE: The Mask of Lincoln. It’s a small show but packed with great images of the man. 2009 is the year of Lincoln celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth so there is Lincoln stuff all over the country. Here is a quote from the article:

Two white plaster masks appear next to each other in a display case at the National Portrait Gallery here. One shows a middle-aged face with a firm, grim look — perhaps because the subject had to control his breathing as the sculptor waited for the substance to harden. The plaster eyes are scooped out, but you can glimpse the interior man in the subtle musculature of the jaw, the high cheekbones, the expansive, smooth brow. He is determined, vigorous and (we know) ambitious.

The other mask is of the same man’s face, about five years later. It seems more of a death mask than one taken from life. Those years — between 1860, when this man, Abraham Lincoln, was beginning his campaign for president of the United States, and February 1865, when he was just two months away from being murdered — seem to have carved the flesh from his cheeks, hollowed out the eye sockets more decisively than any sculptor’s thumb, and dug lines and pockets in aging, sallow flesh.

This modest exhibition of 30 images of Lincoln at the Portrait Gallery — “One Life: The Mask of Lincoln” — may turn out to be an understated highlight of Lincoln’s coming bicentennial year, which promises a full harvest of academic conferences, exhibitions, the reopening of Ford’s Theater and scores of new books, many offering revelations from freshly plumbed archives and analyses of figures major and minor. But the juxtaposition of these masks may remain one of the most potent, graphic images of the effects of the crucial years they frame.

If you are in DC (possibly to see the newly re-opened National Museum of American History), please visit the National Portrait Gallery and take in this lovely exhibition.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. Real life caught up with me and took over. “What happened to November?” I said myself last week.

I wanted to write something about the fact there are no acorns in our area this year (really weird and worrisome) but it’s December 1 and that means World AIDS Day. please visit Light to Unite 2008 to light a candle — Bristol-Meyers Squibb will donate $1 to The National AIDS Fund for each lit candle (it’s free).