Thursday, April 22, 2010

Betty and the Real World

A Kiss For Julie is chock-a-block with windows on the real world. Away we go:
  • Julie is trotted through hospital corridors in Holland in the manner of the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. My favorite rendering of that story (which was never very magical for me--even as a child) is when the closing lines are read by Greer Garson in the role of Mrs. Miniver (movie of the same name) as she reads to her young children in a bomb shelter during WWII--Shakespeare's 'sceptered isle' recreated in miniature: Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.
  • In Holland, Julie walks past St. Pieterskerk and the "Persijnhofje--an almshouse founded by an ancestor of President Franklin Roosevelt..." I can't find a picture of it but I'm interested when English-speaking authors from other-countries-not-my-own do this. Essie Summers (who actually adores Americans) brings up American touchstones all the time. I think it is interesting to note who rates a mention...I know the breadth of my own history but who filters into the world at large? For instance, could I drop James Garfield's name and hope to be understood?
  • When they visit Brighton (I can't barely bring myself to write it!) they tour The Royal Pavilion. During WWI it was used as a military hospital for Indian Corps troops wounded on the Western Front. Between December 1914 and January 1916, over 4000 Indian men were treated there, with only 32 deaths. Maybe they had some iron-willed, starched-up Men's Medical Nursing Sisters to pull them through.
  • The professor enjoys a spot of whisky at the end of the day. I have always spelled it "whiskEy" instead of just "whisky". I came across an online definition that said that the latter spelling was common to Canada and Scotland. Whiskey played an important part in the early history of the United States, especially during the so-called Whiskey Rebellin of 1794. Farmers in western Pennsylvania refused to pay an unpopular tax on whiskey and attacked federal officers who tried to collect it. After the home of the local tax inspector was burned by a group of 500 armed rebels, President George Washington sent in 13,000 troops to stop the uprising. The rebellion ended without bloodshed, and the power of the federal government was firmly established. Many whiskeymakers moved farther west, into what was then Indian territory, to escape federal authority. They settled in southern Indiana and Kentucky, areas that are still famous for whiskey.
Conclusion: That extra 'e' is a freedom e.

Two Weeks to Remember's episodic nature works in favor of a Betty's Real World:
  • One of those nifty tourist destinations in Norway is Grieg's house. Grieg...hmmm...I'm not familiar enough to comment on the music so I'll just mention the fun stuff from his wiki page: Edvard Grieg died in the autumn of 1907, aged 64, after a long period of illness. His final words were "Well, if it must be so." The funeral drew between 30,000 and 40,000 people out on the streets of his home town to honor him. His and his wife's ashes are entombed in a mountain crypt near his house. A mountain crypt. How very LOTR of him.
  • While in Norway they get Charity to play Scrabble with the Norwegian. For that language W=8pts and C=10 pts. In English J+X= 8pts and Q+Z= 10 pts. Here are the letter breakdowns. I am rotten at Scrabble based on my lack of good Jumble DNA and my easy-going nature. Betty Debbie has the eye of the tiger. (FYI, Esperanto Scrabble exists but only as an internet game. Rats!)
  • Vigeland park sculptures. Charity visits them twice so they must really be something, right? Weeeeeelll...One installation is described as the likenesses of children at play. In the centre, mounted on a granite column, is the representation of a fetus. (I had to google it after that--happily it looks like a child in the fetal position balanced on his head.) I dunno. Maybe it really is awesome but whenever I see that many (212) sculptures in one place by the same guy I gather that I ought to be as impressed at the method of production as the artistic merits.

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