Thursday, November 25, 2010

"To you it's Thanksgiving, to me it's Thursday."

That's what Rocky says to Adrian, remember?

I just added to my List of Stuff to Do in Life:
Run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, like Rocky.
They're even known as the Rocky Steps. Everyone else does!

(I think this is from the credits of the 6th Rocky, Rocky Balboa.)

My old revised list of Stuff to Do needs another revision.

Like, I want to film another story!

Watching all of Peter Weir's films this past month (The Last Wave ... Master and Commander) made me long for the process of figuring out how to show a story.

And then Random commented that I looked happy helping bink with her art project, that it suited me. That made me realize how much I've missed doing my own art project.

Words are my main thing, but I LOVED the work of creating a visual vocabulary for storytelling, like the red velvet blood and gloves in Orestes and the Fly.

I think I stopped because I burned myself out making the herring film a year ago.
Not only was making all those fish head masks far more time consuming than I'd expected (being a newbie), but trying to choreograph 15 people in a small space ended up freaking me out. I got overwhelmed, it got away from me, I felt like a failure, and I didn't want to do it again. (Even though the end result, which bink edited, pleased me.)

So, now I've recovered, here's what I can do:
Less people, more time and space.
Maybe I'll even make the movie silent--Weir says he would have liked to work in silent films, and his movies like Witness have very little dialogue.
(Plus that would solve the audio problems I've had.)

Of course, I have to finish writing The Book first...
But when I'm done, I'll have a good chunk of time, because I'm in a funny position:
I won't have much work after January, but it'll be hard to look for new work because I'm going to be walking in Spain most of May and June.
Time for a time-consuming but incredibly cheap to free undertaking.

I'm a little freaked out about money--not having any or any immediate prospects of getting some, plus spending ALL my savings on Spain--so I'll make the movie with only the stuff I have on hand or can scrounge up.
The universe has always provided, so far.
Maybe I can get by, one more time, pleasegod.

Anyway, I've never been much into Thanksgiving, but I do love youse guys: Thanks for everything.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Harry Potter, Art Sale, and Kittehs!

I'm making greeting cards from photos of binks' DVD art and our trip to Sicily (including the steps, left, from Monreale--where my grandmother was born)
for bink's ART SALE

This Friday and Saturday, after Thanksgiving
November 26 & 27
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On the corner of 28th & Hennepin,
(where the DVD to ART show was)

If you're in town, come by and say hi--I'll be there.

I went to see the new Harry Potter--HP & the Deathly Hallows, Part 1-- this weekend.
It was like one long fanvid, one that drains the color (from the picture and, by extension, life), dunks you in cold wet pain, and leaves you to twist in the wind of overwrought goth music (unnecessary adjective, I know), such as Evanescence.

If you enjoy this sort of thing, it's great!
Really--it's very well done.

It falls in the PWP (plot? What plot?) category, like porn. The porn isn't sex, it's emotional and physical torment.
It's more like illustrations to a story than a story itself:
you already have to know the story and care about the characters to get it. Which I imagine most people who go see it do.

Me? Well, I loved Snape's entrance, in full stride, cape billowing.

And there's a truly lovely moment when the frightened and abandoned Harry and Hermione dance to the radio together.
Did the director mean it as a nod to Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis stealing a dance to the car radio in Witness (dir. Peter Weir)? It's that good!

But Snape's only in the first ten minutes of the movie--mostly it's two plus hours of Harry, Hermione, and Ron (Rupert Grint stole the show) undergoing gloom, fear, loss, near despair ...and torture.

It perfectly illustrates the culture's attitude toward sex and violence that under J. K. Rowling's orders, fan fiction sites are monitored to make sure they don't post pornographic stories because, Rowling says, these books are for children. But graphic torture of beloved characters onscreen is perfectly OK.

The movie is like a close brush with a soul-sucking dementor.
Even though I wasn't particularly moved by the end--it went on so long, it lost its power for me--still, it was depressing on a biological level. After I left the theater, as I walked home in the sleety rain across the Mississippi River, it crossed my mind to throw myself off the bridge. It just seemed like an appropriate response.

But things like this keep me going: INVISIBLE KITTEH!

Via Elle Est Belle

And now I must work. On top of my usual A-list procrastination skills I'd added dawdling, thinking the publisher had given me an extension, but it turns out the book designers need at least a rough ms to work from next month.
Eek! What I have now is a big messy pile of interesting stuff---I feel like the princess in the tower who must spin straw into gold...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Things to Do: Do Things

My preferred methods of socializing have always been
1. writing
2. sitting and talking (over a cup or glass of something)
3. (a distant 3rd) walking and talking

I've never been very interested in "doing things for fun" (besides talking) with people.

That's changing.
This year a Family Member and I fell out and didn't talk to each other for 6 months. When we talked again, pretty quickly I felt the same old resentments. I finally, way belatedly, realized something:
some relationships are not best served by talking. I want to be in Family Member's life, but I don't think we should talk so much.

But what things do people do (that I might enjoy) besides sit and talk?
***If you know or can think of good things to do, please let me know. Really. I need help!

This is not my area of comfort, so this Saturday morning I dropped into the Captain Kirk Academy for the Pursuit of Excellence--they have a 24/7 drop-in center just for this sort of thing--and came up with a list of some stuff we might DO together instead.
A lot of these are still pretty wordy, but I guess that's OK.

(These are mostly local things, of course.)

1. Attend (don't have to perform!) Spoken Word Open Mic Night w/ Tish Jones * (I saw her perform last week--she was great!) at South City Café--a friendly coffee shop on Chicago and 34th.
Free! Next ones: Fridays Dec 3rd and Dec 17th, 7-9pm

2. Get henna hand-arm tattoos (temporary) at the Somali mall (Suuqa Karmel). Only $10!
Pictures of the process on a local blog.

3. Use the free passes from the library to visit all sorts of museums,
like the Swedish Institute. Their Christmas exhibits are up until Jan. (Museum Hours: Tues., Thurs., Fri., Sat., 12-4 p.m.; Wed. 12-8 p.m.; Sun. 1-5 p.m.)

4. See the current Native American Art exhibit at the Mpls. Institute of Art (Damn. Museum's free, but this exhibit costs $8).

5. Take a Walk with Our Cameras---a photographing outing, maybe in downtown Saint Paul (because I rarely go there). We'd each snap shots--it'd be fun to compare what we've captured! We could blog them... or not.

6. bink and I went to the North West Fur Post this summer--a Minnesota Historical Society site--and it was a blast! It'd be fun to go to some of the other Historical Society sites and events.
Hill House Holidays, Saint Paul. Fee: $10 adults

8. Go see retrospective films at the Trylon and the Heights--they put together great old-film fests. Now: Charlie Chaplin. Coming up (Jan-Feb): Hard-Boiled Bogart!

9. Write an article for the Twin Cities Daily Planet newspaper. (But not until after I'm done writing my book...)
They hold classes for citizen journalists every Wednesday: 1:30, at the TC Daily Planet offices, 2600 Franklin Ave. E., #2., Minneapolis.

10. Go outdoors, in new ways.
Midwest Weekends wrote a list of "20 things that will make you fall in love with snow season."
I'm thinking less along the lines of going dog sledding and more along the lines going to see trumpeter swans in Monticello.
* Tish Jones performing "Silence" at Up in Arms, a benefit concert for the family of Fong Lee, who was killed by a Minneapolis Police officer in 2007.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Water Blaster

I dreamed I was clearing out a basement full of broken, dirty, discarded stuff. Plus, someone's mother had died down there, years ago. (Not mine. Uh huh.)

Hauling the junk out was very satisfying.

I was just starting to blast all the basement's surfaces clean with a high-pressure hose when I woke up. Disappointed. I always wanted to use one.

I guess you can rent? buy? a water blaster here. That's where I got the picture anyway.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Writers Group

I invited Alex and Esther to form a writing group. We've met twice at my place on Sunday afternoons.
Yesterday we ate peas with our hands.
I'm not sure why. I do own silverware.

I met both Alex and Esther fairly recently.
I've only recently started to invite new people into my home.

After my mother killed herself, I had rocked in my chair in the dark and thought,
I want nothing else to happen.
And nothing did, or so it seemed.

After a couple years, one day I looked out a bus window and thought, I want more life,
and life began to start up again.
It felt familiar but weird, like returning to a place I'd lived but hadn't been in a long, long time.

The other night, I dreamed I'd moved to a new neighborhood. I'd need to find my way all over again. It was sort of an anxiety dream and sort of a promise.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weetabix in the Apocalypse, WUT? (Fox Terrier Types)

Frizzy wondered if the terrier in the trenches (below) is a fox terrier. It is: a smooth fox terrier, like Nipper, the RCA dog, not a wire fox terrier, like Asta of the Thin Man movies.
(The differences go beyond their coats--they're separate terrier types.)

Here's a wire fox terrier, below, in an ad that totally baffles me. I can't translate the ad's references.
Can you?
Are those falconer gloves the woman wears? Why golf clubs? Is that her lover, a Columbian generalissimo, in the train? What's with the fire from above?

Here's what I've come up with:
"Weetabix Will Keep You Perky, Even During an Alien Invasion."

(Ad via The Wire Fox Terrier)

Anyway, here's a smooth fox terrier.

They aren't as famous as the wire foxes, but perhaps that's changing, after director Tom Ford cast his own SFTs in A Single Man (2009).
Here they are with partners George ( Colin Firth) and Jim (Matthew Goode). (From the blog Raleigh Pop: "Tom Ford's Fox Terriers")

Warning: doggie tragedy ensues. But it's a pretty good film, if visually a bit too much like a Calvin Klein ad.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Terrier in a Trench

"First-Aid for a Wounded Comrade"
The War, Illustrated, December 1917

Premise for a story: What if, as promised, it had been the war to end all wars?
More on fox terriers here.

More on The War, Illustrated here (thanks, Frizzy!).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Movies I've Walked Out Of, No. 5: Last Year at Marienbad

So, I finally really and truly got to writing my communications/social nets book, when bad news arrived yesterday:
the publisher's giving me a little more time.

This is bad because I work best under pressure.
I'm trying to convince my internal procrastination apparatus that the original due date must hold. And it really must, because I have to get other things done before I leave for 7 weeks in Spain in May.

I'm on the lookout for blog topics that don't distract my brain too much. Normally it gets pretty churned up, thinking about movies I left, trying to analyze why.
But it simply slumps over when I call up the first movie I ever walked out of (when I was fifteen): Last Year at Marienbad (France, 1961, dir. Alain Resnais).

It was part of a French film fest the U Film Society was putting on, and I was in a Frenchy mood---fifteen is a prime age for existentialism--but as with much conceptual art, I found this movie far more interesting to think or read about than to view.

Here's what I remember, from before I got up and walked out:
endless loops of hallways and gardens, with people wandering about. In a voice-over, a man says, "I saw you here last year," and a woman responds, "Oh, really? I don't recall."

Turns out I didn't miss much, leaving.
Reading reviews, I gather it just goes on like that.

This movie poster makes it look a ton more exciting than it is. Concentrate on one of those still figures in the background and mutter meaningfully, "I don't know if I saw you here, or what," * for a few minutes and you get the feel.

* POP QUIZ: "I don't know if I saw you here, or what" is a line from Moonstruck. Anyone remember you says it to whom, and why?

[Other movies I've walked out of.]

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Month of the Dead / Look for the Silver Lining

November is the month of the dead, and today would have been my mother's seventy-sixth birthday. As I often do, I set up an ofrenda for her, just for the day, from odds and ends of hers I saved after she died almost eight years ago.

When I was growing up, death was a regular topic of conversation between my mother and me. But she wasn't particularly morbid about it (usually). She talked about death the way some people talk about cooking, if they're passionate about cooking, or about what they're reading, if they're intense readers.

As this excerpt from a letter she wrote fourteen years before she killed herself shows, she was on quite comfortable, chatty terms with it--and even, I think, comic.

The letter discusses what we, her children, should do with her when she dies.
She had always said she didn't want to be cremated, but now she has changed her mind. One way or another, she wanted to be returned to Missouri, where her roots were.
"Tuesday, 22 March 1988


Well, kids, isn't this just like me?? Bouncing around among lots of different ideas?? But the truth is, I've been seriously rethinking the cremation idea.

...I realize that if I'm not cremated I certainly do want to be buried in a simple box, so that I can decompose easily and naturally... or, perhaps I should just be cremated.

...The longer I've lived, the more I've come to honor Fire. I can be so leaden, and so stuck ... so now I'm thinking the cleansing of Fire wouldn't be such a bad thing. It also might be less expensive, and CERTAINLY easier for you all (in terms of transporting me to Missouri).

There's a lot in the newspapers now about the scandal (nationwide) of Cremation Establishments being extremely careless about the ashes.

I remember refusing to have one of my goose-down pillows (from Aunt Maude.... she picked the feathers from her own geese and chickens) cleaned at Madison Steam and Dye, after someone told me that I probably wouldn't get the exact same feathers back... and that is the whole point of the pillow: that Aunt Maude's labor went into picking those feathers and making that pillow.

I don't know how you can be sure they're my ashes, but please do talk to the Establishment to make sure.

Then I'd like it if you could sprinkle my ashes in Missouri:
some at my parents' graves, and some at Aunt Maude's grave in that little churchyard.
Perhaps you could dig a little, and put some ashes in the ground,
and just sprinkle the rest so the breeze can catch them and I can float free over that much-loved Ozark country, landing wherever the breeze deposits me.

But I deeply believe that it's up to the Living to do as they must, and can, upon the death of their Aged Ancestors. (Francesca singing "Look for the Silver Lining"... that would be nice.)

Do what is best for YOU.
I like to think that what you all do, it may be a Healing Thing for you.

I'll be there somehow, loving you all and surrounding you all with a Healing Spirit, and being, at last, free––and completely safe.

It took us a few years to get to Missouri, but we did indeed take her ashes back.
I held some of them out the car window, releasing them as we drove; we waded into Piney River, where we used to picnic with our grandparents, and spread them on the fast-moving waters; and sister drove up to Aunt Maude's farm and the family cemetery and dug them into the dirt.

As requested, somewhere along the road we sang "Look for the Silver Lining."

I'm not sure which was my mother's favorite version. Maybe, with her vaudevillian sense of the ridiculous, this wonderful comic song-and-dance from Sally (1929), with Marilyn Miller and Joe E. Brown.

[darn. youTube has deleted this video.]

Friday, November 5, 2010

Little Orange Alien Surfer Guy

My favorite of the comments people displayed on the DVD to ART "Wailing Wall Quilt":

"Ignore alien orders." --Joe Strummer (from The Clash)

I'd taken this photo one evening while bink was finishing "The Wave."
Naturally I always have some little plastic guy on hand; but I don't obey them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Storm Windows, Yellow Raincoats

I. Margaret comments:

What mean "before the Internet"?
"People who didn’t live pre-Internet can’t grasp how devoid of ideas life in my hometown was. The only bookstores sold Bibles the size of coffee tables and dashboard Virgin Marys that glowed in the dark. I stopped in the middle of the SAT to memorize a poem, because I thought, This is a great work of art and I’ll never see it again.
. . . I just put my pencil down and started memorizing. Later I came across the poem in a library. It was “Storm Windows,” by Howard Nemerov."
-- The Art of Memoir No. 1, Mary Karr (author of The Liar's Club), interviewed by Amanda Fortini, The Paris Review No. 191, Winter 2009
"After I read this I looked up "Storm Windows" on the Internets. Took me 10 seconds."

[end Margaret's comment]

Me too. It's a good November poem, so here it is.

"Storm Windows"


People are putting up storm windows now,
Or were, this morning, until the heavy rain
Drove them indoors. So, coming home at noon,
I saw storm windows lying on the ground,
Frame-full of rain; through the water and glass
I saw the crushed grass, how it seemed to stream
Away in lines like seaweed on the tide
Or blades of wheat leaning under the wind.
The ripple and splash of rain on the blurred glass
Seemed that it briefly said, as I walked by,
Something I should have liked to say to you,
Something ... the dry grass bent under the pane
Brimful of bouncing water ... something of
A swaying clarity which blindly echoes
This lonely afternoon of memories
And missed desires, while the wintry rain
(Unspeakable, the distance in the mind!)
Runs on the standing windows and away.

Howard Nemerov, “Storm Windows” from The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1977).

Maybe "the ripple and splash of rain on the blurred glass" wanted to say, "Sinä lähdit pois" (You went away).

"Sinä lähdit pois," by Finnish group Ultra Bra, in their yellow raincoats. (I posted this before; translation(s) here.)

(See also, Coraline in her yellow raincoat.)

LEFT: "This is football/soccer player Mesut Ozil. He’s Muslim and he likes yellow. Especially yellow shoes when worn with green socks and a yellow jacket with a purple knitted top, but especially with jeans."

--From Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things
via Momo

I noticed Ozil when he was playing for the German national team in this summer's World Cup. (He's third generation Turkish-German.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Retiarii, the Net Fighters

Before the Internet, how would someone like bink--someone with no political, financial, or organizational power--have made an impact on an archbishop?

RIGHT: Net-fighter, from Last Days of Pompeii

The retiarius was a lightly-armed/-armoured and gladiator who fights with a net. (rete = net)

Nets are associated with fishers and the sea, and generally with the realm of the feminine.

You could see the net-fighters' faces because, unlike other gladiators, they didn't wear helmets.

According to Wikipedia:
"The gladiator's lack of armour and reliance on evasive tactics meant that many considered the retiarius the lowliest (and most effeminate) of an already stigmatised class (i.e. gladiators).
Nevertheless, Roman artwork, graffiti, and grave markers include net-fighters who apparently had reputations as skilled combatants and lovers."

LEFT: Astyanax vs Kalendio mosaic (4th c. A.D.), from the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid:

Kalendia, the retiarius (right), having thrown his net over the helmeted & armoured secutor gladiator Astyanax, attacks him with his trident.
The referee stands by, awaiting the outcome.

Image from here.