EPISODE 80: I’ll Catch The Sun

This is about sentimentality. I’m not so bearish about sentimentality as I once was. In fact, I’m pretty bullish on it these days.

Yes, I know: “Sentimentality (is supposed to be) long-term cruelty.” And some well-known dictators have been a lot nicer to their pets than to their subjects. In other words, it’s possible to be a sentimentalist and awful at the same time.

But sentimentality has the benefit of being in touch with feeling. And feeling is good. Feeling is deep, instinctive almost, and often allied with love. Don’t we generally wish we had more “heart” — or wish others did? (Have you listened to “Damn Yankees” recently, not the Group but the Musical?)

This podcast was fun to make. PZ got to sing some vintage Rod McKuen. Twice! And what is not to LOVE about Rod McKuen?

 

EPISODE 81: Violette Amoureuse

Pure and vitrail-like romantic love exists in a late Jacques Demy entitled Une Chambre en Ville. It was released in 1982 and restored Demy’s critical reputation.

The movie is a musical with affinities to “Les Miserables” but takes place during a contemporary workers’ strike. Richard Berry plays the male lead; and Dominique Sanda, the female lead.

A scene occurs fairly early in the film, however, that remains impressive, at least to me, after 30 viewings. The male lead, who is a leader of the strike, meets up with — it’s actually the other way around — his girlfriend ‘Violette’, who is completely smitten with her man. She is so totally given to her love for ‘Francois’ that she barely sees the strike and the tension and the stress of the town. Violette is head over heels.

In the scene I am talking about, Violette and Francois walk around the town, banter a bit, and he basically rebuffs her enthusiasm. He is probably too worldly for her (or rather, she, too un-worldly for him), and he is a little embarrassed by her total ardor.

She will hear none of his objections during the scene, and dances off at the end, so in love and so unable to “get the picture”.

I wish for you a Violette. I wish for all who love: a Violette. At this end, I met my Violette, long ago, and I’ll never turn away.

Poor Francois!: he gets Dominique Sanda; but before you say, Lucky Him, see the movie. Never turn away a Violette.

 

EPISODE 82: Speaking in Tongues

Fifty years at the plaguing task of learning foreign languages: joy and acute frustration, puzzlings and answers, “great leaps forward” together with devastating setbacks, blessed immediacy and stunning alienation.

These have all been part of my attempts to learn foreign languages.

This podcast is about the “how to” and the recurring, literally lifelong flops and joys in the acquisition of that sole actual way into the “inner child” of anyone who has grown up speaking a different language than one’s own.

What are we really talking about here?: Love through verbal communication, and how to rappel into that “sweet spot” of inwardness that Luke Skywalker himself needed divine help to find.

EPISODE 83: I’m Younger Than That Now

I used to get as sick as you do now, of people who say they’re just beginning to learn, and they’re 50 or something. Makes me want to say, “So what am I doing over here, trying so hard to acquire this or that skill? Don’t condescend to me!”

Yet Dylan did say, in “My Back Pages”, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

For this reason I’m not ashamed to say that Jacques Demy means more to me today than a whole bunch of people who used to mean a lot to me.

I like Demy’s “focus on the family”: On the realities of bitter single mothers, experimenting (rebellious) daughters, old men who just want a woman to love them — and better by far, if she’s their age, and that decisive role which “chance” (one could also say, Providence) plays in human futures. That’s not to mention the music!: Michel Legrand, and later, Michel Colombier; and the costumes! and the sets and interiors — all those splashy colors!

The New Year began with a surge of new enthusiasm for Bishop Bell. And I haven’t stopped. But I’m almost more taken, just now, with Jacques Demy. Not Demy as an enthusiasm, but Demy as a portrayer of concrete human truths, mostly concerning the course of love.

Go to YouTube and just type in unechambreenville (no spaces between the words, that’s the key), or troisplacespourle26 (no spaces); and you’ll get to heaven. (Tho’ you’ll never get to heaven if you break my heart.)

This time, too, there are English sub-titles: