Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Keep Breathing

It occurred to me that I've been remiss of late in my occasional mission to bring to a wider audience the splendors of Arab pop; the little gem above should take care of that for a while, with a new twist...

Yes, it's the just-released latest magnum opus from veteran Lebanese chanteuse Haifa, and a bold attempt on her part to reach a larger audience by singing in English.  The song itself is pretty negligible, it did strike me that were one to strip the arrangement down a little (okay, a lot) and add a few aboriginal instruments, it might pass for a (very) lesser Kate Bush track.

The video is both striking and, admittedly, a little bit of a mishmash, featuring as it does not merely the ample charms of the singer but everything from an apparently ill-fated astronaut to a hunky tattooed farmhand to what appears to be the chorus line from a production of Chicago reimagined for Taylor Dayne.  In any case, it's not dull, and whether or not it puts Miss Wehbe over to Western clubgoers, it will have accomplished its likely real objective: to put her back in the Arabic headlines, from Cairo to Kuwait, as a nice juicy spring scandal.


But what, you ask have I been up to of late, what with me being so remiss in posting?  Well, just in case anyone's keeping score, here are a few notes.

The best news is that my blasted health continues to improve.  I'm now, a little better than eight weeks out from The Big Cut, at the point where I'm at the lower end of feeling kind of normal, rather than the middle to upper end of Major Invalidism.  The biggest annoyance now is lingering discomfort (a big improvement, let me tell you, on pain, and no doubt about that), along with some concomitant restrictions in movement (I've taken to a kind of serpentine slithering movement in order to get into and out of cars, for example).  Cardiac rehab is going well, with the long-term goal of getting me into an exercise routine that will, with luck, help forestall at least for a good long time any further major issues.

One major joy is being increasingly independent.  I've become a convert to Uber, ferrying back and forth to the hospital thrice weekly to join my rehab buddies, and last night for the first time I tried out driving, with Mr. Muscato bravely in the passenger seat.  That went well, although it did recall the disastrous days in '79 when my poor parents tried to teach me to drive and is yet another notch in the ever-lengthening list of evidence of my husband's sainthood.

I'm only just easing - and slowly - back into Real Life, though, having decided to take full advantage of Gold Handcuffs Consulting Amalgamated International's generous medical-leave policies and my vast backlog of stored-up sick leave.  It's interesting to have weekly conversations with the office, but I think I'm not likely to grace the premises for another month or so.  Among other delights, that means I will have missed the annual evaluation cycle, likely to the great relief of several subordinates to whom my dear number two, now the acting head of my unit, is doubtless going to be significantly kinder than I.  And I don't even grudge them that, a sign both of my beneficent good nature and, I suppose, my inherent laziness.

Speaking of which:  boy, am I going to like being retired!  The occasional query about whether I'm not getting just a tad bored I greet with hearty laughter, as the days fly by.  I honestly think I could be highly contented with an indefinite routine of domesticity, spending my time reading, watching old movies, and keeping up vicariously to the extent that I care to with the doings of the Great Wide World. Add to that the time necessary to cook sensibly, as now I must, look after the dogs (getting dangerously pleased as they are with having people around all the time), and be nice to the Mister, and it's a full life indeed.  Oh, I did enjoy the days of swinging from chandeliers, but it's nice to know that a more Pymmish existence has its charms as well.

So here I am, taking note of the passing scene:  the sad loss of dear Miss Julie Wilson, for example, along with centenary of her muse Miss Holiday, among other landmarks; looking forward with anticipation to the day come June when it looks we'll be seeing marriage equality (and the very pleasant exploding of heads among the lunatic fringe) and with greater trepidation to the intensification of the endless presidential campaign; and watching things like the flourishing number of deeply B Poverty Row pictures now available on the YouTubes.

This week's highlight on that front was a 1939 Monogram programmer featuring the talents, such as they were, of the only recently departed Movita (aka the second Mrs. Marlon Brando, among other accomplishments).  Girl from Rio is nobody's idea of a masterpiece, but it's genuinely fascinating (even from a print that seemed to have been recorded through burlap) to see the tropes of '30s classics reduced to a kind of essence, with the added fillip that not only the lead (who at least has the excuse that English was her second language) but the majority of the cast seem to have played their line readings phonetically.  To me the real find wasn't so much the warbling of the future Mrs. Brando as it was the vampish turn by one Kay Linaker; she looks great in her lavishly silly makeup and does everything she can with the awkward dialog - and seems to have learned some lessons, as she went on to write the screenplay for The Blob, of all things.  If you've got a spare hour that you'd like to feel like three, give the picture a whirl.  If nothing else, you're sure to have its big number, the deeply irritating  and frequently repeated "The Singing Burro," stuck in your head.  Go ahead - I dare you.

So that's my doings; how's by you?

* You might, should you be so inclined, check out an earlier incarnation here; in doing so, you will doubtless note that while the song is nearly a decade old, the singer herself appears about a decade older than she does now - ah, the wonders of Lebanon!.  


  1. You sound, ever increasingly, in the pink and I couldn't be more delighted. I shall take you up on "Girl From Rio" as I have a longing for those cash-strapped B pictures and the people who peopled them. They tried so hard and never got the brass ring so I feel, somehow, honor bound to partake in their efforts. I'm sure all of them never thought we'd be watching their product 75 years later! I just watched a gaggle of mid 30s pictures from Mr. Maurice Conn, Producer. They were made just up the street from me and starred that adorable scamp, Frankie Darro and low-budget-serial-delight, Kane Richmond. Most Entertaining.

    Continue your marvelous progress, you sound swell.

  2. 1979!!! It all seemed so possible then.

    Glad you are on the mend, and looking forward to your return to the jaunts and haunts your employer dispatches you to experience.

    Meanwhile, spoil you dogs; your joy in having done so will increase over the years.

  3. A Pymmish existence is the very pinnacle of life. I hope you'll be able to embrace it full time soon.

  4. So glad you're on the upswing, honey! xoxo