“It feels like I’m talking to his shadow suspended on dust.” ~ Will Graham, from “Hannnibal” (“Potage” episode, written by David Fury, Chris Brancato and Bryan Fuller)

Portrait of Margaret Atwood shot at the Time Inc. Photo Studios in New York, March 18 2017.
Ruven Afanador for TIME

Will Graham: I feel like I’ve dragged you into my world.
Hannibal Lecter: I got here on my own. But I appreciate the company. ~ “Hannibal” (“Fromage” episode, written by Jennifer Schuur and Bryan Fuller)

Tuesday afternoon, sunny and cold 28 degrees.

Yes, it’s a Two for Tuesday post, but for some reason, I woke up thinking about the television  show “Hannibal,” which was so wonderfully written and acted. I really miss it, and not just because of Mads Mikkelsen, thus, the quotes from the show.

I not only woke up with Hannibal running through my mind, but this was accompanied by a massive migraine, which is only slightly receding at the moment. Waking up with a migraine is a horrible way to begin the day; it colors everything else I do for the duration.

The useless neurologist that I saw last week is supposed to be looking into getting me Aimovig, that new medication that’s supposed to help prevent migraines. If I can get that affordably, that time spent in her office won’t be entirely wasted. I’m still waiting to hear from her office, but as the phone is currently not working for some reason, I have no news yet.

Anyway, that’s how the day is going, so not a whole lot of anything else. Today’s post features two section from a much longer poem by Margaret Atwood, “Five Poems for Grandmothers.” The complete poem can be found in Atwood’s 1978 book, Two Headed Poems, or in her Selected Poems II: Poems Selected and New 1976-1986.

I hope you like this as much as I do.

More later. Peace.


Five Poems for Grandmothers

i

In the house on the cliff
by the ocean, there is still a shell
bigger and lighter than your head, though now
you can hardly lift it.

It was once filled with whispers;
it was once a horn
you could blow like a shaman
conjuring the year,
and your children would come running.

You’ve forgotten you did that,
you’ve forgotten the names of the children
who in any case no longer run,
and the ocean has retreated,
leaving a difficult beach of gray stones
you are afraid to walk on.

The shell is now a cave
which opens for you alone.
It is filled with whispers
which escape into the room,
even though you turn it mouth down.

This is your house, this is the picture
of your misty husband, these are your children, webbed
and doubled. This is the shell,
which is hard, which is still there,
solid under the hand, which mourns, which offers
itself, a narrow journey
along its hallways of cold pearl
down the cliff into the sea.

ii

It is not the things themselves
that are lost, but their use and handling.

The ladder first, the beach;
the storm windows, the carpets;

The dishes, washed daily
for so many years the pattern
has faded; the floor, the stairs, your own
arms and feet whose work
you thought defined you;

The hairbrush, the oil stove
with its many failures,
the apple tree and the barrels
in the cellar for the apples,
the flesh of apples; the judging
of the flesh, the recipes
in tiny brownish writing
with the names of those who passed them
from hand to hand: Gladys,
Lorna, Winnie, Jean.

If you could only have them back
or remember who they were.

~ Margaret Atwood


Music by Down Like Silver, “Wolves”

“Weeping, I saw him then depart from me.” ~ Vide Cor Meum, Hannibal (Patrick Cassidy)

 At the Opera, from the movie Hannibal

Allegra Pazzi: Dr. Fell, do you believe a man could become so obsessed with a woman, from a single encounter?
Hannibal Lecter
: Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for her and find nourishment in the very sight of her? I think so.

This is the kind of day it was: hot and melancholy.

 

Vide Cor Meum is a song composed by Patrick Cassidy based on Dante’s “La Vita Nuova,” specifically on the sonnet “A ciascun’alma presa,” in chapter 3 of the Vita Nuova. The song was produced by Patrick Cassidy and Hans Zimmer and was performed by Libera/Lyndhurst Orchestrathe, conducted by Gavin Greenway. The song first appeared in the movie Hannibal, while Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Inspector Pazzi see an outdoor opera in Florence, and was specially composed for the movie. This aria was chosen to be performed at the Oscars in 2002 during the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to producer Dino De Laurentis and at the 53rd Annual Emmy awards.

English Translation:

Chorus: And thinking of her
Sweet sleep overcame me

I am your master
See your heart
And of this burning heart
Your heart
(Chorus: She trembling)
Obediently eats.
Weeping, I saw him then depart from me.

Joy is converted
To bitterest tears

I am in peace
My heart
I am in peace
See my heart

“Mi sopragiunse uno soave sonno” (Sweet sleep overcame me) ~ From Dante’s La Vita Nuova

Korean War Memorial in Snow, Washington, DC (image by Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Vide cor tuum (See your heart)
E d’esto core ardendo (And of this burning heart)
Cor tuum (Your heart) ~ From Vide Cor Meum from Dante’s La Vita Nuova

U.S. Capitol in Snow (image by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Well, the snow has left the area, melted, gone, no more. We were lucky. Not much accumulation, but we did get icy roads on Saturday night. Apparently, those to the north of us in the state were hammered. Pretty much everything in the DC metropolitan area is closed today—federal agencies, local governments, schools, and forecasters are predicting more snow tomorrow. Flights have resumed at National Airport, where people have been stranded for days, and tens of thousands of people are without power, with no predictions as to when power might be restored. Amtrak has resumed train travel, which means long lines at Union Station filled with people who cannot get out of the area any other way. 

Cross country skiers made their way through the snow, while others were left digging out vehicles that were completely covered by the storm. I’m including pictures of DC/Northern Virginia to give you an idea of what it’s like there. Thankfully, none of that for our area. In fact, today it’s a whopping 39° F. That’s almost 20 degrees warmer than yesterday. I spent most of yesterday wrapped up in the blankets trying to keep my nose warm. Ah life. Always an adventure. 

So yesterday was the Super Bowl. I did not watch as I am completely uninterested in the NFL. That doesn’t make me un-American, just not interested in football. I did, however, peruse the Super Bowl commercials earlier today as these commercials tend to be a little more creative than most mainstream commercials. I’m including my two favorites, KGB’s I Surrender, and E-Trade’s Milkawhat. 

 

 

Io sono in pace (I am in peace)
Cor meum (My heart)
Io sono in pace (I am in peace)
Vide cor meum (See my heart) ~ From Vide Cor Meum from Dante’s La Vita Nuova

Downed Tree Branch in Alexandria, VA (Cliff Owen/AP)

I told Corey earlier that I didn’t really have any idea on what to post today. I mean, there are things going on: In Washington state, a 17-year-old boy crashed his parents’ car into his school and drove down the hall . . . In New York, a 61-year-old woman was cited for driving in the Plus-One lane with a mannequin, decked out in wig and sunglasses . . . And in tech news, Dante’s Inferno has been turned into a video game. 

You might think that with my background in literature I would be offended by gamers taking this classic and turning it into video fare, but I’m not. I’m all for anything that introduces the classics to people who might otherwise be uninterested, even if it is but a glimpse of the original. I don’t kid myself that the game will delve too deeply into the original, but if playing the game causes even one person to turn to the book, then something has been accomplished. 

The movie version of Beowulf that came out a few years ago took liberties with the Medieval tale, yet many of the original aspects were there. Of course, Grendel’s mother in the original did not look like a shimmering Angelina Jolie, but the original storyline of the warrior Beowulf slaying Grendel was kept, albeit embellished. 

The movie 1980s movie Excalibur still remains one of the best retellings of the Arthurian legend, including the betrayal of Lancelot and Guinevere and the search for the grail. Clive Owen’s King Arthur added new dimensions to the tale by incorporating the battle of Baden Hill, which is believed to be the actual battle fought by the Arthur on whom the legend is based.  

Robin in Snow (Jewel Samad/AFP Getty Images)

I’m not saying that I think that our youth should be getting their history lessons from games and movies; however, when a game or movie does present a relatively accurate depiction of history or a literary classic, I view it as a good thing, yet another way in which to teach those who under different circumstances, might never hear of Dante’s Inferno or be interested in reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. 

I mean, think of all of the movies that have given viewers glimpses into actual events: Saving Private Ryan (veterans praised the accuracy of the beach-storming scene); Schindler’s List (Shoa survivors were gratified by Spielberg’s honest retelling of the Holocaust); Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 (depicted the fateful flight that almost didn’t make it home); Enemy at the Gates (the battle of Stalingrad); Mississippi Burning (the 1964 slaying of civil rights activists); The Killing Fields (Viet Nam under Pol Pot after the Americans pulled out). 

Of course, the list could be much longer. I just chose the ones that came to mind readily, those films that have stayed with me through the years, some of which my own children have seen and from which they have taken away pieces of history. 

Digging Out in Maryland (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

For every boatload of garbage that Hollywood produces, there is one gem. The same could be said of any medium—music, literature, television. So much is rehashed, redone, retooled, and not towards making something better but usually for lack of original thought. But those few that stand out are the ones from which we take away a sense of time or place or person. The ones that, at the end of the day, we gleaned something from and were made better because of it. 

Consider the movie version of Hannibal, based on the book by Thomas Harris. No. I’m not holding the movie up as a substitute history lesson. Rather, I am pointing out that even in the midst of one of the goriest movies around, great beauty exists—this time in the form of the aria “Vide Cor Meum,” which was written specifically for the movie by Patrick Cassidy. The aria is based on a sonnet from Dante’s La Vita Nuova, in which Dante professes his love for Beatrice. Of course, I could do an entire post on the use of classical music in movies, television, even Loony Tunes, but that’s for another time. 

More later. Peace. 

  

Katherine Jenkins performing “Vide Cor Meum.” Sublime. 

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” ~ Hannibal Lecter, Silence of the Lambs

silence of the lambs

 Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs

“Okey Dokey. Here we go.” ~ Hannibal Lecter from Hannibal 

It’s noon on Tuesday. Corey and his Dad have gone to Springfield to pick up the rental car. Apparently, there is a dearth of rental cars anywhere within an 150-mile radius of Lima.

I find this rather odd. Did a convention of oversized men in undersized cars make a run on the rental cars at the Dayton airport? What gives?

So once they return with the Impala, we’ll be on our way, that is, after lunch.

Everything is packed; at least, I think that it is. I’m terrible about leaving things behind. Apparently, I left a pair of shoes at Ann’s last year when I took them off (probably after too many slushy alcohol drinks) and never put them back on.

I must have not needed these shoes as I never even missed them. Anyway, a former friend of mine says that my habitual leaving behind of things is my little way of making sure no one forgets me . . . hmm . . . things that make you say hmm.

Clarice Starling: If you didn’t kill him, then who did, sir?
Hannibal Lecter: Who can say. Best thing for him, really. His therapy was going nowhere. ~ Silence of the Lambs  

Hannibal
From Hannibal

Brett seems to be better today. He is watching strange videos on YouTube and laughing rather insanely. His fever came back during the night, but I think, hope, that it might have broken.

We are all rather loopy. Well, at least Brett, Tillie, and I are rather loopy.

Brett wants his own bed and his XBox. I want a million dollars and no more things to worry about (but I would settle for a thousand dollars and fewer things to worry about this month), and Tillie, well Tillie just wants it to be Tillie time endlessly and forever.

Hannibal Lecter: You will not persuade me with appeals to my intellectual vanity. ~ Red Dragon 

Everyone here has been exceedingly nice and understanding, which makes me feel worse for not being very good company.

But maybe I’m never good company, and I’ve just forgotten about it? Who knows any more.

So we’ll be driving back in a Chevy Impala, unmarked cars for some Staties. I’ve never cared much for Chevy cars and trucks, but I must not put that down in words or I will curse us.

I kind of remind myself of that guy in The Mummy Returns: “This is cursed. That is cursed. Everything is cursed.” Turns out, though, he was right. Everything was cursed.

Hannibal Lecter: “First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature?” ~ Silence of the Lambs 

Speaking of movies (yes, I was speaking of movies), I watched Fracture again last night. It was one of the DVDs that I had brought with me for Corey’s mom to see. I really like that movie: Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling.

Silence of the Lambs poster
Silence of the Lambs Cover

When the boys were younger, they used to be afraid of the cover of Silence of the Lambs. I didn’t know that until they got older and told me.

I have enjoyed all of the Hannibal Lecter movies and books. Hannibal (movie and book) was enjoyable, but I do prefer Jodie Foster as Clarice. Something about her West Virginia accent and her attempts to not show fear make her fear more palpable.

I love Julianne Moore, just not as Clarice Starling. It’s a role that Foster created and owned. It’s just that simple.

But I digress . . .

Hannibal Lecter: Rudeness is an epidemic. ~ Hannibal Rising

We need to get the rental back within 24 hours of picking it up, so we are going to be on a tight schedule.

Let’s everyone burn a shrubbery in the hopes that nothing goes wrong (a shrubbery?)—the Monty Python extended metaphor still applies. In fact, I can think of nothing more apropos to the current situation in which we find ourselves.

red dragon book cover
Book Cover for Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Corey’s cousin Matt is going to work on the Trooper for us. We do need a new (refurbished) engine. I suppose I will be on my search for the elusive money tree once we return home, not that I have much hope on that front.

At least we will have someone who knows what they are doing working on the car this time. Corey insists that I not call the shop that did the repairs on the Trooper. I’m not sure why he doesn’t want me to do this.

Actually, I think that he thinks that Izzie’s demise is his fault: he ran out of gas and a passerby offered some gas. What Corey didn’t know was that the gas was diesel. Corey is convinced that all of the problems related to Izzie stem from the introduction of diesel into her system.

But what he doesn’t seem to understand is that to my way of thinking, in spite of the diesel, any mechanic who is worth his salt should not take the word of a customer when fixing a car. Once he or she is into the repair, everything that is wrong should be pointed out.

Granted, not everyone wants to know everything that is wrong with their vehicles, but we were laying down a considerable amount on an older vehicle. I would have liked to have made an informed decision. And if we needed to replace the engine, it would have been cheaper to have outlayed the money once instead of twice.

I have no qualms about expressing my unhappiness (no, really?) to the shop that did the repairs. It’s not like we are ever going to take another vehicle there to be fixed.

Whatever. I need to blow off some steam somewhere, and I would prefer that it is in the right direction, aimed squarely at the people who did such shoddy work in the first place.

Hannibal Lecter: People don’t always tell you what they are thinking. They just see to it that you don’t advance in life. ~ Hannibal 

So it turns out that we won’t be driving an Impala because the Hertz place in Springfield did not have a car available. Corey and his dad went to Dayton airport and rented a Buick Enclave. I’m not going to complain. After the horrible car ride that we had coming here, going home in comfort and style sounds incredibly appealing.

We are trying an alternative route home that was recommended by the guy that rented us the Enclave. Apparently, this route is supposed to chop hours off our travel time. The last time we tried an alternate route in an attempt to save time, we ended up on the side of a mountain in the dead of night with little visibility. Harrowing.

silence-of-the-lambs2
Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs

I remember that trip vividly because I was hallucinating from lack of sleep—no exaggeration. I saw a boat in a tree and a chicken leg floating. There were no lights on the road, and it took us an hour and a half to get back to the main road. Corey doesn’t remember these things, or chooses to selectively forget. So if we take this alternate route and end up getting home on Thursday, I am going to be mightily put out. But hey, that’s nothing new either.

When we get home, though, it may be a few days before I can post again. Who knows what awaits us.

I do know that my poor little fat boy Shakes is probably beside himself that I left him at home and took the Lab instead. Eamonn said that Shakes didn’t get out of the front window at all the first day that we were gone.

This could be very bad. If he decides to retaliate, who knows what he may do.

I can hardly wait to get home and see: Eamonn alone for days, the Jack Russells run amok. Wonderful, wonderful.  Or is it, I can’t hardly wait? I always get that confused.

We’ll see. More later. Peace.