Monday, May 25, 2009

I'll Give You 12 Camels for Your Wife

I'm reading Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad. I can see your heads going back and forth asking "is she crazy?" But let me tell ya, his descriptions of London, Paris, Italy, Morocco, Turkey etc, could still be used in guide books today. There is one section that had me laughing out loud. My husband came up to the library to see what I was laughing about. Mark Twain and his "group" had discerned that guides get "off" on making Americans oooh and aaahh. So, he and his buddies deliberately try not to show any enthusiasm. When the unsuspecting Genoan guide shows them something written by Christopher Columbus, they ask, "who is that?" And "why is he so important?" And, "is he still alive?" "No". Then, "how did he die?" "Measles?" "Are his parents still alive?" Keep in mind, The Innocents Abroad  was written in 1867. Columbus? 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue...They had the poor guide so flummoxed, he kept trying harder and harder to get them to squeal in ecstasy. And they called every guide, every guide no matter where they were, Ferguson. Maybe this is where the term "ugly American" began. I'm enjoying the book tremendously. He brings up many topics that I, as a traveler, have pondered. For example, all throughout Europe, Northern Africa and the British Isles one can see magnificent, towering cathedrals and castles and fortresses that are gilded with gold and silver with swords and crowns glittering with precious stones. But I, as did Twain, question how could the "powers that be" that had these churches etc built, gild the churches etc while their parishioners were living in abject poverty (and in many cases, still do)? And, they themselves living an elite life? Just something to ponder.  Read about my travels to Tahiti and Istanbul...

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Proms

I was listening to the radio (oh, she must be one of those right wingers, if she's listening TO THE RADIO), and one of the talk show hosts mentioned that a young man in Ohio was prohibited from attending his high school graduation because he attended a prom DANCE at another school. You see, he goes to a Christian school that has asked all of its students to forgo dancing. Look. I'm not going to make too much of that part. What it did, though, was bring up memories of proms and my experiences compared to that of my husband. You see, I'm German and Czech and from South Texas  and my husband is I-talian and from New York City. NEW YORK CITY? Now, that's a combo plan, wouldn't you say? Let's talk about proms in south Texas in the 1960's. Or, specifically mine in 1969. In my hometown, while in HS, you actually attended two proms. The juniors "hosted" the prom for the seniors (so, I was a junior in 1969) and then my own, as a senior (again, hosted by the juniors.) The year I was a junior, I remember the theme was Gone With the Wind. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. How politically incorrect is that? And looking back, how politically incorrect was that? But, it was 1969. It was also the time of the hairpiece. Not for men. For women. You took this false piece of hair to your stylist and they "styled" it for you. I had long hair and we tied it up in a knot and the stylist had made this hairpiece into lovely, cascading curls. Since we were in the land of Tara, I had it done "southern belle style". It cascaded half way down my back. At about 2am, it was cascading out the window of my boyfriend's car. But, let's progress. Proms in the 1960's in rural Texas.  Read more...

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Inquisition, The Inquisition....Torture Museums London and Tuscany

sings Mel Brooks as a monk in History of the World Part One. Only Mel Brooks, with his inimitable style and schtick, can make fun of so tragic a time. In today's world and politics, torture and the possible use thereof, is taken very seriously. Witness Fox's Shepard Smith's Shepard Smith rant on the US and our possible use of torture (water boarding specifically). If you haven't seen it, here's the link. Caution, funny Mr. Shep uses a few choice expletives to make his point:  (Update...1/28/14...the link is still active).

This rant led me to remember two places in the world where I've been that had (has) torture museums...Read more...