Last week, by chance, I saw a sign in front of Trinity Church in Copley Square announcing their performance of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde this weekend. Like me, you may be familiar with Noye's Fludde due to Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. Since Noye's Fludde is one of the most enchanting parts of that film for me, I knew that I would be going. And I knew that I must bring Julia. :)
(Noye's Fludde performed in Moonrise Kingdom)
(Noye's Fludde performed in 1958, one year after its debut, at the fourteenth Aldeburgh Festival. Photo copyright Aldeburgh Museum).
Britten's opera is based on a 15th century play from the Chester Mystery Cycle and was written to be performed by amateurs. Britten asked that it be performed in a church or large hall as opposed to a theater.
I teared up as children walked in herds up the aisle of the church holding animal masks to their faces (which no doubt they made themselves) and sang "Noye, Noye, Take Thou Thy Company." Waves were created by fabrics in various shades of blue billowed back and forth between two young actors. The chorus was provided by the church choir and various Boston and Cambridge children's orchestras.
The audience was asked to sing along with the hymns. The percussions and trumpets and horns and voices in this opera are impeccable.
Photography and video was not allowed during the performance, but I felt a sense of relief at that. I enjoyed the beauty of everything without worrying about capturing it. Just as it is Moonrise Kingdom which led me to Noye's Fludde, it is by the means of Moonrise Kingdom that I will keep the beautiful experience I had tonight.
MFK Fisher's passion for food and her ability to describe the pleasure it can bring in writing is what led me to paint this little portrait of her for Fetish week.
Consider the oyster.
Week 4: 69 Love Songs
I chose "The Book of Love" for my Magnetic Fields love song. The line "I love it when you read to me, and you can read me anything" has always struck me as one of the most romantic lines in any song ever.
In elementary school, I loved celebrating Valentine's Day. Everyone making their own mailbox and giving out tiny colorful envelopes with hearts and stickers inside is something that still thrills me today.
The way we first see love as children is my idea of unfiltered love. Valentine's Day is one of the first little celebrations of our understanding of love, and celebrating it at school paves the way for the belief that love is for everyone - our friends, our families, our community - and not just a significant other.
I am lucky enough to work in an elementary school and partake in this fun ritual. It's one of my favorite days of the school year. This picture of a happy city classroom was done in pen and watercolor.
We have a Snow Day today here in Boston! I hope you'r all having a lovely February day, wherever you are.
This painting was inspired by those beautiful old linen postcards of American West deserts, with their hot pink skies, cacti in many shades of green, and the vibrant printing that made these colors so. I imagined a girl in grey and silver against such bright colors.
I have been on an immense reading kick. Reading is something I turn to in times of need. Lately, the need is for nothing more than a little bit of comfort in the bleak winter months. Since I went home for "winter break" (the perk of working in the public school system), I have devoured Rachel Dratch's Girl Walks Into a Bar, Anita Loos' Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Amanda Hesser's Cooking for Mr. Latte, and am now in the midst of MFK Fisher's The Gastronomical Me.
"Personal essays," as I would call them, have always been among my most favorite things to read. I love autobiography. I love creative women. I love reading their musings about their chosen form of art and their life beyond that art. Anne Fadiman, an author whose essays center around her own love of books and writing, is one of my best loved in this category, and I've relished every book by an awesome female comedian that has come out in the past couple of years (Tina Fey, Mindy Kailing, and, most recently , Rachel Dratch).
Food literature is somewhat new for me, though. Hesser's Book was so deeply comforting to me that it made me long for more writing of a similar subject matter and nature.
My first exposure to food literature, I would say, was when I read the letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto last winter. The book and the women had a lasting effect on me. Interestingly enough, it was while watching the movie "Julie and Julia" that I became "acquainted" with Amanda Hesser. I've watched that movie so many times that her name has always stuck with me ("Amanda Hesser of the New York Times"), and she actually appears as herself in the movie.
In my beloved Harvard Bookstore on New Year's Day, mere pages away from being done with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, I peered on the Cooking shelf in search of something to read (The Harvard Bookstore has my favorite cooking section - it is fairly small, in a cozy spot, and it seems to be more food literature than actual cookbooks). I spotted Hesser's name on a wide spine and, feeling warmth from her connection to a movie that is warmly connected to a book I love, purchased her collection of recipes and memories. I read it so quickly and, knowing Hesser herself has no other literature published, knew I needed more of something similar.
MFK Fisher is someone I've contemplated reading for several years. It is actually only on the lovely Cooking Shelves of the Harvard Bookstore that I have seen her work. The only book of hers I'd ever seen there was Consider the Oyster - a slim, grey edition that eludes to silk and shells. I've thought about buying that book so many times but never made the move. It is true that the final push I needed came from the comparisons between Hesser and Fisher in reviews on the back of Hesser's book (I like links and connections between what I intake - it makes me feel like I am growing a database, becoming knowledgeable about a specific topic, and am part of a network of beautiful, amazing people even though I only get to know them through their writing).
This time, the Harvard Bookstore had a couple more of MFK Fisher's books, and they were beautifully designed so that each cover featured a gorgeous black and white photo of her (mid-century, a large draw for me) against a bark cloth-esque background in different shades of warm oranges, yellows, and soft reds (these editions by North Point Press). In short, I fell in love instantly, and I brought home The Gastronomical Me. In researching her online, I've become fascinated by her life and want to collect and read each neatly designed book.
Her essays take small moments and elaborate beautifully. Movies are painted by her simple sentences. She, as a writer, is quite special. Food writing is special in its taking of a basic human comfort and letting the reader relish in it in a new way.
I think I just love reading about women who were - and are - passionate about life, travel, nature, love, people, animals, art, and art as career. It makes me feel more passionately and eager about my own projects, my own dreams of more travel, and of other things. A sense of hope. A sense of security in knowing that there are people who feel deeply, take pleasure in small things, and dream largely.