The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Posts from — April 2009


Last year’s orange pumpkin
Reduced to sheets of white pulp:
Clouds in a calm sky.

April 17, 2009   Comments Off on 181


She must always wait,
Though it can be maddening
When the cherries bloom.

April 17, 2009   Comments Off on 180

Manchester United

Man U were masterful at Porto, playing in the more conservative Continental style Ferguson adopts in important European matches. It was a relief after the dip in form of recent weeks. The other good news (if you’re a United fan) is that Christiano Ronaldo is back scoring goals in important matches. Love him or hate him (a Mancunian I met in Barcelona referred to him as a “grease ball”), he makes Berbatov and Rooney seem ordinary. Anderson (pictured), Carrick, and Evra all had fine games. Only Scholes and Nani seemed a bit out of place when they emerged from the substitutes bench. (By the way, I saw the game on Russian television, which was a gas. Now I know how to pronounce Berbatov’s name properly.)

I’m looking forward to the FA Cup match this weekend. Everton are very difficult to break down, but I think Rooney, Tevez, or Ronaldo will find a way. Go Big Red! Oh wait. That’s the Nebraska football team’s slogan. Let’s make that, Go Red Devils!

April 17, 2009   Comments Off on Manchester United

What Trouble?

My favorite lines from Jeremiah Johnson, the 1972 film starring Robert Redford:

Bear Claw Chris Lapp: You’ve come far pilgrim.
Jeremiah Johnson: Feels like far.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Were it worth the trouble?
Jeremiah Johnson: What trouble?

April 16, 2009   Comments Off on What Trouble?


The sea lion rests
Cordoned by stakes and a sign
Keeping tourists out.

April 16, 2009   Comments Off on 179


A line of shadow
Resembles a headless ghoul
Until light strikes it.

April 15, 2009   Comments Off on 178

The Last Word

The movie The Last Word is rather—dare I use this word—cute. Given its funereal premise, I’m not sure how this can be, but perhaps that’s part of the “magic” of the film. Starring Winona Ryder, Wes Bentley, and Ray Romano, it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received positive reviews.

The plot is odd but works, mostly because Wes Bentley is so well cast as a reclusive writer making his living composing other people’s suicide notes. When he meets Ryder, the sister of a recently deceased client, a strange and tumultuous love affair ensues. Ray Romano adds comic relief as one of Bentley’s clients who can’t quite pull the trigger.

I like the film because it’s about the poetry of words, and a man who is obsessed with them. The director, Geoffrey Haley, isn’t afraid to focus on language in the way an Elizabethan might. For example, the opening scene is a voice-over of one of Bentley’s long and lovely poems.

By the way, the photo above is a screenshot of our hero sitting in his chair on the roof among hooded air vents turning their heads this way and that in response to the wind. It’s kind of how the film is—weird, whimsical, and oddly affecting at the same time.

April 15, 2009   Comments Off on The Last Word

If Daedalus had a daughter

When no excuse suffices,
and there is nowhere to hide,
when distraction and diversion no longer work
and the moon grows transparent as sealing wax
casting its pale light on the frail fabric on your arms,
when you have no place to fly, no safe haven,
the wind is quiet, and
the only audible sounds are your labored breathing
and the muffled flapping of your wings,
you suddenly dive with wild abandon,
losing reason to black rage,
seeking to destroy the very thing
you cannot live without.

April 14, 2009   Comments Off on If Daedalus had a daughter

Oh Phil, What Have You Done?


The Sixties unleashed a virulent, two-faced genie who is alive and well today, and still gives and takes in equal measures.

There have been some really bad trips over the years, starting with the grisly mayhem of Charlie Manson and his crew, the madness of Mark David Chapman, the unutterable crassness of O. J. Simpson, and now the shooting rage of Phil Spector. All were fueled by drugs, sex, violence, and rock-and-roll in lethal combinations.

Noam Chomsky has said we’re in much better shape today because of the changes of consciousness that took place more than forty years ago—there is more transparency in government and more individual freedoms. It doesn’t always seem that way, but it is. The United States was a much darker place than anyone cares to remember. But it has come at a high cost.

Sometimes change comes too fast. A number of men haven’t been able to cope with the liberation of women and have slunk into violence or Christian fanaticism as a way of coping. Racial equality is intolerable for a portion of Southern whites. Illegal immigrants are shunned. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals are almost universally feared and hated.

We have traveled so far in our minds. I sometimes feel as if I’ve covered eons of time in my short life. It has often been exciting, though it’s not always easy to remain stable in the face of such massive change. I pity those who believed they found answers in sex, drugs, and violence. Or religion. Or the occult. Or spiritualism. It never works. It always leads to death.

It is only in kindness and decency that we ever find our true selves.

April 13, 2009   Comments Off on Oh Phil, What Have You Done?


Emerging from the womb fully formed,
Huitzilopochtli was an instant phenomenon
who could maneuver up and down, fast or slow,
sideways, backwards, and even hover,
changing directions in milliseconds,
easily positioning himself to suck the juice out of
the four hundred deep-throated, rattan-clad warriors
who stood between him and becoming a god.

April 13, 2009   Comments Off on Huitzilopochtli