Wednesday, 21 August 2013

I get a kick out of Cole Porter

Hiya fellas!
So, my fourth exam week in a row is about to be over on Thursday (which is when you can expect a post from me in my movie blog - I'm so glad I'm being able to keep them both!), but tomorrow it turns out I don't have any tests, which means I get to have a couple hours' break today, which is good news for my personal blog!
Okay, so I'm not gonna talk about school. I know how bored you'll be if I complain about everything getting in my nerves right now, so this will be a positive post. About music - what could be better?

"Night and day, you are the one. Only you beneath the moon and under the sun. Night and day, why is it so? That the longing for you follows wherever I go?"

It was not very long ago when I came across Cole Albert Porter. I wish I remembered what was the first song of his I ever listened to, because a lot of his songs are so mainstream right now that sometimes we hear it without ever knowing that it was Porter's creation. But I definitely do remember the one that made me fall in love with his lyrics - the most important part of a song for me - of pure poetry. It was "Anything Goes", from 1934. I remember my shock at the feisty, acid lyrics ("In olden days, a glimpse of stockings was looked on as something shocking, now heaven knows anything goes!") and such a catchy, Broadway-like melody. Little did I know it was a part of a musical, that was later made into a movie written by Sidney Sheldon himself, which, sadly, I have yet to see. But "Anything Goes" was enough to make me want to find out everything there was to know about Cole Porter.

He was born in 1891 (Can you notice my idols getting older and older? I'm ready for medieval kings now), in Peru, Indiana, out of a wealthy family. His musical training started early, with violin and piano classes, encouraged by his mother Kate, who was eager to have a prodigious son. She even falsified his birth records to make him appear as even more of a prodigy. But, the truth is she needn't have done so.

While still at Yale University, majoring in English and minoring in Music, he wrote 300 songs. As a post-grad student at Harvard, he was the president of the glee club. When he got out of university, dropping the last straw at his father's dream of having him become a lawyer, he went on to write Broadway and West End musicals. He enjoyed great success since the 1920s, writing hauntingly beautiful songs for the stage and screen. In time: Cole himself had a fairly good voice, but ultimately his songs outgrew him and were sung by the greatest interpreters who ever lived: Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Fred Astaire, Patti LuPone, Sutton Foster and others.

Porter's homosexuality was an open secret, regardless of his marriage to Linda Lee Thomas, that lasted until her death. There were rumors that she was homosexual too. He enjoyed the night life of New York City along with some of the most picturesque personalities of his day, and he certainly spoke to a more liberal walk of society with his art, proving that Porter was way ahead of his era in many ways. His music, however, touched the hearts of hard-boiled conservatives and fiery liberals alike.

As far as I'm concerned, Cole Porter is the greatest composer who ever lived. He himself was responsible for lyrics and music of all of his songs, all with optimal quality. I consistently baffle myself with the richness of his words and with melodies so accessible and universal. In addition, it seems to me that he knew people a lot like me in his day. In his songs he describes characters that I can relate to and introduces me to personalities I would like to have known: The independent Wildcat Kelly, from "Don't Fence Me In", for instance, who ran away from a girlfriend trying to settle down as hard as he did from the police with an arrest warrant.

Here, you can hear some of my favorite songs of his. Pay attention to the lyrics. They're the best part.

"Do I Love You?"

"Do I love you? Do I? Doesn't one and one make two? Do I love you? Do I? Does July need a sky of blue? Would I miss you, would I, if you ever should go away? If the sun should desert the day, what would life be? Would I leave you? Never! Does the ocean leave the shore? Will I worship you forever? Isn't heaven forever more?"

"Anything Goes"

"In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, now, heaven knows: anything goes! Good authors too who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose: anything goes! The world has gone mad today, the good's bad today, the black's white today and day's night today and most guys today that women prize today are just silly gigolos!" 

"Night And Day"

  "Night and day, you are the one. Only you beneath the moon or under the sun. Whether near to me, or far, it's no matter darling where you are, I think of you. Day and night, night and day, why is it so?  That this longing for you follows wherever I go? In the roaring traffics boom, in the silence of my lonely room, I think of you."

"I get a kick out of you"

"I get no kick from champagne. Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all. So tell me why should it be true that I get a kick out of you? Some, they may go for cocaine. I'm sure that if I took even one sniff, it would bore me terrifically, too. Yet I get a kick out of you." 

"Let's Do It"

"Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Let's do it, let's fall in love. 
In Spain, the best upper sets do it. Lithuanians and Latts do it. Let's do it, let's fall in love. Some Argentines, without means, do it. People say in Boston even beans do it. Let's do it, let's fall in love."

"Don't Fence Me In"

"Wildcat Kelley, looking mighty pale was standing by the Sheriff's side. And when the Sheriff said, "I'm sending you to jail, Wildcat raised his head and cried:  Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above. Don't fence me in! Let me ride through the wide open country that I love. Don't fence me in!  Let me be by myself in the evening breeze, listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees, send me off forever but I ask you please: don't fence me in!"

"It's De-Lovely"

  "You can tell at a glance what a swell night this is for romance.  You can hear dear Mother Nature murmuring low: "Let yourself go!" So please be sweet, my chickadee and when I kiss ya, just say to me: "It's delightful, it's delicious, it's delectable, it's delirious, It's dilemma, it's de limit, it's deluxe, it's de-lovely!" 

"I've Got You Under My Skin"

"I'd sacrifice anything come what might for the sake of having you near, in spite of a warning voice that comes in the night, it repeats, repeats in my ear: Don't you know you fool, you never can win! Use your mentality, wake up to reality! And each time I do, just the thought of you makes me stop before I begin, because I've got you under my skin." 

"You'd Be So Easy To Love"

"You'd be so easy to love, so easy to idolize, all others above. So sweet to waken with, so nice to sit down to the eggs and bacon with. We'd be so grand at the game, so carefree together that it does seem a shame that you can't see your future with me 'cause you'd be, oh, so easy to love..."

  "Let's Misbehave"

"You could have a great career, and you should; yes you should. Only one thing stops you dear: You're too good; way too good! If you want a future, darlin', why don't you get a past? 'Cause that fateful moment's comin' at last... We're all alone, no chaperone, can get our number, the world's in slumber--let's misbehave!"


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Just Being

As you all know, I have a soft spot in my heart for my guardian angel Katharine Hepburn, to the point that when a car with a license plate KH lets me go through I take it as a sign. Seriously.
What she did for me that earned her all this love was teach me some real priceless lessons about life. And one of them I've been desperately in need of, lately.

"I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun." She said.

Well, I do. And I wish I didn't.

The simple, earthy truth in this quote baffles me. It's the definition of optimism. Just "being", just existing, merely having a pulse and a brain is a privilege. Over the past couple of months I've been busy out of my mind with university work and I think it's now finally getting the best of me. The weariness is taking over my mind and I feel my productivity cut to one tenth of its original proportions. I would give my left lung for the simple pleasure of a full night's sleep, with nothing to worry about and no thoughts that I should be somewhere else. I'm even having these thoughts now, as I'm writing this post to let out my frustration, my anger and my disappointment that I'm going through this. I credit these feelings to my tiredness and to the injustices that victimized me by a disorganized and ill-managed university. Most of the day I want to burn that building down just so that I won't have to be there tomorrow for nine hours. Yet again.

But, now, along comes the optimism. Just being is fun. Life itself is a fascinating adventure. Why see this as an obligation, a chore, something I have to do or else all the puppies in the world will choke to death? I'm tired and God knows how much I've done, but stopping now is not an option so I might as well be positive about it. Why see it as a burden when I can see it as a gift? An opportunity? A privilege? This is a test to make sure that I'm strong enough to do what I have to do when it's no longer easy. And I'm gonna pass. And it's gonna be fun. Just being is fun. 

Right now I am taking a break from studying physiology because I feel no more of it can possibly enter my mind at this moment. And as I stop I let my mind wander. Isn't it a miracle that the simple act of reading, interpreting, understanding, can get an idea in your brain and never let go of it again? Isn't it fascinating that tomorrow I'm gonna wake up a more enlightened and educated individual? And on Thursday when tests will finally be over (or so I hope), my movies will be waiting for me, along with my books, my bed, my car to go anywhere, my frozen yoghurt membership card to do what it was meant to do. It's not the end of the world. Not even close to it. It's just the final stretch, when the muscles are a bit too sore to keep up the speed. 

And you know what else I have to do? I have to use the most powerful weapon I have at hand. The only thing that can cure boredom, sadness, weariness, difficulty, sorrow and disappointment: humor.  I have to laugh in the face of life as it laughs in my face. The harder things get the bigger the joke, the louder the laugh. Isn't potassium hilarious? When the teachers make my life miserable, I'll laugh about it and say to the world that I. DON'T. CARE. 

I'm done crying over people who don't deserve my tears. I'm done giving more credit to things than they deserve. This situation is not permanent. This life is not my future. 

I am alive. I am healthy. My lungs still contract and expand in their youthful glory. I am alive. Katharine isn't. And so many others are simply waiting for their time to go, riddled with disease, hunger or sorrow. It's time I start appreciating life. Even when I'm sitting around, "just being". Or maybe especially then.


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Our first flight (with makeup on!)

Hiya there, folks, and welcome (back) to Call Me Nina!

Welcome back to the blog which has been, since its very beginning, a question mark. A question mark as whether or not I'd have the discipline to keep it, as to what I would be talking about in its posts and as to whether or not anyone would be interested in what I had to say. And the answer to these questions I have yet to find out. 

The truth is: I don't know whether to tell you that Call Me Nina is finally here or that Call Me Nina is finally back. You see, we had three posts on this blog since its creation, but I have deleted two of them, because I was simply unsatisfied with the way they turned out. The first post ever I decided to keep. I found it wonderful.

So now I like to think we're heading towards a fresh start here at Call Me Nina. The blog will begin as it should be: I got rid of the corny Rita Hayworth layout and I made a whole new one, decorated in Early 1900s style. There's a reason for this: One time my friend Natalie told me I was the new woman to her Gibson Girl. It fit us so perfectly and it never left my mind. So the illustations by Charles Dana Gibson are both a nod to my love of history and a nod to my friend, Nattie. Love you, girl. 

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

The new slogan "believe in the green light" is from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of the things I admire the character of Gatsby for and probably the only characteristic of his with which I can relate is his great hope for the future. He has an unshakeable certainty that his life will be extraordinary, so much so that he drives himself to near insanity searching for that beautiful tomorrow.  I, too, am hopeful to a fault. I, too, wonder about a life that seems to back up just as intensely as I plow toward it. I, too, believe in the green light. And I don't think I'll ever stop searching. But as Gatsby and I frantically look for that future we so hoped for, we found ourselves being thrown into the same comfortable place: the past. 

At Call Me Nina, I hope to explore my life. The things I think about, the things I do, everything I believe in. I hope that I get to know myself better by doing this, and begin to sort out my multiple thoughts and feelings in a more efficient way. And I hope that you'll remain with me. 

Are you ready?


P.S. By the way, the top bar is a little empty, I know. But as Call Me Nina grows, it'll have its attractions too. Give us a little time. 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

On the subject of waists

Hiya, folks!
So, I got news for y'all: I have a 24-inch waist. I always read it in modeling websites and diet magazines (yeah, those where you can practically taste the body-shaming through the pages) that this is the perfect waist measurement. Not too big, not too small, just right. I must admit I find it my best feature. Maybe the magazines are right about that. But that's not all they say. They promised me much more.

They promised me my 24-inch waist would give me success. They promised me it would give me an advantage in school, in getting a job, in becoming a professionally fulfilled person. They said it would make me beautiful, and making me beautiful would open all kinds of doors to me, doors that I never imagined would be open. They told me my 24-inch waist would make it so I never went by unnoticed, so that every time I walked into a room, all eyes would be on me. They said I would be everything I always wanted to be.
They said having a 24-inch waist would give me lots of friends, lots of men, a full social life with always a place to go on Saturday night and I would never be alone. I was lucky enough to have Italian and Portuguese blood running in my veins so that I'm curvy and my measurement is natural, but if it's not the same for you, fear not! They also promised a solution. They offered you crash diets, exhausting exercise routines, habit changes, little things that slowly and lingeringly would kill everything that made you unique and fit you into a mold they think every woman should fit.

But here's a piece of groundbreaking information: You know which one of those promises were true? None. You know where my waist got me in life? Nowhere. You know what you're missing for having another waist measurement? Nothing. Saying that a certain body type, a certain measurement, a certain physical feature makes any difference in one's personal happiness is a lie that people everywhere have been believing for years. I don't blame you for believing it, I used to believe it too. My mom believed it in the seventies, when she wore that tragic hairdo thinking she'd be the most popular girl in school and turns out she wasn't. My grandma believed it in the fifties, when she pulled on that girdle just a little tighter thinking she would catch the attention of that cute fella she'd been eyeing. Needless to say she didn't. I believed it for years, since I was a little girl. And everything that went wrong in my life, I attributed to my physical appearance.

A fellow Italian and 24-inch-waister Sophia Loren
Lemme tell ya, it wasn't her waist that got her that Oscar
You know what does make a difference in your life? Believing that lie. I, thankfully, consider myself a fulfilled person who's had a good life for the past eighteen years. I have absolutely wonderful parents and a sister that I love, very nice friends, I've accomplished everything I've ever wanted with school, I got into medicine at 17 and I've been able to enjoy all the interests I've had. My physical appearance played no role whatsoever in any of this, but if I turn on the TV, they'll tell you just the contrary. But, all that I accomplished, all I've ever done in life, I did it believing in myself, believing in my abilities, believing in my preparation. Not once did I question my worth, not once did I ask myself "Am I deserving of this?". Because in those times when I was unsure, I ended up being incapable of doing half what I could do if I was all fired up like before. Remember that guy who said "what we think, we become"? (Buddha, was it?) Yeah, he was right.

We all need confidence in life. We all need to know we are capable, we are worth it, we can do it. And, trust me, you can. You are. You deserve. You made an effort toward it, it's only fair you get it! Believe in it. Believe in yourself and the infinite power you have within you. Stop believing that lie that you have to look or be a certain way to get what you want. When you do that, things will come a lot easier. You'll see them coming. You won't be surprised. "I knew I could do it", you'll say. It's not arrogance. It's not vanity. It's confidence.

I've struggled with my self-confidence myself. I think, living in this day and age, we all do at one point or another. And one day, I remember I was not feeling well at all about myself and I commented it over the internet with one of my best friends. He said nothing. He only sent me the link to a Youtube video. This song makes me cry every time I hear it because it reminds me of what a beautiful declaration of love and support from my friend that was. He loved me (and loves me!) not because of my waist, not because of my appearance, but because of who I am. And that, I'm glad to say, will never change.

This was the song he sent me. It's not exactly my kind of music, but the lyrics are very valuable to anyone:

Don't believe what other people say about you. They don't know you better than you know yourself.

So, pick up those magazines, those websites, those commercials, those people, those negative thoughts in your head and say hit the road Jack, and don't you come back no more.


Bienvenidos, muchachos!

Hiya there, folks!

I hope  y'all were having a fine day at the blogosphere when you found my cute lil' corner of the internet. This blog, fresh out of the oven, is one I'm creating with no specific purpose. I will be talking about everything. Everything I'm interested in, things I see happen, things I make happen, anything that tickles my fancy. 

So, as a first post, I would like to explain the name of this blog. My name is not Nina, it's Marcela. But, when I was born, my sister, who was two and a half years old at the time, started calling me "menina", Portuguese for "girl". Don't ask me why she did that, but, oh well, she was two and a half. "Menina" somehow evolved into "Nina" and until today, my parents and all of my uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins and the whole enormous family I'm lucky to have still calls me Nina.

It used to be just an "internal" nickname, if you will, only my family called me that. But, then, I saw an amazing movie with the great Swedish actress Greta Garbo where her name was Nina, and I finally realized what a cute nickname it really was. Her character was a total baddass too, which also helped a whole lot. The movie, if you're wondering, is Ninotchka, and it was released in 1939. 

And there's me! I'm kidding, that's Greta Garbo 
The important thing is, I needed a cute name for my blog, I embraced my family nickname. As for the header, that pretty girl is Rita Hayworth. Another great actress from the Golden Era and a beautiful woman. 

Are you excited to join me in these rambly and (mostly) useless musings? I know I am! Stay tuned!