Monday, April 5, 2021

Week in Seven Words #539

This covers the week of 5/17/20 - 5/23/20.

acquainting
I hear about them secondhand, and I'm happy they're doing well. I don't feel an urge to see them. Social distancing has clarified a few things about relationships – the friends I'm closer to, and the acquaintances I'm fine with sending pleasant wishes to from a distance.

careening
Bike riders and pedestrians shouldn't be sharing a narrow path.

conquest
Rats extend their shadowy empire to heavy shrubs, parked cars, defenseless basements. 

fuels
One assignment this week is a deep dive into the energy industry. Fascinating how much technology goes into producing fuel.

lawyers
One lawyer has a special kind of smarminess. It fills his eyes like oil. The other lawyer is sedate and detached, as if half his mind is on other cases or personal concerns.

mechanical
One jogger lets out huge stiff bursts of air, as if he's a machine pumping across the park.

muzzled
Children peddle around furiously on bikes and tricycles. Their eyes are bright above their masks.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Week in Seven Words #538

This covers the week of 5/10/20 - 5/16/20.

aquatic
A delightful amount of turtles in one pond. They cluster around a wooden dock. Another pond has no fish or turtles; it's ringed with azaleas. The liquid voice of a stream emerges from it.

celebrate
A rich pomegranate wine.

composition
Different kinds of music in the park: a troubadour, a jazz musician accompanied by honking geese, a student violinist struggling through Bach.

enfolded
I've never explored this part of the park. It's a nature sanctuary enclosed with a fence. The gates aren't always open. Now they admit us to mulchy paths, frilled with undergrowth, and trees that soften traffic noise. One path takes us to a rock overlooking a large pond. Beyond the water, the buildings seem distant.

fountains
There are multiple fountains in these gardens, each with its own character. One is boastful and grand. Another is shy and invites you to quietly sit beside it in the shade. A third is playful, in perpetual frolic.

misgivings
I don't know if I'm in the right frame of mind to help her, but I'd feel terribly guilty if I didn't.

sliding
I'm on a video conferencing call with a cluster of people, and I need to remind myself to keep my face visible. My inclination to slide off-screen is nearly overpowering.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Week in Seven Words #537

This covers the week of 5/3/20 - 5/9/20.

blocked
On our walk, we head to an art museum in the hopes of seeing into it from the outside. From what I remember, it has some large windows. We find them shuttered.

converging
Multiple sources of stress converge into a tension headache.

permute
Our walks are limited to a relatively small radius, so we're getting inventive about places to visit, new combinations of paths to take.

ripping
A rending wind pushes us down the street. It sends up a swirl of litter. The tulips are half bald, the cherry blossoms cast to the ground.

springtime
Clean air and the colors of tulips and azaleas. One path is pink with fallen cherry blossoms, a lush carpet that will soon get trampled into the mud.

unreadable
The large turtle is very still, as if it's one with the rock formation on which it's sunning. The stillness of the moment breaks with the noise of an airplane. It's writing something across the crisp blue sky, but the letters are too blurry to read.

zeroing
Police hand out citations to people who aren't wearing masks.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Week in Seven Words #536

This covers the week of 4/26/20 - 5/2/20.

beset
Pulses of weariness and despair.

breaks
Two brisk walks in one day. Lots of screen time in between.

flutters
A puddle filled with pink blossoms and shivering birds.

glassy
New construction all looks the same to me: sleek rectangles with large windows and little artistry.

insomnia
It's no use asking my brain why it's woken me up in the middle of the night. Maybe it wants me to admire the shadowy room, and the way the light creeps over the walls.

patrolling
A flock of police officers on bikes. Black masks are stretched over their mouths and noses. They're on the lookout for legal violations, which these days include picnics and outdoor birthday parties.

screens
She tells me that the schools aren't giving grades. Regardless of grades, are the students learning anything from their sessions of screen time? Debatable.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Week in Seven Words #535

This covers the week of 4/19/20 - 4/25/20.

affability
The dog is brisk and friendly as always. Ready to take off on a walk, sniff the larger world, investigate fascinating stains on sidewalks.

discouraged
In a more densely wooded part of the park, I keep an eye out for bird feeders. There were several in one spot the year before, creating the sense of a town square for birds, a plaza with restaurants. But it seems that no one has put up feeders this year. The joke is that even the birds need to socially distance.

feebly
A "we're all in this together" hope-inducing message displayed on an empty theater.

flames
Tulips in fiery colors are breathtaking.

obscured
It's satisfying, the way the path curves along the lake, and you can't see too far ahead.

rudderless
There's little sense of competency at the helm. I had been plugged into the news, but now I wonder if it's worth it. I don't think I'm learning much.

untenanted
The streets are largely empty of traffic. Granted, it's easier to go on a walk this way. And the air is cleaner. But the emptiness is eerie, as if civilization has retreated slightly.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Three Movies Showing the Grubby, Treacherous Side of Human Nature

Title: 5 Fingers (1952)
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Language: English (with bits of other languages, like German)
Rating: Unrated


This movie is an excellent espionage thriller. The main character isn't a hero, and I wasn't rooting for him to succeed, but I still found the story gripping, with all the twists, the double-crossing and mistrust and bitterness and greed. Also, James Mason's performance is wonderful.

Mason's character, Ulysses Diello, works for the British ambassador in Turkey during WWII. I won't tell you what his job is, because finding out as you watch the movie will probably give you more enjoyment. It's a job that has taught him how to maintain a neutral expression, regardless of his personal feelings. And he'll need this quality to pull off his nefarious plan, which is to sell some confidential information to the Nazis and then flee with the cash to start a new life elsewhere.

Does he achieve his hoped for ending, a life of luxury? Even if you're guessing that no, he doesn't, it's worth watching how it doesn't happen. 

Title: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
Director: Peter Yates
Language: English
Rating: R


This movie ends with both a whimper and a bang. 

Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum) supplies weapons to bank robbers. He's also in contact with the feds, who want information about the higher-level gangsters he works with, part of an organized crime network in Massachusetts. Eddie is low on the organized crime totem pole, and he's in danger of going to jail for the rest of his life.

One thing I like about this movie is that it shows the sordid nature of crime. In other movies, criminal life often gets depicted as slick and daring. Here, it's a grubby world where people play against each other in the dark and scurry around to survive.

The shabbiness of Eddie's world also comes across in the shabby 70s atmosphere of coffee and pie in grubby diners, and cheap suits, and a gun dealer's loud yellow car.

The bank robberies in the movie are ugly and suspenseful. There's a real horror in them (starting with the masks the robbers wear), while at the same time everything about them is so shoddy and disgusting. Again, I like how there's no glamor given to crime.

Title: Pitfall (1948)
Director: André De Toth
Language: English
Rating: Not rated

This is a merciless sort of movie. The lead character, John Forbes (Dick Powell), gets to drive away at the end with his loyal wife, but it isn't a "happy ending." The outcomes for some of the characters show a lack of justice.

Forbes has a steady job and a loving wife and son. The movie gives a wry intelligence to his wife that makes the early depiction of their home life a little more interesting, and not just saccharine. But Forbes is bored of his life and – in the course of his work in insurance – starts an affair with a model, Mona Stevens (Lizabeth Scott). 

Mona is initially unaware of the fact that Forbes is married. Had she known, she wouldn't have started up with him. A surprising thing about Mona is that she isn't a conniving femme fatale. She isn't really a bad person at all, especially compared to the men around her. She attracts the attention of multiple distasteful men, including the dishonest Forbes, and – much worse – J.B. MacDonald (Raymond Burr), a private detective.

MacDonald is a gross, creepy stalker who's willing to coerce a woman into a sexual relationship. In a scene that's deeply uncomfortable, he shows up at Mona's workplace where she models clothes and has her try on different dresses while watching. Basically marking her as his property.

At the end, after various scenes of blackmail and violence, Forbes gets to coast back into his outwardly picture-perfect life. How does he live with what he's done? The ending has a bitter taste, but it's probably the ending best suited for this bleak movie.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Week in Seven Words #534

This covers the week of 4/12/20 - 4/18/20.

clustered
It's a cold damp day. Blossoms are still thick on some of the trees.

control
One triumph: resisting a temptation.

frazzled
In the middle of worrying, I do something that creates more worries. I'm fed up with myself.

sleuthing
Reading Sherlock Holmes stories is relaxing.

stamping
Running round my mind are all kinds of catastrophic possibilities. They're making a well-trodden path with loops.

tinnily
Phone calls with long wait times. The music that plays in a loop while I'm on hold is the week's soundtrack.

unhurriedly
Appreciating a quieter day – some delicious food, a few colorful notebooks, and good conversation.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Week in Seven Words #533

This covers the week of 4/5/20 - 4/11/20.

fidgeted
We set up a socially distanced movie night, each of us in our homes texting each other now and then. It's a mini-series adaptation of a book, and I think I would've normally liked it. Now I don't have patience for it.

hectoring
People being ungenerous and snide while telling others to just be kind.

oases
The seders are lovely. Each one an island of relative calm.

shortcuts
Last-minute cleaning. Most of it is actually cleaning; some of it involves stuffing unsorted papers into tote bags.

stalks
One volunteer gardener among the flowering plants that are almost as tall as she is.

storm-tossed
Hit by a tsunami of anxiety, and I don't handle it well.

timed
I know when it's 7 pm because that's when the cheering for healthcare workers starts up.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Week in Seven Words #532

This covers the week of 3/29/20 - 4/4/20.

attending
The convenience store is a cube of white light on a dark street. A masked cashier listens to 80s rock while staring out the window.

clanging
In every building on the block, people are at their windows cheering on healthcare workers. They shout, clap, whoop, bang on pots, and blow on trumpets and recorders. Overall, it's a cheerful sound, but I can't help thinking of jail inmates banging their metal cups against the bars.

distant
This feels like a lost springtime. There are blossoming trees and other kinds of loveliness, but it all seems out of reach, as if it's in a parallel world.

emergencies
Streets emptier and sirens more prevalent.

prettiness
A magnolia blossom cradled in the split trunk of a tree.

restlessness
I don't know where I want to walk. I just walk.

undermines
He wears gloves every time he needs to open a door. With a gloved hand he also pulls down his mask and scratches his face.