February 2014 Features


Music Review: Songs From The Movie

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s newly released album, Songs From The Movie, is unlike any that she has previously recorded. The album presents orchestral arrangements of ten songs of hers, from classics such as “Come On Come On” to more recent tunes such as “Mrs. Hemingway.”

For those of us familiar with most of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s songbook, this album provides a fresh perspective on a number of her compositions. The orchestrations give the music a cinematic feeling—hence the “Movie” reference in the title. For example, the rendition of “Come On Come On” has a very expansive feeling. At first it’s a little jarring to hear such a big sound accompanying a familiar melody, but after a short while the orchestral music sweeps you along.

“Mrs. Hemingway” tells a complete story in the course of six minutes, and is especially well suited for orchestration. The hopes and disappointments of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, that are the focus of the song are underscored by the dramatic rendering of the music.

Taken together, the ten songs on this album do sound like they comprise a film soundtrack. It’s easy to imagine opening credits rolling while listening to the first song, “On And On It Goes,” which conveys a feeling of something beginning. And the last song, “Goodnight America,” provides the album with a strong finish.

This is an unusual endeavor, because the album title Songs From The Movie could lead you to think that this is a soundtrack for a new movie, and that’s not the case. But it’s an exciting example of how existing material can be repurposed in an unexpected and satisfying way.

Photo of the Month: Illumination

In a city of extraordinary sights, the Eiffel Tower illuminated in the evening is one of the most memorable:

 Paris, France, May 2008. (Photograph by Michael Riddle.)

Paris, France, May 2008. (Photograph by Michael Riddle.)

Book Review: The Aviator's Wife

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a pilot and the author of the classic book, Gift from the Sea, among other works. She had six children and was married for more than four decades to Charles Lindbergh, who is best known for completing the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. In the historical novel, The Aviator’s Wife, Melanie Benjamin tries to imagine what Anne was thinking and feeling during her relationship with Charles, which spanned from their first meeting in 1927—just months after his historic flight—to his death in 1974.

Anne’s story is compelling and gripping, and Benjamin’s telling of it pulls the reader along. Even if one is familiar with the key occurrences in the lives of the Lindberghs, including the kidnapping of their firstborn child, Benjamin’s tale will provide insights into what it might have been like to actually go through those events. In addition, The Aviator’s Wife contains shocking revelations about the Lindberghs’ marriage; though this is a historical novel, it is easy to find reputable sources of information that confirm the veracity of the revelations.

However, there are important parts of The Aviator’s Wife that are not true, including a part in which Charles takes Anne on a fascinating airplane flight shortly after they first meet. In the Author’s Note, Benjamin admits that this flight is fictional. A certain amount of artistic license is to be expected in a historical novel—for example, the author of such a novel will have invented most if not all of the dialogue, out of necessity. But it’s a bit surprising and disappointing to learn that a significant event in this book was entirely fabricated.

The Aviator’s Wife gives you a sense of how Anne Morrow Lindbergh tried to be her own person during her long marriage to one of the most famous men in the world. As long as the reader keeps in mind that this is a creative work and doesn’t assume that every event in the work happened exactly as described, The Aviator’s Wife is a worthwhile read.

7 Romantic Movies You May Have Not Seen Yet

In honor of St. Valentine, here’s a bouquet of seven romantic movies that you might not have watched yet:

 Flowers including roses and lilies

1) New in Town (2009). An amusing little movie that takes place mostly in snowy Minnesota and that stars Renée Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. Just the thing for a winter’s evening.

2) Serendipity (2001). A charming film (featuring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale) about, yes, the role that serendipity can play in romance.

3) Sense and Sensibility (1995). One of the best screen adaptations of a Jane Austen novel. Great performances by Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman.

4) The Princess Bride (1987). Amazing characters, astonishing events, a large cast ranging from Robin Wright to Billy Crystal.

5) The Shop Around the Corner (1940). The movie that inspired the Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks flick, You’ve Got Mail.

6) Love Affair (1939). Another production that inspired a well-known film—in this case, An Affair to Remember (which stars Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr).

7) Holiday (1938). A gem of a movie, with a cast headed by Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Set at Christmas time, but the one-word title actually refers to taking time off from work rather than to the Christmas season.

Word of the Month: Compassion

In her book Radical Acceptance, meditation teacher Tara Brach defines compassion as “our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive.” What is it that we are perceiving? Usually when we talk about compassion, we are perceiving the suffering experienced by people or by animals. Compassion can be viewed as genuine caring about the suffering of beings.

It’s important to be clear on what compassion is not. It’s not pity or feeling sorry for someone. Compassion has more depth than that. Also, compassion isn’t only something we can direct at other beings; we can have compassion towards ourselves as we deal with our own struggles.

Compassion often leads to a desire to take action to alleviate suffering. We might feel that we need to constrict our compassion because we can’t solve everyone’s problems. However, there are all kinds of ways to act compassionately. Sometimes it can be as simple as sending out good wishes and thoughts to those who are suffering. In other cases, just listening to someone who is going through a rough patch can be a deeply compassionate act. And in other situations, we may choose to direct some of our resources to charitable organizations that are coordinating relief efforts following a natural disaster such as a tornado or typhoon. Each of these acts can be a meaningful way to address some of the suffering in the world.

See February 2014 article

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