Monday, July 15, 2013

Edward Gorey Vintage Book Covers

Another great article from the website Brain Pickings caught my eye. This article highlighted many of Edward Gorey's vintage book covers from great literature. Here are some of my favorites. I think the War of the Worlds cover is the best, though that reading would not be my first choice. Check out Brain Pickings for more.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Merry Clayton

Having just seen "Twenty Feet From Stardom," (a documentary about backup singers) I have a newly developed respect and knowledge about some of  music history's most 'unsung' talented singers. Though all of their stories are compelling, Merry Clayton's story about recording "Gimme Shelter" with the Rolling Stones in 1969 is singular.

I've always really loved the timelessly haunting "Gimme Shelter" track by the Rolling Stones, not only for Keith Richards' masterful guitar playing, but also because the song captures a tumultuous and dark period in American history. Despite this, I have never given any thought to the woman singing back up vocals on this song. Many of us have not.

In 1969 the Rolling Stones were in LA recording their "Let it Bleed" album. Merry Clayton was sleeping at home when she received a call from a
Merry in the 1970's
friend at midnight, asking if she could come and do a gig with a British band. The 'boys' could find no one else at the last minute.

Merry Clayton was well known as a back up singer at the time, and had worked quite a bit in the 1960's singing with Ray Charles, Tom Jones, Carole King, and Burt Bacharach. Still, she had never heard of the Rolling Stones, and was ten months pregnant at the time. She was reluctant to go, but her husband finally persuaded her. By the time she finished recording in the studio it was 4am.

Mick Jagger says Merry was able to effortlessly pick up the vocals. She sang "Oh children, it just a shot away" first. When they introduced the lines "rape, murder, it's just a shot away," Merry was a bit taken aback. Mick explained the lyrics, and then Merry persisted, despite feeling bloated and faint. Merry sang with such emotional intensity, and hit such high notes that her voice cracked. Hear her here:

Sadly, Merry miscarried and lost her baby later that day, perhaps due to the strain of singing. She said that for many years she could not listen to the version of "Gimme Shelter" that she recorded with the band that night, due to the painful memory.

By the way, Merry Clayton also sang back up for "Sweet Home Alabama," and "Southern Man." She is a gem of a woman. See "Twenty Feet From Stardom," it's awesome!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Missing Earring Mystery

Perhaps my grandmother Gwen channeled in from the great beyond
Margaret Gwendolyn Downing
recently. If I believe in the paranormal at all, it's always been around the occasional spooky happenings regarding my grandmother, since she passed in 1997.

In June I participated in a student/ instructor exhibit over at the Eliot Street School in JP. I have taken a couple of assemblage classes there. I entered one piece that I had completed in 2011. It was of my grandparents. It was a black, painted cigar box containing letters, photos, and buttons. There was also a pink and black earring glued on the side of the box, which belonged to my grandmother. 

I gave the box to my mom as a gift, so I had to drive up to Maine to retrieve it. When I got to Maine we noticed the earring was missing. We searched frantically in all the obvious places that my mom would put it. We figured one of the kids might have broken it off. 

I submitted the box to the show anyway, without the earring.

Earring now intact
When I arrived at the exhibit, I stood looking at all the entries, including my own. Suddenly I realized, lo and behold, the earring was attached! I seriously thought I was seeing things. I began to wonder if --- having just turned 50-- I was having a huge senility brain fart. Did I find the earring and attach it, but forget?

Apparently while setting up the exhibit, the earring fell out of the box. Somehow it was inside the box, hidden away behind something. Some good Samaritan, and very observant person, glued the earring back on in its original spot!

Nan would not have it any other way.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Walden Pond July 1st 2013

Natalie and Gavin
My sister says the kids had a blast during their recent visit. I admit I've been recovering, and  I missed them right away, despite the relief of returning to my familiar habits and comforts. On my birthday we went to Walden Pond and went swimming and walking. We arrived just in time, when it was relatively uncrowded, and still fairly sunny. We left just in time too, when it became more crowded, and started raining. 

     They enjoyed the swimming very much. We found a nice secluded inlet. Luckily I brought along shorts for Zach, though he said he wouldn't be swimming. I knew he would want to swim as soon as he saw the water. ( I suspect it's a self-conscious teenager thing: he wants to wear pants and a sweatshirt everywhere-- Or he's just like me)

As usual Walden Pond was somewhat magical. One of my favorite places. Sorry the pictures aren't that great.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Aquarium Bound

Yesterday Gavin, Zach, Natalie and I went to the New England Aquarium in Boston. They thoroughly enjoyed the day, especially riding the subway. There's a special exhibit of jellyfish at the museum, and a tank in which you can touch stingray. That was fun. They also have a special kind of tiny penguins- incredibly adorable. The big tank had an enormous sea turtle, and Zach spotted an eel. The big tank also had the usual small sharks and puffer fish. The top of the tank is off limits right now for reconstruction. 

the shadowy beast lurks

I was also impressed with the beautiful coral displays they had-- unicorn fish, blue starfish, clown fish, and lion fish. Really great.