Jean's Take

A blog about words, women, & whimsy

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The Gay Tony!!!

I am sooo tired of Neil Patrick Harris and his ‘Gay Tony’!  He emceed the Tony Awards again last night.  Last year he opened the show with a robust song about how they can now admit they’re gay.  During the song, he ran around the theatre pointing, tapping people on the head or shoulders singing, “You’re gay, you’re gay, you’re gay”, throwing out an occasional, “You’re not.”

This year, among other things, he had a clever play-on-words to announce that the audience was ‘fifty shades of gay’.  I would think that ‘straights’ in the audience would begin soon to think this tiresome and complain to CBS–even if they are almost extinct–according to Harris.

Now, I don’t care if Harris is gay, shades of purple, came from outer space, or was born in a log cabin and walked to school, he is quite a talent and, last year, I tuned in just to see him–I tuned out during that opening song.  I guess he needs to express his sexual orientation, especially since he plays a straight lady’s man on his sitcom, maybe that bothers him.  But I think he’s gotten the word around and most people don’t care, maybe that bothers him too.

The Tonys are not about sexual orientation and I doubt that anyone who was there with a nomination for anything did it thinking–I’m gay or I’m not. 

But maybe I’m wrong.  In that case, maybe we should have a Gay Tony and a Not Gay Tony; now, all we have is a ‘one for all’.

In any case, that’s my 2 cents!




Thought to Ponder: Gertrude Stein

“A diary means yes indeed.” 

I think I like that, but I’m not sure why.  If you figure it out, let me know.






“Everything is either real or fictional but only the fictional has to make sense.”  P araphased from a spy film of several years ago called, The International, it obviously refers to subrosa activities but it made me think of writers of fiction.  The idea that fiction has to make sense is something we deal with every time we write.  For example, would the OctoMom have made sense until there was an OctoMom? 

I read a silly book by the popular writer Patricia Cornwell some years ago that had lots of southern dialect.  As I struggled through it, I got to a part where the Guv’nor got a seeing-eye pony.  Takes a lot for me not to finish a book, but that did it! I slammed the book shut, marveling that anyone, even Patricia Cornwell, could get a book published with such a silly thing.

Cuddles with shoes!

Then a friend sent me a website about little ponies being trained as seeing eye ponies and, by the way, Cornwell has an interest in them.  Still, I wonder if she would have put them in one of her Kay Scarpetta novels.  Hmmmm?

In my latest novel, Backstage at the Whitehouse, I needed a peasant sounding  last name for a German housekeeper.  My first thought was a friend of my mother’s years ago named Clodfelter.  But wait a minute!  Does that sound real?  Hmmmm?



I Like That! Henry David Thoreau wrote . . .

“Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. . . To me, awake is to be alive.”   (Walden, 1854)    Yes, I Like That and that’s really Walden Pond!

Awakening to a dawn in me conjures up lovely images;  a flower gradually opening  to the morning sun, the early morning sun–for me, Venice in the early morning sun glowing in a violet haze–I saw that once; the luscious idea of waking in the morning after a good night’s sleep, stretching, wiggling my toes, waiting  just a moment before I open my eyes to let in the world.  A moment that is singular, mine alone.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) spent two years in a small house at Walden where he writes, “I went to the woods to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  

While he was in the woods, living deliberately, he deliberately clashed with organized society by refusing to pay his taxes because he disapproved of the Mexican War and slavery.  Out of this incident came his essay titled “Civil Disobedience”.  Story goes that Ralph Waldo Emerson, his friend, came by the jail and taunted, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” to which Thoreau replied, “What are you doing out there?”  I don’t know if its true but I like that.

And his most popular quote from his concise and eloquent prose . . .

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”

I really like that!!!



Bad WalMart!!!

I just read David Barstow’s expose’ in the Sunday NYTimes of  Wal-Mart’s latest shenannigans,  “Vast Mexican Bribery Case Hushed up by Wal-Mart After top-level struggle  which exposes bribes, pay-offs and cover-ups as Wal-Mart was developing their monster chain in Mexico.  Horrors!!!  Did you know that one out of five Wal-Mart’s is in Mexico.  Do you think Wal-Mart may have something to do with Mexicans coming here?

Now, I don’t like Wal-Mart, and I won’t shop there.  I don’t like the way they treat employees, especially women–but people still work there and lots of women; I don’t like the way they crowd the ‘Mom and Pop’ stores–but that’s what capitalism is all about.  I could give you a page full of reasons why I don’t like Wal-Mart–in pica print–but the thing I dislike the most is what I see as an arrogant attitude as they change communities in a self-serving, self-righteous manner–this annoys me mightily.

I read the article with relish, eager to read bad stuff, smirk abit and nod my head knowingly, but I was disappointed, it sounded like old news and I doubt that I’m alone.

Over more than a decade, we have been bombarded with Enrons,  irresponsible bankers, an unrestrained Wall Street, unscrupulous Hedge Funds, private interest groups, a paralyzed government encumbered with self-serving bureaucrats, and worst of all, a sad and sinful war.   Wal-Mart seems little by comparison.

After all we’ve been through, it’s easy to want to say, “They all do it, WalMart just does it bigger”; but we can’t.  If we don’t address BAD then how can we expect BETTER.  I’m going to remember that the next time Wal-Mart is naughty.    And for that, I thank the press, and in this case the NYTimes and David Barstow for reminding meThat’s Jeanstake, what’s yours?


Did you know that Walt Whitman liked to wear Red Union Suits. I like that!!!

Yes, he did, and I got it from a Whitman Scholar.  Some years ago, a guest professor gave a lecture in a graduate Literature class I was taking.  He arrived in blue jeans, red underwear showing under a plaid shirt with rolled-up sleeves and with a frazzled gray beard, he looked authenic Whitman.  Once he informed us about the long johns, also called Union suits, well, that was it for me–I love trivia.   

Walt Whitman died in 1892 but in 1895 the Montgomery Ward Catalog was selling Union Suits for 10 cents a piece–I checked it out.  Wonder what he paid?    


New Year’s Eve in Paris! What would you do?

When our daughter and son-in-law invited us to go to Paris for New Year’s, they said that they would get the plane reservations and the hotel but “You plan it!”  Hmmmmm?  Plan 5 days, and my daughter had never been there, her husband had only been there on business and my husband and I hadn’t been there in over 30 years–we took the sightseeing route.

  • The first day, we went to Musee d’ Orsay.
  • The second day, we hired a car and guide to take us around the city. ( Ask for his name if you go.)
  • The third day, we spent at the Louvre.
  • The fourth day, our car and guide came back and we went to Versaille.
  • The fifth day–that was New Year’s Day–we went to a concert of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons” in a very old church that was very moldy.  

But New Year’s Eve–that was the key to the holiday, and it had to be a memory of Paris that we could only get in Paris.  We decided to dine elegantly on epicurean masterpieces concocted in a quintessential French restaurant, and with the help of our hotel concierge–contacted before we left–we chose Le Crystal Room Bacarrat —it’s also a Bacarrat Crystal museum–where we  were served a 7-course meal from 9pm to almost 1am.


  1. Delight of cucumber in the mint, caviar from Aquitaine,   sweetness of Manzana
  2. Foie Gras perfumed with juniper berries, turnips in bitter sweet
  3. Sliced Scallops from Erquy with combawa
  4. Blue Lobster warmed to Champagne, artichokes with truffle
  5. Farmer Poultry suprememe rasted way “Rossini”, conchiglionis with truffle and parmesan cheese  (Did you know that truffles are the most expensive food.  A pound of white truffles costs about $2000.)
  6. Lemon Macaroon and its sorbet
  7. Variation around the chocolate                  

Bon Appetit





Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts if you go to Paris for New Year’s

Bon Jour,

I went to Paris for New Year’s!  It had been over thirty years and a lot of Frequent Flyer Miles since that visit and I was eager to re-see it. 

  1. Don’t go for New Year’s; it’s crowded with foreigners!
  2. Don’t go far from your hotel on New Year’s Eve if you don’t have set plans for getting back.  You won’t be able to get a cab and the Metro is unpredictable.  You are forewarned.
  3. Don’t dress like a tourist!  Do the ‘when in Rome thing’—dress like the French—blend instead of stand out.  I guarantee that you’ll be treated better and enjoy yourself more.
  4. Do get tickets in advance to places you definitely want to visit.  I had tickets to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay in advance. There was even a line for ticket holders at The Orsay—but shorter, and at the Louvre, we went in a back door.
  5. Don’t stand in long lines long!  I know, it’s hard to leave knowing you haven’t seen the Mona Lisa, but, you’ll live.   There is so much to see in this beautiful city that you should not waste a moment on such mundane things as standing in line. Instead, go to the Rodin Museum or one of the many others—you are in the ‘city of art’; go sit by the Seine and watch the smoke from the stacks of little tug boats fold back as they go under the low bridges–Hemingway did.  AND EAT—when in Paris, you eat.

6. Do make dinner reservations for nine pm.  This is the time to eat inParis.  I know what you’re thinking, but it will be worth it.  By that time they are fully staffed and ready for you.  If it helps, be glad you are not inSpain where it is at least ten before anyone will want you. Almost any café or bistro will do but this is also where your hotel  concierge comes in handy.  Remember, FOOD is what the French do well and they take pride in it.

7.  Do hang out in the Montmartre.  It’ll be crowded but you can still find your own space.  For example, sit on the steps of the Basilica Sacre Coeur and think about where you are, stop by Renoir’s home, and wander around the artists at work in the square and wonder if another Van Gogh, Renoir, or Degas is waiting for you to spot them.

8.  Do hang out at Le Père Lachaise.  Just about anyone who was anyone in France is buried there.  Get a map and begin your search for them. (I put an app in my I-Pad.)  Here’s a starter list:  The tragic lovers Abelard and Héloïse share a canopied tomb, Frederic Chopin is buried with a small urn of Polish soil and a red rose on top, Edith Piaf, Balzac, Bizet, Colette, Corot, Daumier, Max Ernst, Pissarro, Proust, Rossini, Seurat, Stravinsky, Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, and even Jim Morrison—a treasure trove of immortals to whom you may pay your respects.

9.  Don’t take a Dinner Cruise unless you have planned for transportation afterward.  We took one with Bateaux Parisienne.  The sights were lovely and the food was good enough but it was somewhat ruined when there was no transportation at the Quay when we disembarked and the boat people were just interested in getting home themselves.  Plan ahead.

10.  Do spend lots of time with the Eiffel Tower. It is soooo French and simply magical, especially at night when it’s lit up.  In fact, if you stand near it, close your eyes, sing a little of Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris”, and click you heels 3 times, well, who knows what it might bring.  I wish I had thought of that when I was there–let me know.

Bon Voyage.

(In my next blog, I’m going to tell you my menu for New Year’s Eve.  A French eating experience.  Look for it.)





Congrats to Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland . . .

who has served longer than any other woman in the US Senate!!! She’s been there 35 years. When she arrived, there was only one other woman there. Do you know who? I don’t, I’m going to have to look her up.

Now there are 17 women in the US Senate. I LIKE THAT!!!


Would Margaret Thatcher have liked ‘The Iron Lady’?

I’m surprised that women have not questioned the substance of the film, The Iron LadyAll we’ve done is gush and goo over how well Meryl Streep plays an old woman with Alzheimers, how good the make-up is and how much Meryl Streep looks and acts like Margaret Thatcher.  Yes, ladies, Margaret Thatcher, one of the most prominent ‘one of us’ in the 20th Century.

The Margaret Thatcher I knew was a gutsy lady who took on one of the biggest and surely the oldest ‘old boys’ clubs, the British Parliament, to become the first female Prime Minister and then serve in that post for over eleven years.  She never backed down to the IRA who tried to assasinate her or even on the Falkland Islands whom many thought were hardly worth the effort.  She was a good friend of Ronald Reagan and the USA during the Cold War, and earned the title, The Iron Lady, because of her fortitude and uncompromising attitude.

But that woman isn’t in this film.  In her rare flashes of lucidity, she seems to question her earlier decisions–the IRA, the Falklands–is she really doing that?  How do they know?   Makes you wonder if IRA sympathizers wrote this, thinking they can get even because now she’s old and sick and can’t fight back . . . .

On top of all this, her dead husband is walking around reminding her that she was an MIA wife and mother, and her son won’t talk to her and her daughter is angry.  I’m angry too, we should all be angry that women are judged, even now, in the 21st century because we didn’t stay home with the kids.

I’m concerned too.  I’m concerned that no one has tried to set the record straight.  That the film has not caused an unprecedented amount of writing about the real Margaret Thatcher.  Perhaps we should be mindful of Thatcher’s own words . . . .

In February 2007, when she was already ill, she was honoured with a statue in the Houses of Parliament.   In a brief speech she said, “I might have preferred iron – but bronze will do … It won’t rust.”




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