Are you not entertained? A Book and a Movie

Try this pair for satisfying entertainment.  

BOOK 

Helene Wecker‘s debut novel is unique. Her protagonists are mythological creatures existing in New York City at the turn of the twentieth century. She weaves the cultural history of Jews (the Golem) and the Arabian Bedouin (the Jinni) and balances the history of the mythology with the vibrancy of the Jewish neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. Part immigrant story and part love story, the Jinni is made from fire and the Golem from earth. They keep their special powers hidden because they want to fit in the human world. That Wecker manages to extend disbelief and you come to care for the Golem and Jinni in their chaotic urban world is a testament to her talent. Gracefully written, it is a fun read, a real page-turner and highly recommended. 4.5/5 

FILM

Wes Anderson‘s stop-animated film is a visual treat with his trademark symmetrical staging and vibrant color schemes. Even the garbage dump island is strangely pretty with perfectly positioned garbage and rats dancing across the stage in unison. Dog and human eyes gloss over and drip throughout the film which became an unexpected detail that created empathy. Close-ups and deadpan expressions are delightful, and the voiceovers by an impressive cast are enjoyable to listen to. Wes Anderson’s production is so mesmerizing, it is easy not to notice that the plot grows tame and the ending all too prettily wrapped up with a bow with an unlikely white savior — a geeky girl from Ohio. Lots of Asian stereotypes in this film. For me, Anderson’s a magician whose sleight of hand seduces. 4/5.

Red Rocks, Valleys & Writing

The Verde Valley with Mingus Mountain at the horizon
Shaded mound, Sedona Red Rocks at the edge of Sycamore Canyon
hiking the Red Rocks
Devil’s Head plateau
Two Caves
Standing on Devil’s Bridge
All of it.

It’s 1928, and fictional characters Kay, the Hopi Indian, along with Sally and George are included in a gentleman’s exploration of Sycamore Canyon with a band of real-life characters.

     Sally sat on a tall, blonde horse next to the others and tried not show her nervousness. She had little experience riding, but she wouldn’t miss this opportunity to be around these many men who interested her: The director, William Howard, who she hoped would cut her a break and let her do more in his next picture than stand around now as an extra in The Thundering Herd. His cinematographer, Lucien Adroit,  who was excited to film footage for a future project. Jack Holtz was an established star in Howard’s westerns. Zane Grey was a famous writer and his stories were made into movies by Paramount Pictures. Adventurer Billy Clark was the grandson of William A. Clark, the copper baron. As a major stockholder, Billy oversaw the United Verde Copper Company and the company town, Clarkdale. Finally, she was sweet on Gary Cooper. This was his first film, and he had charmed Howard with his potential to be a star. His face was soft and his eyes dreamy. She saw them as a dynamic couple where they could help each other rise to stardom. She wanted to kiss him and mean something to him, but if not, at least he was good looking and more fun to flirt with than the other older men. This camping expedition had a purpose. Sally knew from her mother that it was the associations you made that got your foot in the door, not your talent. One of these men would bend her way and help her advance. She would see to it.

     William Howard picked her a gentle mare named Marigold, and as she sat there waiting, Sally relaxed a bit and let the anticipation fill her. They were on the top of a plateau looking north across the valley to a range of bluffs layered in red sandstone, limestone, and siltstone. To get there would take all morning after a gradual descent across exposed flat land through juniper and creosote bushes and a large mound which Zane Grey said was a volcanic deposit, but to Sally, the solitary hill made her think of a chocolate Hershey’s Kiss…

 

IMO: Restless

Time’s a-Wastin’

Jim told me that I must be feeling better since I’m in my head today–restless, impatient, and generally querulous. That he puts up with that is amazing. He said there were worse things I could be, and I didn’t ask what, so I sighed with relief the dark side doesn’t bother him. He gave me space, and I brooded all day. Eventually, I pulled myself out of my funk, but I admit I am weary of the questions. The rational me wonders why I am at this old age of fifty-five still acting like a school girl.

Remembering Dorothy looking at the hourglass in the witch’s den resonates deeply. Being content is the hardest state-of-being for me. I have accomplished a lot. I want for nothing, and I am surrounded by people who love and like me. Yet, all my life I have been antsy and chasing some goal as though my time on Earth was foretold and I had only a week left. Pursuing dreams has conditioned me to be never satisfied for long. It is a downright foible, in my book. A sin. I spend a lot of energy hiding my dissatisfaction. I find it difficult to stop wishing I was elsewhere or that if only I could snap my fingers and reinvent myself.

Most of you know I was seriously ill from January through March. Last week I was in the hospital again with a fever, and I developed blood clots. I was out on Saturday and back to work on Monday. Stomach injections, a crazy pace, students to keep on task–by Friday I was exhausted. The rest of this weekend was grading papers and trying my best to work on my novel. I watched a movie. I read a little. I slept a lot.

Sometimes I feel cracked. My head and my heart are separate entities vacillating for my emotions. While I love my job, my home, my family, and my life, I wish I could find a cave in Greece and hide out anonymously for some time in peace. If that happened, I know I would be bored after three days and long for the companionship. Ambivalence is my middle name!

I have heard it said that humans are intrinsically restless by nature, striving and craving for more. Do you believe that? Or do some who seem content have conditioned themselves not to ask for more, therefore what they have is good enough? Finally, I think people are hard-wired at birth. Maybe because my mind rotates like that out-of-control carousel in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, it is impossible for me to ever be content?

If you are content by nature, please, tell me how you do it!  What’s your secret?

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