Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Week in Seven Words #488

The dad's "SHHHH" is at first louder than the rising pitch of the child's tantrum.

The view opens up to brown hills and sunlight in visible tracks angling down from the clouds to the water.

The young woman sitting behind us on the bus is being taken on a guilt trip by her mother. She fretfully pleads her case – that she isn't staying away from home too much, or using work and friends as excuses for avoiding home. She lists dates and times when she was in fact at home, but her case is crumbling, the judge unforgiving.

She has become ridiculous to her friends, largely because her voice turned into a blaring horn as her hearing deteriorated. But there's nothing ridiculous about the joy that transforms her face when her grandson visits unexpectedly.

She glances at her daughter, who's asleep open-mouthed on the sofa, then looks away with pinched lips. "Look what's become of her," she murmurs, her disappointment genuine.

The dog is sleek and golden, friendly and energetic. He also loves eating feces, any feces he can find. His own, the cat's, another dog's. He isn't picky.

The wine bottle rolls out of the fridge and shatters, and for an hour after we're still finding bits of it. Splinters of glass wink at us from unexpected places, such as a couch cushion. What brought the glass to the couch? The soles of someone's thick socks.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Week in Seven Words #487

A narrow path takes us through a narrow park. I get the feeling that I'm in an alimentary canal, a digestive tract. There's enough food and shit scattered around to strengthen that impression.

Anxiety is like clinging to a salt-caked rock miles from shore as cold waves slap you around.

A cat investigates the automatic doors. She's too small to open them on her own. When a human passes through, she sticks her head and some of her body into the gap but quickly pulls back as the doors close. Maybe she's afraid of being trapped in the building, an unfamiliar place that smells heavily of humans and disinfectants.

Decades later, she still behaves like an unloved little girl not getting enough attention from her parents.

She eats cake with popping, slurping noises.

She has tripped and is lying facedown with her face in her hands. What hurts her more than the bruising is the awareness of a crowd around her, staring.

rubber band
She walks away from the math problem and for a few minutes pretends it isn't lurking in her notebook. With a sigh, she returns to it. Solves it. Smiles.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Six Fun Movies to Watch During the Holiday Season

A few years ago, I made a similar post, which will give you several more recommendations. These movies aren't themed for the winter holidays, but they're fun to watch on a cold night with a warm drink, like hot apple cider with rum, and they're (mostly) family-friendly. (Yes, even The Maltese Falcon can be fun for the whole family... why not.)

Title: Cinderella (1997)
Director: Robert Iscove
Language: English
Rating: G

This is a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical adaptation of Cinderella, set in a pretty Disney version of a European town. The stepmother's house looks like it's made of stained glass and melted crayons. I like how vivid all the colors are in this one, including the lush blues and purples of the ballroom scene.

The cast is vibrant. Whitney Houston plays the fairy godmother, Bernadette Peters is the stepmother, Whoopi Goldberg is the queen (an opinionated lady who makes squeaking noises of dismay), and Jason Alexander (best known as George Costanza on Seinfeld) is a royal servant with an Italian-ish accent and a song-and-dance number about the upcoming ball.

Paolo Montalban is cute as the prince, and Brandy Norwood plays a lovely, fragile-looking, and sometimes vacant-looking Cinderella. I like how, even before the prince finds her at the end, she decides to leave home, knowing that she deserves a better life than the one she has with her stepmother and stepsisters.

Title: How to Steal a Million (1966)
Director: William Wyler
Language: English and some French
Rating: Not rated

This movie has the absurdity of a screwball comedy. The leads, Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole, associate under highly improbable circumstances and look beautiful while doing so. (O'Toole is so damn charming here. Reminds me a little of Peter Wimsey - intelligent, doesn't appear to take much seriously, but is more serious than he appears.)

Anyway, Hepburn plays Nicole, the daughter of an art forger who passes himself off as an art collector. He's a Wizard of Oz type of scoundrel. One thing leads to another, and Nicole realizes that to keep her father's crimes from being discovered, she'll have to steal a statue he loaned to a museum. Simon (Peter O'Toole's character) arrives on the scene as a burglar who may be able to help her. Or so she thinks.

Week in Seven Words #486

The concierge could have undergone Marine Corp boot camp training and would still not have been prepared for this particular guest and her battery of demands.

Rain gushing like the sky is full of faulty plumbing.

The cloying scent of flowers and dog feces in a narrow park.

Dressed in gym shorts and gray tees, they've plonked themselves down on a couple of pink armchairs and are now discussing whether Noah's ark could have been built.

They get sucked into a game set in another world, where there are portals opening to demonic realms and taverns where you can quaff an ale by a roaring fire.

We're eating at the bar, conversation minimal, eyes mostly on the food. We're seated shoulder-to-shoulder in quiet companionship.

They know which part of the store their child has run off to, because he's left a trail of crumbled crackers for them to follow.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Week in Seven Words #485

We sit at our own table, each of us with a little heap of food, including shawarma. At one point, a man with a sonorous voice sings "Hatikvah," and that's the highlight of the evening.

He normally has little to say, but with so many ladies around, he becomes more lively and charming. He shares cheesy, non-threatening jokes and plays up how nice he is to his mom.

The day is damp and unexpectedly cold. We meet at a pizzeria and sit at a sticky table, where I read through her writing. It's full of twisty, creative ideas and sparks of humor. But it needs more patience. She likes telling the reader everything upfront about a character's background and personality, when some things should be discovered more slowly.

Phone calls to three different offices to deal with an insurance claim rejected because of a paperwork error at a doctor's office.

The eggplants go into the ground in bright green shoots. Each plant gets its own mound, where it's tucked in for the next stage of growth. One woman presses her fingers to her lips and caresses the leaves of the ones she has planted.

They hand out lollipops to struggling students. Your grades may have tanked, but at least you get to saturate your mouth with artificial cherry flavor.

Contorting into different positions. I'm not sure how this is supposed to be relaxing. Ow, my back.