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audio blog: bits from my brain

Here are two .m4v files. If you click on the file name they will open in a separate window in Safari, or I think Firefox will just download them and you can play them through iTunes. The first one is in case you don't want to or don't have time to listen to the second one. It is an excerpt from the prologue of the book I write and never finish, and is only a couple of minutes long, 2.5 mb. 


The second one is ten minutes long (9 mb) and...although it's one of my favorite things I've ever written, requires a very dry and possibly slightly warped sense of humor. If that's you, you'll giggle a time or two. I wrote it about 4 years ago, in a house we no longer occupy, so a couple of the references are out-dated. And I messed up a couple words here and there, but whatever. No one's paying me for this.


They sound slightly muddy; I confess I just record them in Quicktime and let them go. I do have neat sound-editing software, but don't much understand how to use it...well, mostly just don't have the patience to learn all the new terms.


Oh, how he sizzled

I discovered William Holden the day he died. I was in the 10th grade. Not a novice to gruesome celebrity deaths, at first I thought this one was just another crazy Hollywood dude gone wrong. I'd heard his name before but never took notice the way I already had with Grant, Cooper, Stewart, Cotten.

The first few movies of Holden's that I saw bored me a little, though it was easy to see that he had a handsome, affable charm. He just wasn't my type. 

Born Yesterday changed my mind first. I didn't appreciate Judy Holliday then as I do now (and I do, a lot!) but Holden's ease and sharp charm grabbed hold of me. 

And now that I'm so much older and see many movies differently than I once did, I love him in Executive Suite, Picnic, Sabrina (did you know Joseph Cotten played the older Linus role on Broadway? I wish he'd done so in the movie as well, instead of Humphrey Bogart,) even Paris When it Sizzles, though that movie is not nearly as good as it should be. I don't recommend it unless you're being completionist about Holden or about Audrey Hepburn. It is a very pretty movie, to be sure.

My favorite Holden films are from what I believe is a visually captivating era. This is a still taken for Sabrina.


That era is known for creating overwhelming sexual tension on film, as well, particularly in the blue collar setting found in Picnic.

I love him less in Stalag 17 and Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, but those are good movies I can recommend. When I saw The Moon Is Blue I was disappointed by it (kinda like they were in M*A*S*H,) but it's a piece of film history you may want to look into if you're a student of how the Code was applied in different eras. 

And I still have mixed feelings about Sunset Boulevard. I get why it's so good. But I just don't really enjoy it. However, Holden is so handsome and pathetic in it, the sets are perfect, Gloria Swanson is fairly awesome in her role, and the whole thing builds in a sort of thick intensity. If you can watch biting dramas, you have to see it. It's another important piece of film history.

When you think about it, William Holden appeared in quite a few important films. I've actually seen only about half of his films so far; he made 70 or so. There are at least a dozen more I hope to view.  Maybe I'll count them up sometime.

Watch this when you have a quiet moment in which to bite your lip:


Watch this, too, if you have time. It's actually the penultimate scene from Executive Suite, carefully worded to suit both your economic view and mine...and grippingly well-delivered.

My type hasn't changed much over the past 30-35 years, but I will say it's matured and better-developed. I don't miss being a youth who didn't understand how to appreciate this:


William Holden was a long-time alcoholic and it did him in at the end, but he has an amazing film legacy for us to appreciate. Check it out in an interesting blog post here.


It's always fair weather...

It's been quite awhile since I did a nice long focus on one actor in particular. That's no longer so difficult to find; there are hundreds of blogs these days devoted to the daily worship of dead celebrity, and mine has long since fallen into an abyss of chaotic randomosity. But I've got someone in mind I always meant to talk about, and it's long overdue.

Nearly everyone in my dream lover pantheon is tall, with just a few exceptions. Only a couple so far, I think, are what I'd actually call short—under 5' 9". I just enjoy looking up at a man by a nice 4 or 5 inches or more. And it can be said that a man's height often has bearing on his personality—I'm more attracted to a tall bearing, so there it is. But let's face it;  some of these guys were just really tasty eye candy. How many of them could I say I truly admire? Ten? If so, here's one who definitely belongs on that list, even though his chin would probably rest just above mine.

When you encounter a man who stands tall no matter the length of his frame—no slouching and folding himself up to be less noticeable if he's tall, no anxious Napoleonic giddiness to make up for a lack of height if he isn't—it's usually because he's completely self-aware, at ease with himself, and with you as well. It's impossible to not take notice of such a man. When I was a kid we often referred to that quality as "je ne sais quois," but honestly, often you do know just what that certain something is. It's not mysterious or ineffable. It's an inner strength, expressed externally in this way and that. Sometimes it's expressed in a long beautiful jawline, set just so. 

Sometimes it's expressed in his ability to defy gravity by the sheer force of his will.

Maybe it's simply that he knows exactly what you want and exactly how to give it to you. 


There can never be "another Gene Kelly," and that's not something that can be overstated. Whoever the next guy is, who stands tall in a crowd of lanky models, who can throw himself around a room with grace, elegance and humor, who can demonstrate kindness and yearning and bitterness all in the same line of dialogue, well, I hope I have the privilege of watching him work his magic. But standing in the same room or on the same set as this guy here is something none of us will ever get to do, and those who did were in the presence of a unique individual. 



My Valentine to You: 16 Minutes in Faux-legante Heaven...

Now and then I deeply miss the faux-legance of the disco era. Sometimes it's just the right thing for the right mood. For Valentine's Day, absolutely.

Picture this: she's in a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress and strappy heels, hair carefully set and accentuated with gold hoop earrings; he's wearing a tan 3-piece suit with a colorful print shirt, collar open to reveal a tasteful serpentine gold necklace.

They're relaxing on a creamy sateen loveseat in front of a large window overlooking the river, with the city skyline all lit up on the other side. Hanging in the window, a large, frothy Boston fern, and before them, a glass and brass coffee table on which you see a fondue set, with fondue made from Emmentaler and Gruyere cheeses and a moderately-priced Washington state semi-sweet white wine, and there are bowls filled with bread cubes, asparagus spears, and mushroom crowns. Candlelight adds warmth to the setting. The woman and man are each holding a glass of Chenin Blanc, and music softly fills the room.

This is that music. Enjoy.




so, this is random

I am asking you not to judge me for having looked up the Sprouse twins on IMDb. It's—this whole long chain of thought that occurred. And then—there was this. And I just couldn't be the only person who knew me who saw it and—well, look. 

Picture 1

So, I guess...at least she didn't call it a "thingy" and add a lot of o_O or whatever...right?


He's really not that tall.


daily writing exercise/prompt/prescription for writer's block

An introduction to the introduction that just occurred to me, because I wanted to do this all extemporaneously with no editing: 

In high school debate tournaments, there was an event called Expository Speaking, or something close to that. We just called it Expoz. Students were handed a topic on a slip of paper, and given a short amount of time to research and write about it, then give a speech on it. I was always afraid to try it. This strikes me as very silly, looking back. I was a star at exposition! Learning to give a speech from there wouldn't have been so difficult. But I wasn't encouraged in that direction. Now, as an adult, I could speak extemporaneously about just anything at all, informative or persuasive. I like to talk. Whatever. Let us commence.

We're back to daily short essay time. The 16 year-old is a comedian. The 14 year-old fusses over spelling and handwriting. The 12 year-old moans and groans about having nothing to say. In his case, this might be partially true. None of us can figure out if there's anything inside his head other than baseball and a love of chocolate. But even Raggedy Ann had cotton that she would pull on when she was searching for a solution to a problem. 

Today I issued him a challenge, as I do from time to time. "Think of an old saying that you've heard, about anything at all, and I'll write an essay on it right here and describe it as I write."

The state tests school kids take now have essay portions on them, and next year when we do online school, they'll all have to do some. One just has to be more serious and one has to just relax, but baby bear, well. He's gotta "just do it."

So, after saying he knows no old sayings at all, he came up with "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." And here is the essay I composed and wrote, which I estimate took about ten minutes of pen to paper and explanation as I wrote. (Obviously it would be much faster on the keyboard/much more could be written in that space of time.) The point I wish to make, which I will expand on in a minute, is that you can write anything about anything, if you just put your mind to the task and let one idea lead to the next.

All my life I've been told, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." When I was little, I took that literally and worried that if I didn't eat apples every day I would get sick. Then I grew older and understood that it was a metaphor for taking care of yourself. I have learned other metaphors work the same way. They teach you how to live a good life. 

Apples really are good for you. They have fiber and vitamins and come naturally from the earth. The best foods are all like that. They help us grow, and support all our systems, including our skin, teeth and hair. So if we eat the best foods we will be more healthy than if we eat a lot of unnatural processed "junk."

The people who invented the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" knew that when you eat good food you feel better. And when you recite something important as a rhyme, it is easier to remember. The apple is a metaphor for good wholesome natural food.

Now that I understand how useful a saying like that can be, I plan to learn more of them as little reminders for daily living. Also, I think I will pick up some apples today on my way home.

In later school years, you'd be allowed time to write something like this and edit, then rewrite the final piece. And it would be best to provide another body paragraph with more detail, perhaps about another common folk saying. But in these middle school exercises, 25-30 minutes for prewriting and writing is sufficient to demonstrate you can get the job done, and two body paragraphs are okay. 

It's good daily writing practice, or something to do if you feel you have "writer's block"—pick something someone said in the news, a song lyric or line of poetry, or a famous saying, and go to town with it. You might find it leads you in some interesting new direction, or at least settles your mind back into order.