Rampant with Memory

The resurrection of Hedy Lamarr

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This is the story of a Hollywood actress, defined by her appearance, who was secretly a brilliant inventor and helped change the course of history. Until recently, Hedy Lamarr has laid in an unmarked grave in the Vienna Central Cemetery.

Susan Sarandon

This recent tweet from one fine, film star refers to another fine, film star who pleased the screen several decades ago. Ms. Sarandon praised Hedy Lamarr’s remarkable life while commenting on her marker-less grave; in so doing, she put Hollywood to shame. A hammered-down secret: Ms. Lamarr was a genius; she was one of the brains behind the invention of the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell phone networks.

Each time we lift our phones to our lips we ought to whisper: “Hedy.”

But due to film-set starlet-branding Hedy Lamar was nothing more than a pretty face in a halo of hair coquettishly leaning up against Clark Gable’s grinning hulk. And until very recently Ms. Lamarr lay without a name in a Viennese cemetery.

Thanks to Ms. Sarandon’s insistence, we acknowledge the many talents of this woman. Sixteen years after her death, a memorial has finally been installed, .

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“It incorporates 88 steel rods representing the 88 frequencies in Lamarr’s patented frequency hopping technology,” tweets Ms. Sarandon. These rods, when viewed from the right angle, generate an illusion of Lamarr’s face.

“FILMS HAVE A CERTAIN PLACE IN A CERTAIN TIME PERIOD. TECHNOLOGY IS FOREVER.”

I remember Hedy but not for the right reasons. I remember tacking her photo above my bed beside one of Vivien Leigh. Not because I’m from that era but because I was in love with beautiful women and Heddy resembled Scarlet O’Hara. Heddy also knew Rhett Butler.

As an adolescent I was in love with all things Gone with the Wind; for so many obvious reasons, this is an embarrassing confession.

But now, like Susan Sarandon, I am provided with an opportunity to tear off the illusion and thank her for the head behind the halo and celebrate, every day, her invention. One day I’d like to visit Vienna, with a stop among the cherubs and alabaster angels, and raise a toast to Hedy Lamarr.

 

 

“The Stuff that Life is Made of”

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Why not? Write these postings? Every month but preferably every week–because I am creative; because I claim to love to write; because I have things I want to say; because some people would like to know what I want to say, perhaps to read my words.

Is this posting all about me? Partly, but it is also about you and the interruptions we all encounter in our lives by floating particles of detritus called the internet.

I had to search the meaning of detritus before pushing save because, like so often, it tapped off my fingers before I was certain it fit the context.

I reached not for the keyboard but for my mother’s dictionary circa 1939 that rests at the side of my desk, the one she flipped open frequently at St. Joseph’s School for Young Ladies in Toronto. At the start of war.

Detritus: pieces that are left when something breaks, falls apart, or is destroyed.

That sounds like death. But this time it is the death of creativity because we surely squander the minutes.

A little girl leans against her mother, popcorn and Fanta in hand, at the Kingsway cinema in Etobicoke circa 1969.

The girl is me and I am still fairly fresh to reading but I’ve made it through Margaret Mitchell’s tome and now I’m watching the screen version of Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.

I am also fresh to racism, to the history of the KKK, and to American wars.

In the movie there is a large stone plaque marking the passageway to Twin Oakes, the plantation owned by Ashley’s family. Engraved onto the plaque are these words:

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”

It turns out that quote is from Benjamin Franklin. And–of course through a little googling–I discovered that Franklin did more than create electricity–also related to the aforementioned googling.

He was one of the American Founding Fathers honoured (honoured) for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity.

Ironies abound. Or was Mitchell sending us a subtle message in her book about disunity and the civil war?

Back to the internet and my quest for creativity and the keeping of a regular blog. Blog. What would mom’s dictionary say about this? I won’t check though in my quest to complete this post.

I squander time instead of write. I sit at my desk running ideas though my mind then flip on Facebook. Or catch up on Twitter quips.

Better than running to the fridge or texting Heather about nothing. Messaging snaps of our cat.

I haven’t blogged in over a month and this is shameful to me. Shameful to the “writer” who is I. Who is me. Who the hell knows anymore? But then again, there is the dictionary and time to use it.

 

 

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