What was the question again?

The room is long, a rectangle of weak fluorescent light, smoked glass and metal slats, the desks tucked tightly together, bottles and urns in smart ready rows, cameras pointed at each other, waiting to blink. people-in-conference-room-imgp6319“I honestly can’t remember the substance of the meeting.”

“Strike that.”

The stasis of the event settles in at length, turns on itself, the focus on the banal, to prove a point – my point! – no matter what, to win the fight of fights, which is no fight at all. The door leads into a hall back into a room like this, another door, another corridor, this room again. The faces stare back, featureless, trapped in the dull light and sound. no exit“No, don’t strike that.”

“What was the question again?”

“my bad side” book jacket

I’m off to another writing conference this weekend and have put together a first draft for a book jacket blurb on my bad side:

Deirdre Sinclair comes home late one night to find her sister’s drunken boyfriend armed and her prized exotic cat bleeding at his feet. She decides to shoot and asks questions, then fleeing the city to Canada. Dazed and injured, she remembers her tiny legs dangling from a high chair, her infant sister, Crystal, pulling cereal off the counter and their mother dead on the floor, pills scattered about her head. serval and girlDeirdre’s journey with Apollo to the barren landscape of Newfoundland forces her to confront her fears and loneliness, bringing to mind her isolated childhood, her years at a boarding school and an aborted practice as a veterinarian before moving to New York in an attempt to reconnect with her sister. Immured in alcoholism, Crystal shuns her sister and keeps the world at bay with her boyfriend, Derek, a fire fighter who lost his company in 9/11, and who has developed a chronic obsession from working at the site. Deirdre makes a dramatic turn from working with abandoned animals to the escort industry and performance sex in her attempt to come to terms with her traumatic youth and a moment she cannot remember, a memory she cannot forget.

MTA’s Seven Years

You may have noticed, in riding the subways of New York, that the MTA has posted a clear warning in every car.  IMAG2703 Why so many reminders? Is it because of the incessant delays? The changing of an express to a local, a C to the F Track, without an announcement? Or is it perhaps the conductors’ proclivity toward closing the doors  just as the other train arrives on the other side of the platform?IMAG0053Whatever it is, seven years is a long time to wait.

Reviewing the Reviewers

Truth be told, I stopped reading film reviews in 1992 when I stumbled onto a piece about The Crying Game and read, “You’ll never guess the big surprise!” thecryinggameThis of course left me guessing throughout the film – He’s a secret agent! He’s dead! He’s a murderer! – and ruined the experience.

The problem with reviews is simple: they are plot-driven. Even The New Yorker, highly touted for its prose, consistently offers lame reviews, all summary and no insight. douglas_liberaceRoger Ebert marketed his thumb well, but now that he’s gone, it’s all about the freshness of a tomato. The thing about reviewing is that anyone can do it; the only requirement is consciousness and barely that.

I developed a 8-Star system as a teenager. IMAG2711I must admit to a vagueness in my descriptors but would like to point out that I never handed out a “#” nor a “—“. Never. That said, I know that there was some inconsistency in my ratings.IMAG2714 I suppose, to my young eyes, Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon just wasn’t as tightly paced as Orca. orca031010I went on to review a few films in college, one piece which I used in the development of my undergraduate thesis on Walt Disney.

Extract from "Sleeping Beauty" review

Extract from my “Sleeping Beauty” review

It was also in college that my penchant for reviewing the reviewers arose.

My letter to the editor

My first letter to the editor

Some things never change.

Six Great Heroines of Fiction

It’s a challenge to think of a heroine who isn’t passive, either loving from afar or loving too hard.

Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina

Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina

And while these passionate characters are to be admired, they tend to limit us in our view of what it is to be a woman of substance. Where are the heroines to rival Odysseus, Atticus Finch and the Cat in the Hat? cat_in_the_hat-300x591I offer you my Top Six.

6. Joy Adamson (Born Free) joyadamsonThe co-protagonist of the Born Free series, along with Elsa the Lion, Adamson is more outspoken and independent in the books – to say nothing of real life – than offered on film.

5. Hannah Arendt  (Hannah Arendt) hannah-arendtThe 20th-Century philosopher, as portrayed in Margarethe von Trotta’s 2013 film, is intimidating, uncompromising and could smoke anyone under the table.

4. Gloria (Gloria) gena-rowlandsGina Rowlands’ portrayal in John Cassavetes’ 1978 film, a modern-day Fury, is striking in her combination of anger and sentimentality.

3. Chihiro (Spirited Away) senEven after her parents are turned into pigs and her name is stolen, Chihiro wants to help everyone, including the evil witch.

2. Clytemnestra (Agamemnon) Guerin_Pierre-ClytemnestraWhile it may be true that she has the blood of her husband and Cassandra on her hands, Aeschylus makes it clear that she has her reasons.

1. Doctor’s Wife (Blindness) blindness2008-012The only hope offered in Jose Saramago’s post-apocalyptic parable is a woman willing to sacrifice herself for the good of everyone else. Imagine that.

Sex Symbols of the 1960s

A tantalizing contradiction seems to exist in the sex symbols of the 1960s, a sexuality that simultaneously offers lust and innocence. Whipped-cream-and-other-delightsPaul McCartney used this iconography on the Out There tour as a stage backdrop for his performance of Paperback Writer.

Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, June 10, 2012

Paul McCartney, Barclay’s Center, Brooklyn, June 10, 2012

The Dandy Warhols used similar imagery while playing Good Morning.

The Dandy Warhols, Terminal 5, New York, May 30, 2012

The Dandy Warhols, Terminal 5, New York, May 30, 2012

The images are provocative – more so than most graphic visuals of today –  as they tiptoe along the line of what might be allowed.

Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot

Raquel Welch

Raquel Welch

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda

In other words, it’s not so much the nudity as the pose, a faux timidity almost asking, “Do you mind?” Of course those were different times.cig girl

Stanislaw Lem’s “Solaris”

Continuing in my science fiction research, I have begun Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris. solaris_a_living_planet_by_justv23-d4honx8Made into a film by both Andrei Tarkovsky and Steven Soderbergh, it is the story of a planet with a living consciousness, Gaia in the extreme. Although the writing is dense at times, the narrative is artfully dream-like, almost in a trance. Most impressively, the notion of a living mass conscious comes across as an effective precursor for what we are heading for here, our collective and unspoken mission to be eternally plugged in.WEB-robocalypse18rv6