Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fear, Frights, and Terror (and candy)

Fear - it's the creepy crawlies, the willies, things that go bump in the night. Read Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, or Jeffrey Deaver's works and I dare you to turn off the light.
Vampires, zombies, ghosts, and ghouls. A haunting - perhaps The Turn of the Screw

Halloween is a bit of a silly season, yet the bright orange pumpkins and scary masks are harmless fun. When else do you take candy from strangers? Play ghostly organ music, conjure up a phantom, or watch old Vincent Price or Bela Lugosi movies. I can remember, as a kid, tromping about our neighborhood in PA on a Halloween night with my costume on and a winter coat (due to snow flurries). That diminishes the oomph of the presentation.

I vant to suck your blood - say it with your best Transylvanian accent. Or dance the Time Warp again a la Rocky Horror
Eat gobs of candy corn. Just don't step on the scale. EEEEEEK!!!
Happy Halloween

Saturday, October 24, 2009

NaNoWriMo Prep - Voyeurism

What better way to prepare for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which begins November 1st, than to walk through other people's backyard gardens?

This is legitimate voyeurism. Pay admission (Garden Conservatory's Open Days Garden Tour) and enjoy other people's hard work, vision, and nature. (and obviously an affinity for Skyy Vodka's blue bottles)

Highland Park, Dallas; Lakewood area, North Dallas - we followed maps and checked off the list. I really liked this sculpture, but couldn't fit it into my purse. This was research. Possible settings, potential characters - who lives in these homes? Are they happy? (My guess is yes - they are coping quite well) And if I write a murder mystery, where would I tuck the body?
Perhaps this gated door holds a clue...

This sculpture sums it up - curiousity. This quote sums up the 50,000 word task ahead:
I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork. Peter De Vries, 1957

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Parade

Mini-fake pumpkin patch in the front entrance brings me Halloween joy. I love October and have to contain myself before hauling Halloween decorations, mid-month, from the attic. As I was putting these posts into the ground I was pummeled by acorns dropping from our live oak trees. Aaahh, fall!
This October has been rainy and seemingly "cooler" than some previous Octobers. One never knows in Texas. Hence, the following poem is not truly applicable this year, but I'll share it anyway:
October Heat

October, burning leaves
it’s in my memory, inhale,
nose tingles
deep in my blood,
burnt leaf smoke oozes from my pores
airy wisps of ash encircle my head
seeps into my hair.
erie figures drifted in and out of the haze,
rakes in hand
swooshing crimson, orange, and yellow leaves

today, October in the South
air-conditioner whir kicks on at six
wheezes to a halt late evening.
dollars fly about the room
distilling humidity, cooling tepid air,
I sweat.

step on crunchy grass
wind chimes still
flags slacken, droopily oppressed
scurry back indoors
soul compresses

yearn for fire reds, golden, and deep oranges
brown, drab leaves herald fall this year.
it can’t be October.
pumpkins will explode in this heat,
melt into a pumpkin pie
not glow with Halloween candles.

I think I'll go eat some candy corn

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Different Views

My husband is off to Bronte, Texas where he enjoys time with one of his sons, with our brother-in-law, and other assorted family and friends. They are putting up a new deer blind this weekend in preparation for November's opening of deer hunt season. The pictures above are from his game cam -the 10/4 collection.
I grew up in a very non-hunt oriented family. This weekend, I'm reading, writing, and contemplating life in the comforts of my home. (No roughing it for me...ever!)
It's ironic that my father has larger deer roaming his neighborhood in PA and generally presenting a hazard on the roads up there. If nothing else, the contrasts in my life inspired the following poem.
Hunters’ Delight

deer wander suburbs
hoof prints embedded
poop piles on lawns
bucks could ring doorbells
like a Far Side cartoon

deer forced from wooded
protection by
developer buildings

the same men who lease land
sit in camouflage blinds
aimed to shoot deer that

meander backyard America

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Going Crazy for U2

Thirty years of timeless anthems - U2 - packs a punch with thoughtful and thought provoking lyrics set to a tireless bass line. With a soaring ache in his voice, Bono, reaches millions and I was one of the faithful last night at Cowboy Stadium. Prior to the concert, outdoor screens set the tone for excitement to come.

Opening notes brought a smile as I recognized With or Without You, Where the Streets Have No Name, One, Beautiful Day, and the crazy Vertigo.

One of the very best songs of the night, sadly is still appropriate in today's world. Sunday, Bloody Sunday. I quote and Bono's plaintive voice carries through the arena, "How long must we sing this song?"

Here's the set and yes, we were high up in section 417 of Jerry World. Alas, mush and echoes prevailed. We ended up walking down to stand at a railing so we could hear the worthwhile music and words of U2. They pack a powerful punch and stay relevant in their message, while providing entertainment and energy. Just a little Dublin rock band!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall Fame

re-run picture, but brand new review. Thanks to Pat Maples who publishes the Little Paper of San Saba. She supports my film criticism, and publishes it despite a lack of a movie theater in her town. So, it's my birthday week and last week I treated myself to a matinee. Unfortunately, I left the theater feeling old. Here's the review:

A zillion years ago - 1980 - to be exact, I remember coming out of the movie "Fame" feeling exhilarated. I wanted to sing, dance, bang the drums, and express myself. Perhaps I still felt youthful and hopeful and ready to challenge the world and win. The 2009 version of "Fame" is okay, but not mega-uplifiting, not toe-tapping-leap-from-your seat-and-want-to-dance amazing. Perhaps I'm old. Perhaps I've experienced too many rejections in my writing career. Perhaps this cast of kids didn't inspire me, and perhaps a remake was unnecessary.

I just re-read that paragraph and decided I'm old. I identified too much with the teachers and not the students in this new "Fame". The movie is quickly paced. We hurry through auditions, judging the applicants as the teachers appraise them. Then we have freshman year and we're happy to see the students we picked. The principal, played by Debbie Allen (in the original Fame), gives a speech about how hard it is to succeed at the school of Performing Arts. She talks about the pressure, the stress, and the ups and downs. I could relate to her and I wanted to shake the kids who were slouching in their seats, texting friends, and not listening. So, the kids are the usual - super talented dancer, so-so dancer, awesome classic pianist who's pressured by her parents and really wants to play fun music (the girl can sing too), the uptight actress, the angry actor, the filmmaker, etc. We get snippets of talent, snippets of background homelife, and yet this film doesn't pull us in. We don't feel the pain of creativity. This "Fame" is a bit glossy, a bit too hurried to get through the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years.

As I said, it's the teachers who give us the message of "Fame". Megan Mullally, the cool teacher, is out with her kids at a karaoke place. They manage to get her on stage and she wows them with a song. They ask her why she isn't in shows, still in the game. Her story of almost success makes us adults wince. We've been there - good but not awesome. Talented, but... That sums up life - coulda, woulda, not quite good enough. You can see the sympathy in some kids' eyes, plus some pity too.
BeBe Neuwirth, as the ballet teacher, has to tell a student that she won't write a letter of recommendation. Awesome scene in the movie and heartbreaking. This was the blood and guts of "Fame". We needed more of these moments to give the film more heart.

For matinee price, "Fame" is entertaining. But with "American Idol", "Dancing With the Stars", and other talent related shows, this film did not need to be re-made. It's not a novelty and doesn't give insight into what we already know about fame and success. It really doesn't happen overnight, and the odds are cruel. And you know what - the one thing I wanted, they didn't do. The kids didn't spill into the streets to stop traffic and dance and sing with abandon. That could have been exhilarating.

"Remember my name....fame......"

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall Fables

Need to get out the thesaurus to come up with better words or colors for a poem or ode to the arboretum. Plus a fall setting to start a book is upbeat and then we encounter the first hardship - winter. Fix a cup of tea and stir the pot or plot.
Plucky purple. Surely I can incorporate a description of this bounty into my November NaNoWriMo - that's National Novel Writing Month
and I'm using October to jot some notes and rev the engines. Last year I started writing with no clue and I'm still writing the end to the darn mess. However, for this next novel, I have a plan.

Yeah, and maybe there'll be a wedding in my book. I just attended a fall wedding and the colors, table decor, and leaf motif were splendid. I was also inspired by the tasty spice cake. Plenty of fall fables to tell, and perhaps a cake to bake.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Seamless Safire

Over Labor Day Weekend, I stood on the Wilmington, DE waterfront and watched young crew teams train. I admired their coordination and teamwork. No oars dragging in the water. Instead, crisp and steady, the boats glided seamlessly.
William Safire, New York times columnist, passed away on 9/27/09 and as Mark Davis wrote in the Dallas Morning News, "There are many left to man the oars of punditry, though few will do it with such grace." You didn't have to agree with his conservative politics, but you couldn't disagree with his love of the English language. He wrote seamlessly and debated endlessly over word usage, structure, and style.
I pulled out my copy of Safire's Language Maven Strikes Again, and chuckled as I perused a few chapters. In the forward he wrote, "It's your language, too, buddy; if you want to abuse it and muddle it up, you will do that for yourself, not for me. If, on the other hand, you are willing to think about how we communicate, and consider the words and the forms of grammar, then you are automatically a member of the Authority, entitled to the thrill of membership."
It's a fun journey. Grab an oar and start paddling.