Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh, Say Can You -- ?

Time for a new anthem. Seriously.

Every time the Canadians stood on medal podiums watching the flag of their home and native land hoisted to the rafters or to the top of the poles, they sang out, joyously, as did all the Canadians who watched them up close and personal. Maybe even non-Canadians.  For by now, after two weeks of the Canadians gobbling more gold medals than any other country, most of us know the lyrics of their catchy national song.

Unlike, say, our own.

Although our athletes stood, hands over their hearts, not one of them -- not one -- managed even the minutest -- "and the land of the free-e-e-e-e-e and the home of the brave-e-e-e-e-e." Their lips didn't even move. (The irrepressible Shaun White did play a little air guitar, though. I'll give him that.)

Now, possibly our athletes cannot sing our national anthem because they were instructed not to, lest their mangling of the words on global television would put the kibosh on lucrative sponsorship deals. Or, possibly, most of them are so used to hearing the thing rendered by pop divas intent on stretching the boundaries of melody beyond all recognition that they do not know the tune.  Or, maybe it is because they generally hear it played before ballgames when the last lines are stomped out by cheers and whistles and applause, not to mention shouts of "Play Ball." 

But personally I am of the opinion that they do not know the words. Period.

It is a nightmare of a song, after all.*  Both lyrically and melodically (it spans an octave an a half). And it is time for a change.

Must our anthem, in this day and age, be about red-glaring rockets, bursting bombs and perilous fights? About the War of 1812? And Fort McHenry?  Really? Why not the capture of Major Andre at Fort Saint-Jean?  Why not the Alamo?  Oh. Wait.

True, when the tattered flag that flew near Ground Zero on 9-11 was walked into Yankee Stadium during the 2001 World Series, the lines "that our flag was still there" never seemed more poignant or heartfelt.

(I don't think the flag pictured above is the flag that yet waved when the towers came down. Haven't located the one I'm looking for yet.)

 Anyway, this is not about the flag itself.  It is about the anthem, a song that cannot be sung, with lyrics that cannot be remembered.

Canadians seem to have no problem with O, Canada, though.  The melody is catchy. The lyrics are patriotic and applaud the nation's strength and beauty:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Compare and contrast:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Both anthems have several additional verses. This is one of the extra verses of O Canada:

O Canada! where pines and maples grow,
Great prairies spread, and lordly rivers flow.
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western sea.
The land of hope for all who toil,
The True North strong and free!

Sound somewhat familiar?  Compare and contrast with America the Beautiful:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

           O, Canada did not become the Canadian anthem until 1980, although it had been kicking around a long time before that.  Similarly, until the Star Spangled Banner was made the national anthem by a resolution of Congress in 1931, we made do with other ditties, ranging from Hail, Columbia to My Country 'Tis of Thee, a direct rip-off of God Save the Queen/King.  The Star Spangled Banner melody is derived from a British army drinking song.
      Let's get original.  Okay, so certain segments of our population probably will not go for New York, New York or even This Land Is Your Land. But our national anthem can and should be changed.
     We've done it before, America.  The Beautiful.
      Let's give our athletes a real song to sing.

* Holy Frozen Siberian Tundra. They just played Russia's at the Closing Ceremonies. Far worse. As deadly dirges evoking humorless columns of gray, goose-stepping armies go. Quick, someone clue them to Tchaikovsky.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Two Feet of Snow!

Since I may have jumped the gun a little with my Here Comes the Sun entry, here's a bit of a giggle for everyone.

(From my RL friend, Jo.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Here Comes the Sun

     Five o'clock and the sun is still out!

   Doing backflips here. Well, you know, figurative backflips.
Even if it is already over the yardarm! 

Arrr, mateys. * 

And yar. **

*Pirate talk.
**Vessel that's "easy to handle, quick to the helm, fast, right. Everything a boat should be, until she develops dry rot." Philadelphia Story (Screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart, from the play by Philip Barry.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Resuscitating Supergirl

    Those of you who know me in RL know I've got a little mileage. I've done this, I've done that, I've bought lots and lots of T-shirts.

      Not that I'm a dilletante; I stuck at those endeavors for many years, sometimes satisfyingly so. The first T-shirt I acquired was Girl Reporter.
Superman got the snazzy red cape and kickin' crimson knee-high boots.  Lois Lane got the mousy gray suit.
(As it turned out, I would wear many, many gray suits with regard to the next T-shirt plucked from the Careers 'r' Us box.  Not going there today.  Let's just say it wasn't The Practice or Ally McBeal or ABC's newest entry, The Deep End.  Although some aspects of The Deep End are close. But, as usual, I digress.)
           Never did wear a mousy gray suit as Girl Reporter. Sometimes just the opposite. People tend to tell you things they might not otherwise impart if they're looking down the front of your shirt.
      I bought into Girl Reporter hook, line and sinker. My parents were ink-stained and silver-halide exposed wretches, so it seemed the natural thing to do. I'd learned early in life that a press pass could get you into interesting events for free. Sometimes even a good parking space. Also, I liked to write. Also, I was good at it.
      Sometimes we need reminding of those things we like and those things we're good at, especially if those things begin to become just a job (as Girl Reporter World eventually became for me) or, worse yet, a chore (if somehow a tornado uproots your house and sets it down on the set of The Practice, where you find yourself slogging through briefs and motions that suck all the juice out of your marrow). Oh. Wait.  I'm digressing again. And depressing, too.
      But newspapers are dying. Killed by the combined kryptonite of Cable, TV, the internet, lack of advertisers and production costs.
So I asked a friend who's still toiling with pad and pen to see if she could scrounge up any of my old stories or columns before all goes the way of the dodo.

       I was shocked, SHOCKED! that a couple of hundred are still floating around the archival ether. And when she sent me a few of those, I was shocked, SHOCKED! to discover: Damn, once upon a time, I really knew how to write. With style. And flair. And occasionally even substance.
      Have to learn to get back to that. No kidding.    

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


      Usually, I like watching other people run around (bases, preferably) as much as the next person, and often the Olympics captures my attention, if not my imagination.
       Not this year.
       The "O" in Olympics stands for "yawn."

      The goal may be just as golden as in the past, but the story's not remotely riveting. No compelling characters to care about. The Chinese pairs skaters were a lovely touch for Valentine's Day, but that's over. The Americans on the slopes, apparently always trying to redeem their goofball behavior from prior games, have wimpered away. Except for Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso. Props to them. (The tiara was a nice touch there, Julia.) And to Shaun White.  Gotta love someone known as the "Flying Tomato," who does stunts called the "Double McTwist."
      But so far there's been no conniving, no conflict, no doping, no bizzarro judging or figure skaters trying to kneecap each other. No Miracle on Ice. (Team USA beat Team Russia 13-0 in hockey.)

      [2-19-09 Update: O, controversy!  Can always rely on figure skating for that!]

     If these Olympics were a book, I'd have smashed it into the wall already.

But all is not lost. Pitchers and catchers are working on their tans.
And spring cannot be far behind.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

A sweet little present.

The basis for all.

Since Ms. Rosavin has an issue with Keira, here's Colin.

(It's all about Darcy, anyway. And, of course, a Regency heroine with great wit and intelligence and fine gray eyes.)
Miss Jane, without whom, none.
Never have been crazy about these two, but they sure take some mean pictures!

A little Heathcliff and Cathy.

And Rick and Ilsa.
Okay, so there's no happy ending for them, either. But still. Rick leaves Ilsa with the most noble speech of all time. (With the possible exception of Sydney Carton's gallows speech.)
"If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."
Hey, it beats getting dumped by Post-it note.

Besides, they'll always have Paris.

Like Jake Barnes and Lady Brett.

And a kiss is still a kiss.

        No matter what world you're on.

Here's looking at you, kids.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Robert's Rules of Order

     Since I am not going to tattoo this on my forehead, or anywhere else on my person, I thought I'd slap it here.  Not sure I'll ever abide by "3" or even "5."  But still.

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

~ Robert A. Heinlein, On Writing Speculative Fiction, 1947

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Purge

     No, this is not about an episode of Lost.
It's about what happened here. In a fit of frustrated pique, I took down the former blog site, posts, comments and all.    
     Gone, baby, gone.

     (Thanks for the phrase, Dennis Lehane. I use it often. Not exactly sprinkled in like croutons or bacon bits. More like a lone slice of pickled ginger. Or a kick of wasabi.)
    Somewhere lost to the ether are all the pixilated pixels, pretty colors and gorgeous pictures of blackberries, a pat of butter, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Twitter bird, chocolate truffles, manuscript pages flapping into the Monongahela in a scene from Wonder Boys, Julia Child holding a big fish, Poseidon rising from the sea, Romeo climbing Juliet's balcony, John and Abigail Adams, and Rip Van Winkle snoozing beneath a spreading chestnut tree. (Well, I don't actually know that it was a chestnut tree, but let's just say. Less flat. More filling.)
     Regrets few.  Though I did like all those pretty pictures. And some of the posts. And all of the comments. And do not really wish to spend the time recreating the blog from scratch.
     Sometimes it's better when you start from the beginning. If you can only figure out where that is.