Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Spencer

The second interview on this blog is with Elizabeth Spencer, whom I know through a writer's group in Philly. I respect her thorough and thoughtful feedback and enjoy reading her short stories and chapters from her longer work. I'm so glad she's agreed to share her insights about writing (and teaching writing).

Elizabeth Spencer is an English teacher, fiction writer, and cat foster mom. She graduated from Temple University's MFA program in 2011 and lives in South Philadelphia with her husband and their quirky cats. In her spare time she loves to practice yoga and make photographs. You can meet her foster kittens here and read a short piece of her fiction at this site. One of her short stories, The Permanence of Objects, was recently published in the third issue of C4, and she has launched a new reading series in South Philly featuring prose and poetry writers.

HK: Why do you write?
ES: I've always thought of writing as a compulsion, as something one has to do, or why wouldn't you spend that time doing any number of easier and more enjoyable things? But with that said, the act of writing (when I'm in the middle of it and it's going well) brings me a lot of pleasure and it's also one of the rare times in a day that I'm completely focused on one thing, in an almost meditative state. Most of the "pain" I experience about writing is from letting too many days slip by without working or worrying about what the "result" (i.e. publication) of all this writing will be.

HK: What do you think your strengths are as a writer, and what do you hope to improve on?
ES: I'm observant; people always love the details in my work. The main thing I've been trying to improve on the last few years is plot. My stories and my first attempt at a novel tended to meander without a strong sense of conflict or character motivation.

HK: Share with us some of the most important writing lessons or advice you impart to your students.
ES: Last semester I really stressed dialogue, as in how to make it advance the plot and how to break it up with physical details. I tend to focus on whatever I'm trying to improve in my own work at the time. I also tell them that stories don't need to end with some catastrophe like suicide or 9/11 or a cancer diagnosis. What's helped me the most is the mantra, "work, don't worry." I don't remember who said that. Just put your butt in the chair and stay there for one hour, two hours, three, no matter how you feel or what else is going on in your life. Which makes me remember a favorite piece of advice from one of my professors, Samuel R. Delany, who told us that as writers we'd have to be thieves; we'd have to steal time in order to write regularly.

HK: There are people who say that good writing isn't something that can be taught in a classroom or workshop environment. To what extent do you agree/disagree? What do you think makes for a good writing teacher or mentor?
ES: I think there is some measure of innate talent and/or interest in a person for a certain subject, but no matter how talented you are you still have to practice your ass off to become great at anything. Thus, a writing class can teach you the tools you'll need to produce a great story and can sharpen your sensibilities to recognize what's working and what's not. This is what I feel I got out of graduate school and I think I'm a much stronger writer for it. I recommend yoga for teaching yourself discipline, which is something else you need to become great at anything. As for inspiration, just look around and listen.

What kind of student you are determines what kind of teacher/mentor you need, I think. For me, it's someone encouraging and patient, who is honest with criticism and generous with suggestions, and says over and over, "you can do this."

HK: If you could assemble a panel of any three authors (dead or alive) to give you feedback on your work and discuss writing with you, who would they be and why?
ES: I would have to include my husband Clint Smith, a poet and fiction writer, because he reads everything first and is always brutally honest yet extremely encouraging. He probably knows my work even better than I do. Then I would invite my aforementioned professor Chip because I learned such a lot from him in a short period of time and I want to learn more. Finally, I would love to discuss writing with Joan Didion, but I'd be pretty terrified to receive her feedback. There are many other writers I admire, though. However, I don't think that the best writers always make the best teachers/feedback givers.

HK: What are some of your current writing projects?
ES: A novel that I started in January, two stories that I recently wrote first drafts of in a rare fury of inspiration and productivity, and a third story I just started last week. This isn't typical--I usually only have one or at most two projects going on at any one time.

Thank you, Elizabeth!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Week in Seven Words #129

There was a crowd of geese here the week before along with pigeons and turtles all fighting over chunks of bread tossed by a wiry old lady who loves to see her animals fed. Now the rocky ledge that slopes down to the lake has only a few pigeons standing on it, at rest among their droppings.

Oddments found at the back of a nightstand, behind the drawers: a baby photo and a budget written up in Hebrew.

During the third movement of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto they get up and dance on the baseball diamond.

Twilight picnics among evergreen trees.

High up from the ground, three raccoons poke their heads out of a hole in a tree like cuckoo clock figurines.

Competing at archery without a bow and arrow, and bowling without a ball.

I've been through this place a number of times but I keep finding new paths. This one overlooks a stream bed where a thread of dark water unspools over tumbling rocks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Good Short Fiction: The Immortal Story by Isak Dinesen

Title: The Immortal Story
Author: Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
Where I read it: Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard

Reading this story was like lying in the surf having waves pour over me; I knew I should get up and breathe from time to time, but I wanted to stay where I was until the tide receded.

Who are the characters set in motion in The Immortal Story?

There's Mr. Clay, a miserly English nabob in Canton, who lives in a house full of mirrors that once belonged to his business partner whom he bankrupted (and who then committed suicide). He knows only figures, facts and transactional relationships; money is the defining element and purpose of his existence. After he falls sick, he has a clerk, Elishama, stay up all night reading old account books to him. But one day when they run out of accounts to read, he asks on impulse for a different kind of story.

Elishama is also a man cut off from human relationships, though unlike Mr. Clay he doesn't covet wealth. When Elishama was a young boy his family was murdered in the 1848 pogroms in Poland, and he was passed around from one place to another, taught book-keeping, and finally sent east until he wound up in China. What he wants more than anything else is solitary peace:
One passion he had, if passion it may be called - a fanatical craving for security and for being left alone... His soul was concentrated upon this one request: that he might enter his closet and shut his door, with the certainty that here no one could possibly follow or disturb him.
Elishama has sympathy for women, and for birds, but he doesn't get emotionally involved with anyone; he sees things keenly, but in the spirit of an outsider and not a true participant in life.

In response to his employer's request for another kind of story, Elishama reads aloud from a page once given to him by an old man who left Poland with him when he was six. It's an excerpt from the Book of Isaiah. Listening to it, Mr. Clay asks if any of these prophecies were ever fulfilled, and then wonders why people tell stories about things that never came about. He's determined then to will a story into existence. He decides on one of the few he's ever heard - a sailors' tale - and orders Elishama to help him set it in motion, not as a play but as a real life event.

Who will they enlist as the participants? There's Virginie, a mistress of one of Mr. Clay's employees, who turns out to be a surprising, complex figure. And then there's the sailor they pluck from the harbor, the one willing to trust Mr. Clay and his promises.

Even as Dinesen lays her characters bare, she handles them with gentleness, a kind of sympathy for their shortcomings and pain. I like how each character is jaded and old in some ways, and young and fragile in others. Mr. Clay, for all that he owns the district and feels that everyone is a toy in his hands, is with those same feelings rendered an overreaching child. Elishama seems to understand the price of everything (even if he doesn't always agree with it) and makes some wise observations about what he's seen of life, but he's forever a traumatized child who doesn't want to be hurt again. Virginie still has one foot in her childhood, the happiest time of her life with an affectionate father who used to tell her grand stories; now her view of the world is as a place to get by, to try and feel good and make others feel good. Lastly the sailor mixes boyishness with hard experience.

What happens when Mr. Clay attempts to enact a fictitious tale? Does he have the power to truly bring anything to life? He measures his success by bare dry facts and doesn't seem to realize that while people and relationships can be reduced to transactions they also rise above them. Virginie and the sailor have their own stories to tell behind closed doors, to deepen their encounter, and Mr. Clay knows nothing of it. He might like to think of people as puppets that he twitches along fixed paths, but there's much that goes on beneath the surface - worlds of beauty and sympathy that he can't perceive. Stories take on a life of their own, and miracles can manifest in small ways.


This post has been linked to at Short Stories on Wednesdays at Simple Clockwork.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Interview with Phyllis Mass

I'm happy that the first interview I'm giving on this blog is with Phyllis Mass. I have the pleasure of knowing Phyllis from our years in a writer's group in Philly, where she's shared her wonderful work and has given in-depth, incisive, and thoughtful feedback on other people's writing; her editorial input has been of great benefit to me. Before we start with the interview, here's a quick intro to Phyllis:

Phyllis Mass is a freelance writer, poet, and editor who leads private writing workshops. She is an Amherst Artists and Artists Certified Workshop Leader who teaches Write Now! writing workshops privately and at Temple University’s Lifelong Learning Institute.

She taught college, secondary school, and adult education in English, theater, drama, art history, and yoga. A graduate of Hunter College, Arcadia University, and New York’s High School for the Performing Arts, she performed on stage, screen, in commercials, and appeared in commercial print. She has written essays, lifestyle and cultural pieces for local newspapers, magazines, and online publications and created customized original poetry for celebratory occasions and roasts. In addition, she has scripted and performed original song parodies.

Her recent work has appeared in Soundlings East Magazine, BlazeVOX, Spot Literary Magazine, The Apiary Corporation, Philadelphia Metropolis/VoxPop, and the collection, Letters to Fathers from Daughters. She was a finalist in Philadelphia’s citywide autobiography contest celebrating the tercentenary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth and in 2007 a finalist in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.

Now on to the interview...

HK: Why do you write?
PM: I write because it helps me figure out problems I am grappling with. Helps me make sense of the absurdity of life by bringing a certain order to the chaos around me be it in prose or poetry form. There is something delicious and terrifying about making something from nothing which is what writers do. You stare at a tabula rasa, and design a your own universe with your own set of rules. It’s pretty powerful.

HK: What do you think your strengths are as a writer, and what do you hope to improve on?
PM: It is the journey not the destination so I always feel I can improve. For three years in addition to my own writing and teaching, I’ve been taking a poetry workshop which helps enormously with improved syntax, editing, and making maximalist me more of a minimalist. My strengths are my ability to view the absurd and make it real no matter how ridiculous. I also have a talent for writing humor and satire. As a writer you are an outsider looking in. If you ever join the establishment, you will lose your ability to observe and never be able to write.

HK: Share with us some of the most important lessons or advice you impart to new writers.
PM: I tell new writers to read, read, read and to finish what they are writing before they begin to edit.

Writing involves the right side of the brain, the seat of creativity. The left hemisphere is the critical editing side.To avoid writer’s block, and banish that pesky inner critic, allow these hemispheres to work independently. I also tell beginners to find themselves a good writing group or first reader who can give them a thorough honest critique. Everyone needs an editor. Above all, the most important advice is that as a writer you have to be prepared to sit alone at your computer sometimes for hours and put the time in on your derrière. It’s called sitzfleisch; the ability to see your project through to the end by “sedentary determination.”

HK: From the perspective of an editor, what do you think makes for a good writer-editor collaboration?
PM: A good collaboration begins with the editor listening to the writer discuss what he or she has written and what he hopes will be his or her final project. The editor must assure the writer that whatever changes he or she sees fit to make are only suggestions. That if the writer does not agree, it behooves him or her to ignore those recommendations. The edit should center on a 'how to improve' critique rather than a 'what is wrong' criticism. The most important element in this relationship is that the editor be mindful of the writer’s voice. He or she must never alter any portion of the text which will change it.

HK: If you could assemble a panel of any three authors (dead or alive) to give you feedback on your work and discuss writing with you, who would they be and why?
PM: This is a very difficult question. For starters I think, Shakespeare, Woody Allen, and Oscar Wilde. Shakespeare would deal with poetic language and enable me to be less direct and more metaphoric and lyrical. Woody Allen, the writer not the film maker, could provide me with examples of how to make absurdity even more real. I would just love to hang out with him and pick his brain. The same with Oscar Wilde. The influence on my writing if I just hung out with this trio would be nothing short of miraculous.

HK: What are some of your current writing projects?
PM: Currently, I am teaching an improvisational writing course Write Now! at Temple University. I teach this course privately also. In addition, I am editing a few manuscripts and several short stories as well as writing and submitting fiction, opinion pieces and poetry.

Thank you, Phyllis!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Week in Seven Words #128

People shuffle between the express and local sides of the platform as the announcer makes a calm droning promise that a train is just one stop away.

The little office where we work, with the utilitarian furniture and the crushed earwig on the wall, feels like a battle command room.

All eyes on the little one as he tumbles among the blankets.

I like when older people suddenly become very young; the moment he stops watering the grass and springs after the soccer ball, I can see him as he was forty or fifty years ago.

Shells and feathers, old birds' nests and flowers on a white wood shelf.

He's a self-proclaimed superhero and has made a little kit for himself complete with a badge and a book illustrating his many battles against monsters, robots, and supervillains. Most impressive to me is the way he carefully writes in the book, slowly spelling out words while sounding them out to himself. I'm so proud of him.

The hoop in the basketball court is way too high for him but he keeps aiming for it anyway. Not caring for once about the score, he has fun trying to steal the ball from me and laughs at how I bob around, shoes squeaking and arms waving wildly, as I mount an exaggerated but incompetent defense.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scenes from a green Fourth of July

One of the day's highlights was walking by the lake in Central Park and through the Ramble, which is my favorite part of the park.




Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now?
- from "You Reading This, Be Ready" by William Stafford


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Week in Seven Words #127

A friend I haven't seen or spoken to in years, speaks to me in a gift I find while cleaning out a drawer: a little jewelry box and in it a small scrolling paper bearing a message about dreams, beauty, and light. Her name signed at the bottom.

Ray Charles sang the best rendition of "America the Beautiful" I've heard so far.

A paper made indigestible by jargon.

Napping on a hot afternoon is the best way to stay clear of trouble.

Purple hydrangea blossoms and books neatly stacked on my newly tidied desk.

Without knowing it, they push me towards making the same unsuitable choices as before.

The rumble of fireworks and the sigh and shout of the crowds are pierced from time to time by an ambulance or firetruck wailing in the distance.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Extracts: A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Don't you see there isn't any real progress... there is only one large circle that we march in, around and around, each of us with our own little picture in front of us - our own little mirage that we think is the future.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (Modern Library edition)

A Raisin in the Sun is a wonderful play, one of the best I've read in a while. Lorraine Hansberry shows how people define themselves and strive for their dreams; in progressing towards what they hope will be a better life, they discover new sources of strength in themselves but also risk self-destruction and undermining others. The play ends on a mix of good spirits and foreboding; the Younger family haven't had it easy up until that point, and they have frightening circumstances to deal with in the future, but they're still alive, fighting with one other and against the world.

Meet the Youngers
The Youngers are a black family living in Chicago's South Side in the years after World War II. The patriarch of the family, Big Walter, has passed away, and his material legacy is an insurance check worth 10,000 dollars - a boon to his family, who have long wanted to get out of their airless, lightless hole of an apartment.

There are six of them: Lena (Mama), Big Walter's widow and the matriarch of the family; their adult children, Walter Lee and Beneatha; and Walter Lee's wife, Ruth, and son, Travis.

Walter Lee is a chauffeur, and both Lena and Ruth work as domestic servants, cooking and cleaning in white people's homes. Unlike Walter Lee, it's apparent that Lena and Ruth don't stop working when they get home; with some help from Beneatha, they take care of all the chores in their apartment, while Walter Lee spends time with his friends, shooting the breeze and cooking up grand business schemes. Beneatha (who at a low point in the play speaks the words excerpted at the start of the post) is a college student, a first for her family. In the course of the play she's also wooed by two very different men - George Murchison and Joseph Asagai - each representing a certain kind of future for her, should she choose one of them.

Dreams deferred, denied, or achieved
Everyone in the Younger family has a dream they want to realize. For Beneatha it's becoming a doctor, and for Walter Lee it's running his own business as a bigshot executive. Lena's primary goal is to move to a real house, something Ruth longs for as well. The only affordable neighborhood within an easy distance of their workplaces in the city is a suburb where only white families live.

Personal flaws and family tension could keep their dreams from materializing. Hansberry might have gone the route of having the family be on the same page, united by the same beliefs and outlook as they fight for a better life, but instead she wrote them as messy and real. Walter Lee fights a good deal with his sister about the man she should marry, and with Lena about what to do with the 10,000 dollars; he wants a chance to be his own boss, and if Beneath got to go to college, why can't he have his opportunity to develop himself?

Walter Lee and Ruth's marriage also goes through a lot of strain. Ruth doesn't have Beneatha's booksmarts or Lena's central position in the family, but it's a testament to Hansberry's writing skills that instead of being a sidelined two-dimensional figure she's distinct, given good lines, a dry wit and a complex character, and made to confront her own difficult choices. As for Lena, she looks at her kids with love and pride and, at times, incomprehension. Of those in the younger generation, Ruth (the aptly named daughter-in-law), is the only one who consistently connects with her.

On top of all the intrafamilial conflict, there are people in their community who would resent their move to a better home, taking it as a sign that the Younger family doesn't know "their place." The one neighbor we do see, Mrs. Johnson, is a riot - a funny portrait of a woman who tries to pass off her nosiness and envy as sincere concern. There are also other people in their community who would more actively undermine their attempts to realize their dream.

And finally there's the all-white neighborhood they want to move to. The neighborhood association sends a representative to try to dissuade them from coming to live there; in a morbidly funny moment, Beneatha refers to him as the "Welcoming Committee," a joke taken up by Ruth and Walter Lee:
Mama: What he want?
Ruth: (In the same mood as Beneath and Walter) To welcome you, honey.
Walter: He said they can't hardly wait. He said the one thing they don't have, that they just dying to have out there, is a fine family of fine colored people!
Lorraine Hansberry's own parents fought racial residential segregation in the northern U.S. (read about the Supreme Court Case, Hansberry vs. Lee) and she knew first hand how violent the situation could get, with black families getting fire-bombed out of their homes, attacked by mobs, and worse.

What is progress?
Returning to the excerpt at the top of the post - is progress an illusion? It's fitting that Beneatha makes this pessimistic pronouncement, as someone who's still figuring out her identity.

On the one hand she's the first college-educated person in her family and wants to be a doctor. But if she marries could she still pursue a career in medicine? (Her brother is leaning on her to marry George Murchison, who would be least likely to support her career.) So what is her identity, her role in the family and society at large, meant to be? And what options are available to her as a black woman who wants to go into medicine? She isn't expected to take charge of her family; for better or worse, Lena comes to expect that of Walter Lee, not necessarily because he has good judgment but because he's the man of the house. With her education and career aspirations Beneatha finds herself in an unprecedented position in her family.

Across the generations, the Younger family has progressed out of slavery, then out of the South, to live in their own apartment and to send one family member to college. Even when the "Welcoming Committee" representative from the white neighborhood comes to speak with them, he doesn't threaten them outright, as Beneatha puts it:
Oh - Mama - they don't do it like that any more. He talked Brotherhood. He said everybody ought to learn how to sit down and hate each other with good Christian fellowship.
Progress seems to work uphill, with backsliding and resistance for every bit of ground gained. The newer generations - Walter Lee and Beneatha - are building off of the sacrifices of their parents and forebears in different ways, while also fighting certain battles all over again: not what previous generations fought against - not slavery and not the southern Ku Klux Klan specifically - but against similar forces, in new shapes and forms. They also fight to understand who they are and where they belong in society, and to understand how the legacy of their parents and ancestors affects them; they absorb it, honor it, chafe against it, turn to it sometimes for guidance and mock or ignore it otherwise. The sum total of Big Walter's legacy - along with what Lena has imparted to her kids - is more than 10,000 dollars.

Any push for progress requires risk. Sometimes the desire for a better life is so consuming that it blinds people to potential dangers as they work impatiently towards it. Then again, focusing too much on the dangers keeps people where they are, relatively safe but also miserable and diminished.

Why haven't we seen more of Hansberry?
In addition to being very active in the Civil Rights movement, Lorraine Hansberry made history in theater with A Raisin in the Sun, becoming the youngest American playwright to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. Tragically her life was cut short, at age 34, by pancreatic cancer.


I read The Modern Library edition of A Raisin in the Sun; it's also the first work I'm writing up for the Classics Club Challenge (you can find the link to the challenge post in the Reading Lists tab at the top of the page as well).

Friday, July 6, 2012

Week in Seven Words #126

I find a black and white photo of her tucked inside a book. It was taken decades ago, during her army training. She stands by a tree and holds a gun, the butt of it resting against the ground; she looks at the photographer with a smile that gives away nothing.

She sits alone in her roller-skating gear and with a smile and a little wave snaps a photo of herself out in the bright world.

On a walk in the park I come across a few actors who are yelling things at each other that sound vaguely Shakespearean but don't carry well in the open air. I ask a couple of people who are leaving, "What play is this?" Silently they point to my feet, where I stand on the giant HAMLET written on the pavement in pink chalk. (To thine own clueless self be true.) Speaking of which, Polonius comes out soon after, and you can tell he's an experienced actor. His voice projects, and he speaks his lines well. Too bad he has to die sooner than everyone else.

I'm starting to associate my old apartment with boxes and hamburgers and papers that multiply every time I look the other way.

I watch eleven and a half minutes (yes I counted) of yet another T.V. show for kids where the characters don't have distinct personalities - they all do the same things and sound alike when they speak. Their misunderstandings are minor and are resolved almost immediately. The message for kids is that if you and your friends are as similar as possible there's less of a chance that you'll be inconvenienced by disagreements, compromises, and independent thoughts.

In the shade of the beech tree the mallards are napping.

sitting duck
When the car is stuck in traffic, and the frustrated driver is just spoiling for a fight, there you are, captive in the passenger's seat.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Good Short Fiction: Coyote Peyote (by Carole Nelson Douglas)

Title: Coyote Peyote
Author: Carole Nelson Douglas
Where I read it: Tails of Wonder and Imagination: Cat Stories (ed. Ellen Datlow)

Midnight Louie works as a detective in Las Vegas. You can find him at the Crystal Phoenix Hotel and Casino by the koi pond, which supplies him his dinner. He cuts a striking figure - black with "tourmaline-green" eyes and "topping twenty pounds soaking wet" - and has a pretty high opinion of himself. It isn't easy being the foremost feline detective (maybe the only feline detective?) in a city like Las Vegas.

In the story he's approached by a wild coyote who needs his help; the coyote death rate has soared at the borders of a real estate development called Peyote Skies just outside the city. Louie's first assumption is that they're getting killed off for trespassing:

No wonder the coyotes are goners. They were trespassing on some high-end new real estate of the first water. I sit under one of the paired yucca trees that mark the development's entrance to read the billboard, which features colors like trendy turquoise, orange and lavender bordered in a chorus line of alternating jalapeno peppers and howling coyotes.

Though I was curious about the mystery of the dying coyotes (and a dark tale it turned out to be) it was really Louie himself - and the idea of a cat detective - that drew me into the story (I'm sure he'd be happy about that). He narrates like a film noir detective - cool and perceptive, given to colorful descriptions, and knowing just how good he is. There's no femme fatale in the story, but he does get a sidekick for a while - Happy Hocks, a half-grown coyote who worships the ground Louie struts on. Along with the humor, attitude, and striking characterizations I loved the strong sense of place in this story: Las Vegas and its environs through the eyes of a feline who's seen it all.


Other stories in this collection include Puss-Cat (by Reggie Oliver) and The White Cat (by Joyce Carol Oates), along with Every Angel is Terrifying (by John Kessel), Tiger in the Snow (by Daniel Wynn Barber), Gordon the Self-Made Cat by Peter S. Beagle, and Guardians by George R. R. Martin.


This post has been linked to at this week's Short Stories on Wednesdays at Simple Clockwork.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Week in Seven Words #125

He loves looking at photos of his parents and older siblings. When you point them out one by one and name them he smiles confidently. To them he belongs, and they belong to him.

Throughout the heatwave I resolutely (many would say idiotically) leave the air conditioning off; there's a breeze coming in through the window - a warm breeze, but at least the air is circulating – and I can live with that. When the thunderstorm finally rips through the city, I notice at once how the quality of the air changes, pouring in cool and damp. I don't think I've ever loved thunderstorms more.

On the subway a young man is openly reading a paperback copy of Fifty Shades of Gray. From time to time he looks up from the book and stares into the middle distance.

I'm having a pleasant time, even though the sun's in my eyes and the rock I'm sitting on is trying to pry open a new orifice in my body.

On a hot dark night people are gathered moth-like around the lit fountain.

At the restaurant he turns the table into a palette on which he mixes the dull green of smushed peas with glossy drippings of soy sauce and bright ketchup red.

I can't remember the last time I set foot in a movie theater (was it for The Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2009?), but I enjoy the experience. It's a week night, so it isn't too crowded. I like the hugeness of the sights and sounds. I even like the previews (no matter how bad a movie turns out to be, the previews are pretty much always entertaining).