Lately I have found some fabulous indie flicks that I highly recommend. This one in particular, Bernie, nodded to me from the top shelf at my local video store. I'd never heard of it but damn, as they might say in Carthage, Texas, I sure am glad I found it. My family was as transfixed as I was by Jack Black's amazingly subtle performance. For days I've been mulling over his character's "character" and that age-old question of how someone can be good and do bad. So I give this two thumbs up from me and four paws up from Buggy. Not to mention a few tomatoes thrown in for good measure. This dog do indeed hunt. Check it out.
Jotter, another of my favorite authors from Scribd, a man whose writing can make me blush, laugh and cry, graciously shares a gorgeous poem about fall with us here. You can find more of his work on his website called Jotting Down A Life. Steve U., take us away...
… where children play outside between school and supper,
a place where mums bloom in palettes but other flowers
brown and shrivel, a crisp between-ness nearing that we can't see,
but we know the subtleness of the whisper in our ear,
like the almost-bounce of a branch after a bird wings away,
our attention is pulled to the side as if a curtain is pulled,
a sense of the between places being readied
for a crossing. Dutiful spirits oversee
the between-ness of our lives that is the falling
of wakefulness to sleep, of warm day
to cool night, of walking from the sun of mountain-top
to the shade of down-walking in the valley.
The crossing to autumn is in the air, the exit
from summer just beyond our grasp, and just remembered
is a list next to our reading glasses where not all is crossed off.
Our senses tell us the change is about to fall,
when the leaves will change their last this year,
and winds will blow cool and curve around,
and picnics will need a light coat.
It is in the silent approach and the raspy shadows,
and one morning when we wake we will find
this Autumn between-place will be behind us,
and wonder at the change over a cup of coffee
brewed and sipped in the late dawn light,
between our waking and starting the day.
Copyright: The Jotter, 2012
I often tell my students to start low and go slow. By that I mean that when an essay overwhelms them, the best thing to do is remember that they are not writing the great American novel. Thoughts are easiest to capture when we break them down into components and write a paragraph at a time, taking our time and keeping our expectations in check. Slowly, an inch by inch, is how essays, and other experiences, come into focus.
What has this to do with Endeavor which flew over my head yesterday in Berkeley? Well, only that it flew so low and so slow, that those of us at our location at Cal felt as though we could reach out and touch it. A miracle of modern science floating right before our eyes. I waved like a lunatic and wondered how much fun it must have been for the crew of that 747 to fly over the Bay Area on a such a spectacular autumnal equinox. Gone was our fabled fog, which I had just written about in my excerpt below. Instead, a blue sky, some brilliant minds, and two big white birds (with a fighter jet for escort) reminded us that low and slow can be the best path at times.
All of which brings me to BoingBoing. Thanks to them, I've now seen this video of Thomas in Space. Here it is isolated for your viewing pleasure. Grab a tissue. And have a fabulous weekend reading, dreaming, reaching, and remembering that anything is possible.
I gripped the mug of hot tea and blew away the steam hovering around my lips. The unrelenting fog filled the frame of the picture window reminding me of the white out conditions we used to experience in Minnesota when I was growing up in the ‘60’s. The Berkeley and Oakland hills exist in a “banana belt” which means they enjoy a Mediterranean climate and usually escape the Indian Summer fog that socks in San Francisco Bay. But this being September, all bets were off along the California coast and even inland. The marine layer, or whateverthehell those TV weathermen called it, was squatting on us and unlikely to move any time soon, save for the occasional afternoon clearing. And the ranch house at 5748 Constellation Lane where I now sat was as enveloped by the unforgiving white mist as anywhere else.
I placed my cup on the marred oak coffee table bumping up against my knees and lifted my reporter’s pad and pen off the stack of magazines cluttering its surface. The man crossed in front of the picture window momentarily creating a silhouette of his bulky frame, shock of curly hair, and the lump that protruded out of his cheek. The image made him appear outsized and bearish and, as if in a movie theater, I wanted to shout “down in front” so I could get the interview underway. He took a seat in the tattered recliner, upholstered in burnt orange tweed that also resembled something straight out of my childhood, and held up the ice pack to his cheekbone. “Your tea okay?” he solicited.
“Yes, lovely thanks. What flavor is this? It almost doesn’t need sweetening, which would be a good thing for me to know about.” I chortled, which as I pointed out earlier is something I do when I am trying to avoid another action, in this case, dwell on what Jeremy Gates had said to me the day before about this guy murdering his wife.
“Just white tea with vanilla, which gives it that sweet flavor. It was Amy’s favorite,” the man said, sighing and pushing back from the edge of the lounger. He appeared more trusting now than when I first approached the door. I clicked my pen open and drew my pad onto my now crossed legs.
Excerpt from a work in progress. Copyright: Laura A. Novak, 2012
Photo by Phantomimic. Copyright RAGG.
Phantomimic is one of my favorite writers from SCRIBD. He can write prose or poetry, and his versatility extends to wonderful book reviews, lovely emails, and a thoughtful BLOG. Here he shares a piece about my favorite season, Fall.
Fall is here; winter is approaching.
On this crisp cool day the sunlight breaks with more ease through the branches, but still struggles to warm the ground.
I take a deep breath and sigh; one more year has gone by.
Squirrels dart around gathering as much food as possible, furtive robins jump around hunting for a morsel to beef up their reserves, and noisy V-shaped formations of geese fly south.
Still lingering on soon to be barren branches, leaves dangle like delicate ornaments and flutter like mobiles in the wind.
The dying appendages from the glory days of spring and summer delight us with the tint of their demise. When else in our lives do we revel in the outcomes of the process of death and decay? When?
I'm not the one that I once was. My body too is beyond its glory days, now approaching the autumn of my life. Not unlike the leaves around me, I feel life slowly draining away, and in my dreams I see visions of walking sticks, hospitals, and funerals.
The green in the landscape has been slowly vanishing, chased away by splotches of red and yellow, like a disease spreading from the tips to the stems.
The sunlight seeping through the thinning foliage seems to decompose as if going through a prism producing a rainbow of colors.
It resembles an artist's palette of gold, green, orange, and red, or a treasure chest bursting with rubies, emeralds, jaspers, and opals.
All around me oaks and maples explode ablaze as if engulfed in bright red and yellow flames.
There is amazing beauty in this, and yet....and yet....
Lost in thought I think of the magnificent trees all around me.
At least they have rings to show for the toils and troubles of each year of their lives. But they too will fall and decompose into soil, or be hacked into firewood, or be converted into paper to wipe asses or write poetry.
Leaves tumble to the ground. A few lucky ones fall in wet areas of the pavement and rot leaving behind black imprints; everyone knows how important it is to leave your mark.
The leaves on the ground at first retain some of their color, but then turn into dull shades of brown dotting the landscape with ordinariness; death is less noticeable when it's boring.
They are dry and twisted like mummies that have drifted forever in the sea of time.
I step on them and they disintegrate making crunching sounds. They crumble so easily under my foot, just as we all crumble so easily under the relentless pressure of age.
The leaves blow with the wind tracing the air currents and spiral in the whirlwinds of the late afternoon rising like the souls of the dearly departed.
I look at the vanishing sun; twilight is approaching, winter is approaching.
Soon the branches will be naked.
Soon the leaves in our backyards will be burned or placed in the trash.
Soon winter will arrive covering the land with a cold, still, white shroud.
And then, then I will wonder, "What is the point?" Yes, what IS the point?
What is the point of one more year?
What is the point of one more tree ring?
What is the point of one more crop of pretty dead leaves?
What is the point....of one more poem?
But not today, no, NOT TODAY!
Today, I will walk into the modest house of my happiness, the one that I erected in the same lot where I had planned to build the skyscraper of my dreams, and I will be content with it!
Today, I will appreciate beauty for its own sake regardless of its nature!
Today, I will relish life and what it has given me, and I will not dwell on what it will eventually take away from me!
Today, I will live the magic of the moment, and I will forget the unchangeable past and the unpredictable future!
Today, I will love!
Today, I will sing!
Today, I will laugh!
....I will write a poem.
All rights reserved © RAGG
Recently, I read some passages from The Great Gatsby on The Passive Voice, a favorite blog of mine. It got me thinking, which got me reading, which inspired me to search for some enlightenment from old F. Scott.
First, in honor of autumn, a passage:
"One autumn night, five years before, they had been walking down the street when the leaves were falling, and they came to a place where there were no trees and the sidewalk was white with moonlight. They stopped here and turned toward each other. Now it was a cool night with that mysterious excitement in it which comes at the two changes of the year. The quiet lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a stir and bustle among the stars. Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalks really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees—he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder."
If you have fifty minutes (and I know you do) lie down on a sofa near your computer and listen to this fascinating lecture from the Yale University online lecture series on YouTube. If there is no couch, then pull up a piece of floor and tuck a pillow under your head. I had forgotten so much about this great American novel, including the fact that FSF expected his experimental book to be a failure. Go on now. Click on Full Screen. We'll explore the professor's lecture in Part II another time.
I love fall more than any other season. So instead of trying to wax poetically about it, I thought I'd cull a few excerpts from an earlier draft of Finding Clarity. Ooh, I love the smell in the air!
The first thing that happened was that I had developed the most delicious routine to my life for the first time in as long as I could remember. Autumn was in the air and I loved the season more than any other. Autumn was when Andy and I fell in love. Autumn was when I realized I was pregnant with both of my boys. And this autumn in particular, I felt for the first time in a very long time that I had a place to go (other than Weight Watchers) where people welcomed me. The Bidwell-Coggin front office had become the bar stool at Cheers where everybody knew my name. Well, okay, none of the parents cared to learn it. But I had a chair and a desk and teachers who inquired after my wellbeing.
* * * * *
It was nearly indescribable the way days, no, weeks, could fly by in the life of a stay-at-home mom, or any mother for that matter. Since we could afford cleaning help only once a month, I was pretty much in charge of keeping our tiny Cape Cod style house nestled in the Berkeley hills as tidy as possible. Between the four of us, an ancient golden retriever named Beansie (so named for her flatulence problem) and Mama Kitty who was nearly the size of the dog, it was imperative that we kept things picked up as much as possible lest we loose someone in a pile of laundry, books or blue prints.
One room tucked away in the eves of the house had been the boy’s room when they were babies. Later, we moved them to the second bedroom upstairs and Andy and I made a den downstairs into the master bedroom. That tiny room had since become something of an office for me. I had a desk with one of Andy’s hand-me-down computers. There was a small daybed on which I had neatly organized bills to be paid and papers to be filed. Floral chintz balloon shades topped the dormer windows that looked out over the front garden. The wicker rocker in which I had sung both boys to sleep sat in the corner by the blue and white striped wallpaper. Barf stains were still visible on the coordinating fabrics. It was a sweet room. But it had imbued me with inertia for years.
As the boys got bigger, they shared bunk beds, toy chests, bookshelves and a fascinating symmetry in the second bedroom upstairs. Sometimes, they slept tightly wrapped around one another. But usually, I could tell which bunk was whose the previous night by the state of the comforter cover. Zach was as loud as he was small. He kicked the covers this way and that. He read his dreams aloud for all to hear. He stacked his books high and left toys out in a treacherous path. Zeppo, on the other hand, lived for order and neatness. Soldiers were only good if they stayed in formation. Blocks needed to be stacked. Books wanted to be in the jackets. They were my yin and yang and in many ways, a manifestation of who I had once been and what I had become.
Reporter, Author, Blogger, and Mother...