It’s been over a week of record high temps. I do mean well over a hundred for most of June. I recently traveled to La Grande, to meet with a friend of mine who has family in the area and is traveling further to Lincoln City, Oregon. Hot. It was hotter than those inedible Takis burn holes in your tongue snacks. La Grande is in the mountains. I do not recall my undergrad town being almost too hot to go outside, not even once. In June. Or any other summer month. Unusual weather we’re having here in the West.
So, here’s a poem. I have no idea where this one arrived from. But here it is. Maybe it’s a bit of nostalgia. My family would gather, both sides, during holidays. My grandfather loved loved loved Fourth of July. Both did, actually. But my dad’s dad would order fireworks, then delight in shooting them off or having one of us light the fuse. Roman candles, those ones that spin and fly, bottle rockets, everything illegal that would set giant fires, woot woot. Maybe I am missing the sense of celebration, family now scattered or passed on…maybe maybe maybe. That careless ignorance that such gatherings would never stop. Of course they do. Time marches like a savage merciless army through everything and everyone, after all.
So here’s a poem based on the pic of a banana hangin’ on a hook. This is what formed in my brain. Not even kidding.
JESSICA IN THE GARDEN
Catnip and thyme, basil and lavender. Her left hand tugs at the leaves, caresses the stems. She will smell like spaghetti sauce and old lady purses when she wanders by. She eats a banana while standing on one leg, her eyes on the cat chasing the dog through the new mown grass. They put bananas on hooks, some sly wit tells the child. Maybe that’s where bananas go, Jessica replies before arranging the rocks she painted into odd and various piles.
Yesterday, it was theorized that people try ingesting cleaning products to cure the virus having its way with America. Not to mention the other parts of the planet…Okay!
DO. NOT. DRINK. BLEACH.
It’s poisonous. It will cure the virus because you will be dead. But that’s rather extreme, dontcha think?
And sunlight? It also won’t do much more than give you a sunburn. Sorry.
So I saw all that flurry yesterday caused by these batshitteries and…
This is where we are now as a country? Debunking loony pronouncements by the POTUS that will actually kill people if followed? Yes, indeedy. That’s where we are. Been there for a while.
At Thursday’s White House coronavirus taskforce briefing, the US president discussed new government research on how the virus reacts to different temperatures, climates and surfaces.
“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute,” Trump said. “One minute! And is there a way we can do something, by an injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that. So, that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me.”
I couldn’t even begin to write something approaching the levels of WTF here. Fiction has to slink off and lick its wounds after trying to compete with the actuality of hey, inject or drink bleach, whaddya got to lose?
Sipping coffee, considering where to plant the rosemary, rejoicing that my bachelor button’s are sprouting, happy I got some cheap manure and generally in a spring frame of mind. Instead of, oh, writing. I did get off three submissions yesterday. I plan to write today, even if it’s just a paragraph. Bad habits lately, not writing lately, wonder why that is…mmm.
No, I can’t blame the VIRUS for my utter disinterest in writing. I get into cycles where I write a lot, then just don’t, then write a lot, then eh…that’s all this is. I also need to dust off a project, give myself a deadline, then go from there. Oooh!
I have a stack of novels I need to work on, for instance. I need to rework short stories, spruce them up, trim, throw out and start over, etc! Poetry needs to be written!
Jaws the cat is doing splendidly. She is now twice as big as she was, with a gorgeous shiny coat overlain with ginger tones. A sort of tabby with auburn patches. I don’t know my cat coats. She’s sort of striped with orange patches here and there. Short-hair. The dogs are bored! The fields around the house use drip irrigation as well as being organic so dogs not welcome at all. Normally I would take them out in the afternoon, for a jaunt down the bank and into the fields so they can hunt rodents.
To sum up this hodgepodge—DO NOT DRINK OR INGEST OR SHOOT UP BLEACH INTO YOUR BODY. No!! Bad!! Sunshine is not a miracle cure, either. Sorry. I am not in a writerly frame of mind but will overcome that by opening files, staring at words, perhaps doing more than that. The cat is well, the dogs want to get out and run.
My brains seem empty. That oft-played scenes in Westerns, with the tumbleweeds tumbling across the landscape. Yes, that is my brain right now. Eastern Oregon does indeed have the tumblin’ tumbleweeds. They pile up along the fences, or among the piles of debris, irrigation pipes, parked farm equipment. You carry them over to the burn barrel or the spot designated as the ‘burn spot’. The flames so satisfying! At least to me. I am something of a firebug. I do love to set fires. A rake, a box of matches, a weedy bank or stretch, I am a peaceful, happy collection of bones, skin and muscle.
This weekend, I do plan on attending a writer’s workshop. It’s free and offered in Nampa, Idaho, by the Death Rattle crew. Maybe my sluggish gray matter will burn those tumbleweeds to ash as it offers me a bit of a rush or even a new Idea. Or the needed impetus to work on a neglected project.
So, I’ll make this short and end with a poem…
Be happy or there’s hell to pay. Smile or they won’t leave you alone. Pretend real hard and post pictures of bread you made while saving pennies to buy cat food if you get to retire. Put a grin on your face or get called names or be asked why you hate your country. Be terribly happy or be labeled a traitor. Wave that flag until you dislocate your shoulder.
Something recent I wrote for a monthly poetry contest. I was channeling a bit of Tom Waits, perhaps? Maybe? Not at all?
5TH STREET AND WEST
Angus runs the liquor store on 5th Street and West. His little ginger cat cleans her white paws in the window each night if you pass by after Angus locks the door and yanks the grill down. The neon on the fur, strange strip club effect but the cat doesn’t seem to care for Biblical judgments that turn light into sins. He lives above, in a tiny apartment and she must sneak down to wander through the whiskey and gin and rum as a tiger wanders through subdivisions built over jungle and forest. That same sensation of bewilderment and discovery that perhaps something wonderful lives just behind the section of Kentucky bourbon. He’s not married, and that little ginger cat means the world to him. When you buy a fifth of something harsh, that cat purrs under his hand as he rings you up with the other. It’s just a cat, he claims with sneer on lips, but the truth flops little moth wings in his neon eyes.
I haven’t posted for a bit. So here’s a quickie. I’ve been eyeing the DC craptastic craparama of crap and oh dear. Oh my.
So here’s a ‘pome’! About love! Happy almost Valentine’s Day!!
LET ME SLEEP DREAMLESS
Let me sleep dreamless with no notion that you ever existed. No world where you tied your shoes with the dog trying to lick your cheek. Erase yourself. Erase yourself from me. That would be a kindness of immense practicality right now.
My two books are available on Amazon. Oregon Gothic, short stories. House on Clark Boulevard, novel.
And hopefully soon, my Remarkable Women of Brokenheart Lane will make its debut. Cannibal bikers versus elderly sisters during the end of the world– no, wait. It’s funny and absurd more than grim, gross and the Road-ish.
I really enjoyed myself. I was expecting campy badness to the nth degree. I got a big screen attempt at an overly musical musical that does not boast any sort of coherent or linear story. This film is based on theAndrew Lloyd Weber musical—which is people dressed up like cats writhing and singing for two hours. Sure, there’s something about picking a cat to go to the Heavyside Layer. Where that cat gets a new life—this reads strangely like death. It’s a weird two hour long cat sacrifice? How Egyptian.
Cats is based on the T.S. Eliot poem—Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
The current movie has been directed by Tobe Hooper. It features Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Francesca Hayward, Ray Winstone, Rebel Wilson, etc, etc. A big cast.
I had the theatre to myself. Score! They didn’t turn the overhead light off. Bummer. Did I bother to get up and go inform someone of this? No. I was also in the tiniest theatre. There’s ups, there’s downs, there’s can’t be bothered to get up once the magic starts.
So, our movie opens on a woman throwing away a cat in a bag. No kidding. The cat gets out of the bag. We’re in some litter-strewn dumping ground for unwanted felines. Oh dear, oh what the…!
These freaky human-cat experiments, escaped from the Island of Dr. Moreau, spy on this unseen as yet kitty.
Oh my! It’s the WIDE-EYED INGENUE, Victoria. She knows nothing of this new alley cat/feral cat colony she’s lucked into. And she’s a slinky little thing who can ballet her way around several giant set pieces.
Then I start to notice that the ears and tails are, um, moving. Moving. But the cats have human faces. With whiskers. And human eyes.
Nightmares to follow.
But after ten minutes…Nope! Never. I never got used to the cat characteristics mixing so badly with the human ones. That was. No. Nope. I’ve heard the team behind this movie sent in new, improved movie magic cuts to fix the CGI mistakes that made it into the theatrical release. Wish I’d seen that earlier version…yes, I do.
That horrific cockroach/mouse fiasco. I totally agree here. It was horrific to watch mice with children’s faces…ugh. To watch a human-cat hybrid popping dancing cockroaches into her strange whiskered mouth. Surely someone in editing went—what the actual fuck is this? Followed by– cutting room floor time, y’all!
Surely someone did that. A lot. Who thought this looked okay? Who??
But—the cast of this gave it their all. Nobody phoned it in that I could tell. When it got to someone presenting their particular cat, it was great fun. Some were more fun than others. I loved the train one. That kitty can dance!
I am a huge fan of tap. Love the sound, love the precision and mastery that goes into a great tap routine. Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, just bliss for me. No, they were not in this movie. If you don’t know either of those names, then hey, you have some great discoveries ahead of you. Oh yes. You do.
The thief cats, eh, it was all right. Judi Dench as [Mama Cat] Old Deuteronomy– loved her and her singing fit her character. Gus the Theatre Cat, played by Gandalf, was sad and dignified, with a weird fluffy tail but his cat grafting seemed to fit him better than others.
Now, I wanted to be charmed by the Memories cat, played by a truly awesome power singer who made Dreamgirls a must-see. Jennifer Hudson dressed as some sort of bag lady meets Nora Desmond—baggy overcoat over sparkly yet grimy duds. Um. Okay. Why does a cat need clothes…as some of the cats had clothes, some did not; it seemed the main characters had clothes, the ensemble did not.
Some sort of overall arc got attempted here with Grizabella/Jennifer Hudson. The wide-eyed ingénue cat, Victoria, grew to like her and drew her into the performance space inside an abandoned movie house. The other cats, who had to be Jellicle cats, had to audition. Audition to be chosen to die/get a new life/change/move on.
Jellicle cats never got explained and I didn’t really care what that was. It seemed a special club made up of cats hungering to find a new life off the streets. Almost a cult of cats that other cats would have to be asked to join. It seemed Judi Dench’s cat got to control all this.
Back to Memory. The song. Who has not sung this song for an audition or for a gigantic Chinese audience? Raise your hand! Yes, I sang this for a giant audience of mostly Chinese people at the school I worked at. Yes, I managed to hit that big note. I also got to sing this with a student who had a lovely voice. Who wanted us to dress like cats. I said no to that. Memories…!
Grizabella belts out the last few verses of the most famous and infamous song ever to burst from Broadway.
And oh yes, she hit that glory note. She hit it to make Betty Buckley and ever other diva who just stood there on a stage and sang that to the heavens proud as punch. Boom. But this moment seemed contrived and false.
As for every minute up until now, most of the other cats hate this cat with an unfathomable passion. Though we do get Victoria singing the Beautiful Ghosts song as Judi Dench’s Old Deuteronmy watches, Victoria singing it to the disgraced cat who lives by herself in the wastelands. That was rather heartbreaking and rang very true. The performer did not have the voice Hudson has, but she brought a tear to my eye.
Yes, I sat by myself in an empty movie house room, with tears on my cheeks. I have surely hit all the sad spinster bingo card squares by now and then some. Sigh.
What cat gets to go to the Heavyside Layer? That was the story. Victoria allows the other cats to explain everything and then burst into song, do high kicks and back arches. She’s a plot device far more than a character.
Ah, the villain of the piece–the very sexy cat-slinky and funky fake green eyed Idris Elba. No other cat had weird fake eyes. If they did, I did not notice. No weird unblinking neon eye lenses slapped in actors eyes that I noted except Elba.
Not even Taylor Swift, who I thought did a great job with her one big number. Well done, madam! Kind of a big band standards stripper music showstopper attempt where she shimmied and strutted in high heels cause…cats wear heels but no other cats had heels on so…yep.
This bad kitty, Macavity, magicked [?] the other contenders to leave only himself to be picked. So he slunk around, acting all slinky, basically and yes, it was sexy as hell. Then he took off that pimp-ish fur coat and it was…what…what is that? It would be like Darth Vader stripping down to his undies. You’d not be delightfully scared of a baddie standing there in tighty whities. You’d be noticing the train tracks when Darth Vader turned around. Or that hey, it’s just some guy. No big deal.
Macavity and that coat was his look. Stripping that coat off destroyed that aura of menace and charm.
He’s supposed to be a ginger cat, according to the song lyrics we just freaking heard and he’s…kinda dark brown with fixed green eyes. Change the lyrics, dears.
But the movie needs something to play against so we’re not just waiting for the Next Big Song and Dance medley. Otherwise, there’s no tension. None.
Elba as the bad kitty provides some sort of urgency and, um, tension. Though why he’d wish a new life when he seems to relish creeping around being all scary. And he has magic powers. But he has to wait to be picked…yeah, don’t think about the non-plot, do not think about how there’s no actual plot to this thing. Let that go, let that go!
The pacing seemed okay. The first bit of the movie seemed to drag but then it found some sort of strange forward momentum. That’s as close as I can get to…yeah.
Now, I’ve seen Cats on stage. I know there’s no real story there. It’s just a collection of songs, with great dance bits, then the big wallop songs of Act II that do not let up; it’s over. The movie pretty much followed that, sort of.
I’d have ended it with the rewarded cat sailing off to that reward instead of where it did.
I’d have not done that CGI cat-human hybrid shit. Jesus Christ! Help! It never got charming…or forgettable. That suspension of disbelief just refused to stretch that far. I found myself watching the swiveling CGI ears far more than whatever the actors were doing. Maybe Cats the musical is just not adaptable, at this moment, to film.
Did they not learn from the Halle Berry Catwoman mess? Which, yes, I liked. But I can well understand why it tanked. It was over the top absurd, sure, but Berry tried to morph into someone’s idea of a cat. Someone who’s never been around cats. A dog person’s idea of a cat. Okay!
Anyway, thanks for reading my few scattered impressions of a movie I have been dying to see cause it looked like something the SyFy channel put out as a dare. I had a good time, I had the theatre to myself. I could laugh and cry and fart to my heart’s content.
Happy New Year. Go see something silly and fun. Hug your cat. That’s all I got.
Happy almost New Year’s, everyone! We made it. It’s been a damn slog through shit and torment for some, but here we are.
I wrote the following ages ago. 2001. It’s actually been published a few times. So I’ll post it here as well. Yes, I lived in Maryland for a year or so.
ON LEAVING MARYLAND Oct 24, 01
This landscape of density– bays, capes, chunky rivers with salt currents, Chesapeake, St. Mary’s, Magothy, Elk, Patapsco. Those highways, byways, freeways, cloverleafs, turnpikes; no road going where it should, no direction sane or logical; towns designed by blind, malicious children with better things to do that day. Summer in Annapolis– a creamily green jungle of humidity, oppressive like a moist fevered hand against the face. Not like the sagebrush-smeared lands at all. Where everything is seen, where everything is measured in miles, not the time to get there. Too many trees in Anne Arundel County, boles dark and fulsome with mold and mildew; the iron of my wind chimes turns red overnight. I can’t remember how to think here… The fan’s little motor hissing beside my bed and my skin riddled with sweat and pores and odd hairs. And the winter before, the heat did not come on. They have gas here, pilot lights and little blue flames. Always out, unlit, hidden beneath, out of reach of my short arms. The drawbridge going up and down for sailboats, the neighbor man offering to show me and my friend his one testicle, the other he’d lost in Vietnam. Someone placed the ocean here. But even that blue beast has to endure weekend sailors.
Had two birthdays this weekend, made the ugliest angel food cake. From scratch. Oh the horror. It tasted okay, it just looked like a flat, chewed on by tiger’s prop from a z-rate horror movie set. It should have been featured on some ugly foods website. Even with frosting and a jam layer, that poor cake should have been taken out back and kindly beat to death, then buried in the earth.
My year seems to be ending well, writing-wise.
I placed a story with the Whistle Pig—Pearlie At the Gates of Dawn.
I placed a story with the Ghastling—the Little Visitors.
My poem—My Feet Hurt—will be part of the Rumpus’s Enough section.
I am currently working on a screenplay based on a short story of mine from Oregon Gothic. Prince Charming Finds His Sleeping Beauty is that tale, and the movie title, for right now, is just Prince Charming. I am collaborating with a director/film maker from the Czech Republic, with a first draft more or less done. Working on the newest version.
Got a royalty check in the mail. Small but still a check. It’s still such a wonder to be paid, even a tiny smidge, for something I wrote.
So a few hits, lots of misses. Writing some. Writing political screams but if I posted them, I’d be arrested. As they focus on things like how to build a guillotine and how to stage a revolution on a shoestring budget.
I’ll end on a truly trivial note. Been watching a BBC series called Young Dracula. Cause. Yeah. It’s so much better than it should be. It’s quite funny. I enjoy it. I’m in season three, which features a major tonal shift, a new setting and some could be interesting new characters. I’d never heard of it. It’s from OVER TEN YEARS AGO.
I also binged season three of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The gut-punch cliffhanger…damn it. The world is already burning alive right now. I am not looking forward to season four. I find I want light, frothy entertainment these days. I wonder why. Oh yeah!
Also, anyone out there want to see Cats? Is it the acid trip horror it promises to be??? I’d be down for that. Trippy weird cat-human morph mistakes high kicking for two hours through giant cardboard-looking high school sets…! I am so in!! A deliciously bad musical misfire? Or did those damn trailers totally lie about how good this confection is?? And the new Star Wars. I might have to leave the house. If only to start building a guillotine. Or change the kitten’s poop dirt.