Marlene Wagman-Geller

"As far back as I can remember, it was always on my bucket list, even before the term bucket list was coined,
to be a writer. It was a natural progression to want to go from reading books to writing one."
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Touch Touch (1932)

Touch Touch (1932)
Nov 06, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“I do not sing politics. I merely sing the truth.”

    Nelson Mandela, who endured twenty-seven years in South Africa’s brutal Robben Island, was instrumental in shaking off the yoke of apartheid. For his life-long arm-wrestle against the Afrikaner regime, he became a beloved icon, the father of his people. Another freedom fighter against colonialism was the woman known by the epithet, “Mama Africa.” 

A Far Better Rest (1792)

A Far Better Rest (1792)
Nov 03, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
  The Red Queen cried out, “Off with their heads!” The Instrument of decollation (decapitations) has gone by various names: in Scotland-the Maiden, in England-the Halifax Gibbet. The Nazis bore it a special fondness. Ironically, the guillotine received its name after the anti-capital punishment physician and ex-Jesuit, Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin.

The Daughter of My People (1912)

The Daughter of My People (1912)
Nov 02, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The world’s largest association of Jewish women is Hadassah, dedicated to the promotion of Zionist causes. Founded by Henrietta Szold, the organization’s name is an allusion to Queen Esther.       

It is Warm      (1880)

It is Warm      (1880)
Nov 01, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
    If anyone were ever entitled to indulge in a pity party, it would have been the woman who fate had locked in a world of silence and darkness. Yet, instead of dwelling on her misery, she dedicated her life to the spreading of light. She remains a testament to what a possessor of courage can overcome.

What Profit a Man? (1902)

What Profit a Man? (1902)
Oct 30, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
A biblical passage segued into a modern morality tale, one whose sordid revelations opened a window on the denizens of the Fortune 400, for, in the words from the book of Timothy, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

Quite Contrary 1799

Quite Contrary 1799
Oct 28, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

   

          A tongue twister popularized in the 2010 film, The King’s Speech, “I have a sieve full of sifted thistles and a sieve full of unsifted thistles, because I am a thistle sifter.” A century earlier, a popular tongue-twister was, “She sells seashells by the seashore.” While most assume ‘she’ was merely an anonymous pronoun, it refers to Mary Anning.

     

Not With Mice

Not With Mice
Oct 24, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
No one used and abused women quite like the greatest artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso. The painter eviscerated his models; their images twisted into tortured cubes on canvass. Yet harrowing as these depictions were, they pale beside the real life dramas behind the palette. One of these handmaidens to creation helped rescue Pablo from the angst of his blue period- while simultaneously struggling to break free of the diminutive giant’s shadow.

The Changing of the Guard (1703)

The Changing of the Guard (1703)
Oct 20, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
  What do Balmoral Castle, Sandringham House, Windsor Castle, Clarence House, St. James Palace, Kensington Palace, Frogmore Castle, Highgrove House, Palace of Holyroodhouse have in common? They are all stately pleasure domes of the Britain’s royal family. However, the crown jewel of their portfolio is Buckingham Palace, so named after The Duke of Buckingham.

All the Difference (1898)

All the Difference (1898)
Oct 20, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The name Guggenheim conjures the image of an iconic architectural sculpture whose walls showcase the apogee of artistic expression. The eponymous museum is the brain-child of its billionaire patron, but far more colorful was his niece.

Fade Away

Fade Away
Oct 19, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Ever since Penelope steadfastly wove on her loom waiting for Odysseus to return, the warrior’s wife has served in the typical role of the women who worry at home in shadow, waiting for their men to come back. But that has not always been the case. In contrast, a 20th century warrior wife accompanied her General, Douglas MacArthur, humanizing the man behind the five stars.

Roseannearchy (1988)

Roseannearchy (1988)
Oct 17, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“I figure when my husband comes home at night, if those kids are still alive, hey, I’ve done my job.” Roseanne Barr

 

     Baby boomers whiled away untold hours watching television that beamed airbrushed portrayals of mothers such as ever so sweet Marion Cunningham. These Stepfordian housewives vacuumed while wearing heels, wore dresses replete with accessories, every hair in place. When their children arrived home, they indulged in home baked cookies, while their model moms listened to the recital of their days as if it were the Sermon on the Mount. Enter Roseanne.

On Loan 1998

On Loan 1998
Oct 17, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The traditional Disney princesses were similar to the modern Manhattanites in Sex and The City. They shared idealized appearances; their raison d’etre-romance that would segue to a happily ever after.  Carrie Bradshaw of SATC found her Prince Disarming in Mr. Big, a nickname viewers assumed alluded either to his male appendage or his bank account. The last episode in the series revealed Big’s actual name-John James Preston-a character based on man-about- town, Ron Galotti.

Salome (1906)

Salome (1906)
Oct 16, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

He was my cream, and I was his coffee-And when you poured us together, it was something.”

 

        Balancing a fruit hat, one inspired by the “baianas,” Afro-Brazilian vendors, dancer Carmen Miranda’s samba sashayed onto the world stage. Fruit must be titillating, as another entertainer, clad in a banana skirt, likewise unleashed shock waves around the globe.

Camp Betty

Camp Betty
Oct 15, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The name “Ford” conjures the product which rolls off Detroit’s assembly lines, the Californian addiction center, the Omaha-born American president. However, there was a Ford whose bouffant hair and prim exterior belied an interior far from docile. Despite whatever storm in which she was at the center, she was always Gerald’s first lady.

Tabula Rasa (1507)

Tabula Rasa (1507)
Oct 12, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Russian immigrant Israel Baline, who anglicized his name to Irving Berlin, 1938 song, “God Bless America,” could have been titled “God Bless Columbus” had it not been for Amerigo Vespucci who led to the christening of North, South, and Central America.

Going Home Alone (1943)

Going Home Alone (1943)
Oct 04, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“I’m saving the bass player for Omaha.”

   “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose....” The song lyric, the paean to anguish, serves as the existential cry of Janis Joplin, the poster child for angst. The singer blazed across the sky: a comet whose brightness illuminated the darkness before disappearing into the night.

Success Was Sure to Go (1863)

Success Was Sure to Go (1863)
Oct 03, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
    Hamlet railed, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” and in this vein female Victorians struggled against the slings and arrows of misogyny: they could not vote, serve on jury duty, attend university. Their corseted bodies mirrored the shackles society placed on their minds. Despite this handicap, one lady launched not one, but two, beloved pieces of Americana. Although her contributions differed in nature, they shared the commonality of animals-one a lamb, the other a turkey.

For Yourself Alone: Hair as Metaphor

For Yourself Alone: Hair as Metaphor
Oct 02, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
One of life’s innumerable ironies is that hair–mere dead follicles–has the power to shape destiny. One of the myriad ways I learned this lesson was through my beloved childhood books. The porridge-loving Goldilocks, whose name derived from her brightly colored tresses, trapezed through the woods, feasting on free food, reveling in adventure; meanwhile, I endured endless hours of math. In the Grimm Brothers’ tale, a prince stood under a tower and cried out, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your long hair/That I may ascend that golden stair.” With the aid of his makeshift ladder, the royal rode off with his lady love to his kingdom. The cast of Disney leading ladies took a wrecking ball to my self-esteem. How could I measure up to pixelated princesses such as Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora who never had a bad hair? When I wake up, my hair looks like I had been in a serious scrimmage; then there’s Sleeping Beauty, who, after a century long slumber, retained flawless locks. The underlying message of the folk and fairy tale was those blessed with crowning glories were destined to a life of love, luxury, and a happily ever after. The concept gained credibility at sleep-over parties. Nancy, the proud owner of Lady Godiva locks, doled out who had the privilege of styling it into braids. As brush-wielding hopefuls never encircled me, I understood that my mousy-brown, body-free strands were never going to be looked upon with covetous eyes. If only…

The Book of Ruth (1933)

The Book of Ruth (1933)
Oct 02, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

In the 1960s, Diana Ross, sheathed in sequined splendor, belted out hits for Motown’s The Supremes. A half a century later there appeared another supreme-one dressed in black with distinctive collar-who dissented in D. C.

The Nail that Sticks Up (1975)

The Nail that Sticks Up (1975)
Sep 29, 2022 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
     “Because it was there.” George Leigh Mallory made the statement when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. He was referring to the alchemy between man and mountain, the challenge that beckoned to ascend to the world’s highest elevation. Junko Tabei was the first of her gender to reach the sacred spot where heaven meets Earth and showed her tradition-bound country that women could be more than housewives, more than geishas.