Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Blogger

I rented a small car in Denver and drove out towards the western bit of sky. Denver was no longer the west, but you couldn't tell from the vertiginous mountains or the white puffs of clouds against a deep azure sky. I was running away from something, but I couldn't quite remember what. The exact details had not only escaped me but disappeared entirely. You'd think I was a fool as opposed to an intelligent man. And I was always reminding people of my intelligence. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

100 words

The other day, I saw someone on Twitter say that the enemy of writing was no new words in a day. I write sporadically these days, in the nooks and crannies of a busy life. I said that I thought the enemy of writing probably wasn't not writing at all, but failing to read intelligently. I said that the enemy of writing was sometimes a show I read about online, and sometimes the enemy was a phone call I'd been putting off, sometimes the enemy of writing is a very cute GIF of a puppy, sometimes it is a student paper, sometimes the enemy of writing is an episode of Game of Thrones and sometimes it's merely that I like to check all my favorite web sites every morning. Sometimes the enemy of writing is the children, asking question after question about the lives of grasshoppers. Sometimes the enemy is you and I, sitting in the dark, the fan spinning overhead, wondering how we'll pass another evening. Sometimes, and by sometimes, I mean all the time, the enemy is me.

Right now I can hear the cars passing on the road below, and I can see, reflected off a picture of a canyon in Utah, a pool of light spreading out on an orange wall at the school across the road. I can see the sideways lean of bunched socks, gathered on the futon, and a green pillow, whose sides are lumpy like the skin of a very old man. And I'm reminded, as I always am when I stop for a moment, of the terrifying totality of the world that's around us. And how our lives are like vast fields that we skip through, unaware of the impending dark. Or perhaps I didn't mean fields. Perhaps I didn't mean at anything at all beyond these hundred words. But I do miss the words when they are gone, as I miss the warm and dry summer air of California in the depths of an eastern winter, the trees covered in frost.

I could go on, but I've already exceeded one hundred words. And you probably stopped reading an hour ago anyway, folded the spine of your book and passed gently into sleep.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Just another night




It is my humble opinion, near the end of another
tenebrous day, that the most precise beauty I saw
was through a frosted office window--three stories up
where a row of birds, roundish and cowled,
dropped from the limbs of a wintering tree,
one after another.


Each time they dropped, stone-like,
falling towards the cement,
I nearly caught my breath,
until the wind filled their feathers,
holding them aloft.


An hour later, I lay on
rumpled plastic, arms folded,
while a surgeon carved a football
shaped hole from my left shoulder.
It's just a precaution, mind you,
like the way that some of the birds
don't drop at all, but immediately
spread their wings, cleaving sky.

And while they stitched the skin of my back,
knitting me together, puppet-like,
I could still see,
in the mind's roving eye,
birds dropping against the grey backdrop of sky, and
trees reminiscent of that painting by Friedrich.
The one where all the cowled monks slouch
towards the abbey, waiting for the breath of God,
like wind unseen, to carry them skyward.



Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Christmas Prince

Image result for a christmas princeLike most people at the holiday season, I settled in to watch A Christmas Prince. I haven't made it to a royal wedding yet, but that's only because the original is a classic on par with Scrooged starring Bill Murray. And I felt like I wanted to watch it again this year, delve into the inner and outer lives of Aldovian princes and aspiring journalists. And yet, despite the harrowing plot turns and moments of cinemotographic bliss, (shouts to the film student who got them to include that quick shot of the robin and the icy waterfalls. You are still making art!) I found myself most interested in the main character's means of getting famous: a blog.

Naturally, I was reminded that I used to blog. The similarities sadly end there as I've never met a handsome and eligible Aldovian prince, in part because it doesn't exist, and in part because life is full of disappointment. However, I did wonder why her blog, titled, Amber's blog, had gone viral, while mine stagnated at roughly 100 page views, 37 of which were me checking to see how many page views I'd gotten. The answer couldn't be as simple as the fact that she'd met a prince and existed in a fictional universe. So, like the Greek philosophers of old, I tried to dig deeper.

When that failed, I decided to just review A Christmas Prince. I kid. Too many great reviews of this movie already exist https://www.theringer.com/movies/2017/12/13/16769722/watch-netflix-a-christmas-prince-18-days-straight, and I don't want to spend my blogging hours retreading the same ground like a sappy Christmas movie about love. I see what I did there.

Like most people I know today, I spend the majority of my day staring at a screen of one sort or another. I'm not going to claim there is something inherently wrong with screen time, but rather, the issue is that it puts me in the passive role of consumer as opposed to creator, which exhausts me. It turns out that to be mentally passive can be incredibly stultifying. Thus, using Amber's blog as an inspiration, as well as the year 2003, I've decided to revive my blog like it's a beloved television character who was shot at the end of an episode in a cliffhanger. (In the era of peak television, more than half the time the character is actually dead. But I want you to know that a safer time to consume existed when you could always count on your favorite character surviving damn near anything, like Brett Kavanaugh at a job interview for the Supreme Court).

And what better way to revive the blog than to pay a brief homage to the movie that brought blogs back into the mainstream. Screams into void. Oh. It's just me here. Welp. I kid, of course. Reviving a blog that often focused on the quality of children's fecal matter is precisely the anecdote we need during this time of so much political divide. I can't wait to join the rich and intelligent debate we enjoy on such topics as................... Oh. Huh.

Do you guy's like A Christmas Prince or what? Let's debate in the comment section like it's an article on the NYT. I'm playing the part of troll. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

This evening

I made you a poster, and it told you the 130 reasons that I was in love with you. Truthfully, it was 122, but I fudged the last eight and hoped you wouldn't notice. For instance, I don't particularly like your toe nails, but I want you to know that I don't like anyone's toe nails, so you shouldn't feel offended. Nor do I like the way your arm goes rigid when you first fall asleep, and I feel the full weight of your arm, keeping me in place. I feel as though I should piece together an analogy, like the way a line of trees, jazz-handing the blued sky in winter constructs the aesthetics of a morning walk. It would be just like you to laugh at the thought of all those branches, waving at the sky. But you're asleep again, and I've run out of reasons to love you, so I'm going to rest my fingers now and listen the sound of the neighbor's baby crying faintly through the walls. I keep telling you life is full of such odd things if you stay awake deep in the valleys of night.

Image result for picture of the night

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Rainbows

Image result for picture of a rainbow

I used to chase rainbows in the faint glow of a sky streaked by rain. The sky, both muted and vibrant, gathering orange and gold into itself, waving the colors together as it were a loom, not sky. Every child, or so it seems to me, has this same story, looking up from a sidewalk spattered in rain, dropping a red bouncing ball, a small metallic police car, a doll, and shouting about the colors in the sky. No doubt, I think to myself, you like me, put down the car, raced across the house, tried to trace the arc of light to its source. What were we looking for? Was I hoping to find a deep well of light from which the rainbow was created, spinning across the sky?

Once or twice, I was close enough to the source to try and find it. I was in a large field, patches of grass cut through with hard clay gone temporarily muddy after the passing rain. I'd been playing soccer with my friend, Blake when the storm had arrived. We'd sheltered beneath the eaves of the low slung buildings at McManus elementary school, waiting for the rain to pass. Most days, we went home and played the video game Contra, for hours. But today, we waited for the rain to pass, so rare in the upper reaches of the Central Valley where I grew up.

And when it passed, we saw it, a covenant from God that he'd find some other way of killing us all next time, a rainbow. We saw that its terminus must be somehow close to us, just beyond the chain link fence, falling behind a row of small ranch style homes beyond. We ran quickly through the gates and into the neighborhood beyond, past the star thistle and into the yard, but the rainbow seemed to have moved further still, and we chased it to the next block. There stood a blue house with an American flag hanging from the garage, snapping in the wind. But we couldn't see an end to the light there either.

We chased the light all afternoon, down wide streets dotted by rain, past houses with rock gardens, with small square windows, past houses where dogs barked lazily from the side yard, and down the avenues already starting to grow warm.

Sometimes I feel that though I have not seen Blake in decades that he and I must still be chasing that same light through all the corridors and back alleys of our lives, hoping to discover the source of so much glory. Tell me, dear reader, do you think we'll ever find it? 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Movie Review: Columbus

Image result for columbus movieIt's rare these days that I see something so quiet. In fact, I'm writing about Columbus, a slow movie set in the modernist haven of Columbus, Indiana because I fell a bit in love with it. In the past year, everything in my life seems to demand an argument, action, an opinion, and while I believe that 97 percent of the time. Sometimes I want to step away from the argument, from the right way to think and just to be in the quiet space of being a human being wandering about this confusing and wondrous world.
If I were to summarize Columbus, I'd say long tracking shots of beautiful architecture, reminiscent in some ways of Richard Linklater, but slower because sometimes the characters aren't talking, the spaces aren't necessarily given meaning by the character's presence or absence. Rather, the movie seems to ask if the modernist structures have a meaning in and of themselves, apart from humans, in the way that a mountain is still beautiful whether we are beholding it or not. For me, this question of aesthetics and modernism is the real heart of the film. The movie is full of long silences, light on water, on the underside of leaves, but it never quite dips into the full reverie of Terence Malik either. It just seems to delight in the details of life. I too, would like to delight in the details.

Of course, most television shows and movies are about shipping. And so the movie also centers on the relationship between a young woman, who works part-time in a library. She's a year beyond high school, far too intelligent to just be shelving books but she's also not sure if she can leave behind her mother for an offer to a study with a famous architect in New Haven.  The young woman develops a deep and soothing relationship with an architects son, in town to witness the decline of his famous father after a sudden heart attack. The son of the architect, like the young woman, has a tendentiosu relationship with his father. Thus, both of the characters are temporarily bound to Columbus because of their parents, and it's in this temporary in between space that their relationship flourishes, traveling between architectural marvels and talking about their parents, their lives, or just the way that a sunken living room was designed. In short, it's slow. But it's not agonizing. Rather, it's slow in the way that it's slow to watch the subtle v that the water makes as it passes the body of a swan.

It's rare to find a movie so in touch with stillness, with the way that a piece of sky, set between two long beams can be achingly beautiful. The filmmaker, Koganda, is a video essayist, and his essay about modernist architecture and the internal struggle we have with our parents, with growth and change, is a mesmerizing one.