Sunday, September 14, 2014

Land Ho!

A small buddy film with  a small budget and two actors not known to most of us -- a road trip in Iceland of all places.  I enjoyed it because I've thought for a long time that it would be very interesting to visit Iceland and drive around its so-called Golden Circle, see the rugged landscape, geysers waterfalls, lonely farm houses. Reykivik  doesn't interest me much -- but then I've had cities up the gazoo and I like countryside.

The two retired men are in their later 60s it seems, they are former brothers-in-law married to sisters (until one got divorced and one died--the sisters, I mean).  Not a lot happens but the men reveal habits, attitudes and inner life in subtle ways which is very rare in movies.  Of course it's an indy film and not likely to be seen many places, which is too bad.  We older people very rarely get to see our contemporaries treated so insightfully . 

Friday, September 12, 2014

At This Age, One Worries

In the spring I saw the name of a friend I haven't seen for a few years on the cover of a magazine. I read the article about her and looked at the photos of her art work which were in her  familiar style.  I cannot put a picture of her work here without her  permission but here is a link you can click
I could not imagine she would not respond with a brief note or something because she's that kind of person.  But time went by. Now and then I remembered her and thought ... Oh, dear. We are both in our 70s, things happen to people.  But if she were very sick or dead surely her husband would at least respond with a brief note -- if my note were somewhere that seemed to be unanswered.  I hated the thought that I might not know.

Yesterday the voice on the telephone was unmistakeable her.  She was sorry not to answer sooner.  We talked a good while, she is working as always.  The link above takes you to a wonderful gallery of her fairly recent work -- they are all marvelous mandalas.  Just beautiful and so in keeping with who she is, a person whose work was always complexly metaphorical and yet truly accessible.  I am so happy she is still with us and sounds healthy and happy and making the art that flows out of some deep place inside her.  It's wonderful simply to know we are in the same world as certain other people. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Heavy lifting - 3 films in 24 hours

I'm on mental and visual overload.  I've seen three films in 24 hours and I almost couldn't get to sleep.  Some people watch one film after another, or one TV show after another.  Perhaps I have visually deprived myself  because I don't have a TV.  So films have a big impact.  Frankly I like it that way but this probably might continue fo the next twelve weeks. My own fault.

I will not give up the free Tuesday afternoon foreign film.  The first one was a 2013 French film called 2 Autumn, 3 Winters. It was dreadful.  A scruffy guy with an empty life (no apparent job, few friends) meets a girl with an empty life. They hang out with another couple with empty lives. They are all inarticulate, superficial and aimless.  They are all early 30s. Is that what it means to be that age?  I just read also that Max Nichols (son of Mike) has made his own version of The Graduate, his father's first hit with a mid-20s protagonist who also is aimless, inarticulate, superficial. Boring movies, depressing statement.

Yesterday two documentaries, one after the other interrupted by a long discussion period of the first which was the doc about Joan Rivers. I had seen it quite a while ago and forgot much of it. A driven woman who, as everyone knows made her mark as a potty-mouthed, driven, obsessive who used cosmetic surgery to grow younger looking as she grew older. Almost anything I could say about the insights in the movie could be construed as anti-semetic so I will stop there. It was painful to watch someone so narcissistic.  Of course the discussion went on and on.

The third was Errol Morris's masterpiece The Thin Blue Line and to say almost anything about the subject of the film is to sound prejudiced about the state of Texas and the culture of the South. This is about a murder in which an innocent man was convicted of shooting a cop and a psychopathic killer was allowed to run around free.  The whole story was told with a rather flat affect, the murder was shown (reenacted) several time always much the same. The many Texans--law enforcement, lawyers, judge, pseudo witnesses, friends of the real killer--were superimposed on Philip Glass's metallic and repetitive music. A long discussion afterwards of course.  I came home convinced as I have been at other times that although emancipation of the slaves was important and necessary, we should not have fought a horrible, bloody war to prevent secession. They should be a separate country as they have their own ethos that is diametrically opposite that of most of the North.  And Texas (Dallas and a small Texas town was the locale) should have become a separate country as it nearly did at one point. 

We'll see if I can handle this kind of overload for another 11 weeks. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A poem from another era

Okay, the photo is up-to-date (too bad that's not me), but the poem is old fashioned, the sort that used to be printed in a number of  popular interest magazines. It's not a deep or serious poem, it's not even a poem I'm  proud to have written but it almost wrote itself one day. A poetry writer, older than I, recently sent me his locally printed chapbook that contained a version of the title.  That set me off thinking about a gathering I had very recently been in where everyone was 60 or older, some considerably older and I witnessed an understanding and acceptance in the group toward one another that is reflected in the poem.  Those are my apologies; in the poetry class I take no one is allowed to make such self-derogatory remarks.  A good rule but I have a certain amount of pride and had to  say it.

Things Only Old Folks Know

The lost word or name is not a disaster
It doesn’t mean dementia or Alzheimers
It happens to everyone quite often.

That blank look and unresponsiveness is okay,
It isn’t snobbishness, anger or ignorance,
Our hearing isn’t what it used to be.

Sitting quietly as others leave the room
Isn’t disinterest or disagreement,
It’s just so damned hard to get out of the chair.

The shrug and sigh at news of scandal
Isn’t indifference, it’s boredom with the stupidity
And arrogance of celebrites, stars and politicians.

The shaking head with the downturned mouth
Isn’t sudden onset of Parkinsons’ disease,
We’re not surprised the world’s going to hell.

The lavish sprinkling of salt, pepper or hot sauce
Doesn’t mean the cooking’s lousy,
Our taste buds have been dying one by one.

What those young folks -- whippersnappers --
Don’t know has to be forgiven. They’ll learn
When they’re lucky enough to become one of the old folks.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Under the pergola

I wish I'd taken my camera yesterday.  Sitting under the pergola at the Chat House restaurant in Dennis with 7 other women a perfect way to spend a late summer afternoon.  That pergola, unlike the one in the builder's selections here, was against the buiding and covered with vines.  Beyond it was a perfect little patio with four or five tables.  We had our own tables and chairs, coffee and pastry or lunch for those who hadn't eaten.   Our gathering was not purposeless.

The sun was perfect, the shade was perfect, the group was entirely enjoyable -- we even began a discussion with the topic "fall" with a basket full of heavenly smelling grapes  that we could imagine had grown on that pergola over our heads (except, it's greenery was flowery and not grape-y).  This group  began meeting at the Chat House over a year ago and eventually  began calling ourselves "the Chatererers", of course that's a name that befits a gaggle of women.

But it is not  purposeless group.  Members were gathered (and new potential members arrive often) by Lynn who is people gatherer, a catalyst.  Everyone makes something, or several kinds of somehting. Lynn does collage, we have a couple of painters, a jewelry maker, a floral arranger, a weaver,  a pedagogue who can be  far more entertaining than that term suggests and me, usually writing something or  quiting something.  Our donor of grapes brought a painting as well. So we talk about our creations and just keep on talking and laughing and sharing and constantly getting to know one another better. At this age, major careers and family raising duties are behind us. We explore in a very relaxed way, who we have become ...  people who have found creative ways to express ourselves.  I find vivacity as well as wonderful relaxation under the pergola.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August beach walks

Nature enfolds us, sky -- clear or cloudy, changing colors constantly, showing sun, moon, stars -- the ocean -- calm or atoss, lapping, ebbing, sparkling -- the earth -- rocky, sandy, marshy, grassy, tree covered, dessert, much, much more. We cannot resist playing with it, not only as children digging a hole or sifting the sand, as adults, moving the rocks around, even here on the beach, building circles (with a rock that shows quartz white in contrast to all the browns, cairns (this year's more sloppy than in past years) and tiny markers along the edge of the sea (new this year).  I speak really only of a small, small area seen here at the end of Long Beach on which I walk as much as I can in the summer, and often in other seasons as well. Every summer the rocks at the  knobby end of the beach, which is really a spit between sea harbor and an inflowing creek, a nature reserve, not a public beach with lifeguards and such, the rocks are differently arranged -- Greek letters for fraternities, hearts with initials, various runes.  A long-lasting circle of stones about six feet across filled with white stones.  I am not a folklorist but I feel the achetypical impulses that have made people arrange these stones.

The current header photo of a circle of horseshoe crab shells (they molt and the tide brings them in) with an arrangement of seashells inside was done by sunbathers/swimmers who came here this week.  It has the simple elegance of the circle, a symbol, of course, of wholeness, of the world itself, here we can read that within the ancientness of the horseshoe crabs, younger shellfish have their place, having taken many graceful shapes.

I was walking along the beach today interfering with nature myself: I was picking up horseshoe crab shells at the water's edge and  laying them on the sand further up. I don't really know why I do this, but I have been doing it for several years now.  It seems to inspire others to do the same, for I find lines and clusters of shells, each day.  I arranged a few together and a couple, who I had not seen walking behind me, paused and the woman to said, "I like you art.  You put them in families." I just said "thank you" because I do think of the biggest shells (the dinner plate size ones) as belonging to a grandfather and the salad plate size ones as being mother and father and the saucer size ones as the children.  I'm sure humans have always manipulated nature, probably ever since they sheltered in caves and rearranged the rocks for comfort and safety, found grottoes further in where they painted the wonderful animals that they preyed on and which preyed on them.  Now we call it art; we think they called it magic. But then isn't that what all art tries to be?  Magic.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Magic in the Moonlight, Woody Allen

Woody Allen's latest is another nostalgic return to the '20s. Woody's old but not THAT old, a magic time for his parents, maybe. But certainly not on the Riviera in grand homes.  The story of   a magician (Colin Firth) who debunks psychics, and a sweet faced psychic for Kalamazoo (Emma Stone) is predictable until the twist near the end that I admit I didn't see coming.  Then there are two more predictable plot turns just to tie the ending up with a bow.  Colin Firth was very elegant, Emma Stone the kind of pretty girl from the Midwest who's bound to be much smarter than she looks.  The delight of the movie was Eileen Atkins, an actress I see to infrequently,  who plays Colin's aunt. They are given a dialog near the end that must have been fun to write and maybe to act, but which is so expected it's hard to enjoy -- a bit too much icing on the cake.

I'm interested in how  prolific creative people mature. For a while I thought Woody was never going to mature but, staying out of this film, just writing and directing,  it's a kind of dessert,  not deep but elegantly done, a good afternoon's entertainment, not much more. The scene that supplied the title seemed  superfluous to me, the title doesn't do much for me anyway.