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

The Horse Boy

The Horse Boy

The Horse Boy is a documentary film about the journey a young couple took with their autistic son to Mongolia. It is worth seeing because it shows what autism is like and how incredibly trying it is to be the parents of an autistic child; because it is a kind of travelogue of Mongolia; and because it deals with shamanism—those who practice it, what they believe, and its effects. In the case of this child, the results were dramatic. Although he was not cured, many of his symptoms—like not using the toilet, having no social interaction with others, and making obsessive body movements were changed significantly for the better. The film is heart-rending, because it shows the lengths that parents of autistic children will go to “cure” their children, and uplifting, because there may be ways of integrating these individuals into society we don’t currently appreciate. It goes to show that the world is vastly more complex and interesting than we generally believe and that there is always hope.

August 23, 2009   Comments Off on The Horse Boy

Two Interlocked Forms

These two interlocked pieces sit on the mantel, rough and unfinished, but the forms are distinct and my intentions are clear. Perhaps one day I’ll sand them—or, perhaps, not—since I have no idea what God intends for me. I take my life from day to day, from moment to moment. The two pieces remind me of love relationships—resting upon one another but separate, interlocked but free.

August 20, 2009   1 Comment

An Amalgam

We sit together in the bedroom
My mom and dad and I
Reduced by age to our barest outlines
His identity held in place only by his skin
Hers by her vanity
For she looks at herself in the mirror whenever I speak.
I study her eyes and know what she sees
For it is what I see myself:
A madman without a center,
A woman obsessed with her image,
And a son who observes everything
An amalgam of both
Helpless to change it.

August 20, 2009   Comments Off on An Amalgam

Steve Hoag

Yesterday I found myself walking behind a jogging Steve Hoag, whose claim to fame was his 2:11:54 second place finish at the 1975 Boston Marathon. I yelled, “Steve…(trying to remember his last name)…Hoag,” and he stopped and turned.

“I know you from somewhere,” he said.

He knew me because I had stopped and chatted with him on other occasions, but, instead of reminding him of this, I said, “I was in your shoe store a few times.”

This seemed to satisfy him. Unlike the other times, he seemed to want to talk, so I asked about Bill Rogers and Frank Shorter, and he said they both were still running, though one had survived cancer and the other had survived numerous injuries. “You know,” he said, “all those miles.”

He had a hunk of snot on his famous mustache, which worked its way up and down as he talked. Unlike his rivals, Steve had always been a working class runner and earned everything he achieved through guts and determination. He was a star at the U, and for a brief period afterward, made a name for himself as an elite runner.

“How many miles are you running now?” I asked.

He made a face.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I withdraw the question.”

“About 20,” he said. “And I run-walk now.”

“So now you know what it was like for the rest of us,” I added.

He ignored my comment. “So are you still running?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “I have a touch of asthma and got fat as you can see.”

“You should start again.”

“Perhaps, I will,” I said. “Encourage me whenever you see me.”

He said he would.

When Steve left, I walked past the beach and thought how much alike we were. His physical skills had deteriorated to the point where there wasn’t much difference between us. Age is a great equalizer, I decided, and started jogging around the lake.

August 19, 2009   Comments Off on Steve Hoag

Predictions for the EPL

  • Rafa Benítez, the sweet Spaniard everyone loves to hate, will be fired as Liverpool manager sometime after the first of the year, when it becomes obvious even to the Americans running the club that his system and the players he’s chosen will not win anything. You’re lucky you’re at Liverpool, Rafa. Roman Abramovich would have gotten rid of you years ago. The really unforgivable thing is your system is boring, boring, boring.
  • The bookmakers have got it right. Chelsea will win the league, but if and only if Drogba remains healthy.
  • Wayne Rooney will finally have a 20-goal season. Even so, Man U will be forced to find a proven goal scorer from abroad, because Berbatov, even though he has exquisite touch and is working his ass off this year, can’t seem to find the net. Where is Robbie Keane when you need him? Oh I know. Back at Tottenham.
  • Clint Dempsey, though an oddly awkward looking American footballer, will continue his scoring ways, perhaps with a team other than Fulham.
  • Everton will finish in the bottom half of the table. Anyone who saw them play the U.S. All-Stars will know why. By the way, so will Aston Villa.
  • There is a 99.9 percent probability that Burnley F.C. will go down. It’s sad, of course, but even Hull and Stoke can crush them. Nevertheless, or perhaps because of this, Burnley’s chairman, Barry Kilby, will be voted sweetest old guy in England.
  • Not a single English referee will be suspended this year for gross negligence, even more than a few of them will be guilty of it.

August 18, 2009   Comments Off on Predictions for the EPL


Solitary cries
From deep within the tree tops
Piercing the noon sky.

August 15, 2009   Comments Off on 207

humid morning

humid morning
a dappled island path
through late-summer green foliage
tall yellow daisies everywhere
a turgid river the color of mud,
as I sweep by,
remembering the Guardsmen who crossed it
pretending to be soldiers,
when wild turkeys emerge from a nest in a low tree
and follow their mother one by one
while two fawns watch
thin as greyhounds

August 14, 2009   Comments Off on humid morning

Il meraviglioso Capello

Fabio Capello

Che uomo. Is this not the coolest Italian who ever lived? A football manager so hip that even the notoriously fickle English fans love him. Cuter than Marcello Mastroianni in his prime. A master tactician who never loses no matter who he puts on the field. A modern Italian male without sex dripping out of every pore. A practical, level-headed guy without a Caesar complex. Why can’t we hire such a one? Well, of course, first of all, we can’t afford him, and, secondly and most importantly, he wouldn’t kowtow to the soccer geniuses at the U.S. Soccer Federation. Glimpses of genuinely inspired play such as we saw at the 2002 World Cup and, recently, at the Confederations Cup are flukes. We’re doomed forever, football fans. Get used to it.

August 14, 2009   Comments Off on Il meraviglioso Capello


Not yet mid-August
And blackbirds gather in flocks
Preparing to leave.

August 11, 2009   Comments Off on 206


Lanky, white heron
Gliding down the swift river
Like a kid on skies.

August 9, 2009   Comments Off on 205