Sunday, November 29, 2009

More of Emily's Wedding Pictures

She certainly looks gorgeous....and I'm not prejudiced either.







 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Even More about Seaman's Scarves & a trip to Coveted Yarn

I just came back from Coveted Yarn on East Main Street. WOW have they grown! Rob, the ever cheerful and helpful, was working and we had a chance to chat. The place was packed! It absolutely amazes me how many knitters there are these days and how devoted they are to knitting. Two young women were seated on the couch knitting away, other women were browsing. It was great.



I stopped because I decided I need to get to work on two samples for my planned Seaman's Scarves workshop. I want to knit one in an Aran pattern and one in a Guernsey pattern and I wanted very, very soft worsted weight yarn in masculine colors. Lucky for me Rob had a sale on Laines Du Nord Maxi. You can't beat $2.50 a ball. So I walked away with 6 balls and two pairs of bamboo needles for under $25. Not bad. I love the colors --- Evergreen and Warm Gray.


***********************Later in the Day***************************
It's coming along nicely. I love this stitch (click photo to enlarge):


Tomorrow Rob is having a special workshop day with my friends Leslie Wind and Rose Ann Hunter. It should be a great opportunity for local knitters to see their special offerings and stock up on yarn for all those knitting projects. I will be here knitting away.


I think I have mentioned before my fondness for listening to BBC Scotland's radio programs while I work. Yesterday on Around Orkney they were talking about Mrs. Dolly Davis (above). Mrs. Davis has been a busy knitter --- she just completed 65 teddy bears like the ones she is holding in the picture. They will be shipped to an orphanage in Africa for Christmas presents. Mrs. Davis is 100 years old and her knitting needles still fly.


So I am off to get knitting. I have way too many projects in the works these days but, so what? Knitting keeps you sane and productive. Look at Dolly Davis.


Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Each Angel Burns available on Amazon's Kindle & other e-formats


As most of you know getting my new novel, Each Angel Burns, to press has been slow going for a variety of reasons but I'm happy to say that it is now available on Amazon in their Kindle store. It is also available for digital download to PCs and PDAs  in three digital formats --- TXT, HTML or PDF --- through HeartThrobBooks.com or at Each Angel Burns. All digital downloads are $5. I hope I'll get the last few details worked out for the paperback soon. In the mean time, this is the synopsis:


In the latter part of the 19th century the Monastery of St. Gabriel the Archangel was built on a cliff overlooking the ocean on a peninsula in Maine. From its earliest days there were rumors of strange activity there --- tunnels through the cliff were reported to give access for smugglers, a miracle-working nun was said to live there, and a group of drunken lumberjacks who stormed the convent to kidnap wives claimed to have been vanquished by a giant angel with a flaming spear. One hundred years later, when the last of the old cloistered nuns was removed to a retirement home, the decision was made to close and sell the convent. That's when it was discovered that the convent's treasure, a marble statue of the Archangel Gabriel by Italian sculptor Giovanni Dupré, was missing.

In Ripley Mills, Massachusetts the self-titled “wild bunch”, who played football together back in high school, gather every Thursday for dinner and beer. More than thirty years have passed and the group isn't what it used to be. Charlie's new female boss is young, pretty, and intimidating. Whitey's wife has cancer, Bull's wife just found out about his affair with an exotic dancer, and Vinnie can't get women to go out with him. Gabe's three daughters have grown up and his wife is making life miserable. Peter doesn't have those problems, he's a Jesuit priest. But they still get together every week to drink, eat, and listen to one anothers' problems. Then Father Peter makes a startling revelation, he had once been in love with a girl he met in Paris. He planned to leave the seminary to marry her but she rejected him to marry an older, wealthy man. Pete is happy as a priest teaching at Boston College but now Maggie has returned. She is leaving her husband and has purchased an old, abandoned convent in Maine that she plans to convert to a sculpture studio.

On Pete's recommendation Gabe takes the job of helping Maggie to restore the convent. But, as winter closes in, the mysteries begin again. Stories are circulating about bodies of young women washing up on the shore. Maggie's husband refuses to answer her calls. Gabe's cantankerous father, Mick, tells him the truth about his mother who had once longed to be a nun in that convent. Ethan Darling, the local sheriff, is snooping around. Zeke, Gabe's dog, discovers a secret passage in the crypt under the chapel. And Father Peter realizes that Maggie is falling in love with his oldest friend.

Each Angel Burns is the story of three people at crossroads in their lives. It is a story of enduring friendship, of faith, of great evil and greater love --- and of how they culminate in a miracle.

Who, if I cried, would hear me, of the angelic orders? or even supposing that one should suddenly carry me to his heart - I should perish under the pressure of his stronger nature. For beauty is only a step removed from a burning terror we barely sustain, and we worship it for the graceful sublimity with which it disdains to consume us. Each angel burns. - Ranier Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

I've also discovered a rather hilarious  Zazzle store item. The t-shirt at right is a spoof on the movie The Devil Wears Prada. But I think it is quite brilliant.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Remembering the Warner Theater

This morning I got a Comment on this blog entry from last summer. The Commenter is the author of a book about the Warner Theater and she included order info, so I am re-posting this for anyone who is interested in ordering it. This is from Barb Hauck:

 I'm really proud of the photos that Art Becker took of the Warner now published in my book "A Picture Palace Transformed: How Erie's Warner Theatre Survived a Changing World." You can purchase this book at Borders or go online to www.warnertheatrebook.com. It's sells for $29.95. Since it's publication on October 6, we've sold over 600. ALL PROCEEDS GO TO THE WARNER RESTORATION....nothing to me.
_____________


This morning I was talking to my dear Aunt Rosie (today just happens to be her birthday) who lives in Erie, PA. She is 83 and she and her second husband, Jim, whom I love dearly, too, are always a pleasure to talk to. Aunt Rosie and her first husband, my darling Uncle Buddy, were my godparents and my first novel, The Old Mermaid's Tale, is dedicated to him.

She mentioned that a friend of hers had just read The Old Mermaid's Tale and was thrilled by the descriptions of downtown Erie (even though I did some re-arranging for the sake of the story) and remembered well a few of the places mentioned, including The Carriage House Restaurant, the French Street Bookstore, and Sullivan's Tavern. While we were talking she mentioned the Warner Theater which didn't make it into the book but is one of my fondest memories of my early years in Erie.

The Warner was a fabulous, lavish Art Deco movie house built in the 1930s by Warner Brothers and designed by Rapp and Rapp. My first memory of it is going to see How The West Was Won there with my grandmother. She loved Jimmy Stewart. I think that is when I fell in love with Gregory Peck --- right there in the Warner Theater.

Later when I was in college I spent a lot of time at the Warner. I remember my roommate Claudia dragging me to see Funny Girl, a show that she went on to perform in on stage. And I remember seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Five Easy Pieces, Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider and The Lion in Winter (three times) in those lavish surroundings.

The place was faded when I knew it but still fabulous --- especially when the lights were low. It was the kind of fabulousness that creates mystique and fascination and a sense that there are wonderous things to be discovered in the world. Sometimes I think I just went there in order to be there.


So I went online looking forinformtion about it and I found some beautiful photos thanks to a guy called RamBear. You can see all of them on his Flickr page. The Warner has been renovated and is now a live theater which hosts the Erie Ballet and Symphony. It is a focal point of the downtown community.

I'm a big lover of the magic of hauntingly beautiful and mysterious places --- as anyone who has read The Old Mermaid's Tale can tell you. Looking at those photos today I can't help but think the time I spent there as a young woman worked its way into my soul and worked its magic on my writing. I hope so....

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More about Seaman's Scarves or Why I should never drink beer....

Tuesday night was a DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) meeting at the Cape Ann Brewery. Let me say first that I am 100% in favor of boring meetings being held in taverns. Cape Ann Brewery is an absolutely wonderful choice even thought they only serve beer. It is light, bright, conveniently located, and adorable inside with long wooden tables with benches and a dozen or so rocking chairs. Pure genius.



So I went to the meeting, ordered one of their fabulous Pumpkin Stouts (left) and, you know, did the meeting thing. I am 100% behind the DMO and their efforts to lure (by any means, hehehe) people into Gloucester to do stuff that involves spending money. This includes plans for my Down-to-the-Sea Festival which I will return to blogging about any day now.


But while I was there I noticed that Kate, the bartender, was doing something interesting. In between serving beer she was KNITTING! Yes, siree bob, she was right there behind the counter knitting away. So, when the time was right, I commented on it and told her I was an avid knitter and had, in fact, written reasonably successful book about knitting. She then told me that the manager of the Brewery was talking about starting a night for knitters (and other needleworkers) to be held throughout the winter at their facility. What an excellent idea! What could be more pleasant on a cold winter night than to settle into one of their rocking chairs with a Pumpkin Stout, some knitting and some like-minded friends? But then the wheels in my head began to turn....



Ever since I wrote my blog about Seaman's Scarves I've received emails from knitters expressing interest in them. I learned about them from Myrna Stahman who wrote Stahman's Shawls and Scarves, the definitive book on seaman's scarves. So I emailed Ms. Stahman with my idea and she emailed back and one thing led to another. She pointed me to the web site for Christmas at Sea, a project The Seaman's Church Institute. Ever since 1898, during the Spanish American War, The Seaman's Church Institute has sent thousands of packages to mariners at Christmas time. Included in the packages are hand-knit items donated by knitters from around the country. These include watch caps, socks, vests, and, of course, scarves (photo above), in addition to lip balm, hand lotion and toothpaste and brushes. What a wonderful idea! So far this year over 7,000 knitted garments have been sent to the project but they need 10,000 more to meet their needs. (They also offer information on how citizens can help our mariners who are the victims of pirates at sea.) Their web site offers a list of free patterns in PDF format for both knit and crocheted patterns for the items they need.



So I got this idea (yeah, I need another project --- see what beer does to me). How about if I offer to teach knitters how to make Seaman's Scarves including the traditional Guernsey and Aran stitches that can be used in them at Cape Ann Brewery and, in exchange, ask for a donation to a local fund that benefits the families of men lost at sea? So, I offered this idea and Cape Ann Brewery said, “Fantastic, let's talk.”


Well, I don't know where this will go but I dug through my stash and pulled out some treasures to start knitting samples. I found a big bag of odds and ends of Lamb's Pride, one of my favorite wool yarns, which I am knitting in a striped patter (left) as one example. I also uncovered a huge spool of a beige, tweed wool-acrylic blend that I plan to use for more designs.


While I was rooting around I came across the yarn at left which is a Bernat Cotton with an evocative name. I have no idea where I got it. Wish I had more of it.


So, I'm going to stop into the brewery next week and we are going to discuss the plans but I think this could be a fun project. Stay tuned for more info but this is sounding better and better --- and excuse to drink beer --- and knit.


Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Uh-oh! The Lobster Trap Tree War is ON!

Our good buddy Joey Ciaramitaro over at Good Morning Gloucester is not the sort of fellow you want to mess with so when he picks a fight it's going to be worth showing up for. His Man vs. Food Competitions (videos on his blog) have been intense and drawn spectators from around the state. He recently challenged a local messge board to a bowling competition and the results were not pretty (well, truthfully, the whole outfit was not pretty before the first ball rolled). But this time it's gonna get really ugly! He's taking on the Lobster Trap Tree of Rockland, Maine.


This is their Crappy Unimaginative Maine Lobster Trap Tree:

And this is our Fantastic Majestic Gloucester Lobster Trap Tree

All I can say is "look out!" It's going to get very, very ugly, folks. Follow the action on Good Morning Gloucester and  Casco Bay Boaters (the truly ugly competition.)


Don't you love a good lobster trap tree war for the holidays?


Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Robin & Marion --- 33 Years Later

I LOVED this movie... it's on now... I'll get back to you:


Okay, I lied --- I didn't get back to you. But I'll try to make up for that. Last night I discovered that the 1976 movie, Robin and Marion, was available on Netflix's Watch Instantly. I loved that movie when it first came out and, over the years, I've watched it several more times but last night was the first time that I really, really understood it --- I guess that's what happens when you get older.


The story, for anyone who does not know, is a take-off on the Robin Hood legends but in this version quite a few years have gone by and the wild impulsiveness of youth has been tempered by experience --- and it sort of sucks. Robin and John, played by Sean Connery and Nicol Williamson, one of my favorite actors, have been away at the crusades fighting with Richard Lionheart, flamboyantly portrayed by the late Richard Harris who is just plain wonderful. They are battle-weary and disgusted so when Richard takes an arrow in the neck and keels over while threatening to have them both executed (again), they decide to return to Sherwood Forest. But Sherwood Forest ain't what it used to be. Most of their men have scattered and the only ones left are Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet, played by the always wonderful Denholm Elliot. They also learn that when Robin marched off to war without so much as a good-bye, Marion joined the convent and is now the Mother Abbess. Audrey Hepburn as Marion is just absolutely exquisite --- well, she's exquisite in everything but especially in this film as the delicate but fiery counter-point to a crew of scruffy, crusty, smelly warriors, she is like a flower in a pile of rocks.


When Robin finds her she is about to be arrested by the Sheriff of Nottingham, devilishly played by Robert Shaw, another of my very favorite actors. He's still the Sheriff and has had enough of all these crazy fools trying to rouse the rabble to fight King John, also deliciously portrayed by Ian Holm. The rest of the movie is a brilliant adventure in craziness, the unfortunate interference of human frailty that comes with age, and heart-breaking sweetness.


Though I loved this movie thirty years ago, now, as I am dealing with my own confrontations with age and its insults, as well as having lost someone I love, the movie affected me in a whole new way. Naturally it was delicious seeing all those wonderful faces again --- Robin and Marion has nothing if not a spectacular cast. But there were moments in which I felt as if my heart was breaking along with the characters. When Little John tells Marion, who is trying to convince him to prevent Robin from getting into another battle, that “if you were mine, I'd never have gone (off to the Crusades)”, I was stunned that I had never paid attention to that scene before. And finally, when things have gone badly, Marion steps aside so it is Little John --- who has spent all those many years fighting beside Robin in the Holy Land --- who is closest to him at the end.


It's a beautiful, deeply moving movie. Marion's love for Robin is at the heart of it but Robin's love for Little John, for his men and the people he spent his life fighting for, and even for King Richard, is given equal weight and it touched me deeply and made me think about that. We live in a culture that idolizes romantic love and romantic love is a beautiful thing. But there is so much more love than just the love between a man and woman in the world. I guess I loved this movie for portraying that so well.


It's just all this getting older stuff. It comes with so many disappointments and limitations and confrontations with one's own short-comings. But it also provides an opportunity to look at our lives without the “glamor” (in the fairy-sense) of romance and realize that, despite what has passed from our lives, there is also this legacy of all this stuff we have had --- and will always have.


I'm glad I saw it again and this time with a wealth of experience that lends itself to appreciation. I'm not real crazy about this growing older business --- but it certainly has been well-earned and achieved through much that is good.


Thanks for reading.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Down to the Sea: 4. Mermaids



Mermaids are a treasured part of maritime lore. Stories of mermaids exist in seafaring cultures going back a thousand years before Christ. Though most cultures allow that there may be mermen as well, few have much mythology around them --- probably because the maritime trade was practiced mostly by men. Men alone at sea for long weeks, months, years longed for women and it is not surprising that they fantasized about them being available at sea.



Psychologically the mermaid has long represented the wild, untamed sexuality of women --- women who are free and unbound by the constraints of society. Is it any wonder that men fantasize about them and women long to be them?


In art mermaids have long provided an inspiration. During the Pre-Raphaelite period they were particularly popular among artists including Frederick Lord Leighton whose lovely “The Siren and the Fisherman” (right) probably epitomizes the fantasies of the men who dreamed up mermids in the first place. One of my favorite mermaid paintings is by Rockport artist Christine Mosher (left). So, an exhibition of mermaid art is definitely called for.

Mermaids have, fairly accidentally, become a theme in my life. My first novel, The Old Mermaid's Tale, was named that because the waterfront tavern that inspired the book was called The Mermaid Tavern. As a kid in Erie, PA, I was fascinated by it and, as an adult, my imaginings resulted in a romantic story based in the maritime lore of the Great Lakes. Later I designed a shawl that I named The Mermaid Shawl. That turned into a book of knitting designs and on and on it went.

For our proposed festival I an imagining mermaids having a prominent place in art and crafts. Coney Island has long been the home of a notorious Mermaid Parade which has a reputation for being more than a little risqué. But I think a Sailors and Mermaids Ball might be quite in order.

And, because children love mermaids we should include a Mer-Party for the little ones, too. Actually, I'm hoping to have quite a lot of activities for children --- including a paper maché Sea-Serpent event but more about that in another blog.
I've heard from a number of people since I started posting about this and all the comments have been positive and encouraging. There are two big events planned for 2010 in Gloucester but the Down To The Sea Festival may emerge as a natural outgrowth of one of them. In 2010 Gloucester is planning to host a Whale Festival. Many of the local whale-watch businesses are working on this and it will, of course, include the Maritime Heritage Center.
The other event being planned is The 100th Anniversary of poet Charles Olsen being planned for October.
Some great suggestions and ideas have come from people who are enthusiastic about a Down To The Sea Festival --- everything from a chowder cook-off to a lobsterboat drag race. Keep the ideas coming --- they are all good.
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Memory: The Edmund Fitzgerald

I forgot to post this yesterday, thirty- four years ago, November 10, 1975.........




And, in honor of Veteran's Day, My 2005 Veteran's Day Blog.


Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Down to the Sea: 2. Household Items Carved At Sea



As mentioned in the previous blog, I have this notion that we could construct a pretty interesting festival based in maritime arts and traditions here in Gloucester so, for the time being anyway, I'm going to blog such a festival and see how many more ideas I can come up with. In the last blog I talked about Sailor's Valentines. Because mariners were often at sea for weeks, months, even years, they spent a lot of time thinking about home. Those who worked on whaling ships often had an ample supply of whale bone to carve with and they spent their time carving useful items to present to their beloveds on their return.

One of the most popular items was a pastry crimper used to trim the edge of pie crusts from the pie. The story goes that if a young man presented a young lady with such a crimper she was obliged to make a pie for him. These are a few 19th century pastry crimpers carved from bone:
 

Other household items included utensils like this fork:
 
Letter openers:
 
And busks which are used in the construction of mi'lady's corset:
 
Some of the most frequently created items were for a lady's sewing/knitting basket. These items are so beautiful and, though we no longer can carve from whale bone, there are synthetic substances available that re used by contemporary artisans to simulate the look. Below is a gorgeous and elaborate swift for winding balls of yarn:
 
A pair of knitting needles and clothes pins:
 
A bodkin --- there hundreds of variations on these and most seamstresses today still use them:
 
And a spool rack:
 
So those are just a few of the carved objects in my virtual arts of the sea festival. Those who currently practice these arts can, of course, come and show their work, sell their wares, teach classes --- when I get this festival all worked out.

And, since this post contained examples of tools for knitters, in my next Down-to-the Sea blog I'll talk about fishermen's sweaters and seamen's scarves.

Thanks for reading.   

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Down to the Sea: 1. Sailor's Valentines

or some time now I have had this bright idea that I would like to see my beloved hometown-of- choice, Gloucester, begin hosting an annual festival which I want to call the "Down to the Sea" Festival. Lots of tourist towns seek to extend their season by sponsoring a festival either early in the season or late. Newburyport's Literary Arts Festival is already a great success and it is only in its fourth year


So, since the sea has such a rich, rich collection of arts and lore, I think it would be a natural for Gloucester. I even designed  logo for it, see:



The festival would combine arts, crafts, skills, competitions, challenges, etc. It could encompass everything from sea-chantie sing-offs to story telling (ghost stories especially --- wouldn't that be great? a competition to see who could tell the best sea-ghost story???) There could be forums for writers who write about the sea (maybe Mark Kurlanski can host!) and exhibitions of maritime art by our many, many diverse artists (Paul Frontiero, where arrrrre you?) And, of course, there will be exhibits and sales of the crafts associated with the sea. I'm going to talk about those in up-coming blogs and today I'll start with Sailor's Valentines.


The story goes that when men were aboard ship for months at a time they would collect shells and other sea treasures along their travels. Then, with the help of  ship's carpenter, they would fashion a box (the tradition is in the shape of an octagon) and they would spend the long hours aboard-ship fashioning designs inside the box to present to their sweethearts or wives. The piece would be finished with a piece of glass fitted on the top and it would be presented to their beloved upon their return.


The New Bedford Whaling Museum has a lovely collection of Sailor's Valentines. My favorite is this one constructed of all white shells.



Sometimes the natural color of shells were used to create the pattern.




In Nantucket Whaling Museum has this treasure, a double Valentine:
 
Sailor's Valentine
Probable Date:
19th Century
Materials:
Shell, wood, glass
Distinguishing Marks:
One side of octagon is very loose.
Height:
1.5"
Length:
18" open
Depth:
8.75"
Description:
Two hexagonal wood boxes joined with a single hinge. Each box contains an arrangement of shells and is glazed with glass. The left box has an anchor and flowers made out of shells. The right box has a basket and flowers made out of shells. This sailor's valentine was a gift from Capt. Jared Wentworth Tracy (1797-1864) to his wife, Mary Hussey Tracy (1809-1891). The anchor symbolized Capt. Tracy's intention to return home and "anchor" at his wife's side.



I think our festival could have an exhibit of contemporary Sailor's Valentines as well as workshops for making them, vendors selling supplies and a competition to see who could create the most beautiful one. 




So the Sailor's Valentine is my first choice for my mythical Down-To-The-Sea Festival. Next time I'll talk bout pastry crimpers.


Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

OK, I admit this is vain and petty....

..... but look who is the #3 lace book on Amazon (for the moment) and look which books it is ahead of!!! Will I ever be normal again? (Was I ever?) Since A Gathering of Lace and Victorian Lace Today are two of my very most favorite lace books I am thrilled.


Thanks for indulging me....


My Learn-To-Lace Beach Bag


The thermometer out back reads 43 degrees so, naturally, I am thinking about the beach. Well, okay, maybe that's not really true but if it was I would have the perfect bag to take with me. This is my new beach bag which I knit with a double strand of rayon from Yarntopia Treasures.


What is great about this bag is that it stretches and stretches and stretches. I can put a beach towel, a book, lotion, wallet, and assorted other necessities in it and still have room. It is pretty and extremely sturdy and, perhaps best of all, really lightweight.


The design is based on the same design I have been using for my marketing bags and, when I get them all written up, I'll make the pattern available. A lot of people tell me that they want to learn to knit lace but are intimidated by it so I got this bright idea. Since the important quality of marketing bags is that they be very stretchy and very sturdy. If you knit them up in a lace pattern that provides the stretch, and if you use a good sturdy yarn, like rayon, linen, cotton, or nylon, they will support a full load of groceries without breaking.


So I designed a basic marketing bag with a fairly wide, comfortable shoulder strap and then knit it up in five different lace patterns. My thinking is this --- each bag teaches the knitter a new, basic lace pattern. It's just a marketing bag so if you make some mistakes your groceries won't care. And by the time you have knit all five bags you will have learned five lace patterns and then you'll be hooked and confident and ready to move on to those woolen shawls and cashmere scarves you've been drooling over.



When I finished my marketing bags I had several balls of leftover yarn so I decided to make the beach bag. Because I used a double-strand it is larger and heavier than the marketing bags --- if you filled this bag with groceries you might not be able to lift it. And I worked it in Old Shale because it is one of my favorite lace patterns, is endlessly versatile, and I never get tired of it. Once you learn Old Shale you will automatically know Feather and Fan and Ostrich Plume just by varying the pattern slightly.


So this is my Learn-To-Lace Beach Bag. I'm working on the instructions now. I'll keep you posted.


Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Feast of All Saints


Today, November 1st, is the Feast of All Saints, a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church. For some reason this day has always been special to me. Today, All Saints Day, and tomorrow, All Souls Day, have always held a special attraction --- I guess because they honor all those souls who have passed through this world without being distinguished for any particular reason and yet they are lives that are worthy of remembrance.



Interestingly I stumbled on a movie this morning and wound up spending an hour and a half watching it while knitting lace and drinking coffee. It is a little known indie film called Into Temptation with no actors whose names I recognized and yet some absolutely gorgeous performances - especially by Jeremy Sisto and Kristin Chenowith.



Sisto plays a priest who is the pastor and only priest assigned to an urban church, The Church of Mary Magdalene (interesting name as the story unfolds). He is overworked, underpaid, tired and bored. He spends his days tending his flock: managing a shelter for alcoholic men, counseling parishioners dealing with unemployment, doubts about their Faith, realizing they are gay, etc. He sits in the confessional listening to middle-aged women go on and on about their husbands' inadequacies. He gives boring sermons to small congregations that aren't interested. He's having a tough time.


Then one day a woman comes into his confessional who tells him that she is a prostitute, is tired of the life, was molested by her step-father, and is going to commit suicide on her upcoming birthday. The rest of the movie is about Father Buerlein's attempt to find the woman before it is too late.



I found the movie disturbing in that this priest wound up going into a very steamy, depraved, ugly world --- the world of sex-for-sale --- in search of this woman. Along the way we meet some interesting characters including an old girlfriend and a hilarious, spoiled but still faithful, priest to a wealthy parish who is an old friend from their seminary days.


It's hard to explain how moving this movie was. In large part this was due to the very fine performances by Sisto as the sometimes-bumbling, often frustrated, yet still committed priest, and by Chenowith as the sad, mysterious, broken call-girl. The ending, most especially, is touching because we see, heart-breakingly, how one single act of kindness done decades before, became the one light in a dark and shattered life.


I don't know why I was so captivated by this story. Probably because the two main characters were like all the unrecognized souls that we encounter every day. Both of them chose a way of life and both of them have dealt with their choice as best they can and yet both can't stop wondering what the hell they are doing. And, in the end.... well, I won't tell you the end. But I will say that the very last scene will stay with me for a very long time.


Blessed All Saint's Day and thanks for reading.

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