Giant forest

Standing in Giant forest
looking up as
snowmelt rains down
from the top
of General Sherman,
venerable Sequoia.

Upper branches
the size of regular trees.
Cinnamon-colored trunks
glowing
like the richest brocaded velvet.

They stand sentinel
in verdant, fragrant meadows
full of streaming sunlight,
waving grasses and
laughing wild flowers.

White clouds float through
the even taller blue
California canopy.

Other visitors
walk by
talking in
German, Hebrew
French, Italian
Chinese, Spanish
as the trees translate
and draw us close
to create
a communion
for the whole Earth.

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Happy

Happy

Standing
in the ocean
with sunlight
streaming into
the water.

It shimmers as you
draw your fingers through it
like it’s strewn with
whirling fairy dust.

The Sun’s warmth
passing through
your skin
deep into your bones.
Salt air and suntan lotion
surely the fragrances
of bliss.

You suddenly feel
ethereal,
initiated,
embraced,
and inexpressibly
happy.

Phantom Thread

I’ve seen this I think about three times now and I can’t keep putting off writing about it. It brings up such complicated relationship issues in such an astounding and truthful way, though that I hesitate to try to analyze it because a big part of its charm is the mysterious, fairytale-like qualities it achieves. Paul Thomas Anderson is a genius at building complex and fabulously flawed characters that ring with human truth.

Ok so story is primary here, but no other part of filmmaking is neglected, in fact everything is rapturously beautiful. Cinematography. Musical score is another character in itself and perfectly captures and enhances all aspects of this emotional story. Costumes are impeccable, of course, and they should be in a film ostensibly about an haute couturier. Daniel Day Lewis and Vicki Krieps are perfect for one another and I’ve never seen her before.

It’s difficult to talk about the complexities of this story without giving away the ending, so be aware, there are spoilers coming now. DDL’s character Reynolds Woodcock seems to be at first a very controlling and selfish example of a dominating man. Alma, played by Krieps seems at first just another young woman Woodcock has acquired to be a muse and companion to him. What makes the story so interesting however, is that Alma almost immediately begins a very slow, subtle and steady siege of Woodcock’s life. In response, Woodcock realizes he has met his match and a worthy opponent. For better or worse, this is a story of the battle of the sexes. Giving incredible flavor and nuance to this age old tale is the character of Woodcock’s sister Cyril, played magnificently by Lesley Manville. Even though she has spoiled her brother all his life she allows Alma to breath fresh air into her life as well by observing and following Alma’s example of challenging Woodcock in some of his spoiled ways. Ultimately, it is Woodcock who submits to Alma. This is the outcome of the battle of the sexes as I understand it. Men will posture and bellow while women will manipulate and tame. Thus it has always been and thus it will always be.

Train to Busan

Have had this on my Netflix watch list for forever and finally watched it in my Halloween movie adventures.

Ever notice how the upsurge in interest in zombies has coincided with the upsurge in fascism? I think it’s because people instinctively know that fascists feed on people just like zombies do. Surviving a zombie apocalypse is a metaphor for surviving a fascist apocalypse.

That’s the very clear subtext here in this very well done horror movie from Korea. Capitalistic fascism says that my right to profit is my imperative at the expense of everyone else’s life. Not only that, but unless you participate/contribute/cooperate with me in this enterprise, you are worthless to me, subhuman and completely expendable, even.

Here, this kind of thinking leads directly to a biological tech facility’s leak, resulting in an outbreak of zombies who stop at nothing to feed their greed for human flesh. A fund manager who invested in the company must learn that he has lost his humanity and try to redeem himself by getting his neglected little daughter to her mom in Busan. Will he realize what he has done and will he redeem himself? Very good use of suspense and special effects to tell this story.

The Tale 2017

So sad. An amazing storytelling trope. There’s just so much to think about and talk about psychologically here. Written, directed and produced by Jennifer Fox. Starring Laura Dern as adult Jennifer and Isabelle Nelisse as 13 year old Jenny. Their performances and this story are haunting.

I’m left with the question, how do your reclaim your life when its entirety has been based on a story you told yourself when you were a child so that you could live through your victimization? I guess I’ve been living my own version of the answer to this question for the last 25 years or so. Well, as much as I can face about what I decided about myself and what happened to me. I awakened from the trance and it was very painful, but it was me or them. I feel in the midst of it, in a dark wood. I like the woods, though, always have and I embrace them and feel I can find my way through them because even if they are dark and unforgiving, they are not evil. They are sacred. There have been many hindrances and some helpers. I spend much time feeling bereft. I hope for a time when I am more of a comfort to myself.

I think it’s important for stories like this to be told. In the deeply personal, there is the Universal. While we help ourselves when we tell our stories, we have the chance to help so many others who have been through something similar. One of the things I’ve experienced that has been so very painful is other people blaming me, shaming me or being in denial about what happened to them and wanting me to be in denial about it too.  I have had way too much about forgiveness shoved down my throat.  It has been so very painful and isolating. So, I’m very thankful for brave people like Jennifer Fox who take their pain and make art out of it. I’ve started to try to do a little of that in my writing and feel inspired to keep trying.

White Comet, red leather interior

I call these the White Comet, red leather interior trilogy.  They are currently submitted but so far no takers.  They are very personal but I hope like it is said that in the deeply personal there is the Universal.

 

Snapshot 1963

Black and White Snapshot 1963

Home from the hospital
Glaring, bright white sunlight

Late October morning in Los Angeles
Mother stands against the car door

White Mercury Comet, red-leather interior
White sleeveless sheath dress

Matching white kitten heels
So pointy-toed it’s impossible

(Everything about this is impossible)

Black beehive, not a hair out of place
Opaque black sunglasses

Unsmiling, stone-faced
I am a shrouded white bundle

Placed on the right angles of her arms
White is the color of

Rage

 

Thrifty Ice Cream

I scrub the hub caps
and white walls
of the white Comet
with red leather
interior
with Comet cleanser
and a scrub brush.
The hose gushes
warm fresh water
nearby as my
father soaps the hood.

Afterwards,
we will drive together
me sitting on his lap
my hands on the
steering wheel
while his feet
press the gas and
brake.

I am scared and
excited at the
same time.
We get out
at a nearby
shopping strip. I hold his hand.
I ask, looking up at him,
can we get some ice cream?
He says, looking down at me,
Why can’t you just wait for
me to surprise you? As always,
I am sucker-punched by
not being able to be anything
except what I am.

 

False Eyelashes

False Eyelashes

Mom piloted the white Comet
with red leather interior
onto the freeway.
Even back then people were afraid to merge.
She was stiff and silent, far away.

Grandma sat up front with her.
I sat in the back on the bench seat.
My view the backs of their heads and
my Keds-clad feet
at the edge of the red leather seat.

Grandma had to go to UCLA
where for her troubles
she would be treated shabbily for
being a medically indigent adult
and die from cervical cancer any way.

I didn’t know that then,
that she was ill and desperate.
Her always glamorous show was intact.
Lacquered, burnt-orange beehive
Max Factor pancake, Revlon fire and ice lips
Razor-thin, pencilled in eyebrows
that seem to float above the clouds of her eyes
Black eyeliner that winged out flawlessly
Plush false eyelashes that were so long.

She was a living embodiment
of the Pasadena Playhouse scholarship
she abandoned to marry my Grandfather.
A dark, dashing cad who gambled away
their furniture, her trust.
Their show went on in the Technicolor
of every day life.
Bruises from drunken brawls,
A tiny coffin for a buried child.

I shook in my boots when Grandma showed up
at our house.
Always drunk.
My mother’s rage scorched us all.
I remember standing in the driveway with her
as her mother boozily drove away,
banished.
I held my mother’s hand.

That day, though, in the Comet with red leather interior
Grandma turned to me from the front seat,
like we were the only two people in the world,
reaching for my hand, smiling.
Thrilling me with butterfly kisses.

It’s like I had heard that she died not too long after that. But
I can’t remember it and my mother kept me from the funeral.

I remember the fear and anger but
they seem far away now and
I keep a set of false eyelashes
with my make-up kit.
I don’t wear them.
I don’t know how.

The End of the Tour

     Needed to think about this for a few days to separate my feelings on the subject and merits of this movie. There’s no question the screenplay is fine and the two leads give award-worthy performances. But it is so hard watching DFW allow Lipsky/Rolling Stone into his already fragile life. Lipsky as portrayed here appears to be some kind of combination of weasel and vulture who only too late gets into touch with his feelings about DFW.

DFW comes across as an unkempt, neurotic, slightly paranoic man who can’t resist engaging in locker room talk with this equally insecure journalist through which I guess, they assure one another of their heterosexuality/masculinity which is in doubt I guess because they are intellectuals? There isn’t much insight provided here. DFW famously talks about addiction to television but his addiction to sugar is in full force as we watch he and Lipsky binge on candy from the convenience story in several scenes.

Sorry spoiler alert: The big reveal in the end is Lipsky (pressured by his editor) finding the callousness to ask DFW about the rumors of heroin addiction at least in the past. DFW here doesn’t confirm or deny, but emphasizes his addiction to tv and how that’s not paid attention to because it’s not as glamorous. Lipsky does nothing with this information.

I have so much to say about DFW and Infinite Jest but it’s hard to stay focused on just a few things, I guess. I stumbled across Infinite Jest in a discount bookstore (leftovers) several years after it came out in 1996. I read the novel and marveled at it. It is amazing and worthy of praise. But, as DFW himself said it wasn’t the second coming of Joyce or Fitzgerald. It is a work about popular culture and is therefore limited by its subject matter, I believe.

The hype that grew up around the novel was not good for anyone, except the publishers, who had a bestseller on their hands. DFW suffered from depression his whole life and was too fragile, sincere and ultimately well-meaning to survive the fame monster. I believe it literally ate him from outside to inside. This is a worthwhile film, worth seeing for a sort of summary of DFW’s themes and concerns but if you are interested, I direct you to his work in print and to the talks and interviews available on YouTube. He describes the term GenX as just a way to slap a label for demographic and marketing purposes on a group of people who are lost and alone. He is so right.