Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ichabod Crane - A Halloween Memory

This Halloween, I was thinking back on all the scary stories and movies I have seen over the years and while there were many, none stand out more than the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.

The story isn’t gory, just scary, but why I love this story so much is because my grandmother would read it to me from a large book she had. Even the name of the school teacher, Ichabod Crane, sent shivers down my spine when she read it to me.

For those of you who don’t know who Ichabod Crane is, he is the school teacher in the story who is attempting to woo Katrina Von Tassel. There is another rival for her affections, Abraham "Brom Bones" van Brunt, who tries to humiliate the schoolmaster, but cannot compete with Crane’s social skills at a party.

Ichabod Crane asks Katrina Von Tassel to marry him but the proposal is refused. Upon leaving the party, Ichabod meets the Headless Horseman who is believe to be a Hessian solider who lost his head in the Revolutionary War when he was hit by a cannon ball. Ichabod runs for his life across a bridge and …. Did you think I was going to spoil it for you?

The Legend of Sleep Hollow is the Night Before Christmas for Halloween. It’s a must read. I will be reading it this Halloween from the same book my grandmother read from when I was a child.

Happy Haunting!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Frida Kahlo!

Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist, was born on this day in 1907. I have always admired Frida Kahlo, not just for her paintings, but for what she endured in her life time. Her paintings, which are a majority of self-portraits, reflect the physical and emotional pain she endured from her accident as a teen, her tumultuous marriage to Diego Rivera, and her three miscarriages.

Kahlo’s physical challenges began at the age of 6 when she contracted polio which caused her right leg to be thinner than her left. At the age of 18, she suffered numerous debilitating injuries when the trolley she was riding in crashed. Kahlo suffered a broke spinal column, broken collarbone, broken ribs and pelvis, 11 fractures to her right leg, her right foot was crushed and dislocated, and her shoulder was dislocated. In addition, a broken iron handrail pierced her abdomen and uterus which resulted in her inability to have children. These injuries plagued her entire life. Bouts of extreme pain would confine her to bed for months.

Ironically, Kahlo didn’t start to paint until after her accident as a way to pass the time. I often ponder the plan the Divine has for us when I read of a story like this where one’s true calling is found in the mist of despair. Kahlo continued to paint and one recovered sought the guidance of the famous mural painter Diego Rivera. Soon their friendship blossomed into a love affair despite his reputation for womanizing
Frida and Diego were married on August 21, 1929 when she was 22 and he was 42. It was Rivera’s third marriage and Frida’s first. Their marriage was plagued with heartbreak as well. Rivera continued to womanize and eventually had an affair with her sister. She had many affairs throughout their marriage as well. They were divorced in November 1939 largely due to his affairs and violent temper. Frida and Diego didn’t stay apart for long, however, and remarried in December 1940. They remained married until her death on July 13, 1954.

Frida communicated her physical pain, her anguish over losing 3 children, and the hurt of Diego’s cheating through the brutally honest imagery of her portraits. Whenever I look at her paintings, I see part of myself. I would highly recommend the movie Frida. It is one of my favorite movies and is a brilliant depiction of Frida’s life.