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Art: Salvador Dali

I was swept away by theater at age 10 as the understudy for Alice in Binny Rabinowitz’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Ever since, I’ve been a fan of the little girl who was so clear-eyed about the unreasonableness of grownups.

So imagine my delight at Maria Popova’s essay on the many different ways the story has been illustrated, including by Salvador Dali.

“In the century and a half since Sir John Tenniel’s original illustrations, the Carroll classic has sprouted everything from a pop-up book adaptation to a witty cookbook to a quantum physics allegory, and hundreds of artists around the world have reimagined it with remarkable creative vision. …

“In 1969, Salvador Dalí was commissioned by New York’s Maecenas Press-Random House to illustrate a special edition of the Carroll classic, consisting of12 heliogravures — one for each chapter of the book and an original signed etching in four colors as the frontispiece. Distributed as the publisher’s book of the month, the volume went on to become one of the most sought-after Dalí suites of all time.”

See a splendid array at Brainpickings, here.

Art: Lisbeth Zwerger 

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I care about the original meanings of words. Poet John Ciardi cared even more than I do. A random thing I recall from his book How Does a Poem Mean? is that a person alert to word derivations would never say that a ship “arrived” at an oil platform in the North Sea because “arrived” is from the Latin words “to shore” and a North Sea platform is not the shore.

My office window overlooks the location of the Boston Tea Party. So lately, I have watched the museum rising from the ashes of a fire that destroyed it years ago, and I have been thinking about original tea parties.

When I was little, I loved to use the visit of a friend as an occasion for a tea party in our large attic closet. My mother or a babysitter would make a pot of tea and very buttery cinnamon and sugar toast, and my friend and I would cart it all upstairs with the cups, saucers, spoons, sugar, napkins, and milk, and have a tea party by the glow of flashlights.

Then there is my feeling for the tea party in Alice in Wonderland. That is perhaps the most important tea party to me because, at age 10, I understudied Alice in a local production of the play, which had been adapted from the book by New York television director Binny Rabinowitz.

I think part of the reason I loved that experience so much was because Alice is a sensible little girl who tries hard to follow all the rules laid down for her, but she is surrounded by completely inconsistent, stubborn, unreliable, and unreasonable adults. In spite of the enormity of the task, she keeps trying to help these grownups make sense. I loved the tea party scene, in which my best friend, Carole, was the dormouse (“Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle … zzzz”). Today I’m thinking about the fact that, other than Alice herself, all the tea party participants were quite mad.

Quite, quite mad.

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I am a huge fan of Tyne Daly, the actress. I enjoyed her on the TV series “Cagney and Lacy,” was blown away by her Mama Rose in the musical “Gypsy,” and am not at all surprised by Ben Brantley’s July 8, 2011, glowing review of her portrayal of Maria Callas in “Master Class.”

He writes, “Ms. Daly transforms that script into one of the most haunting portraits I’ve seen of life after stardom.”

But I was not always a fan. No way. Not when Tyne was taking all the ingenue roles at the Jr. Antrim Players in Suffern and a cute guy I knew was always drooling about “Time for Tyne.”

Nope. Starting with Gilbert & Sullivan’s “HMS Pinafore,” in which I was crummy ol’ Cousin Hebe, Tyne snared all the lead roles. We girls in wallflower parts would hiss to one another with resentful envy, “Of course, she comes from a theater family,” and  “Her father is James Daly,” and “The whole family does summer stock.” We didn’t like to admit that Tyne was also very comfortable and capable on the stage, had a sweet voice, and was pretty.

Fortunately we grew up and learned to give credit where credit is due.

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