The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Posts from — February 2011


Beyond the layers
Of dawn light lies a color
More pure than morning.

February 27, 2011   Comments Off on 316


It is not a before and after
Kind of thing,
There is no transcendence
No gift of the spirit
No mystery or romance,
No speaking in tongues
Or granting of special knowledge and power,
Though after all this time
And so many false starts,
I now know what it is
And isn’t—
It is not the crystal goblet
As god created it
Nor pieces of it
Shattered beyond integrity
By perilous practice,
But the hairline crack
Running through it
Bright as fire
Dull as dusk
Like a river in the night.

February 23, 2011   Comments Off on Enlightenment

…Even Rumi’s.

There are a hundred ways to kneel
And kiss the ground,
Without having done so
So that even the air itself
Does not notice,
And any of them will suffice…

February 20, 2011   1 Comment

End Game

In my mind the most memorable quote from Garry Kasparov’s review of Bobby Fischer’s biography (in the The New York Review of Books) is this one: “The shades of color in real life often baffled Fischer, but he always saw very clearly in black and white.” Kasparov never played Fischer, but he knew him through his matches and from the bizarre things Bobby said and did after resigning his title in 1975. In his article Kasparov contends that when Fischer could not obtain the terms he demanded for the match against Karpov, in his perfectionism and fear of failure, he abandoned the title rather than face a strong opponent who was in his prime. The rest, of course, is history—Bobby’s ravings, his condemnation by the Bush administration, his arrest in Japan, and his seclusion in Iceland where he finally died after refusing treatment for his illness.

I have some experience of this myself.

Though extremely intelligent, my own father was not as brilliant as Bobby Fischer, but just as driven and nearly as mad. His obsessive paranoia touched every aspect of our lives in a way no one could possibly imagine unless you lived it yourself. He reduced my mother to abject slavery. I resisted. My antidote was avid nonconformity, unrestrained spontaneity, and an unquenchable desire to uncover the roots of his madness so I would not go there myself. That no one understands what I have overcome often makes me angry, but it is really of no importance. Not now. I am happy—happy with myself and what I have achieved. I am not my father.

February 19, 2011   Comments Off on End Game


Horns pierce the headlands:
A rusted-out Model A
Rises from the mist.

February 16, 2011   Comments Off on 315

Once Famous, Twice Shy

Age and a few added pounds have changed this famous rocker into someone almost unrecognizable. Who is he?

February 11, 2011   1 Comment

Imitators and Imitated

Minnie Driver is alive and well with a very convincing New England accent, playing opposite Hilary Swank in what recently released DVD?

Another question. How is it that English actors and actresses usually get the American accent down so accurately, but we have no clue as to how to replicate British English? Must we always come off as poor imitators?

Don’t answer that last question.

February 11, 2011   Comments Off on Imitators and Imitated

Space and Time (But Mostly Space)

The Guardian interviewed the incomparable Xavi, Spain and Barcelona’s baton-twilling, ball-controlling maestro (yeah, I said Xavi not Messi), and this is what he said about how he plays:

“Think quickly, look for spaces. That’s what I do: look for spaces. All day. I’m always looking. All day, all day. [Xavi starts gesturing as if he is looking around, swinging his head]. Here? No. There? No. People who haven’t played don’t always realise how hard that is. Space, space, space. It’s like being on the PlayStation. I think shit, the defender’s here, play it there. I see the space and pass. That’s what I do.”

He went on to characterize modern English football as a more refined version of the long ball and had this to say about Capello-coached teams. “Some teams can’t or don’t pass the ball. What are you playing for? What’s the point? That’s not football.”

I loved it. Honest and refreshing. It seems Xavi is as good with his mouth as he is with his feet.

February 11, 2011   Comments Off on Space and Time (But Mostly Space)


Jet in the distance:
Singing bowls, a muezzin’s cry
Calling me to prayer.

February 10, 2011   Comments Off on 314

Love Minus Zero/No Limit

YouTube is weird and wonderful. Want to hear 100 bad renditions of Bob Dylan’s famous song, “Love Minus Zero?” Check them out. One is as bad as the next. Even by professional musicians.

It only goes to prove that whatever made Dylan great was unalterable, irreducible, and unalloyed. What was this quality? I’m not sure, but one thing I know. Imitation—even when Dylan imitates himself—is the sincerest form of flattery.

I love this song. It describes how I feel about the woman I love with all my heart. But only the young Dylan could really sing it.

My love she speaks like silence
Without ideals or violence
She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful
Yet she’s true, like ice, like fire
People carry roses
Make promises by the hours
My love she laughs like the flowers
Valentines can’t buy her

In the dime stores and bus stations
People talk of situations
Read books, repeat quotations
Draw conclusions on the wall
Some speak of the future
My love she speaks softly
She knows there’s no success like failure
And that failure’s no success at all

The cloak and dagger dangles
Madams light the candles
In ceremonies of the horsemen
Even the pawn must hold a grudge
Statues made of matchsticks
Crumble into one another
My love winks, she does not bother
She knows too much to argue or to judge

The bridge at midnight trembles
The country doctor rambles
Bankers’ nieces seek perfection
Expecting all the gifts that wise men bring
The wind howls like a hammer
The night blows cold and rainy
My love she’s like some raven
At my window with a broken wing

February 10, 2011   Comments Off on Love Minus Zero/No Limit