Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

L’heure bleue

Some midweek fluff for your enjoyment. :-)

The sun has set, but night has not yet fallen. It’s the suspended hour… The hour when one finally finds oneself in renewed harmony with the world and the light. L’Heure Bleue is the moment when the sun disappears beneath the horizon and the sky is painted with night’s velvet. It is an atmosphere, an inexpressible rendering exceptional moments.

That’s from the website of parfumier Guerlain, which has been making a scent called L’Heure Bleue since 1912, and I think it’s a lovely description of the magic that happens at the end of the day, when the world holds its breath and, just for a moment, time stands still.

L’heure bleue in Venice.

Empathy As A Path To Activism

My dear sister has become a powerful voice and advocate within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) on behalf of marriage equality and LGBT issues in general. In a piece she recently wrote for a Mormon-oriented website she shares her evolution and offers some personal reflections. I offer a long excerpt from that piece below, both as a celebration of Pride Month and as a tribute to a remarkable woman who I’ve known since she was born.

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My sister, holding a sign at last year’s Pride Parade in San Francisco

I have always loved the beatitudes, especially the “mourn with” and “comfort those” verses. As a pediatric oncology nurse I have mourned with and comforted parents of dying children more times than I can count over the years. And yet, I have come to realize that until my son Ross came out six years ago at age eighteen, and my feet were set on a path I never chose, my understanding of this most Christ-like of attributes was not complete. I am not speaking of the empathy I felt for Ross, though as his mother, his pain was indeed my own.

A liberal education

From my personal archives. I’m in the mood to share something today. :-)

Washington and Lee is a fine old American university. At least that’s what I hear; I never studied there. My own (liberal) education began under quite different tutelage: that of Lawrence and Lee.

Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee were one of the great playwright partnerships of the American theatre, probably best known for Inherit The Wind (1955) — to this day one of the most-produced plays in America — which, along with other classic works from the ’50s like Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, was part of the nation’s arts community’s rejection of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his odious -ism.

The team went on to write The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail (1970), their response to the Vietnam war (they were against it) and First Monday in October (1978), a play about the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, which adumbrated Sandra Day O’Connor by three years (and which explored the ideological divide between liberal and conservative Justices).

By the time I got to know any of these works, however, I was already under the spell of another of Lawrence and Lee’s creations.

Or, more correctly, adaptations. Her name was Mrs. Burnside; and if Lawrence and Lee served as my first institution of higher learning, she was unquestionably the dean, the doyenne (a word, by the way — and this is no mere coincidence — that I first encountered in connection with Molly Picon, who I had read was “the doyenne of the American Yiddish theatre”).

The world knows her better as Auntie Mame.

The Jewel of Dresden

PhotobucketEighteenth-century Dresden was one of the loveliest cities in Europe. The capital of Saxony since the Middle Ages, under the rule of Prince-Elector Augustus the Strong (who ruled 1694-1733) Dresden was a leading center of art, culture and technology. All of these came together in some surpassingly lovely architecture, including a large Lutheran church in central Dresden’s Neumarktplatz (New Market Square).

The Dresdner Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) was begun in 1726 and completed in 1743; it represents in stone something akin to what the music of J.S. Bach does in notes and staves: the apotheosis of the German Late Baroque style. (It is poetically appropriate that Bach, on a visit to Dresden in 1736, gave a recital on the Frauenkirche’s superb Silbermann organ.)

The church’s most distinctive feature was its unconventional 96 m-high dome, called die Steinerne Glocke or “Stone Bell”. An engineering feat comparable to Michelangelo’s dome for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Frauenkirche’s 12,000-ton sandstone dome stood high resting on eight slender supports. Despite initial doubts, the dome proved to be extremely stable. Witnesses in 1760 said that the dome had been hit by more than 100 cannonballs fired by the Prussian army led by Friedrich II during the Seven Years’ War. The projectiles bounced off and the church survived.


Semper AugustusIn the first decades of the 17th century the Dutch went mad for tulips. At the height of the craze in the 1630s, tremendous sums were given, fortunes were gained and lost – for a flower with no scent, no commercial application such as dye, or perfume, or medicine; a flower that bloomed for only a few days a year.

The most highly-prized tulips were those which, through some fluke, displayed variegated colors in flame-like striations; one of the most spectacular of these varieties was known as the Semper Augustus, a stunning blossom of deep carmine flames on a pure white ground.

These extraordinary flowers were called by the Dutch ‘broken.’