Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When Atheist Pray DoThey Pray for Peace?

You do not hear much about the kid who says his morning prayers and is learning to spell bigger words.

He had two things that he did every morning before he did anything.  He drew a peace symbol on a small piece of paper and inserted the drawing into a sealed box that had a slit in the middle of the top.  The box had a calendar of the entire year on the bottom.  It went from April of this this year and went to May of next year.  For each drawing he made a check mark on the today date.

He had a green plastic clip board he found in the Humane Society Thrift Store and bought it for twenty-five cents.
Each day he opened the dictionary at random and wrote the word of the day.  He gave the word a two word definition.

On his calendar he put another check mark.  One check mark was for peace and the other was for knowledge.

He did not tell anyone what he was doing but his mother found the box and the clip board while she was cleaning his room.  She did not say anything but she put them on the desk near his window. 

He decided he would explain if she asked but she did not.

One day he gave her a drawing of the peace symbol.  She did not attach it to the refrigerator with his other drawings.  She put it in a nice wooden frame and put it on the wall near the front door.  She said it was her mezuzah.  As he had not explained his box and clipboard she did not explain the word.
She knew he had a dictionary.

The welcome mat at the door is the first sign of a gracious person.  The word welcome is a promise of hospitality and for some sanctuary.  The terrible deed of MacBeth was the betrayal of hospitality.

The box he got at the thrift store had wad of three by five index cards.  He asked about them to his mom and she told him that was something everyone did in the old days who was collecting ideas and quotes.  She said she had an index card box made of oak that had been on the table near the phone in her childhood home.

He listened to her but what she was telling him seemed strange and he could not see the point.  She told him it was before there was voice mail and answering machines and people took messages for each other.

That seemed thoughtful but so strange.

She said she learned to ask just enough questions and to not rattle on when someone want her mother or dad to call and settle some sort of date or arrangement.

In his mind he imagined hundreds of people with boxes of cards.  Each one was looking for a note they had made and now was not sure.  Maybe the notes were lost and the wind would come and pieces of paper would blow about in the wind.  People would chase after them with butterfly nets.

Bing and Michael

A raggedy well thumbed

cheap hardback book

no larger than a cigarette package

seemed to float in the air above the evening fire.

In faded embossed letters the title read

"The Irish Are Revolting"

(A Memoir by Someone Who Should Know)

The first line of the first page was a minor apology. When you know you have to explain you know you may have been a bit harsh in your choices of words and the abrupt nature of the thing.

Before you know the name of the writer you know that there is a mouth that is too quick to blabber and also one that listens to what he is blabbering about. There is more chance that the word is being heard when the talker stops every now and then to take back a few things.

Do not let the title of the book confuse you. The Irish are Revolting is not about terrorist or about some people's opinion of inhabitants of the green isle. The title comes from the remark of a Leprechaun who had been in the New World for several hundred years and has returned to the native soil to find an asphalt parking lot on top of his favorite water spring. He knows that in the bottom of that water pool he had stashed part of his golden treasure. Now he sees that his dear pieces of pure metal are possibly covered with the mucky tar of the pavement. He can sense exactly where beneath his feet the sack of coins is embedded. He convinces a water rat to go to the site where the water reaches the upper world and go down and retrieve a few pieces.

He needs the coin because he does not want to use any of his credit cards because he is visiting without the knowledge or consent of the local big-to-dos. He is traveling with a supply of fake hair and Hollywood sunglasses.

The rat returns with five coins. They are caught in a cluster of petroleum goo.

"How could they do this to my waters, my haven, and my gold? The Irish are Revolting"

His words are no sooner spoken when he hears a familiar voice telling him to keep his nasty thoughts to himself.

It is his friend Michael. This meeting is no coincidence. Michael was waiting for the long expected and long over due return of "the only hope-of-us-all".

"Don't tell me you have been here for a long time waiting. I see no empties strewn about."

"Yesterday evening I arrived to await the arrival of any boat that made it through the recent bad weather. It would have to you as a guest or crew member. Yesterday's sunset had a definite flash of green. Could only mean one thing."

"Good to see you Harry."

"It has been years since I have heard my own name spoken by a friend."

We need a place to stay for a few days so I can get rid of all this travel grime and have a long sleep. On the ship you had to sleep with at least one eye open and constant twitching ears. I could have paid full fare but that would have meant dinner at the Captain's table and a thousand curious questions.

There is something about sailing on the sly. You get discovered by the crew but they allow you to just be. Years in steerage brings out a better side to a drinking man who thinks he is having an episode. Little people are a happier fate that scalping savages and rampaging elephants no matter what how pink or how frequent.

There are still goodies in the land. the ones who have kept a small part of each day for the visits of the other creatures. The ones who have a small chair near the chimney corner. There are still those who keep the cat out of the kitchen during the cold and rainy days. And along the hedge row you may find the wrapped crusts of bread and the small pot of cheese. The old call all that the due of the small people. "Every one deserves a small due every once in a while."

The birds and small tree dwellers know the visit of a friend. The only rent may be a few crumbs or the core of an apple.

The world is like a barrel of apples or a bushel of potatoes.

Make up your mind, apples or potatoes. Apples are doctor deflectors and potatoes are true hospitality among the less-than-a-lot have some more hospitality of a the average family.

Michael tells a story to the others around the fire.  He was picked up at an airport near the city of San Francisco.  He and two other had arrived on a flight from Central America and they were told on the plane that their arrival was expected.  They knew this was a warning for no one was to meet them at the airport.  The plan had been that they were to make their wayto a maintenance shed along the edge of the field and they  would wait until they were summoned  by the voice of a familar child.

It all went well but it was full of surprises.  The familar child was not longer a child and she had two others with her who were from way back.   The ride away from the landing field was smooth but the others insisted that  they be very cautious with talk for there may be ears and eyes about.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why Grilledeggplant?

My first intent was to talk of food and diet.  But I got side tracked with just chatting and rambling.

Food and the pleasures of food have been a small but important part of my life.

I survive Lenten restrictions and fasts.  I knew from an early age that all food did not come out of a box or jar.  I knew that there were potatoes and then again there were potatoes.

It was some time before I found that roast beef need not be crunchy and dry.

Must and always are two words that may or may not be valid.  The commands and the warnings are really there for those who would cook frozen vegetables in their boxes and in a toaster oven.  Boiling water is the test of nothing.  The real test is the use of pot holders.

My fascination with food and the memories of those who introduced me to the world beyond the spare diet I had had in my mother's kitchen.  She was a cook of habit and not an adventurer in the world of cuisine.  Her  expertise was the ability to introduce new methods for traditional dishes.  Spice and herbs were included with a very spare hand.  We ate more of the root vegetables than our friends and she was able to convince her sons that the green bean was a treat to be valued.  However she erred on the side of safety. The days of week were dominated by traditions.  We had no need  for a calendar to know what day of the week it was.  The days of washing clothes became the day of long simmered meals and the days of her pinochle group was a day of hurry up what ever.

The name came about for a specific reason but people are intrigued by the idea of it.  Grilled eggplant is more an idea than an event.  The eggplant is either loved, hated or endured.  But it has one thing that can not be denied.  It goes well with a great variety of elements.  The history of  eggplant shows up in its name.  The common appellation suggests that those who observed it noted the shape and thought of the egg.  The shape in other varieties is elongated and some are more suggestive of melon and gourd.
My experience with eggplant began while I was in high school.
Our neighbors had a friend who would show up at odd times during the growing seasons with provisions from his garden.  He would cook what he brought and he introduced us to several variations of eggplant uses.  One he called poor man's caviar.  It was a mashed concoction of roasted eggplant, roasted garlic, chopped mint and olive oil.  He admitted that other forms of the dish included yogurt but he preferred the absence of the dairy.  He said a poor man was defined by his lack of funds but not his lack of taste.  The flavor of the eggplant depended upon the skill of roasting and of amounts of salt and lemon.  Lemon in the old world was at hand on the local trees but in Western Pennsylvania it was seasonal and seldom suitable for anything more than lemonade.  He asserted that lemon and mint were often the making of disaster for a good eggplant.
He said you did not want to taste the presence but only to notice its absence.
He told us not accept what was available but always search for something that would  enhance and satisfy.
I know now that he was talking about flavors that were to be sought and by dishes that were complex in flavor but simple in achievement.  He was by culture eastern Mediterranean but his palate was subtle and searching.  
In those days, the mid-fifties in Pennsylvania, it was rare to find someone who used his broad spectrum of herbs and flavors.
He knew how to bring the fresh sea flavor to a locally hooked catfish.  

This friend of a neighbor became a part of the back of my mind and over the years I have had others who were wound with thread from the same spool.  Here and there I came across others who were there when I was ready for new food and new adventure.

Bread and water is a punishment for some and a feast for others.

Too many errors have become established by too many agencies.

The concept of more food stamping out hunger and famine is based upon a false premise.  The lack of food in a country may mean that the food is not being distributed equitably.  An army of well fed soldiers under a tyrant will stand guard over a mass of starving slaves.

Why is the distribution of food left to those whose main intent to gain profit.   The garbage of some suburbs is greater in volume than the amount being served in the restaurants of a near by town.
The livestock of a ranch become fatted by the remnants to the greens grown and discarded in processing.  What weight of the total amount of romaine lettuce is there over the amount sold to the ultimate consumer?   What part of a carrot is destroyed in the preparation of the baby carrot in a plastic bag?   ETC.  ETC.

Reread the novels of John Steinbeck and see the effect of the food industry on the availability of food to the consumer of the food.

What tonnage of plums is kept from the market for lack of a category in grading for size and color?
So often the literature of the poor is marked by the smell of cabbage in the slum.  The carrot is used as a color in a broth but the carrot fiber is sieved out  and  becomes part of kitchen waste.  Cook book after cook book specifies the parts of the vegetable that will be used in a dish.  The rest is disposed of in one manner or another.  They may cry tradition and proven history in the cuisine but it is not valid.  They have forgotten the sources of the dish.  Often there was no discard in the kitchen of a king.  The total was used by the people in the castle.  The great traditions of broths was in the constant soup kettle that accepted all scraps.

I have worn out cook books by reading them.  I have included cookbooks in my writing.  The first thing I read in the magazine is the food section.   I read food.  

The more you know the more you realize how much there is yet to know.  The very idea of fresh pasta at one time was daunting but now there is a possibility of a variety of the goddess noodles.  The cross of cultures that pasta alone presents is wondrous.

Two big secrets that are known to all but the clueless that pastry dough and pasta are simple and wonderfully available to the least skillful cook.   The secret is not the mixing  The secret is in the resting.  Clear plastic wrap and a cool period will make the magic happen.

Show me your ideal eggplant and I will know you well.  
Do you have first memories of the vegetable?  Do you have strong feelings of size and weight?   Do you get that look in your eye when you take that first bite?
Does that dip you have doubled so many times still seem to be not enough and you are convinced that some guests are slipping some of it into plastic bags to take home to analyze it?  Do you notice that at pot-lucks they never serve it but expect your gallon?
Do you forget  a few of your steps and several of your choices?

Do you carefully measure the seasoning and then add a dash or two on the sly? 

Invention and improvisation is the center of cooking stage.  The theater of approximation and the little bit less and the unmentioned more are in each dish.

Allergy and sensitivity to foods are centers of perverse power.  These moments of truth and exposition that say I do not eat this or that will have an effect.  The meatless meatball and the dairy free this or that often change eating habits and often are really little more than trends and power plays.   The giant organic sign is often on the bumper of the traffic at the fast food drive through.

The green tea brigade is often manned and staffed by the midnight half gallon frozen dessert foot soldiers.

You can have a public or a private preference but it is only a preference.  The hot dog and cheesy macaroni may be the remembered comfort food but it is also a sign that food is not food in some people's regimen. 

 A good regimen is good to the corps is not a military slogan.

You can fake out your neighbor with talk of purity and care but your garbage person knows that when there is garbage out there had been garbage in.

An aside for now.  Where are all these military slogans as metaphors coming from?  
Food can be a well known prayer that brings blessing and favor in the midst of  shadows and doubt.

She was a militant vegan who struggled with the enemy of good nutrition armed with half baked theory and coffee-klatch wisdom.

I have in the back of my head the knowledge that early experience with some vegetables allowed me to enter a world of cuisine.  
The crunch sound and the feeling of substance in chewing has been a big part in the enjoyment of vegetables and their presence in dishes.  I love knowing that each of the ingredients are able to add some little something to the flavor and nourishment of a meal.

The small magic of a pinch of this and a squeeze of that which goes into a pot or bowl is like the magic wand of a rose bud opening and shouting both color and scent.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Peace to the World

"Did you know that if you say something with firm belief that the subconscious will accept it as true and will manifest the belief?"

"Sort of saying it will make it so?"

"Well, not exactly."

"More like the idea that the idea whose time has come?

"Yes!!.  The idea whose time has come!"
"I can see by your exclamation points you get the point.  Exciting isn't it?"

I have found that children all over the country are drawing peace symbols on their possessions.  The symbol is very popular and is used as a sign among the young that perhaps they have something in common.  The symbol takes many styles and each style is so personal that the kid loves to show why the choices work.

One child drew one of the peace symbols as a tangle of barbed wire.  The wire had a special meaning for her because the edge of her yard had a barbed wire fence next to a cattle meadow.  She says that the cows come over to say hello when they see her arrive home from school bus.  She says they see the school bus and they come from the shade of the tree that is in the middle of the field and come to the grassy area near the fence.  She explained her drawing choices.  "They do not see the barbed wire as a thing keeping them in, they see it as a place that is safe for them to just be."  She added that that was what peace meant for her and the cows.

I just made that up but you have to admit it sounds like the truth.

A flight of fancy often gives a bird's view of  the twisted path.

Is there some truth to the rumor that children are now drawing a daily peace symbol as a form of prayer.
Kids are very firm in their personal choices.  They do not always talk about what they feel to others.
Many children are surprised when a long time friend confides in them and they find that over the years they had shared so much but had not spoken of it.

The new favorite party is a peace of pizza.  Of course everyone has a favorite piece of peace.  Some like the veggie peace.  A section of greens that combine a few of the usuals and a few of the not thought of befores.  Spinach and basil with a touch of mint and dandelion.  A green of parsley and have you ever tried Sorrel?
Fresh artichoke stems, and broccoli flowers sprinkled like thousands and thousands over mashed potatoes greened with lots of parsley.  Potato and turnip with turnip greens and kale. and lots of garlic.

Everyday children between the ages of eight and thirteen draw a peace symbol as their morning prayer.

How many each day?  Could be thousands but more likely the need for peace would inspire the prayers of millions.

If everyone who ate a cheeseburger for lunch were to not do that for a time someone would notice it among the friends or family.  But imagine if a million people did it there would be more of a notice among the people of the world.

Years ago the March of Dimes was established.  The idea was a dime was needed from everyone to fight a disease.  A dime even then was not much money but imagine a few million people giving a dime every time they went to a movie.

The signs are all there and they are rather similar but each has a difference.  The intent is the first difference.

For some peace is a lack of conflict but for others it is something that is a necessity for living.  The calm mind and the assurance that tomorrow will come shapes the dreams of the young.  Possibility is greater in the times of peace.

The fabric of our life is colored and shaped by our daily choices.  Peace is a blossom that is strong and fragile, cool and warm, stands in the rain and sways in the breeze.

Do you keep a calendar of your events each year?  Do you mark the holidays and other special days with a little check or perhaps you circle the day in a red or bright hue that will catch the eye?
The days of the week are known to the smallest of children and soon the will tell you that a special day is coming up and they will point to the calendar and tell you to look.

But there are parts of the world where there is no longer a need for a calendar for each day is often presumed to be the last.  The wedding of friends is no longer a celebration.  The birth of a child is not marked and those who have been around for a time will not be looking at the the candles on a cake and singing a happy song.

This is the age of  the remote killer who will bring into the midst of you and those who are in your area a small package of death.  The drone attack of a small package perhaps not bigger than a book will come and be for a few seconds in your midst before there is a violent denotation and the warm day become a last time.  There was no mark on a calendar to say this will be the last.

There is a  video center in a city where someone is hunched over a  video screen and pushing buttons to maneuver an image on a screen and the image follows a map that has small icons that show the screen world of some place far away and exotic.  The hunched over figure will be looking at a few spinning numbers and making adjustments of altitude and speed.  The figure on the screen will make long sweeping moves until it finds a number with perhaps a check mark or a circle around a number drawn in may be red or a bright hue that catches the eye. 

On the bottom and side of packages there is often a disclaimer that protects the company.  The small print of the life that says we may have done it but it was not our intent.  We read the pages of small print that comes with medicines and health products.  We read the announcement that something may not be entirely what the big printing says.
The big print that says healthy and natural will be on the same label that says in very small print that some people may die if exposed to the contents of this package.  They do not use those words but the fact is there and it is a warning.  It will become their defense when the surviving relatives sue for wrongful death.

But the law will protect the few and demand suffering to the many.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Real Bear

I live in a small town with a local library and regular patrons.
 Everyday we see the same group of visitors to the library.
We notice their absences and we notice their changes. New glasses will bring a nod and a gesture of recognition.

One section of the place is the children's reading room. There are pillows and benches that the new readers gradually claim as their own.

We see the young parents come with children almost ready to walk and already used to the sound of the read story.

It is a faintly noisy place at times but usually it is no louder than a before bedtime settling in and time to nap sort of sound.

I could feel her concern. She went to the children's room at the library to be where things were familiar.
She had been there many times. She had been visiting there since she was very small and since before she could read.
Since she was less than four she had been coming to this place. That had been more than half her life and now things had changed.
The bear was missing. The big stuffed bear that had always been there was gone and another bear was looming in the room.
"Where is the real bear?"
I have a cousin named George. He got my teddy bear when I out grew it.
It was determined that George would be a good person to care for the old guy.
I was glad that he got it instead of some careless small kid with too many toys and too little kindness.
It has been years since my bear was practically stolen before my very eyes by my own mother.

She attempted a form of deceit by saying that the missing bear was not mine but my younger brothers.
I pointed out to her that the remainder, the half of the bear pair, although it had on the proper ribbon and had been brushed and fluffed was not mine. Mine had a bit of red thread attaching the left eye.
This bear had not only no red thread the eyes were in the less then cheery angle of mine. This was Chuck's bear and mine was gone.

"I knew the real bear and this one is not it."

And now I am finding other imposters.  I have recently been informed by letters from my sister-in-law that she has a cold and distant relationship with my brother.  She told me of a man who seems a stranger to me.
She informed me that he never said he loved her.  She talked of his constant problem with drink and erratic hours in a bar.  She told me that he was a devoute Catholic and had a firm belief in God and a solid patriotic stance.  I say this is not the brother I knew.  Perhaps it is that the guy I knew I knew before he was married and the family man he became through the years.

And now another chapter of the library and bookstore bears.

The bear that left the library reading room went to the book store and now the news that it has gone away.
The book store owner said that Triple Came and hauled it away as a total wreck.  There is a sadness to this that shall be corrected.  Old Bears are not totalled by the love and affection of young readers and their readers.  The bear will appear again.
Now there is another bear that rose up from the junkyard of very used bears and is now been rewelded, patched and renewed.  This bear is now a monument of the mind. 
The bear has two names.  One is Patches, who insisted upon repairing the fabric of the exterior and have added color and embellishments.  The other name is Roar.
This bear is a poet that will appear at festivals and will appear when there is a lull in imagination or a moment of great sentiment.  This bear bears his name proudly.  This bear Roars.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sans Everyhing

Third in a series of revisions.   The idea of people who love movies and have spent a lifetime among other movie lovers is the base for an indy film.

They talk about what they have experienced and of how they would approach making a movie.
They do not always do what they say but they do comment on their lack of follow through.

It is a little like those meetings where people are recovering from some strong addiction.  But the difference this is more a form of bragging than a confession.
The one story that leads to another and then another.  The hours of talk that are about hours of watching and focus.
Shared moment add up to become shared hours and accumulative days and months of sitting in the dark to absorb the flickering world and words of light and sound trances.
The silly question of what is your favorite movie is like asking which pair of socks were the most comfortable.  
Some movies will come to mind but with thought and time the list goes on and on.  There are some that now are only a memory of a moment but you hold a fondness for the thing.  You are sure you saw it and can not imagine life without having seen it.  Some you know you saw but you have blended it with others of its kind.  Who knows what circle of wagons went with what attack by the men of horeseback with bows, arrows, feathers and loud cries.  You still know that the sound of bugles will bring a crowd of men dressed in uniforms and one of them will have a raised sword and another will be holding aloft a banner.
The train going across the trestle will derail and the cars will follow the engine into the river gulch.  
The bat wing saloon doors will swing and creak when the stranger enters the bar.  A piano will play loudly and the sound will seem to be made of some tinny metal.
You will jump and some popcorn will fly when the clawing hand reaches out of the dark and touches the shoulder of the innocent young.
No scream or shout will get a bigger reaction than that moment.

They are all older than middle age and they have just finished a day of being with family and friends of their children.  The group dates back to college and very early years of settling in a small town.  They often worked together or with others who knew othes for years. 
Some of them work each day with groups of people and others work alone or with one or two partners.
The movie part of their lives are joy piled on joy.  They are aging fans and agless enthusiasts.
What do you call a band that only plays someone elses hits?
And what do you call it when the hit is not done by the composer?
We all have words for things that do not work out in the ordinary way.
A long dead composer becomes famous when someone plays the unknown work.  A poet is discovered in a library shelf under years of dust.
What about a poster that is more famous than the film?
Or the classic t-shirt from a song lyric.
The line from the one hit wonder that loses a lawsuit from a greeting card company that has a copyrights on all the synonyms for the word crap.
There must be a fortune in that.
Everyone who wears it gets sued.
Or forced to wear a disclaimer.
I saw the movie and I hope the book is better.
Could it be less and yet better?
Less moving than movie?
I saw the movie and the sequel.  The end titles moved me.
Saw the previews and am waiting for the book.
Popcorn movie at the very least.  And popcorn movie sequel.
The mezzanine was closed during matinees.  The budget, no usher for the upstairs.  Popcorn guy tore the tickets and kept an eye on the stairway but we still managed a few sessions in our private space.
And a few times discovered that we were not the only ones.
Best seats for wide screen was center of balcony and third row.  The first row had the handrail brass pipe right across the lower part of the screen.
Front row floor sticky with the gravity flow of spilled soft drinks.
Or years of emotional sweat.
We each have a history of hours in the dark houses of film.
We had a movie night on campus.  The theater was small and you had to get tickets around noon time for the evening show.  There was no public notice but if you knew someone they spread the word among the worthy.
Some professors, not theater but probably speech or lit, woud make the announcement at the end of class when the mass had fled the room.  Those who lingered to make points got the word.   The word was the word.
I remember rainy nights and the heat would be on high and there was the smell of wet wool.  Wet dog nights at the viewing room on the edge of the tenderloin in San Francisco.  There was the local critics and the guy who ran the place.
Some one said he made his fortune in stale popcorn and out of date vending machine candy.  He was a movie guy.  He had binders of glossy prints of actors who sent him autographs.  He got them at a time when they would respond to a request if you sent a post card to the studio.
There were stories of some getting sacks full of requests.  The kings and queens of the eight by ten glosseys.  
The fan magazines were at the news stand in the corner drug store and at the train and bus stations.  Small towns and big cities had the regular customers but most of them were being browsed by those whose small sums went to the box office directly.
I had the days of famine during Lent.  I kept up with the ones I missed and went to see them the first chance I got.  Not that many when we only had one theater so there was a lot of movies that never made it to town.
There were the local watch dogs who determined what would be shown or not.  They kept the kids away.  My parents did not seem to be harsh but others  were.  The word was mentioned to the right ears and the talk would be the buzz of the week.
One of them has called them the million movies and thousands of gallons of beer group.
We pause for beer breaks.
Now that could be a good disclaimer on the running time of a film.  With or without beer breaks would change the length.  The short subjects could become features.
From the days schools they have all been movie fans and they would get to gether with movies and beer and talk for hours.
The first years had been the Saturday matinee and the double features with the selected shorts, newsreels and cartoons.
No one needs to explain the cartoons.  Everyone now has introduced them to another generation.  Now there are college courses on the influence of their secret vice.
With the use of the video camera and the access to classic films at all periods of the art they now are exploring the early films to study the conventions.  They are finding small segments that they recognize as transitions and other which establish time and location.   The movement and the sweep of an image is pointed to with familiar acceptance.  The sound effects that are cinema and have another reality in the day to day.
The sound of metal agains metal is the sword fight and the sound of the industrial kitchen.  The roar of a the engine  and the hum of traffic are all a part of the great out of doors.  The ocean and the bath tub are water creature flopping about in storms of water and wind.  The mix is continuous and unending.
The hiss of the snake and the ice cream soda live in the same gas station and auto repair shop
The murmur of gossip at the entrance of the king's favorite will also be the shuffling of papers at the desk of the busy secretary.
The stars of a heavy concussion will also flash from the candles of a birthday cake and the swish of the magic wand.
The jungle birds and the new born infant will be part of the truck wheel on the narrow curve.
We have a lot of footage of some caves and tunnel being explored by a group with cameras and some lighting.  They must have spent some time just finding their way around in an unknown space.  What they shot when they finally got the hang of the equipment is a tour of a cave and the examination of structural faults in a cement structure.  This is just left over bits and pieces that one of them wanted to collect to create a pattern of shadows and light.  Most of this is a copy they made to be able to share with some editors.  There is the effect that they had a lot more time and film than they had ideas of what to do with what they got.
But the total is like a game of learning to see by someone whose brain has not developed the idea of sight.
We added some color sense to the whites.  The flashes have the feelings of explosions of emotion.
Perhaps we are reading too much into the mood but there is a feeling of saddness and torn emotion in the moments.  
I had expected boredom and impatience but not so for me.
That might just be you.  The editors started to recognize shapes that I think are really just boredom.

"So tell me the difference.   One is adlib and the other is improv."
"A writer would object to an adlib and would wish silently for a good improv."
"An actor who knows his lines will adlib.  The actor who tears his pants will improv."
"Do something or say something.  But do it and make it work."
Night and shadows with the infrequent glow of something vague.  The movement through space inside of some shell.  The interior and the promise of light at the end of a long narrow space.  The tunnel and the cave are always the suggestion of some other place not yet visible.
The weather is bleak.  The trees have lost all of their leaves and the gates of the school play ground are packed with blown debris.  The gutters are flowing with the recent rain and clogs of leaves and wads of newspaper.  The sky is grey with clouds and the shadows of low fog softens the edges of grey masonary walls.
The world is grey tending towards black.  There is one dim light in a distant window.  Some oily slick puts a shine on a dull grainy stone surface.
The slow line of a morning commute is in the far distance near a flat horizon.
All this is revealed to be a table top scenario in an empty production office.
Odd pieces that have been considered but not included litter small boxes and wire baskets.  The in and out of the desk top include color samples and fabric swatches.  The scale of things is shown by the miscellaneous inclusion of a such things as a spool of thread or a pair of shears.  A dried leaf leans against a model car.  A saucer for a coffee cup holds a chewed wad of gum with a piece of wrapper and the branch of  tiny tree.  A forcep holds together two flower petals and butcher's white cord is wound around a length of electrical wire.
A picture of a cat's yellow eye is glued to the side of a small building and is illuminated by a reflected light.
The interior is late night with unlit spaces along passage ways and niches.
"In a world of constant shadow the glimmer of a sequin becomes a distant show girl."
The hallways are empty except for the movement of cleaning staff and a security guard who is making coffee in a breakroom.  The guard's flashlight rocks back and forth on the counter.  The sound of a morning music station is more static than song.  The news suggests the continuing of the rain into the day.  The morning traffic is slow and one lane is stopped by a big rig tilted into the edge of the overpass.  The gravely voice of a news announcer growls and defies anyone to call to lift his spirits.  
"This is a day to take the day for sleep and maybe kill off the bottom of last night's bottle."  
"Never allow anyone to talk you into midnight sea food."
"That dog was so mean....  Come on now finish that line.  Promise a few free tickets to some over the hill touring band."
The other janitor comes in and takes some coffee and turns the radio off.
The security guy starts to argue but turns to a smile when the offer of bright pink donuts is made.
"A little bit of sunrise after all."
"Way past midnight neon."
The view out the window shows a bit of eastern horizon.  The color is not yet sure but the rain is being wished away.
In  the dark room they are on pause and the beer is being uncapped and poured into beer mugs like civilized people who watch movies and know the names of all the actors and can see the thoughts of a few of them.
I have no favorite actors.  I have some I will watch over and over again just to hear the lines again.  The sunsets are not moments but there have been moments when the rain gushes down a creek bed.   The jolt of sudden movement gets me.  But not all sudden movement.  There has to be a moment in it.
There were a few child actors who knew how to milk the moments.  The tear in the eye and the eye twitch.  I used to call it the dazzle.  The realization that the flood was beyond control.
I alway hated the wringing handkerchief.  
Working a prop  is  an  art all in itself.
Almost always  a case of less is more.  The liar with the tea cup.  Threaten to stir but don't.  Move the saucer but not too much.  
The extra moment to get the story together.  The pretense of not remembering.
Or the not remembering but knowing.  I cringe when I see that look of relief when the character has finally gotte through the long speech and takes a gulp of air and feels a sense of relief.
I do not like the feeling of someone being forced to accept a role that does not fit.
Is she too tall for him.  Is she too old for her sister.  I want them to have something going on when they are not in the scene.  I do not want to feel they do not know each other.
My holidays are not movie time for me.  I like a movie on Thursdays in Summer and Tuesdays in Spring.  The more vacant the theater the better.  I want to see and hear only the movie.  And yet now there is also the movie at home with others and we talk and watch parts over again and it is like finding great bits of chocolate in the middle of an ordinary cookie.
Last year I had a few days of flu with soup in  bed for a retreat from the rush of the day.  The first day I was the perfect sleeping patient and the next day I had too much of hot lemonade and the in and outs of short naps.  I ran a few movies that were there when I came out of the sleep.  I hit at random a few of the scenes that must have been the ones I had never seen in the middle of a sneeze.  I took another look and there was always something there new for the viewing.   The characters who sat on the other side of the aisle on the bus now were the martini drinkers in the bar and later they were walking a dog along the street.  Different shoes and coats but she had a scarf that showed at her neck and later it was knotted with a sweater.  He had the same rings and the same glasses.   Suddenly they became the couple with the scarf and the rings.
Now I look for my duplicates.  They are sure to show up in streets and bars.  But once in a while they will pass in a slow moving car.  If he waves I shall wave back.
And I told some one at work about watching while I had the flu and now I am being accused of seeing things while high on cough medicine.
How I regret those two martini matinees.  Not a cheap motel sort of thing but still the loss of time and the quesy mix of gin and chocolate.

A teen is brushing his teeth in a too brightly lit morning shower room of a local college dorm.  The visual is in a mirror and the brushing is slow and deliberate.
The face glances to a book open on a small shelf.  The illustration is geometric and scientific.  The book has a pressed flower as a book mark. 
Heads across campus towards morning shift at the cafeteria.
The cook gives him coffee and a hot and sticky off the grill.  The two start packing paper napkin dispensers and filling salt and pepper shakers on metal trays.
Other workers arrive and move chairs into place and set up the lines with ice and metal servers.
"No banging or talking allowed.  Desperately need five more minutes of sleep."
is the message scrawled on the morning menu white board.
Student has a play script on top of his books.  The wall  near the door announces the week's rehearsal schedules at the theater.  The past had been X'd out for part of the month.  The old play poster has a bit of praise scrawled in one corner.  
"Marvelous,  The Brightest Night of the Year!!!"""""
"Thanks.  Mom."
Four people are pacing back and forth across an empty stage.  There are three men and one older woman.  The men are stooped over with the suggestion of age but will occasionally stop and stretch upward to full height.  The woman is alert and brisk in her stance and walk.  She holds a handful of papers to her side and glances briefly at the top page.  The men read from the pages when they recite.  
I hate those pink donuts they bring.  But I eat them anyway for the first rule of acting is eat what is on the plate for tomorrow there may be no plate.  
We always feed the actors.  The techies get coffee by the gallon and the guys with the lights are our minor gods.  There is nothing if there is no light.
The people recite the same words in turn but each has an original sound to the words.  The woman's voice is calm and quiet.  The men are in a range of anxious, fearful and angry with each line they look off to the side for affirmation.
The woman has a purse on a chair seat and the men have chairs with folded coats.  

Lines are numbered.  The men and women are named by a physical characteristic.  One may be red head, one may be moustache, one is glasses and the other is curly.
A voice announces the speaker's turns.
The readers stand on triangles on the floor.  They look up into the lights overhead and stare into the brightness.  The light becomes a leafy pattern of a tree branch.  
The squack of the sound system makes them each begin again.  The squack is part of the sequence.  The sound is artificial with a sound of static and an abrupt change of volumn.
A man with a yellow pencil taps the lit face of a mechanical device.  
An overheard conversation between two people in an empty classroom includes the  fragments of the list of statements that are repeated in various settings.
One voice confides that the words are arbitrary and can be omitted if things run too long.  He loves the visuals but so much of it seems to just come off the top of the head of anyone at the moment.
The casual nature of the neglected moments that others are present for a minute or only a second.
It is an idea more than a story.  The waiting and the delays that confront us each day show up everywhere and time is spent being in line and pausing for a moment with everyone else in traffic.  The cars ahead and behind are all metial containers of people on hold for a moment.  Multiply that by how many, hundreds alone would be amazing amounts but then you realize the numbers are thousands, millions and billions.  
You hear of estimates being made of the numbers of things and grains of sand seem huge in size and amount.  
On the other hand we have the notions of few and several and a couple this and that.  The fingers on both hands and the petals on a flower.  Not much there but we talk of them all the time.
" In a restaurant a waitress talks of tables being full and in the theater there is standing room only.  On the road the cars and trucks are bumper to bumper and none of the numbers amount to very much."
The world is about to collapse and the ordinary moments of life are being to an end.  The light switches turn off but not on  and the keys will unlock but not lock.  Water spigots turn off but not on.
This list will be heard and various people will speak the words but they will be a list of things said and a list of thing heard but there will be no discussion about them.  The will be no affirmations or denials.  The words are really repetitions of statments oveheard and half recalled.  
"We all have walked past others while they are talking and we pay scant attention to the words or those talking or listening."
"I have been known to read a paper for some time before I realized it was a week old"
"Watch the news with the sound off and watch the running tags along the bottom."
1.  Twelves and sevens make up the year.  The days are heaped in corners of the parking lots.
2.  His credit cards are twisted and torn and he is a poorer man for all that.  The machines can not begin to take his complaints.  
3.  The cards are his only key to the life of prosperity and ease.
4.  It has been hours since he has heard a car.  
5.  The street lights are catching the glow of late afternoon sunlight but they are all dead without the needed power.
6.  Dependency on technology became a big mistake.
7.  We have allowed the world to end with this passing of life based upon remote control by electric power.
8.  All the fire in the world does not bring to life these small boxes of life.
9.  The vehicles are out fuel.  
10.  The kitchens are cold stoved and room temperatured refrigerated.  
11.  Ice makers are flooded with stale water.
12.  Dazed humans are mocked by constant howls of wind.
13.  They told us that chemistry and physics were constants.  
14.  They told us that gravity would always be with us.  
15.  Time would be there after the last clock and hour glass had ceased to be.  16.  They talked a great deal about knowing for certain and of things that would always be true but maybe change was not all they thought it would be.  
17.  Some change came and was very unexpected.

A voice asked each one to repeat Number 17.
The voice calls  the name glasses.  Glasses looks towards the voice.
The voice says thank you and the man with glasses  goes to his coat and carries it out to the end of the trailer  and jumps down to the pavement rather than using the loading ramp.
Glasses walks along the empty street.
One day a piece of paper blew across the pavement of a parking lot and someone picked it up and was ready to crumble it before tossing it into a container.   The hand that crumbled the paper stopped and the other hand helped  the first to smooth the paper.  The words on the paper were almost legible.  The ink was greyed and only slightly darker than the page.  
But the words were there.  
18.  Life is not so certain after a certain point in the period of change.
Finger traces the surface of the paper.
The paper was embossed with some sort of official seal.
That was the only proof that it was an official document.
Glasses looks up toward a monumental wall of a large building.
His voice says the following:
The now absent government of the other times had left one last message to the remainders of life.
A thought arose in the reader.  A feeling of gratitude that they had not left without a last goodby.
Man gives a hand salute to the overhead sky.
On the distant horizon a craft rose from a hard surface and shimmered for  less than a blink of an eye and moved to a point before becoming a point.
Two very tall men in spotted tights walked by with sandwich boards announcing the new age of circus every day with a guaranteed free lunch for all.
A dark colored van is parked next to a green park.  The windows are opened a small crack and a dog's nose and eyes are looking out.  The park has benches near a group of recycle containers.  The ground around the containers and benches is littered with empty coffee containers and wadded newspapers.
A small sign is attached to the van.  
"Peace comes with the morning coffee and the daily newspaper."
On an empty street in the canyon of the business area of a city the small pieces of trash swirl briefly.
A gust of wind blew a black top hat down an empty street until it rested like an empty vase.  
There was a pause that was timed only by the changin of the light on the sheen.  A white bunny hopped out and went to a small crate of carrots near the curb.  
Paradise was at hand.
The rabbit sniffed the few carrots that had spilled from the crate and stood on its haunches and wiggled its nose.
Rabbits do not speak but this one seemed to have something on its mind.
Above its head there appeared a thought balloon.
In the middle of the balloon there appeared a smile of a single upturned line.  
Around the line appeared a stroke of bright  red lipstick.
The thought balloon bust in a shower of confetti.
After everything there will be a cartoon and selected shorts.
The black and white count down appeared on the screen and the frame got caught in the cog of the projector and the image melted.
In the dark there was a grunted curse and over to the right two people stood and dumped large containers of popcorn on the seats in from of them.  
There was a boo and a shrill whistle as the house lights came on and the screen was flooded with white light. 

An usher came to the seats and said in a very low but distinct voice that everyne was meeting in the conference room on the mezzanine.  The voice added with a slight sense of friendly advice that there was time for using the restrooms.
The usher went over and swept the popcorn into a large silent butler.
The aisle of the showing room led to large padded doors with diamond shaped windows at eye level.
On the other side of the doors there was the tiled wall of a subway station with a metallic subway car being filled with commuters and a woman with a seeing eye dog.  The dog sat on an empty bench in the car and the woman stood and hung onto the strap.  The car doors closed and left the station.
He left the subway station and walked into the sunlight of a side street of San Francisco.  The street was wet with either a recent rain or a street cleaning truck that was employed to aid the night shooting of a movie.
He went to a  canteen van and ordered coffee.  The old man put cream and sugar in the cup without his asking for the additions.  The man also wrapped two cake donuts in a square of wax paper and put them  in a fold of cardboard.
He went over to the monitor sitting inside the tech van and watched a few minutes of a tech shot of the small green park near the corner.  The picture was live and the assistant was talking to someone in the  area of the scene.  A handful of leaves was being placed over a blue paint mark on the ground near the curb.
A man in a red zipped jacket  pushes a series of small buttons on a machine near the truck.  He complains that the power panel lights are blinking.
The man goes to the coffee truck and gets a coffee and two donuts.  The man serving coffee gives it to him black.
He takes a bite of one donut and asks for one more and says he also wants a regular tea with two sugars.
The night went black and only a few emergency light showed he position of those who were suddenly in the dark.
The book fell to the floor and the two boys were asleep on the bed. One had a pizza box on the bed near his legs and the other had a reading light above his pillows.  He was now eating a piece of pizza and the other was leaning down to pick up the book from the floor.  He was half on and half off the low bed.  The pizza box was now between them and the light began to flicker.
A popcorn machine in a theater lobby was making a fresh batch.  The lights were flickering on and off.  The view out to the street was showing lights in a store front blinking.
The trees along the side street were filled with water being sprayed from a fire truck.   The water was running along the curb.
The back of a trailer truck was open and inside there were two rows of chairs facing each other.  Men and women in winter street wear sat with folders of papers in their hands. Some were clutching folded newspapers and others were resting brief cases on their laps.  The women had heads wrapped in heavy scarves and the men all wore colored scarves around their necks.  
A man with a clipboard walked back and forth in the middle, looking carefully at the appearance of each and making adjustments to the position of the scarves and the folds of the newspapers.  Each newspaper was to be carried in the left hand.  Other folders were to be left on the seat until after the shoot.  He repeated the same instructions into the face of each person.  A woman in a dark coat came and gave him a container of coffee but he waved it away.  She gave the coffee to one of the seated women.  He took the coffee away from the woman and gave it to the assistant in the dark coat.
The sound of a bell rang clear in the silence and a red revolving light flashed on the top of a dark car roof.
A photo copy machine spits out several papers.  The flash of its lighted edge is reflected in the large expanse of a dark night window.  The window becomes a series of horizonal blue light lines.
Stacks of paper are being stapled and positioned on the edge of a wooden table.  The only thing on the table is a slender glass vase with a few red flowers. A hand removes the vase and the papers are dealt around the table in front of the chairs.  The one place has a paper coffee cup and a  ceramic mug of automatic pencils and markers.
One voice reads with slow cadence and without strong emotion.  The words are being spoken with clarity but not feeling.
A hand is making marks on a stack of papers as the words are being read.  There are three variations of this editing.  The are no scratch outs.  There is paragraphing,  underlining and  question marks.  There is the suggestion of an alternate word.
The sun rose over ther hill and the trees began to cast shadows on the land.
The chickens ran across the yard and gathered for the scattering by sweeping hands of grain across a dusty yard.
The face of a outdoors woman called to the chickens with sounds of chook, chook, chook.
The man came out onto the porch and checked the reading of the thermometer on the post at the top of a few wooden steps.
The shadow of a vulture moved across the flat fallow field.
A black telephone on a small table rings.  The view of the room goes to a windowseat where a young girl is reading and making notes in a spiral notebook with an ink pen from another time.  The fashion seems to be from the mid twentieth century.  A small screen black and white television screen shows an identical soundless picture of the girl reading in a windowseat.
The phone continues to ring with a muted next room sound.
The bar is dark with the colors of wood paneling and candle shaped sconces above the booths.   The two women are across from each other and  the men are at the bar getting them drinks.  The women see defects in the make up of the other woman and in their minds they are deciding the  best way to bring up the subject without being critical and catty.  They smile and one plays with a ring on her right index finger and the other smooths her finger tips over a cigarette case that is to her right.
The one with the ring asks for a cigarette and the other suggests they wait a moment until the men bring the drinks.  
The other agrees with the choice but does not speak outloud.  She tells the other that they should make plans to go to the  school dance recital over the weekend while the men are out playing golf.
A  voice calls cut and others come into the scene.  The assistant mentions that the lines had been changed.  The school event is a play and the men will be going to the boat race at the pier.
A man sits next to the table on a folding stool and tells the women that each line will be a reverse.  The camera will be on the one listening.  But he wants them to show a feeling of withdrawal from the event.
They do this and then he suggests they do it again with a firmness of the mouth.
The man read the lines. He was kneeling on the floor and his hands smoothed their skirt hems as they waited for hair and makeup adjustments.
One woman swept her hand across the table top and knock  the cigarett case onto the floor.
The director called for props to examine the fallen case.
The woman moved his hand from her lap.
A siren is heard weakly in the background.  The director calls for fifteen minutes.

The director and a dog are on a porch.  The dog gets up and goes to the top of the steps and runs down to meet two people coming up the walk from a picket fence gate.  The two people are a tall woman and a young man wearing jeans and a shapeless sweatshirt.  The young man is carrying a large stuffed animal that has a bandana around its neck.  
"Look who has come to see you."
"My inner animal and the bandana I lost at the ball park"
"Not the one but a duplicate.  The original is now framed and on the wall of my room at school."
"I'll get it back someday."
"When I graduate and we are all in France drinking the first wine of the new year."
The woman and the director hug and the young man teases the dog with the stuffed toy.
The woman and the dog are now in the kitchen.  The dog is sleeping on a braided rug near the door and the woman is checking the contents of the oven and moving a basket of vegetables to a table near a window.  The table is a chopping area and she is cutting vegetables for a large salad.
The boy enters and she gives him a small basket of tomatoes and asks him to wash and slice them.
The director comes to the interior doorway and begins to read from a script.
He reads the list of statements from one to seventeen.
The woman and the boy begin to recite the ages of man from Shakespeare.
The man with the glasses is at the bar and the two women are waiting at the table.  He begins to talk to the other man.  He recites the seventeen statements but his voice fades and he is seen from a distance and the movie crew are all around him.
A young woman came and stood near the others as they passed pages back and forth.  One man noticed her and inquired if she needed anything.
She said that she noticed that they had overlooked number eighteen.
18.  Life is not so certain after a certain point in the period of change.
"We are so caught up in the trees we have overlooked the forest."
The people with the sandwich boards are now standing next to a coffee wagon and the people who had been in the back of the truck are standing with their newspapers.  The ones with the red scarves are given rolled umbrellas and French berets and string shopping bags with bagettes and various vegetables such as celery stalks and bunches of carrots.  Others have oranges and apples in the bags.
The voice speaks over a PA system.  "Keep the bags swinging in synch."
The man at the table tells another man that that would be a big mistake.  There would be hell to pay in the editing.
He leans across to two men who are wearing peaked caps.  One camera concentrate on the string bags.  Get a pattern of left and right.  Get the color red as a dominant color.  The line will be below mid screen.  The speed of a slow walk.  Do a few copies to make it more abstract.  Keep sharp focus.  
The man in the ball cap makes notes on a yellow pad using a dark green marker.
"About five swings per pass?"
"You got it."
"Use it later for titles and end titles."
This voice is the young girl who seems to always have a clip board and who hands coffee to people.
"Miss Smith, take off your glasses."
She laughs and wacks him on the shoulder with the board.

A round oak table in a kitchen setting.  The chair by the door has a cat on a pillow.  The window over the sink has pots if green herbs.  The dish rack is filled with clean coffee mugs of bright colors.  The stove has two tea kettles on the back burners.  The canister on the counter says sugar.  The two large mugs have handfuls of teaspoons.
The microwave oven display seems to be constantly doing a count down or displaying the time.  There is a young man with a video camera recording the changes of display.  He is making notes of times and ranges of diminishing countdowns.
"Time and timing is often a flash of a moment of a clock."
"The kidnapped victime is photographed with a front page of a newspaper."
"Not anymore."

Perhaps this sounds petty but there are a few words that bother me.
I trust your judgement.  You are right it probably is petty but give it to me.
Number eleven.  Stagnant water not stale water.  The sound and the meanings change and perhaps clearer.
"Yeah.  Stale water is like stale bread, dry and sticks to the roof of your mouth.
Water should never stick to the roof of the mouth."
And number twelve.   The word howls."
Reads aloud number twelve.
"Funny, would have thought dazed and mocked would get your veto."
"Mark the entire line.  We need a few readings for that."
 He is now at his table in the kitchen and talking to another person.
"How do we get this far with something that is just not right?  And someone makes a slight remark that brings everything into question.
"That will be the case.  But in the big picture there will always be small blurbs and scratches that only one or two will notice.  The perfect picture will strike someone as too something or other."
"There will always be the period that is upside down."
"But we will look at this several months from now and you will go all gushy and mushy.   Watching your baby take big steps." 
"I always cry at weddings."
"Only your own."
"Why yeah.  But not all of them."

Monday, September 02, 2013

Zen from Ten to Life

The Prince sat under the tree for many years.  He had been given a life sentence and it was only after he had sat and meditated that he realized the great prison is the mind.
The prison is carried within and the exterior is only the fashioned illusion of chain and wall.

Prison reform will not come from those who believe in prison.  Reform will come when the wall of belief melts away.  

Two men look out from prison bars.

Iron bars do not a prison make.

Bread and water is the feast for some.

And then there were none  becomes  in Zen there is nothing.

Read this line twice. 
 Nothing is real.  
Nothing you can talk about.

Musing but not amused.  The thoughts bubble up from a still dark depth of water and light.  The sound of some distant hum prevents a total silence.  Not a noise but a reminder of the movement of air in a space of trees and shrubs that has not a green sound but a shade of blue and yellow not yet mixed sound.

A prison of the mind is the beginning of the prison of the soul.  
Tyrants need prisons for the processes of law are not available to them.  
The process of law seeks justice and not the revenge and use of strict power.  The possibility of justice for all remains an unfulfilled ideal.  And yet, if practiced and achieved would save the world from so many other needs. 
The use of handguns would become obsolete in a world of justice for much of the misuse of weapons comes from the frustrations of those who feel needs for vengence.  Inequality is the garden of violence.

Start with some sort of open mind. If a thousand years of practice has not yet illustrated that imprisonment and isolation do not work than maybe other means and methods need to be considered.
If an idea proves to be harmful and ineffectual over a long time and if the idea is continued to be modified with little or not improvement perhaps it is time to reconsider the original concept.
We came upon a few ideas in the late 16th century that flew in the face of the ideas of previous forms of rule.  The king was often abandoned either by a revolution or he was given a shortened form of an old life.  
The idea had bounce around for many years that perhaps some men are just not a god given answer to the problems of the world.  
Yet for the longest times some insisted they were the big answer.  There were so many of them over time that they began to keep lists of these unfortunate misguided dunces.  Lists were continued for times and after they disappeard for a few eons they would be revived in written records and became the next big thing.
The first hope and joy soon degenerated into bitterness and long rants of "I told you this would never work" sort of things.
But when things came push to shove things went to push and shove on muddy fields of battle and we found we dicovered ways to reward the winner and punish the loser.  The world is so ready for some new idea.  But at the same time we hold onto really loser forms.

And now we are up to our lower vertebrates in the treasured muck of archaic traditions.  Where is that broom we so dearly need? 
Stand back while I give the order. 


Isolation on a ship in olden times demanded a survival discipline under a captain and a series of duty figures made the voyage possible and for many the only way to maintain the direction and schedule of the ship. Most ships routinely completed the voyage.

The ancient monastery was a crowded and highly productive life style. For the many it was a moment to moment use of ritual and duty.

The place was not comfortable.

We seem to find that what has not worked may work if we only complain about it long enough. Jails, prisons, detention centers, dungeons, balls and chains all seem to have no real effect except to provide employment of the guard, the wardens, the badge carriers and the manufacturers of iron bars, chains, balls, locks and other clanging edifices.

We have everything we need to create a fair and just world however we allow current conditions to be dominated by archaic traditions.

A prison was once the other option for execution.

Some famous people were in prison for long years and developed as good citizens. E the First of England was a Tower guest. And eventually she went on to be a model citizen of her age.

Value of each being starts with the recognition that many traditional forms of society were based upon a class system that is archaic. Democracy that is based upon eligibility and national identity is false. Democracy transcends regulation and restrictions.

Life and time are so interconnected that the cost of each will be determined by the use of one to find the value of the other. To say that a person must pay a high price for error is to put a great cost to mistakes.

Allow the blank wall be painted with a tiny rectangle of warm light. The person seated on the floor would have the eye level moment of focus. This small sign would be of a single candle flame. It would not flicker and it would not be warm to the touch but the viewer would see it come to life and glow and become the vision of all dreams.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Chinese Movie

A movie will sometimes begin with another movie ending.
Large bright figures move across a large space as the two characters embrace.
The floor is covered with darkness but punctuated with clouds of spilled popcorn.  The dark in the area beneath the seats will show glimmers of candy wrappings and torn bits of foil.

Some feet are being shoved into the slippers and sneakers.

The sound of the music soundtrack becomes loud for an instant and gives a mechanical crack.

Shortly before the inevitable "The End" there will be a lull of time when people go away and the weather clears and the clock is running after years of needing repair. It turns out that the clockmaker found a wad of fluff that was just enough to keep a minor gear from meshing.

What time is it on the planets of that glimmer of a star?

She comes out of a movie theater and the streets are wet from a few hours of rain. The rain was not hard enough to wash away the leaves that had accumulated on the wide pavement outside the complex. They look like a series of gold stars marking the path of the stars on the earth.

"Sometimes you have to look down to see where you are. On a dark and clear night you can look for the forever that is above, over you but every day you can see where you are standing now."

He is standing across the wide street and he is holding a paper coffee cup that has been dented by his grip. There is no coffee in it and his voice over admits it is a prop that says he was having coffee, perhaps with a few people who have recently left and it was only the rain that had kept him there after they had gone.

"But that  does not explain why they were able to chance the rain and it does not explain why he is wearing his pajama top under a jacket that is not a rain jacket and why he is not wet and why he has not shaved for a couple of days.

She will see him but he will turn slightly away and she will know that he wanted  her to wave, to yell or to walk up to him and smile. He knows this is not her way. He does not know that is not her way. He knows now that there is very little of what he thought he knew he can say is for sure and exact.

He had come to the East Coast with his family from Europe after the end of World War II. He grew up in a small Jewish Neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA. His father was a barber and he had a brother and a stepmother who thought he was the best thing to ever opened his eyes. His loving stepmother  was a person who wanted him to feel warm, well nourished and safe. She and her husband knew from his first set of paints that he was someone who would be an artist. He and his brother lived in a large city but they were surrounded by friends and neighbors. His father was a hub of the community. Everyone gathered at his shop and each day the boy was allowed to spend some time there.

He watched his father cut hair and listened to the men who came to the shop talk of the world and of the new life that was opening up in America. The women of the families were at home or working in shops nearby. The boy and his friends were under the constant vigilance of the everyone who had children

The mother explained that all the children were a special gift and like your new shoes you allowed them to take the shape of your feet. The winter and the cold was the time for getting warm clothes and for going to school and doing well.

The two brothers would sit late and talk about what was on the radio and what they remembered from school.

The parents were always telling them to get proper rest and to do well with the lessons in school.

He had been alone in the museum for several hours. The lighting of the exhibit had been soft evening light and he found it both relaxing and apt for the show of wood prints and small carvings.

When he left the building he was surprised that the evening had arrived and the streets reminded him of the soft blow of the exhibit.

He decided to go to a local restaurant to have a small meal. There were several choices but he had the idea of something sushi and perhaps a miso soup. The small images began to come to mind but they did not inspire him. Then he saw a tall man wearing a black cap of dark silk. It was a memory from one of the prints. The person had a plain long black coat that went well below the knees and he had a sling bag of dark brown and very dark green patches. It was almost flat and he imagined a folder of brush drawings inside a mulberry folder.

He was following the man and he saw that the destination was a small restaurant.

He did not read the menu in the window. He was not sure if he had ever been there before but he walked in and waited inside the door to be lead to a table.

The place was peopled but not crowded. The man was seated with his back to the door. He was sitting with his hand upon a menu folder. He could not have had time to read the menu but he seemed settled and ready for the approach of the waiter.

His thought had taken him away for a moment and he had not noticed the young woman who was asking him if he were alone and if he preferred a table or a seat at the counter.

She explains to the viewer that she has always told him the truth about her position in life but he has not heard her. He looks and he seems to be hearing but his response does not reveal any understanding of what she had said.

He tells her that he loves the Chinese culture. She explains that he had no real knowledge of the culture. She tells him that what he knows is what he had seen in old movies and from books that were written by those who had a bias. The translation of the poem is not the poem. The sense of what he has learned has been show in the media for such a long while that it seems to have some truth to it.

History is not the story read in the newspaper. The history of the newspaper has been attached to the prejudice of the publisher and the bias of the advertisers. The story of an industry that is told by the representatives of the industry is not correct.

She told him he needed to find some doubt in what he read and experienced. If a young girl from the streets tells you you are the most wonderful man and that she respects and understands you it may be a truth that you want to hear but it may also be something she had been taught to say.

She told him he had a great deal to learn about Asians in the city. The history of San Francisco goes back to the mid nineteenth century. The first arrivals were not the gold rush people of 1849. The bay and the coast of California had been visited in earlier times. The fishermen along the coast had built small settlements and they were the beginning of the area now know as San Francisco. The first Europeans came several hundred years before there was a town here. The Mission Period was in the late 18th century around the time of the Colonies of the east coast rebellion against the British.

He asks her if she could teach him about the things he does not know. She suggests several books and several Asian organizations in the area that could direct him to information and events. He feels she is blowing him off but she adds that all learning begins with some effort and self directed work.

He begins to go to the Asian markers around the city. The Asian collection in the art museums, the tea garden in the Golden Gate Park. The World War !! Japanese monument at the Legion on Honor site, The Peace tower in Japan town. The park at the edge of China town where the elders do the tai chi. The neighborhood parks that have elements of Ruth Azawa fountains and the hanging wire sculptures.

She surprises him with her knowledge of the European and East Coast Jewish life. She tells him she has visited New York several times since she was a child. She tells him that her grandparents were all born i California. Her father and mother had met in China when they went there to work for an American company trying to open the Chinese markets in textiles and dinner ware. She tells him that she had had several great uncles and aunts who were in the rag trade in New York during the fifties.

He sees that she has begun to tell him more about herself because he has approached her as being someone new to the US culture.

"But you do not act like other american women."

"I am just me. I was taught to be a listener among the family. Now I deal with the needs that people have in business. It is my job to listen."

"Your desk is so elegant. I feel like I am visitng a very important official when I come to tyour office."

"You have gotten my point. I am important to the company and how I am perceived by the client is how the company is seen."

She tells him that she knows that he has been in contact with a Chinese woman on the internet. She can always tell for he adds little phrases to his talk that could only have come from someone who speaks very little English and is talking to someone who speaks very little Chinese. The business world speaks a difgferent version of the language. The everyday person talks about the things that people would say to be friendly with strangers.

Give me an example.

"I do not say to my grandmother, "Most gracious mother of my parent, please pass the ketchup."

He gives a laugh for he knows he has been caught.

They are eating examples of food that had been served to the visitors from the mid west offices of a company which his ad agency had just signed a big contract. The boss has told him that the success had come from the dinner they had at a neignborhood restaurant.

"Not in China Town chinese food is like being a guest in a family home. The wiaters knew her and she took him to the doorway of the kitchen and introduced him to the ancient mother who sat there and did small tasks. The people from the midwest were really impressed by her ability to remember all their names and the names of their spouses.

This event was the moment that determined the success of the agency in San Francisco. The company uses the dinner at the restaurant to become a source for future celebration and milestones in the city.

The food from the banquet was wonderful. She had helped him arrange the menu. He was not sure that his favoirtes would go over well with the clients he invited for a get acquainted dinner. They were all from the prairie states and it was yet the sixties and the middle states were still sure that there was no cooking like good old Mom. They knew some names for what they thought was Chinese food. It came in a large can with lots of funny words and thte noodles were crucnhy and possibly flammable. She told him to keep it simple and do not tell them it is wonderful. Let them find that our for themselves.

She explained that she lived in Iowa for a year while she was in school there. The flavors they go for are often sweet and many are salty. They do not want to know what the thing looks like while it was alive. They love corn. Rice and soy sauce are produced there and flavors manythings they do not know. They know the flavor but not the name.

There is an old saying that all mothers give to the child. The confidence you show is often the confidence you acquire. You have a version of that. "Never let them see you sweat."

He told her how he wanted the dinner to go. She heard that there would be six guests and him. They would be arriving in the mid afternoon. The hotel was having a small reception for the company and his group will be inroduced to him at the meeting.

He begins to go to the Asian markers around the city. The Asian collection in the art museums, the tea garden in the Golden Gate Park. The World War !! Japanese monument at the Legion on Honor site, The Peace tower in Japan town. The park at the edge of China town where the elders do the tai chi. The neignborhood parks that have elements of Ruth Azawa fountains and the hanging wire sculptures.

She is sitting in a doctor's office and she is reading the casefile of a patient. He was not her patient in the early parts of his illness and nor he no longer is alive. She knew him [ersonally not as a patient during her years in medical school and her residency.

To him she was always the poor ghetto girl who needed a good man to direct her over the rough parts of life.

He never really listened to her explanations or her talk of her family and friends. He was filtering her talk so that he heard what he needed to hear. The irony was that she was helping him to come to terms with his age and his illness.

He came to me with a shallow concept and I did not say it was bad but I knew that he was going to go nowhere with it. He seems to be able to have these lucid ends of dreams but not go beyond the first draft.

He went to a meeting with a friend who had a few connections in the business. They listened to him for a few minutes before looking at their non-existent wrist watches and signaled to their assistants to interrupt and suggest a lunch at some future date.

For a film you need to create a dense page for each minute. The time for a moment includes the notes for the visual and the dialogue. The music and sound cues can be noted if they are the most important element of the scene. The sound can have layers. The sound may be pinpointed to a visual.

He goes out of the meeting with his friend and began to tell him how well he thought the whole thing went.

The friend said that the idea needed a lot of work. He disagreed. The friend suggested he write a thirty page treatment. He said that was not the way he did it. He liked it the way it was. All they really needed is a big director and a few really good actors to come in and do the thing.

The friend repeated that he thought there needed to be a write up of about thirty pages before they could go forward with the project.

He then commented that there was definitely was a movie in the idea.

The friend says that there is always a film in a concept but only when the process is not short circuited by someone who did not listen.

He stopped talking and withdrew emotionally. He looked at the friend and smiled a little knowingly.

I will make it if I have your help or not.

I am sure you will.

She was alone when he called and she said that she was waiting for a business call. He offered to call at another time but she assured him she had call waiting and the other call would amount to only a yes or no.

He asked her about her mother and she said that her mother had a new job and was learning to use the computer at her work. She said her mother had only personal experience with computers but the people were very impressed with her skills and her way with people.

He wanted to ask her how old her mother was but he knew that was too personal. She seemed to have read her mind. The sudden information startled him. She said her mother was almost forty years old and had just swam in a meet and came in second place. She said her mother was very athletic and had always been a swimmer and a dancer. She had performed on stage during the times of national festivals. Her dancing group were on tour in Europe for several months and she was now working with the national cultural groups.

He listened as she talked of her mother and there was a great pride in what she talked about.

He interrupted her thought by asking if she also danced. She said no with a quick finality. Her mother had a special talent that no one else in the family shared. The others for generations had been workers on a farm in the middle of a nameless world.

He wanted her to talk more about herself. She said the pictures she had shown him told him everything.

He used the word prison in his reply. She then insisted that she was not in a prison and she had never done anything that could be seen as a crime.

It is a lesson in language for both of them. He listens to tapes of a language course. She listens to his attempt to say a few things and she repeats the words he is trying to say. He says words in English as a reaction to his feelings and she repeats what he says. The two spend hours talking by repeating words. The words are basic. She say the words for being polite while traveling. Travel words talk of hotels and taxicabs. She knows words of things that are part of the directions for her products at her plant. The directions for how to boil water for tea and soup.

She reads the English word on the screen and he assumes she knows the meaning of what she reads.

He prefers the sound that the translator gives. She often repeats the phrase with a different sound and he assumes they are saying the same thing.

On screen an imaginary translator tells the viewers that there is a big misunderstanding occurring.

The breaking of the fourh wall adds another level of reality. He has a fantasy of what he is doing and there is the difference between that happens and what he wants to happen.

Woody Allen moment of a narrator contradicting the visual.

Narrator says that she gazed into his eyes and he felt compelled to tell her his innermost thoughts.

Visual shows her glancing over his head and using the point of her dinner knife to divide the food on her plate. He is telling her that he always completed the crossword puzzle in the newspaper.

She fishes a piece of ice out of her water glass and adds it to her wine. He tells her that his first piece of art won a prize. Visual shows him standing as a child at a school event and he has won a ribbon for a kite design.

She says that her mother always wanted to be famous and to be recognized for her ability to perform.

The summer after his daughter graduated from high school and he is starting his day with a cup of coffee. he tastes the coffee and puts it aside He looks into a cupboard to find the wooden boxes of tea. He puts one on the counter next to the coffee brewer. He has made a resolve to drink more tea.

He goes to the screen of his computer.

The screen goes from a full blue blank page to a blank (not black but a smoky grey). The visual becomes a ghost image that seems to be a combination of a very old woman and a version of her when she was young. She talks to him as if she is giving him some advise. The words are not clear. The younger woman speaks with the same tone of voice but her words are distinct.

What the younger woman says is something like she is reading a poem that is almost a saying from a fortune cookie. The vision becomes filled with the noise of a restaurant and the table top is the end of a meal and the younger woman is reaching across to touch his hand.

"For part of your life you are the parent but being a parent is remembering being the child."

He comes back to the moment and screen is blank. The time is not the same.

(There is a change of time and date) Weather and seasonal clothes are changed.}

He is now wearing other clothes and he is wearing a watch. He takes the watch from his wrist and puts it in a clear glass bowl that sits on the counter in the kitchen. The kitchen counters are empty of all the usual tools and bowls he uses when he is getting a meal ready. This is a different time in many ways. He is ready for a evening in the City. San Francisco is covered over with thick fog and he is walking on a shadowy street with no one else in view. The street and sidewalks are wet and they reflect the lights from store window signs.

His father walks with him to the busstop which is on the way to the barbershop. They meet a man at the busstop each day who goes to the art school. The two older men talk of the weather and the events of the world that were on the last night's news. The boy stands back and allows them to have a few moment alone. The bus is visible for a few minutes as it comes up the street and stops at several block stops. The boy has drawn a picture of the bus and the morning street. The bus is green and has a white sign that is a number and a destination. Each time he looks at it it has changed. He starts to hear the voice of his father and the men in the shop. They always ask the questions that become the theme of his life. Where are you going? What do you want to do? The moment becomes a scene in the shop and his father is telling a story about the past and his hope for more than survival. The boy at the bus stop is thinking of the bus that goes through the tunnel to the airport. He remembers a bus and a train that meet at a small station. The people all have suitcases and the people are saying goodby and some of the older ones are crying.

He sees a cover of a magazine of a soldier with a duffle bag getting on a bus and the girl who is standing with her parents and pretending she does not see the soldier. She is there with her parents and her brother is going off to the city.

He sits in the corridor outside the office of one of the instructors. The door is open a crack and he is able to hear the advice the teacher is giving another art student. The man is telling the artist the same old story of the value of finding a place in art that pays the bills and allows the person to continue with his art. The voice of the teacher begins to blend with the advice his father has been giving him about the need to make a living and the need to find security in a good paying job. The voice of the step mother talks of how life often gives hard times that make each day a treasure. She tells him a story of a little girl who lived in the apartment a few years before. The girl was angry with her mother and said things that hurt the the mother very much. The girl went away for a long time and when she returned she was changed and had become kind and thoughtful to her mother. She said that some people are going through the worst of times and do not do such things. The girl learned a big lesson. The boy returned to the moment when he was waiting in the hallway outside the teahers door. Now he heard the sasme words but this time he heard something different. It was the way the teacher spoke. The works became filled with caring and with great hope. The art was the important thing. The teaher was talking about his decison to be an art teacher and the effect of passing on to the young the hope of being an artist and of being true to a dream

He is the first one up on his street each day. His son and his daughter are both asleep and he goes to this computer and enters into a chat room with a friend who works in a factory in the industrial area of a Chinese city. She is studyng English and computers. She works with hundreds of others in a large assembly plant that she shows him a pidture of the place and the large empty space above an endless floor of workers all doing the same tasks over and over. She explains that the work is continuous and she has been doing the same thing over and over for several years.

She does not show her home. She says she lives with her mother and a brother and his wife. She shows a picture she has taken from the window of their apartment. The picture shows the roof tops of many identical buildings and each one has a roof covered with used things that are too valuable to abandon and too broken to use.

He looks at the pictures she shows and he tells her of his family and his life as a small boy in the city of Pittsburgh. She asks him for pictures of his life as a child and of Pittsburgh. He sends her pictures of the modern city but not of the one he grew-up in.

She sees through his editoral pictures and wonders if he had older pictures.

(She has been studying the pictures on the internet of America and the history of the industrial areas.)

Back to morning inside his apartment. The dog eats a little food and goes and lays by the door. This is part of the dog's routine. He knows that the garbage truck has to go by on the street and the man will go and knock on the door of his daughter's room. She will answer in her sleep that she is awake and she heard the truck. There is a clock on the wall near the front door. The clock frequently needs to be adjusted. The man remembers the clock as being on the wall near the front door of his parents place.

The clock is part of a memory. He and his father took the clock to be repaired at a small shop near where his father had his shop. The man in the shop spoke to his father in a language the boy did not fully understand. The man was asking for the name of the town they had come from before the war.

His father says there was never any time before the war. The town that was destroyed by bombs destroyed all that had come before that. The war was the first memory and "They say the war is over. I tell my self that each day but the dream at night says the bombs will always be coming in the next minute."

The boy was sent to pick up the clock when the work was done. He took the clock to his father's shop and his father explained that the clock was not the clock he had had in Europe. It was a clock very much like that one but not the same. This was the American clock and it knew how to tell time.

The man hers his daughter in her room and tells her through the door that he is going to walk the dog. She says something and he asks her what and she says "Nothing."

He says to the dog that she always says something but she then says that she said nothing. How could I hear it if it was nothing. Maybe she means that what she said was nothing she wanted me to hear or that what she said was not important. We do this every day and one day she will tell me what she said and I will understand.

But then life changes. She appears at the door and she has pulled her hair back and she has on a sweat shirt and draw string sweat pants. She does not say anything. She takes the dog out for a walk

He goes to the window that looks down to the street. This is his first sip of coffee moment.

He is seeing the now of things and the moments inspire flash memories of the few years past. (The memories are of the first years he had moved into the apartment.)

The view is a wooded hillside and a few porchlights. There is no traffic on the street. He notices a light being turned on in a small window of a house down the street. It is a bathroom window. He knows the house and his mind goes to the woman who lives there with her one daughter who is a few years younger than his daughter.

He hears a door opening. It is surprisingly loud. He sees the dog running from the porch to a corner of a yard. It is the house near the end of the block. He knows the family. The husband travels a lot and the wife is a substitute teacher at the Catholic school at the edge of town. He thinks of the playground of the school and the days he walked his daughter past the play ground on he way to the elemetary school a few blocks up the hill.

The story of the imigrant experience had been told by those who would publish the stories.  The book and the newspaper told the ones everyone knew.  There were other stories that were told around the dining room table and late at night aften the day at the lake when cousins shared the last of the beer and the coldcuts.  But the other ones were not seen.  They were in the letters and journals that found aplace in the cardoard boxes in the dusty dark attics.  There they remained until the young couple who had bought the house decided to open up the small spaces and bring in the fresh air and rid the palce of the years of ghosts and memories of those other times.