White, Black, & Caramel

How awesome is that model's hair?! From this angle, it looks like the lovechild of the short Freja Beha Erichsen crop and a ladylike chignon, and I just cannot get enough of it. I'd wax poetic about it a little more, but I'm currently up to my ears in papers and essays and short stories. On the bright side, all of this work is worth the excuse to stay in and curl up with a cup of tea and Adele's new album. I love this time of year; there's all of the coziness of winter, but with the hope that breezy days are just around the corner. Here's to a lovely March!

[photo cred, clockwise from top to Tommy Ton via Style.com, 2, 3, 4

It's Feeling Hot Hot Hot

It's getting hot in here folks - and not just because we've only got six weeks to get the living room done! The electrical will be finished up this Wednesday so for now my ceiling is a mix of pot lights, holes, and hanging wires. It always looks worse before it gets better, right?

HandyMan and I are moving along and purchased the fireplace. So here's the thing about the fireplace... although we loved the old wood burning fireplace, it wasn't going to work for our family. Rocks were literally falling off the front and the hearth was cracked so we would have to replace it. The fireplace, placed on an angle, also took up a huge amount of floorspace so we'd need a smaller unit. Plus, with plans for expanding our family, we knew we didn't want to have a fireplace that was so accessible to wandering little hands.

Where did that leave us? Well, we decided to get one of these:

That's the Skyline fireplace by Marquis. We've decided to place the fireplace flat against the wall (back towards the dining room) to minimize its size. That meant we only had a 48" wall to work with and this particular model fit the size and had a nice tall flame as compared to other similar styles. The idea is to build out a floor-to-ceiling rectangular frame to house the fireplace. We'll add in some details, like tiling right up to the glass edge, and recessing the base and the top to make it appear like it floats and less like a massive thing the room.

I've done a bit of shopping for tile to face the fireplace - and let me tell you, this is no easy task! We want something that blends in a bit and fits with our decor. So no slate, no rustic stone, nothing too dark and heavy. We keep getting drawn to a variation of our kitchen backsplash... some sort of marble mosaic.

Not all of these are fireplace options (I was also shopping for something for the eventual basement bathroom).  I am still unsure though. I haven't been able to find many white marble fireplaces so I'm guessing its not typically used there. And now, I read Carol's take on modern fireplaces and I'm worried we've picked both an ugly fireplace and the wrong tile!!!  Agh. I don't know how to mix a modern fireplace in a traditional home!

Just joking. Sorta. I'm so indicisive about the fireplace... and we don't have much time to figure it out.

NYC staycation

Our staycation in New York last week was really refreshing and relaxing. (Thanks again to Miss Moss for guest posting!) While my mom took care of Toby, Alex and I met up with friends, rode bikes to Williamsburg, went bowling (for real), got massages, sipped gin cocktails at this rad bar, saw The King's Speech, hit up the Guggenheim, and went ice skating in Central Park. It was so great to just be together and "knock around," as Alex says. We felt like tourists in our own city.

We also chilled with my mom and Toby, including brunch at a Mexican place in our neighborhood, where Toby thought the tablecloth was delicious. :) We miss you already, Mama!

Using movie stills at a website

Dear Rich: I am planing to make a site that shows screenshots from the movies that I love. A movie might have 50 or so, (or even more?) screenshots in it. There will be no critics or teaching material. There might be an affiliate link to purchase movie. Of course I want them to be in good quality so these might not consider as thumbnails but not wallpaper size also. I made a quick research and have a roughly an idea what might be considered as copyright infringement. It seems like a very fuzzy area in my opinion. On one hand it is promoting the work but on the other hand copyright holders might ask for permission. History Dept. Did you know that prior to 1912, the U.S. Copyright Office did not recognize film as copyrightable subject matter? Early filmmakers had to print out every frame of the film and register each movie as a series of photographs. The law was amended in 1912 because, as a Congressional report announced, movie production, “has become a business of vast proportions.”
Yes, you're infringing. It's not really that fuzzy. Unauthorized reproductions are infringement unless excused by a defense such as fair use. You probably can't afford to fight a fair use battle, so the question you're probably more concerned about is whether movie companies will come after uses like yours. After all, a lot of websites freely use movie stills to discuss films and don't run into problems. Our suggestion: follow Aristotle's advice, "Everything in moderation." If you use two or three stills or only use thumbnails, you're unlikely to get much fanmail from movie company lawyers. But when you begin using 50 full-size images, you're more likely to show up on their radar screen.
Are you promoting the film? Many infringers argue that they're actually promoting the work they've ripped off ... and you can certainly bring that up as part of your fair use defense. But that argument rarely succeeds. First, you can promote the film without infringing copyright. Second, like many bloggers and website owners, it looks like you're really concerned with promoting your own site and earning money from affiliate sales.  Finally, copyright owners might not want to be promoted in the manner you do it at your blog. Part of the benefit of owning a copyright is that you can control, to a limited extent, the manner in which the work is promoted.
Speaking of theft ... We recently re-watched this heist film (we love Akim Tamiroff) and when we Googled it, we noted (wistfully) that the movie itself had been heisted.

God of Love

Yahoo!!! Our friend Luke Matheny's short film God of Love won an Oscar last night! (Well, he's actually a friend of a friend; but we've met him at parties:) I almost fell off the sofa when he got to go up on stage and accept his award.

God of Love is an amazing 18-minute comedy about a lounge-singing darts champ who receives a mysterious package of passion-inducing darts. Here's the trailer, below; you can download it (for $2!) on iTunes or watch it on the big screen at this New York theatre. Huge congratulations, Luke!

After Midnight – Opus ½

After Midnight – Opus ½
2006, After Midnight
Clarinetist Roger Campbell has always been inspired by the music of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa and others of the big band era.  In 1997 he formed After Midnight, a classic jazz sextet with a modern feel.  Tackling classics of the big band era and some of the jazz hits of today, Campbell and After Midnight have made an art of playing in the classic big band/swing style while putting their own modern stamp on the sound.  After Midnight recorded their debut album, Opus ½  back in 2004, releasing the album in early 2006.  Opus ½ shows the vibrant energy and glow of a band that truly loves the music they’re making.
Opus ½ opens with “Air Mail Special”, a tune first made popular by Lionel Hampton.  Here it’s delivered in a lively and energetic improv style.  Campbell is over-the-top on clarinet, diving in and out of the lead like a starling over an updraft, while Greg Harris is pure class on the vibraphone, and Bill Stephens offers up revelatory piano licks.  “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” features the smoky, superb alto voice of Rekha Ohal, who manages to steal the show from After Midnight.  The band is right there with her, however, and the breakdown that’s just clarinet and percussion is chill inducing.  “A Smooth One” is steeped in big band sound and very enjoyable.
Listeners get a dose of dueling clarinets on Benny Goodman’s “Stealin’ Apples”, with Bill Pontarelli sitting in alongside Roger Campbell.  The two engage in dazzling harmonies along the way, creating a few wow moments in just the one song.  Ohal sits in again on “God Bless The Child”, raising the electricity on a bluesy offering that’s among the best on the album.  “Jolly Roger” is a low key offering where clarinet is the lead voice, but bassist  Ced Forsyth nearly steals the show behind the scenes.  “Opus ½” has an almost Klezmer/jazz feel to it; a highly enjoyable side in the album’s belly that’s a pleasant surprise. 
“Twenty Two Cent Shuffle” is an After Midnight original; a giddy, jaunty composition with a mischievous side.  Clarinet and vibes stand out, but Mike McCullough makes a distinctive impression on guitar.  “Campbell Zoop” is another original, although it sounds like it might have been a 1940’s era commercial jingle.  Ohal is as impressive as always on decidedly lighter fare.  Benny Goodman’s “Rachel’s Dream” is high energy improvisational jazz that will make you want to get your jitterbug shoes on.  “Flying Home” is a dynamic reading of the Lionel Hampton classic.  You won’t be able to sit still as After Midnight rips the roof off the place in the album’s high point. 
“Dream A Little Dream” is technically perfect, although the low key approach taken here perhaps a bit too subdued.  Rekha Ohal brings out some of what’s missing on personality and voice alone, however, a solid save.  “Slipped Disc” abounds with musical humor and a light step.  Get your dancing shows on; if you have a heartbeat you won’t be able to sit through this one.  After Midnight captures a live sound on George Shearing and George David Weiss’ “Lullaby Of Birdland”; an amazing performance that drips with inspiration.  After Midnight winds things down with “Memories Of You”.  The Andy Razaf/Eubie Banks tune, originally performed on Broadway in Blackbirds of 1930, was immortalized in a 1956 version by Benny Goodman.  The piano-driven feel of the version offered here is refreshing. 
After Midnight does big band jazz and swing with style, flair, and a bit of modern attitude.  Campbell and company clearly love the classic sounds of Goodman, Hampton and the rest, but add little touches to make it their own.  Opus ½ is a joy to the ears.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
 Learn more about After Midnight at http://www.aftermidnightjazzband.com/Opus ½ is available as a CD or Download through Amazon.com.  The album is also available digitially from iTunes, or in multiple formats from CDBaby.com


Is it odd that I'm looking forward to the week, if only because I'll finally get to rest and relax a bit? This weekend was a lovely blur of birthdays and basketball games and sangria and hors d'oeuvres, but if I don't get a full night's sleep sometime soon, I'm going to self-destruct. Still, it was nice to spend so much time in downtown Chicago, from sipping champagne at Crescendo to dancing at the penthouse of the SwissĂ´tel to, finally, a delicious Sunday evening dinner at Sepia.

I'm never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever going to do this on even a semi-regular basis, but I made my roommate/best friend take a photo of my outfit for formal in our living room, just in case you wanted to see my sartorial choices for the evening: the dress is Armani Exchange and belongs to roommate/bestie, the earrings are Frank Gehry for Tiffany & Co, the shoes are Marc by Marc Jacobs, and the clutch is Kate Spade. People actually thought I brought a book to formal...and sadly, they didn't even seem surprised.



File:Lady from Shanghai trailer hayworth2.JPG

Rita Hayworth in Lady from Shanghai, 1947: screenshot from film trailer

We dwell in our plush gumstuck viewing thrones.
Buck's still caught on that log when the house lights come
Up. Shocked by the return of a real life
We were doing very well without, thank you,
We recognize that image was a white lie,

With no more substance than a dream,
No more lasting than the gift by which we breathe,
No more lasting, that is, than itself.
And as in waking from the dream too soon
One forgets its truths, we turn back into lumps,

Resigned to our several lump personae
Washed up amid alien popcorn boxes,
Moving out past velvety chains into
Cool silks of the night, Rita Hayworth lost,
Stars widening their vast indifferent gaze.

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Rita Hayworth in Lady from Shanghai, 1947: screenshot from film trailer

In Your Dreams



Children in front of movie theatre, Alpine, Texas
: photo by Russell Lee, May 1939


Shoveling snow away from the movie entrance, Chilicothe, Ohio: photo by Arthur Rothstein, February 1940


Movie theatre, Elkins, West Virginia: photo by John Vachon, June 1939


Children looking at movie poster in front of theatre
, Saturday, Steele, Missouri: photo by Russell Lee, August 1938


Saturday afternoon movie crowd, North Platte, Nebraska
: photo by John Vachon, October 1938


Flags of the confederacy displayed at movie house on Lincoln's birthday, Winchester, Virginia: photo by Arthur Rothstein, February 1940

Image, Source: intermediary roll film

Children at a movie house on Saturday, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania: photo by Jack Delano, January 1941


Movie theatre, Elkins, West Virginia: photo by John Vachon, June 1939


Movie theatre, Moore Haven, Florida
: photo by Marion Post Wolcott, January, 1939


Mexican man in front of movie theatre, San Antonio, Texas: photo by Russell Lee, March 1939

Photos from Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress

Cooper and Bogart: The Hero (Manny Farber)



Gary Cooper in The Virginian
(1929): film poster

The older-fashioned hero is a long-bodied, long-armed man whose air is one of troubled silence, and who grew up in the bleaker parts of the country to be shy, honest and not given to excesses. He doesn't seek success, but because he is a physical genius he reaches the hero class and performs there as a good honest man would. He is probably the most likable person to see winning so many rewards, especially when his person is that of Gary Cooper (who had as much to do with shaping this movie personality as anyone else), Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda. His career, which the earliest pioneer first hacked out and which Hemingway revived by opening new worlds for him to conquer, is apt to be an untroubled one of physical superiority; but the faint tinge of tragedy latent in his personality sometimes leads at the end of the picture to the fact that he or his wife will die or that he must leave her in some far-off desert oasis, singing in a cabaret, to prove that the twain of East and West cannot meet for very long. Though he seems made for lonely nights out on the range, the picture of his love life is always one of wholesome, perfect physical compatibility, and he is a conscientious, non-professional lover. He is seldom bothered about money, since he works outside the civilized world of business, and his few excursions into that world are in the roles of philanthropist or savior ("Mr. Deeds," "Mr. Smith").

File:For Whom The Bell Tolls trailer.jpg

Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper in
For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943): screenshot from film trailer

The hero played by Mr. Bogart, which grew out of the gangster film and Dashiell Hammett detective novels, looks as though he had been knocked around daily and had spent his week-ends drinking himself unconscious in the back rooms of saloons. His favorite grimace is a hateful pulling back of the lips from his clenched teeth, and when his lips are together he seems to be holding back a mouthful of blood. The people he acts badly toward and spends his movie life exposing as fools are mainly underworld characters like gangsters, cabaret owners and dance-hall girls (and the mayor whom he puts into office every year). Everything he does carries conflicting quantities of hatred and love, as though he felt you had just stepped on his face but hadn't meant it. His love life is one in which the girl isn't even a junior partner in the concern, his feeling about life is that it is a dog kennel, and he believes completely in the power of the money which he steals or works everyone else's fingers to the bone to earn. He is the soured half of the American dream, which believes that if you are good, honest and persevering, you will win the kewpie doll.

File:Humphrey Bogart in The Petrified Forest film trailer.jpg

Humphrey Bogart in The Petrified Forest
(1936): cropped screenshot from film trailer

Manny Farber: The Hero (excerpt), from The New Republic, 18 October 1943, in Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber, 2009

Frank O'Hara: Written in the Sand at Water Island and Remembered (Little Elegy for James Dean)



James Byron Dean (8 February 1931-30 September 1955): studio publicity still, c. 1955

James Dean
made in USA
eager to be everything
stopped short

Do we know what
excellence is? it's
all in this world
not to be executed


Julie Harris and James Dean in East of Eden: studio publicity still, 1955

Frank O'Hara: Written in the Sand at Water Island and Remembered, 9 October 1955, from Four Little Elegies in Collected Poems, 1971

Frank O'Hara: To the Film Industry in Crisis



Gloria Swanson in The Great Moment (1921), film poster

Not you, lean quarterlies and swarthy periodicals

with your studious incursions toward the pomposity of ants,

nor you, experimental theatre in which Emotive Fruition

is wedding Poetic Insight perpetually, nor you,

promenading Grand Opera, obvious as an ear (though you

are close to my heart), but you, Motion Picture Industry,

it’s you I love!

In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love.

And give credit where it’s due: not to my starched nurse, who taught me

how to be bad and not bad rather than good (and has lately availed

herself of this information), not to the Catholic Church

which is at best an oversolemn introduction to cosmic entertainment,

not to the American Legion, which hates everybody, but to you,

glorious Silver Screen, tragic Technicolor, amorous Cinemascope,

stretching Vistavision and startling Stereophonic Sound, with all

your heavenly dimensions and reverberations and iconoclasms! To

Richard Bartelhmess as the "tol'able boy" barefoot and in pants,

Jeanette MacDonald of the flaming hair and lips and long, long neck,

Sue Carroll as she sits for eternity on the damaged fender of a car

and smiles, Ginger Rogers with her pageboy bob like a sausage

on her shuffling shoulders, peach-melba-voiced Fred Astaire of the feet,

Eric von Stroheim, the seducer of mountain climbers' gasping spouses,

the Tarzans, each and every one of you (I cannot bring myself to prefer

Johnny Weissmuller to Lex Barker, I cannot!), Mae West in a furry sled,

her bordello radiance and bland remarks, Rudolph Valentino of the moon,

its crushing passions and moonlike, too, the gentle Norma Shearer,

Miriam Hopkins dropping her champagne glass off Joel McCrea's yacht

and crying into the dappled sea, Clark Gable rescuing Gene Tierney

from Russia and Allan Jones rescuing Kitty Carlisle from Harpo Marx,

Cornel Wilde coughing blood on the piano keys while Merle Oberon berates,

Marilyn Monroe in her little spike heels reeling through Niagara Falls,

Joseph Cotten puzzling and Orson Welles puzzled and Dolores del Rio

eating orchids for lunch and breaking mirrors, Gloria Swanson reclining,

and Jean Harlow reclining and wiggling, and Alice Faye reclining

and wiggling and singing, Myrna Loy being calm and wise, William Powell

in his stunning urbanity, Elizabeth Taylor blossoming, yes, to you

and to all you others, the great, the near-great, the featured, the extras

who pass quickly and return in dreams saying your one or two lines,

my love!

Long may you illumine spaces with your marvelous appearances, delays

and enunciations, and may the money of the world glitteringly cover you

as you rest after a long day under the klieg lights with your faces

in packs for our edification, the way the clouds come often at night

but the heavens operate on the star system. It is a divine precedent

you perpetuate! Roll on, wheels of celluloid, as the great earth rolls on!


Gloria Swanson in Sadie Thompson (1928), lobby card


Rudolph Valentino in
The Sheik (1926), film poster


Rudolph Valentino in
Son of the Sheik (1926), film poster


Rudolph Valentino in Son of the Sheik (1926), film poster

Frank O'Hara: To the Film Industry in Crisis, 15 November 1955, from Meditations in an Emergency, 1957 (ms. draft has "mother" for "starched nurse", line 9)

Robert Duncan: Salvages: An Evening Piece



A plate in light upon a table is not a plate of hunger. Coins on the table have their own innocent glimmer. Everything about coins we obliterate in use and urgency. How lovely the silver dull disk glimmer is. Shells without remorse. The rubd antique nickle dated 1939 Liberty portrait relief of Jefferson and, beyond, darkend with use, a grimy patina beautiful 1929 buffalo head nickle.


Bottles. An aluminum tea pot with wicker handle. A remnant length of Italian shawl worn by my grandmother in the 80s, this too, increasing as beauty in dimness. The reds, ochres, blacks and once perhaps almost white natural cotton yellowd. The wearing, the long use, the discoloring. It would be becoming to beauty in words worn out. As a poetry to be discolord.

File:Mercury dime.jpg

It is not the age it is the wearing, it is the reversion of the thing from its values. One nickle, then two dimes brighter, a newness, fresh-minted (yet, when I look -- in god we trust -- it is 1944, the god is Mercury with winged helmet; the other, a bust of Deus Roosevelt roman style with sagging chin and stuck-up defiant nondescript head -- this is 1947 -- in god we trust). Then two nickles, the grimy ones. One shiny fifty cent piece above. (Beyond) a fourth nickle showing Monticello E Pluribus Unum.

File:War Nickle.jpg

This mere ninety cents is more, is all piece by piece in art, as they are here, pieces of glimmer as rare as the mysterious chalice with faces and figures on the casting from the greek house and rider.

File:House key.jpg

Notes on use and values.

.....Then the litter. The gleams of silver and nickle seen as coins of light in the litter. A key, another gleam, an ancient evocation, a coin-silver spoon, a chipt cheap cup-shaped cup with a grey glaze without the imperfections of beauty beautiful because it is a cup. A large brown glass bottle of vitamins that look like beans. Papers. A letter from a friend, a program in my own script black and definite (defiant) arranged over the white paper. Matches. An envelope.


In the late hour left after the history of the day, taken with a will before bedtime -- how transformd the world is! The silence almost reaches us in which an original, all that has been left behind, tosst about, of us remains.

Beautiful litter with thy gleam and glimmers, thy wastes and remains! The tide of our purpose has gone back into itself, into its own counsels. And it is the beauty of where we have been living that is the beauty of the hour.


This post dedicated to Aram Saroyan

Salvages: An Evening Piece
: Robert Duncan, 1950 (from A Book of Resemblances, 1950

Indian Head nickel (obverse): designed by James Earle Fraser, 1913: image by Einar Einarsson Kvaran, 2005
Buffalo Head nickel (reverse): designed and by James Earle Fraser, 1913: image by Einar Einarsson Kvaran, 2005
Composite image of 1936 Winged Liberty Head (Mercury) dime, designed by Adolph A. Weinman, 1915 (obverse image based on portrait of Wallace Stevens's wife Elsie Kachel Stevens): original obverse image by Bobby 131313, 2006; composite image by Cholmes75, 2006
WW II period US Liberty Head nickel (Monticello/reverse side), designed and engraved by Felix Schlag,1938: image by Cholmes75, 2006
House key: photo by Linuxerist, 2006
Spoon: photo by Ari Abitbol, 2008
Street Item: Garbage, Berkeley: photo by Dorothea Lange, 1945 (Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California)

Jeneen Terrana - See The Light

Jeneen Terrana – See The Light
2011, Bitesized Records
Jeneen Terrana is an integral part of the Long Island City, NY music scene.  A distinctive songwriter with flair, Terrana has been comfortable with her local status but has the talent to play much larger stages.  Terrana debuted in 2002 with Just Me, a highly personal collection of originals that showed a raw talent just beginning to come into its own.  Terrana’s 2008 follow-up effort, My Creation, featured the inspired instrumental work of The Howl Brothers, and won critical acclaim from multiple outlets, including being branded a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.  Terrana returns in 2011 with See The Light, a more mature and airy effort than her previous two albums.
See The Light opens with “Benny’s In My Head”, a folk ballad with a soulful slant.  This is Terrana’s internal dialogue over the battle between heart and mind when finding herself suddenly in the midst of love.  This is a great piece of songwriting; Terrana has crafted a great arrangement that stays enough in the background to allow the story of the song to play out unfettered.  “I Laid It On Him” is a foxy bit of urban gospel blending jazz with a folk/storyteller pastiche.  The song is incredibly catchy with an almost swing feel to it at times.  “Raise Your Voice” encourages children to speak up from their well of idealism about the world; encouraging them to not be borne down by the cynicism of the world around them.  The song is well-written, and Terrana performs it with heart.  There is one moment, on the highest note of the song, where the vocals come off a bit shrill, but otherwise the performance is flawless.
“All Of You” is written from the midst of true, deep and abiding love; it’s an invitation to join her and be immersed in its waters.  Terrana calls on her heritage, infusing shades of an Italian folk style here.  “I’ll Always Be With You” brings a sort of Baroque musical theater feel to the table.  While the song itself is a love song in a fairly common style, Terrana breathes pleasant life into the genre.  “See The Light” and “At School” are solid album tracks that lead into the splendid songwriting that makes up “God, I Need Comfort”.  Terrana’s representation of one side of a dialogue or prayer is intriguing; full of dark, Mediterranean influences.  Terrana explores the darker side of self and the constant battle to be better than we really are.  The composition is gorgeous, with amazing harmony vocals.  “Never Go” is another meditation on love; on her desire for love to stay as it is forever.  See The Light closes out with “Time”, a gentle plea to time itself to slow down for her.  Terrana keeps things simple, allowing the simple beauty of the melody and the unbridled angst of the lyrics to shine.  It’s a stunning closer.
Jeneen Terrana shows a lot of musical maturity on See The Light while exploring the happier countenance of love.  She doesn’t get entirely way from the darker aspects of humanity, and often her best songwriting comes from those darker places, but See The Light is a strong transitional album.  It doesn’t have quite the urgent energy of her previous work, but shows an artist struggling to come to terms with her deeper self.  Terrana is a top-notch songwriting, and her voice is enthralling.  And while there are a couple of slow spots here, this is the album Terrana had to make next to continue to grow creatively and as a performer.  See The Light is highly recommended listening.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Jeneen Terrana at www.jeneenterrana.com or www.myspace.com/jeneenterrana.   See The Light is available from Amazon.com as a CD or DownloadDigital copies are also available from iTunes.


It's the weekend! Hope yours is filled with some lazy breakfast eating, some fresh outdoor-air-breathing, perhaps some thrifting, and definitely lots of relaxing.


I'd like to thank all of you who drop by Rambling Renovators. I appreciate all of your comments, your tweets, and your emails. Each and every one makes me smile. xoxo.

Photo via http://prettystuff.tumblr.com

James Boswell: Samuel Johnson's Cat Hodge



Statue of Samuel Johnson's cat Hodge in the courtyard outside Johnson's house, 17 Gough Square, London: photo by Michael K. Westlake, 2006 (via Dr. Johnson's Rambler)

Nor would it be just, under this head, to omit the fondness which he showed for animals which he had taken under his protection. I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, 'Why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;' and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, 'but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.'

This reminds me of the ludicrous account which he gave Mr. Langton, of the despicable state of a young Gentleman of good family. 'Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.' And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favourite cat, and said, 'But Hodge shan't be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.'


Hodge keeping watch: photo by Michael K. Westlake, 2006 (via Dr. Johnson's Rambler)

James Boswell: Life of Johnson, entry for 23 March 1783 (Johnson aetat 74)