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Archive for February, 2014

Guest Blog by Sally Logan – February 27, 2014

SHANGHAI:  THE DRAGON RISES

 

Shanghai is the largest port in the world by tonnage; 2000 ships pass thru the mouth of the Yangtze River,each day,as it meets the Huangpu River, thru Shanghai.  Shanghai is also the financial capital of China.

I didn’t have time to go.  I had invited an old friend of family to travel with me on this first trip to Shanghai, won in a charity bidding contest.  Family health issues came up along with a half million dollar deal that was to close toward the end of the trip.  But I had to go, due to the old friend’s disappointment and my own need to simply be away to get ready for the long recovery and rehabilitation from surgery for my husband that would take place almost immediately on my return.

The 15 hour trip over was uneventful and I was so tired, that I was able to sleep almost all the way over.  A direct flight from LA to Shanghai was the best way to go.

Our first experience and the most negative was the taxi driver who took us from the Megleve (Levitation Train) to our hotel.  IN the end he had tried to charge us 320 Yuan and the Chinese bellmen who met us at the entrance were quick to look it up and tell the driver and us that the charge should only be 36 Yuan!!

Our room at the Grand Hyatt on the Pudong side of the river was fabulous with two beds facing out to the center of a pie shaped room with a floor to ceiling view of the Pearl Tower and the Huangpu River that runs thru the city on its way to the Yangtze River.  We had a hot pot for water and tea or coffee in the morning and lovely Chinese vases as well as traditional cup and saucer with spoon for our morning ritual.  A marble tub and shower were reminders of Ritz Carlton’s that I had stayed in many times and a desk and other seating; a lovely and comfortable room.

Really though, Shanghai is the new and modern China.  You will find as we did, that you cannot almost find ‘old China’ anywhere in Shanghai.  We visited the Shanghai Museum on the first day out and this was a good showing of the history of China, from its antiquities to the political thoughts that have developed into today’s system.  Although very nicely done, it has been said that when Chiang Kai- shek established Taiwan, most of the best and most beautiful jade and other artifacts were taken to Taiwan from Shanghai.  Taiwan is said to have the best jade exhibit in world today, as a result.  Still the Shanghai Museum has much to offer including some traveling exhibits of European impressionists and other exhibits of the first mapping of the interior of China by a European.

As we walked through every part of the city, we saw Zhou Enlai’s, house and car.  Zhou Enlai is a name I remember, that still echoes in my head from the many mentions on news reports on his movements, during his time as one of the leaders in China.His house and car were very Spartan.   Also, the venue that housed the artifacts and photos of the very first communist party meeting was interesting.  Then on a boat trip up the river to the mouth of the Yangtze, we were encouraged to visit the Urban Planning Museum.  What?  This did not sound inviting or culturally relevant, but of course, after we were inside, we viewed many exhibits that showed the planning and history of Shanghai and likely much of this work was done for the World Expo hosted in 2010 by Shanghai.

We were taken by an exhibit of a local artist, who had been drawing since 1949, to portray street life in Shanghai and his drawings and his notes on each scene were an extraordinary view of life right after WWII thru current times of the life in Shanghai.  Mr. He is an archeologist of a different kind as he tells of the daily life in Shanghai from shortly after the war.

We took the Megleve (Levitation Train) travelling at 349 MPH from the airport to a station close to our hotel; we ate the XLB which were little dumplings with hand done crimps and a spot of hot soup waiting inside for you to taste as you took your first little bite of these tasty dumplings; served not in a soup, but in a bamboo steamer.  Every night we tried a different restaurant and different kind of food.  We walked for about 8 hours each day.  We tried to get some tailored clothes made, but the place recommended in our guide books just didn’t seem right, so we passed on this as a possibly ‘old china’ process that was losing its cache and its usefulness.

The last day, we made our way over to the Ritz Carlton, Shanghai to have a drink and see the view.  As we stepped from the elevator, there was the gift shop and most Ritz Carlton’s do have nice gift shoppes.  I bought two small opera clutches; lovely and good prices and while modern they had the essence of ‘old china’ woven into them.  Then we made our way to the restaurant and they were serving ‘High Tea’ from 2:00 -5:00 PM, so of course this is what we did for the next several hours!  As we surveyed what we had come for; we noted that our education into China’s modern thrust was evident, but we had seen some of its history and managed to collect a few things, like small tea cups on one street of old shops, and a couple of Chinese pens in the museum shoppe of the Shanghai Museum, as well as a couple of items that would let us review and remember the Mr. He of the drawings of street Shanghai from the Urban Planning Museum.

We also did make time to visit the Waldorf Astoria and have lunch and drinks at the long bar of the old and famous ‘Shanghai Club’, where luminaries, artists and celebrities sat to sip and locals were forbidden to enter in its heyday.

While you will not find the ‘old china’ of your dreams with beautiful craftsmanship and fantastic pieces of cloisonné from the past; you will find a people ready to serve you; kind and generous for the most part and schooled in Western ways, but still anxious to tell you their great history of a culture centuries old, just now beginning to show that it can rise like a Phoenix from ashes, but transform itself into the mighty dragon as it becomes a world power, both politically and economically.  China, this is no ‘paper dragon’!

 

By Sally Logan

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Mondays with Melitas – February 24, 2014

GETTING BACK WITH TAMMY’S PACK

 

I’ve been  out of school for so long that I have become a nervous

wreck thinking about  getting ready for class tomorrow.  Have to decide, first what ensemble to dig up out of the mothballs.  It will be an old, tired one because I haven’t been out to Macy’s for 3 or 4 years, and that was quite a shopping trek with Tammy along.  She and the Warden had me modeling  very high platform shoes to “tall” me up a few inches, and in the lingerie department they had me holding up these fancy bra’s  — right there in the middle of the store for all to see – not in a dressing room.  But they didn’t have me remove my outer garments, thank goodness.

Then I have to get my pens and equipment all lined up, and maybe break out a fresh wire-bound note book.  Won’t have time to stop at Staples for some smart, fresh-looking supplies.

Just got to take extras.  The ink in the pen may give out in the middle of class, and I’d be all embarrassed.  Also, remember some extra hearing aid batteries  — in fact, take the old set of ears along just in case.  Be sure to remember the checkbook.  And that’s when my face would be crimson if the ink in the one pen I brought with no back-ups suddenly dried up.  How  could Tammy ever possibly think of finally graduating me?  Well, if she did, I would imagine she was just finally getting rid of me because I give her conniption fits every weekend when I am so late getting my blog material to her.  And sometimes I have all these excuses as to why I don’t have the right story ready.

I do hope to see some of my old classmates.  Dorys with a “Y” will be there, and I hope Charlotte can sneak away from her husband to join us.

You know what?  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Tammy made me go to summer school.

 

MELITAS FORSTER                                                Writtenmelitas shoesmelitas shopping  February 5, 2014

 

 

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Guest blog by Sally Logan – February 19, 2014

The Secret in Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner

By Sally Logan

 

The secret in Boston is not, who took the art treasures in 1990, or why the spaces are left vacant now.  Bare walls with silk brocade as wall coverings framed for each one missing art piece.

We bought tickets at the front; we were among the first few patrons of the day.  Nothing unusual here, just another donation to a museum to see what they have that might be called treasures.  Never having heard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, I was stunned as we walked into the entryway and on, arriving at the courtyard.  Never, ever had I seen a museum so different in its initial presentation and the beauty of this first glimpse into a journey that would leave me breathless at the end, and is with me, still.  A lingering, ‘takes your breath away’, lump in your throat, feeling that was not there, just at the beginning, but stayed, to the last glimpse.

After the courtyard, I can still see El Jaleo in my mind and the postcard I bought that would sit on my desk to remind me that a ‘ruckus’ is a physical act, but the feeling that the museum and the walk up to John Singer Sargent’s 2nd or 3rd most famous painting was a stirring in my being, and visceral at the time.  Isabella Gardner has made clear that nothing in the collection should ever be ‘transferred or moved or in any way changed, to make an exhibition.

She called it ‘a palace’; her museum.  And Isabella spent a lifetime finding just the right pieces that she loved and are without a doubt, an exhibition of her skill at curating as a masterful art in itself.

As you approach the life size work, El Jaleo; meaning ‘ruckus’ in Spanish, you only later notice that the subtle shadow created by a second framing of the Moroccan panel that sets the large painting back from the audience.  You only notice this setting as you turn to look to take one last glimpse, while walking away from this scene created by John Singer Sargent and Isabella Gardner.  The setting as if in a diaspora, makes one feel the need to be close up, but in awe and understanding why one must stand back.  Isabella understood the full impact of the life size Flamenco dancer and guitarists with light focused on the white and floor length flamenco skirt and one arm outstretched, must be viewed as she intended and the Moorish curves of the white doorframe surely are exactly what is needed to place the onlooker at just the right distance.  Stunning, in this setting and with just the right light on that white Flamenco skirt, imposed by the artist, a visual masterpiece by both artist and curator.

The museum has all the mystery and intrigue surrounding it; due to Ms. Gardner’s life story and the making of the museum, as well as the theft of the paintings in 1990 that has never been solved.

While there might be more worthy museums, with rotating exhibits and travelling solo artists, but none can stir the juices of your very being and create a sense of great joy, as this well-kept secret in Boston.  Isabella meant to create ‘an impression’ everywhere she went and you will be as intrigued as this now devoted follower, after your first visit to ‘Isabella’s Palace’ .

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Mondays with Melitas – February 17, 2014

BRANDING THE CALVES, PART 2 CONT’D. FROM “BRANDING DAYS” JANUARY 27, 2014  —  WITH A FEW INTERRUPTIONS.

THIS IS

“MONDAYS WITH MELITAS”  —  FEBRUARY 17, 2014

 

Now, maybe we can get back to the story of the cowboys at the Rancho Mission Viejo taking care of those little calves in the springtime when they rudely grab them from their mommies and do things to them so they will grow up to be very good, tender steaks, hopefully, instead of tough, tough, tough, ones.  Where did I leave off?  Well, it was right in the middle of the little “calfie” story.  To get back up to speed, I will have to knock at the door of my Noggin and ask:  “Knock,  knock, Who’s there?”  The old Skull will answer with a question:  Who’s

asking, and where have you been?”  That may sound a bit muddled, but that’s the way things are these days around here, so back to the ranch.

This time, we have pictures to prove everything.  There I am in one being the bartender in “The Swallow,” waiting on Jess Sanchez and our famous little Japanese Cowboy — he worked and lived at the ranch, and spent a lot of time at the bar.  Yamada was a very teeny guy, and that came in very handy if he had to get from one side of the horse to the other.  He could just walk quickly under the horse.  His attire left something to be desired.  The levis drooped over the boots with the turned-up toes, very beat up, at that.  His hat was the crowning glory.  Who could figure how he got it to look that way?  It was a most unique concept, and was definitely his own design. Also, Yamada was our “Swallow” lifeline to gather the “mountain oysters” as the cowboys lopped them off into waiting buckets.  You will no doubt recall that other items went missing from the calf.  They removed the barely developed horns, then they gave the calf its brand ownership on its rump with the red-hot branding iron, while another cowboy would poke the little critter with a huge syringe filled with goodies to keep infections away, and inject some healthy stuff at the same time.  You know, it would take 3 or 4 cowboys to hold one little calf while these painful, bad things went on.

Five or six of us would leave from the “Swallow” in the morning. I was the lone female since I had grown up on this type of action with the calves.  There were a few gals who would be there, but most women were not interested  and didn’t have the stomach for it.  We’d pile in one car, and would have our “props” with us:  I had my Polaroid and would take dozens and dozens of pictures, hanging over the corral at all angles, and with the fellas holding me up a lot of the time so I wouldn’t play Humpty Dumpty at that early age of 35. (That would come later.)  We also had extra buckets so we could exchange with Yamada when he had a full one.

Around 4 o’clock we would leave to get back to the bar and make our day complete.  We knew there would be a gang hungrily waiting to get in on the delicious, gourmet spoils of our effort— AND YAMADA’S.  Josie, the cook, would start in by cleaning all these morsels, then she would proceed to toss them in the deep fryer.  A couple of us would go up and down the bar offering these tasty bites, and all the while the customers are ooh-ing and aah-ing, licking their chops, buying more beers.  More beer.  The cash register had a lovely ring to it.  Life was good.

PAUSE — NOW ABOUT THE PICTURES

**There is the one showing my building with the Liquor Store, the Restaurant, and the “Swallow” on Camino Real and the corner of Verdugo leading down to the Depot.

**There is the one inside the bar with me serving our Japanese Cowboy, and notice his cowboy hat.

**There is one of me with Johnny Manriques under the shady trees — with a beer in hand.  (N0, that is not a “selfie.”)

**There are several showing the action in the corral plus the buckets are seen.

** Then a lone cowboy up in the saddle.  That is Viejo (meaning “old one”) who was the sweetest, dearest, kindest Cowboy ever.  He reminded me of my Dad, who was the sweetest, dearest, kindest Dad ever.

mel feb 17a mel feb 17 bmel feb 17 dmel blog 17 emel swallow

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“My Love Affair with Reels and Reality” By H. Peter McCabe

“My Love Affair with Reels and Reality” By H. Peter McCabe

I adore films. I prefer them to people. My daily quota is two or three movies. They never cease to enthrall me – to amuse- teach- shock. They’re my emotional think-tank . I’m beginning to resemble the character in “Play It Again, Sam” (1972), the fan who revels in the whole process of watching, talking and writing about movies.

I laugh, I cry, I giggle – oblivious of other people around me in the theater. When I was four, my Dad brought me to my first movie in 1940. He was a Notre Dame fan who had seen only two movies in his lifetime- “Birth of a Nation” and “Gone With the Wind.” He carried me into the evening showing of “Knute Rockne, All American” at the Paramount Theater in Long Branch, New Jersey, and I was never the same again.

As a kid, I’d steal twenty cents from his penny collection and walk seven miles to the movie houses in Asbury Park, New Jersey just to see a double feature. Neighbors would see me pass their houses and would always ask where I was going and everyday I replied, “To the movies.” They’d say, “But it’s such a sunny day!” (What difference would that make to me?)

I remember running up the aisle, scared to death in “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1944) with bodies in the window seats. At age eight, I failed to find the humor. Today – I roar. When I spent my junior year in Spain, I’d average 10 films a week. They were all dubbed in and I could learn Spanish faster. During college, The “Fine Arts” theaters (the Georgetown, the Dupont) in Washington,D.C., introduced me to foreign films. I’m still “hooked” — those vivid memories of “La Strada,” “Zorba,” “The Blue Angel,” “Citizen Kane” and all those Alec Guinness films (who can ever forget “Kinds Hearts and Coronets”?)

I’ve reviewed films for cyberfriends and won lots of money on movie trivia. I’ve made hundreds of videotapes and pride myself on matching the perfect film for the right person. I’m a satellite dish fan now with 40 movie channels (no one has seen me for six weeks.) I only come out for the big first run features and my home away from home is the Cinemark Theaters where all movies are always one dollar for seniors.

I feel closest to Heaven when I visit the Palm Springs Library Film Collection. It takes me a half hour to choose one film, because I’ve seen them all so many times. I realize the greatness of films from the 40’s. What an insult to “re-do” a film classic. Let them lie buried with Caesar. I never go to a theater to see just one movie. I leave six or seven hours later.

My last request in life will be that a special satellite dish can reach Heaven and beam in millions of new cinema delights. Vive le cinema!

(Mr. McCabe is a retired school teacher living in Palm Springs who says the film festival has reminded him of his lifetime obsession with cinema. )

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.


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