Me, Naked? (and a Book Review of Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky)

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky by Chris Greenhalgh is the latest book experience shared by those of us who blog at Chicago Moms Blog and its sister sites (disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy). In the novel, Chanel first seduces Stravinsky by appearing in his music studio completely naked. At this time in her life, she is in her thirties. This encounter made me stop and think, what would be the best way for me to seduce someone? Would I choose to stand before my potential lover naked in broad daylight like Chanel? No. I don’t even feel comfortable completely naked in the privacy of my own bathroom mirror! I’m actually kind of sad about that. I don’t expect my body to be perfect. I’ve had two children, I’m at least ten pounds overweight, and I’m now forty. Can’t I simply embrace my own nakedness as beautiful? Why can’t I imagine that someone else might think I’m beautiful too? I wish I could.

Now I’m curious whether many women would do what author Greenhalgh has Chanel do? The author is male, after all. I’m wondering whether a female author would have written about Coco and Igor’s first sexual encounter this way. Perhaps, but I think it is more realistic that a woman in her thirties in those days (’cause now 30 is the new 25 right?) would be wearing some of her best French lingerie. After all, isn’t that what sexy lingerie is for? I mean, don’t we need a bit of lifting in a couple of places and a bit of camouflage in others? For the women who can completely embrace their own nakedness, I applaud and envy you.

As for the rest of the novel, I truly enjoyed learning about Chanel’s business sense and biographical information. In fact, my favorite part was the chronology of events at the back of the book. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into the romance, which was 95% of the book. I believe that one of the problems is that Chanel is seducing another woman’s husband while his wife is convalescing in Chanel’s own home. This was so distasteful, that I had trouble getting past it. Furthermore, so much of the novel seemed to be straight out of a cheesy paperback romance, though I have never read one of those:

They undress rapidly and form a rocking knot that has them both grunting furiously with all the relief of a passion no longer strangled but given voice at last. The whole wood seems to catch the vibration. Birds answer from the topmost branches. A distant dog barks (p. 148).

Um . . . I just rolled my eyes at passages like this one. I’m not a prude, really. I just disliked these characters so much that I could not find myself taking any pleasure in theirs. My mom and dad have seen the movie and enjoyed it very much. As for me, I think I would have been better off with something non-fiction on Coco Channel.


Comedy of Errors: Shakespeare for Children

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater was kind enough to provide complimentary tickets for me to bring my family to the opening day of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. While I usually dread going to Navy Pier because of the steep parking tab, I jumped at the opportunity to introduce Eva, age 7, and Charlie, age 4, to Shakespeare. Even though I have a degree in English Education and therefore have studied and taught Shakespeare, I could not recall this particular play. No matter, the synopsis is provided in the program. Just before the performance was to begin, I read and explained the story to Eva. When she responded with a, “huh?” I became worried and told myself that since it was a mere 75 minutes long, it would not matter so much if she understood it. As for Charlie, I just prayed he would be able to sit still and behave.

As soon as the performance began, the laughs came simultaneously and my anxiety quickly disappeared. This play had it all — slapstick physical comedy, romance, jugglers, cross-dressing, and drama. Yes, I did have to lean over to Eva a couple of times to explain, “You see, she thinks he is her wife, but he is really the wife’s husband’s twin brother, ” and, “No, the two servants have the same name and they look alike.” She really seemed to get the hilarity surrounding confusing the lookalikes. As for Charlie, my four-year-old, I don’t think he understood one bit of the story, but he enjoyed it on his own level nevertheless. He laughed at all the right times. When I asked him to tell me his favorite part, he exclaimed, “All of it!” As for Eva, she liked the mustached man dressed up as the wife of one of the twin brother servants (Strangely, this was my husband’s favorite part as well). As befitting a children’s performance, the lights go up after the show and the audience is encouraged to ask the cast members any questions they may have. Following that, the cast members mingle with the audience in the lobby.

I was especially amazed that the children did not complain about the Shakespearean language. Before the show officially began, one of the actors wisely “warned” the audience that the language would seem difficult at first but to give it a chance and rely on the context instead of getting hung up on understanding every little word. During our lunch following the show, I asked the children whether they had trouble understanding what the actors were saying. They looked at me curiously and answered with a resounding, “No!” I’m so happy that this was their first experience with Shakespeare. They had fun! When I told them that William Shakespeare was one of the greatest storytellers of all time, I think they really believed me. Try telling that to a group of high schoolers faced with reading the stuff and you get a room full of eye rolls. Oh, and as for that supposedly steep parking tab, the theater validates and it only came to $14.40. Thank you Chicago Shakespeare Theater!

I’m Going to Stop Yelling (I hope)

Read my post on Chicago Moms Blog here about my resolution to stop yelling, especially around the children.

Passing Strange: Enjoyed It!

Passing Strange Soundtrack available at Amazon (sadly, not at my library)

I was up late last night and turned on PBS (or is it WTTW’s) Great Performances and Stew‘s Passing Strange was on. Passing Strange is a rock musical with high energy, great music and amazing talent. Now I have a crush on the talented writer/composer/narrator “Stew.” I am in awe! The musical was on Broadway for a spell and Spike Lee directed a “movie” of it which is really just a taping of the show. This is what was on Great Performances last night. Don’t miss it as the public television broadcast stations always replay these kinds of things. Can’t believe this didn’t make it to Chicago. Stew, won’t you please come to Chicago? This must be performed here!