The Windmills of My Mind

The Windmills of My Mind
The Windmills of my Mind

This post needs a soundtrack, and I have chosen the Michel Legrand, Alan and Marilyn Bergman song The Windmills of Your Mind. Throughout the post, I will link you to various singers’ renditions of the song. Windmills won an Academy Award in 1968 for Best Original Song when it was featured in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair. The more I look into the song, the movie and the history of both, the more convinced I become of the truth in the lyrics.

Sean Connery turned down the role of Thomas Crown, a decision he claimed to later regret. Instead, Steve McQueen took the role, performed his own stunts, and claimed it was his favorite movie. Faye Dunaway played the Insurance Investigator out to prove Crown’s role in the theft of over $2 million. And of course, this is Hollywood after all, she became McQueen’s love interest. Noel Harrison sang the song in the film, and on youtube here, but not at the award ceremony. José Feliciano sang it there. In 1967, the Oscar winning song was “Talk to the Animals,” sung by, TA DA!, Noel’s father, Rex Harrison.

Like a Circle in a Spiral, Like a Wheel Within a Wheel

While Noel Harrison sang and recorded the sound track for the movie, Dusty Springfield’s agent persuaded her to sing the song as well. Dusty did not want to record the song. She claimed she couldn’t relate to the lyrics. It became her best selling hit. If you have Spotify, you can listen to Dusty’s version here. I must say that it is not my favorite Dusty Springfield song, nor is her version on my personal playlist. Alison Moyet’s version is much more to my taste.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how much time we can waste on line. Writing this post is definitely proof of that. When I chose the Photo of the Day, the song immediately came to mind. The song came out in 1968, my first full year in college. It has played in the back of my mind most of my adult life. But when I looked into the song and its origin, I got completely lost in the web.

I do not recall ever hearing the name Noel Harrison. Rex, yes, of course. But the son born to the first of Rex’s six wives? No. Nor did I know he was an Olympic skier for Great Britian. His youtube video shows a handsome young man, definitely his father’s son. I did not know that José Feliciano ever sang the song, let alone at the Academy Awards. (I don’t like his version either.)

Researching the Thomas Crown Affair, I learned that Connery said no to the role. I also learned that another James Bond actor, Pierce Brosnan, took the role in the 1999 remake. At this point, I have so many tabs open in my browser that I don’t know where to look and keep circling back, round and round, from windmill to Crown to Harrison, and on and on.

Like the Circles that you Find in the Windmills of Your Mind

My original intent this morning was to talk about life, aging, looking back, looking forward, growing. The Guest Site of the Day is Inside Hook’s interview with Harvard geneticist Dr. David Sinclair titled How to Live (Well) Past 100.

Back in 1989, I asked my partner at the time and my best friend for a birthday present. I was turning 40 and I told them I wanted “One Hell of a Birthday Party!” I had three conditions.

1) I wanted nothing to do with planning it.

2) I wanted nothing to do with cleaning up after it. (It was my birthday, after all.)

3) If anyone brought an “over-the-hill” gift, I could throw it out. (I didn’t feel that I was over the hill. Not by a long shot.)

Forrest and Nick gave me the best birthday party I ever had. (Sorry, Momma. This party sure beat taking cupcakes to school.) My University colleague Bill Raoul hosted the party and we filled his home with people. Men, Women, Gay, Straight, married couples, singles. At least twenty-five people showed up to wish me a Happy Birthday. Folks scattered throughout Bill’s house, but when I felt everyone had arrived, I asked them all to join me in the living room. “Thank you,” I said, “for helping me celebrate the first third of my life!”

I wore my tux. The rest of the crowd was very colorful, with one exception. The wife of the Episcopal Priest in Hamilton brought a special gift–a male stripper. He was dressed in black leather and gave me a lap dance stripping down to a black leather jock strap. I think my boss’s wife really enjoyed the show. Just one more blade on the windmills of my mind. And here, just for the hell of it, is Sting’s version of Windmills of Your Mind, from the 1999 remake of the movie.

Why did Summer Go So Quickly? Was it Something That You Said?

My point is, of course, that at age 40, I fully intended to live to at least 120. Ten years later, with a much inferior party, I had upped my limit. I intended to live to 150.

In the 1990s, I read an article by a doctor specializing in Anti-Aging Medicine. He asserted that there was no reason, short of accident or catastrophe, for anyone alive at that time to live less then 150 years. I believed him. I have lost his name and his information, but the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, founded in 1992, is alive and well today.

When my partner Richard was dying of AIDS related causes, I read a book I feel everyone should read. Oncologist Bernie Siegel‘s book Love, Medicine and Miracles is the result of a career based on helping people with cancer. While the book comes from Siegel’s own oncological experience, I feel its lessons apply to all of us. Life is, after all, a terminal condition.

Half remembered names and faces, but to whom do they belong?

Siegel starts by admitting that his patients taught him something. Medical School was wrong. MD does not stand for Medical Deity. Siegel’s patients taught him that whether they survived or succumbed to their cancer had very little to do with what he did. Rather it depended on what the patient thought and did to a large measure.

Siegel further asserts that he has a question he asks all new patients. “Do you want to live to be 100?” He says he can tell immediately by their answer whether they will live or die. Think about it. There are only three answers to that question. My answer was an emphatic “Yes!” My mother, much to my surprise, replied “Absolutely not!” She died just shy of her 93rd birthday. Some of my friends have given the third possible answer. “If I am healthy,” or “If I can live well,” or “If …”. Those are the only three possible answers, yes, no, and maybe, if….

Today, I am approaching the half-way point in my 70th year (71st, the way the Chinese count things). I still want to live to 150, and yes, I have conditions, my ifs, as it were, but my answer to Siegel’s question is still an unequivocal “Yes!” I would hope yours is as well. Let’s do this thing called life together!

Today’s Car of the Day

Pictured above is a 1933 Chevy 5-Window Coupe, captured when on display at the 2013 Cruisin’ By the Bay Car Show in Polson, Montana. I featured it today because of the way I read, or misread, the owner’s entry tag statement. He claimed the car was chopped, had suicide doors, and was “Rad with painted flames.” Or perhaps he wrote “Red with painted flames.” Either way.

Yesterday, I mentioned Sam Bennett’s exercise in naming your heroes. My cartoon character hero is Bugs Bunny. Yes, indeedy! Bugs is fearless. He is relentless. Bugs dresses in drag! My first exposure to opera was Bugs as Brünnhilde. And how was my life colored by Bugs hiding in Carmen Miranda’s headdress? This car reminds me of Bugs as I see him–Carmen Miranda, not just the headdress. Don’t ask me why. The answer is lost in those windmills of my mind.

The Flower of the Day

Today’s flower (seen above) is a camellia blooming on a tree at the front corner of my mother’s house. The photo was taken in March, although the tree starts blooming typically in January. My first girl friend and I (we lived across the street from each other for the first five years of our lives) still talk about our Steel Magnolia mothers. Her mother was from Alabama, mine from West Virginia. But as I look at this photo, this was my mother. Not a magnolia, but a Steel Camellia. “As the images unwind, like the circles that you find in the windmills of [my] mind.”

The Recipe of the Day

Still leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sharing this recipe for a Keto version of Corned Beef and Cabbage. One of my comfort foods, Corned Beef and Cabbage was one of Momma’s signature dishes. I wish Kevin liked it as much as I do. I’m not exactly sure what makes this dish “Keto” except that it has no potatoes. No potatoes in an Irish dish? That’s heresy, isn’t it. Still, I bet I could make this in the Instant Pot™.

The Video of the Day

I “met” Blake Rudis through a series of lessons he did for CreativeLive on Photoshop. He is an excellent photographer and an equally excellent teacher. Plus he’s not hard on the eyes. I subscribed to his F64 Academy and I watch his videos whenever he issues a new one. In this twenty-five minute video, he takes us to one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever visited, Arches National Park just outside Moab, Utah. Enjoy!

When you knew that it was over you were suddenly aware

So that brings us to the end of another day’s wandering down the windmills of my mind. I leave you with Michel Legrand, playing and singing the original French version of the song, Les Moulins de mon coeur (The windmills of my heart.)