Monday, February 8, 2016

Week in Seven Words #277

accumulation
Ten open jars are spread out on her table, including two for peanut butter and one for pickles. A newspaper lies folded in half in front of her chair, next to a crusty fork and a lid that doesn't fit any of the jars.

beaming
The waiter is one of the most charismatic people we've ever met. When he glides up to our table, we kind of forget about the food. Radiant with warmth and good humor, he grins, tells jokes, offers vivid descriptions of dessert. We would pay him to eat with us.

cyclic
The boy hits replay again on Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First" routine.

echolocation
We're lost in a white hallway with a white-and-black checkered floor. "I'm here," says his disembodied voice, its path distorted by sharp turns and the high ceiling over the corkscrew stairs.

imploringly
She refuses only because she likes to hear us plead with her.

patzer
The dog slips between me and the chess board, her tail sweeping pieces off as she stares at me with a solemn expression.

relinquishing
The house belongs now to someone else. The tree she planted may be ripped out or cut down. Few people remember the work she put into that yard.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Jews at the heart of Ivanhoe

When I started reading Ivanhoe for the Classics Club Challenge, my first impression was of a medieval fashion show. As a pioneering author of historical fiction, Sir Walter Scott lavishly described his characters' clothes and armor, shown off against a backdrop of old castles and other atmospheric settings - girdles, doublets, linked mail, kirtles, robes, coarse sandals, all sorts of medieval outfits and accoutrements.

I thought at first that the book would be a fairly straightforward tale full of what you'd expect from a medieval setting - jousts, feasting, banter by the campfire, song and drink, knights winning the favor of ladies.

And all of those elements are present. There's light-hearted action and humor, and knights who have to reclaim or retain their standing. But Ivanhoe also takes an unexpected turn when it introduces two prominent Jewish characters - Isaac and his daughter, Rebecca.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Week in Seven Words #276

firsthand
They tell him not to take a swig from the hot sauce bottle. But how will he know what it's like for his tongue to catch fire? He compromises and shakes just a few drops into his mouth. Then buries his face in a pillow on the couch.

fleet
We're going to have an intense, pleasing conversation across a table covered in desserts. And afterwards, we won't bother keeping in touch.

frigid
Three winter-blasted souls. They're perched on a sofa, their eyes sharp and cold. When I nod 'hello,' they don't reply.

manhandled
I'm like a suitcase. She drags me over to the window where I'll be out of the way.

particulars
The young child insists that the elevator's '5' button is really a 'B.' He points out curves and lines to support his argument.

respiring
Brown grass and bracken in the clean air of the hills.

vocalization
After oral surgery, he tries a full sentence. All we hear is a groan that ends on a whine. There's probably a question mark at the end of the sentence.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Four Short Stories Featuring Trees

Title: Joshua Tree
Author: Emma Bull
Where I Read It: The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest

"My point is, sometimes truly crappy experiences have a crowbar effect on the rest of your life. Everything shakes loose. Then you can let it go back to the way it was, or you can step in and make something happen, something that might be permanent."
Tabetha Sikorsky is a teenager growing up in a desert town attached to a military base. It's a dead town, full of dead-end jobs and people who feel their lives have gone nowhere. Tabetha knows she might become one of them. Then a new girl shows up, and some interesting possibilities open up for Tabetha.

One night she's lost in the desert and in danger of dying. However, the night also becomes an opportunity for her to rediscover the weight and meaning of her life.
"But sometimes I can still have these moments of total happiness. And I feel as if every time I pretend to be happy, I'm scaring that real happiness off."
I like how she finds new vitality, taps into the wellspring of life, in a desert. And specifically, among the spiny, twisty, miraculous Joshua Trees.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Week in Seven Words #275

detritus
We don't know the stories of these rocks and trees. Pacts broken, glaciers retreating, branches stripped and gathered for firewood on desolate nights.

heading
I walk from one bus stop to another. The bus never comes, so I keep walking.

java
Still feel the tingle of that cappuccino foam on my tongue. The most memorable cappuccino ever. I doubt I'll find coffee like it in local shops.

obstruction
A clearing covered in short straggly grass. No trees grow there, because a few feet under the soil there's a building, ruined.

rearing
Statues on horseback among budding trees.

venting
The cab driver trades complaints on speaker phone: siblings, girlfriends, friends, the physical pains of aging. At a red light, the man on the other end hangs up. The driver tips his head back against the seat and closes his eyes.

vigor
People get wheeled out to the crowd of tulips. Red, yellow, purple and white - so alive in their plot by the hospital.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why Watch Seconds (1966)?

Title: Seconds
Director: John Frankenheimer
Language: English
Rating: R

With the help of a mysterious company, a middle-aged man fakes his own death and restarts his life elsewhere under a new identity. The company has provided him with a new home, a new profession, and even a younger-looking body (a result of plastic surgery and a regimen of exercise). They seem to be offering him everything he's ever wanted. But when he still can't find the happiness he thought he'd enjoy, he wants to start all over again. Poor fool.

Seconds poster.jpg
"Seconds poster". Via Wikipedia.


Why watch it?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Week in Seven Words #274

blue
The town is most memorable in its shades of blue: on walls, on signs, on balconies painted midnight. Also in the way its art galleries are strung together along narrow stone paths. Sculptures flow like melting wax. Painted bodies have been broken into basic geometric shapes, each a different color, some in shades of blue.

froth
Every day she acts out painful, unexamined feelings from her childhood. Her behavior stirs up frustration and anger in other people, and in herself. Maybe these familiar emotions are comforting; they generate a lot of surface churn, deflecting attention from the deeper damage.

hushfully
A peaceful stroll around a lake. The grass is riddled with abstract sculptures. Strange birds peck at the soil and slip into the water.

littoral
The coast changes its character along the way: golden sand and columns, a harbor shimmering in the heat, porous rocks pounded by the surf.

nibbles
Bins brimming with nuts and candies, the air rich and sweet.

passageways
The apartment complex is like a small, intricate city. Perched on a hill overlooking empty fields, it's full of winding lanes, narrow doors, and rough stone walls that open onto hidden courtyards.

sup
You get acquainted with their distinct personalities. There's the server who's everyone's favorite long lost son; he doles out soup with a smile and a self-deprecating joke. Another server makes motherly noises at you and gives you meatless bones that she claims are pieces of chicken. The cook is begrudgingly kind and clearly wishes she were elsewhere, maybe getting a pedicure or at home reading magazines and eating pickles.