All posts by dixonl2014

Simply Compare!

There is nothing as exciting as reading a book first and then viewing the movie.  Let’s face it, without writers, there would be no films.  When the producers and directors borrow an author’s work, I am quite certain that it is a daunting task. 

How closely will they follow the actual story line?  Will they take a few liberties or several?  If the authors are still alive, will they be contacted for consultation?  If the authors’ works are used posthumously, will their visions be respected? 

I recently read two British novels by Elizabeth Gaskell and then looked at the movies.  They were Wives and Daughters and Cranford.  Both were done in mini-series formats by the BBC.  Wives and Daughters was done in four episodes and I watched it on YouTube.  I really liked it and though the characters are never look quite as imagined, they did a fine job.  They stayed true to the course and the acting was superb.  Many of the actors have been seen in other British projects.

Cranford, though named after Gaskell’s book, was a compilation of events from three of her books.  However, like playing jacks, I was able to pick up bits and pieces of scenes that I remembered from the actual book.  Liberties were indeed taken but no one could argue that it was magnificently done.

 I then traveled stateside and read Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, an American author.  What a read!  Carrie moves to Chicago around the 1900’s and looks for work.  Her job as a seamstress is too strenuous for her so she ends up moving in with the dashing Charles Drouet who treats her well enough.

He does not marry her but begins to see her worth after she is a hit as a stage actress.  By then, she has also caught the eye of the polished George Hurstwood and they start meeting in secrecy.  She has no idea that he is a married man, though unhappily.  He tricks her into taking a long trip to Detroit and Montreal but they end up in New York where she finds her place on the stage.

The 1952 movie is called Carrie and Laurence Olivier, Jennifer Jones and Eddie Albert play the leading roles.  I rented it after finishing the book and I can see why Laurence Olivier’s name lives on as a revered actor. To me, a lot of liberties were taken because Carrie was portrayed as a much more loving person than she was in the book.  Perhaps, her coldness was too stark to show in a woman of the 1950’s.

George was an accidental thief in the movie and not a man who contemplated the robbery of his employer’s coffers as revealed in the book.  A scene was also added whereby his employer decided to give his earnings to his wife to perhaps  accentuate his reasons for escaping her financial control.

Carrie had me sitting on the edge of my seat as I noted the similarities and the differences from Dreiser’s Sister Carrie. During the summer, take time to continually crunch down that reading list.  If a movie has the been made of that book, view it and simply compare the two!

 Lynn M.                                                                                                                June 15, 2019

61gJGn8Ew+L._SY346_[1]                       Carrie- Movie

 

 

 

 

Playing Catch Up!

BooksBefore losing my precious items that were in a storage facility, I had many of my literature books from my college days.  As an English major, they meant a lot to me. They went wherever I went and lined my bookshelves at every dwelling. They seemed to patiently wait for my full attention.

But time ran out and the Universe chose to relieve me of them in circumstances that were beyond my control.  Yet, I have a photographic memory of how the books looked as they lined my shelves. I had always intended to read each one in its entirety.

During my college days, I had a full class load, worked almost full-time as a cashier at A& P and added some semblance of a social life to the formula.  There was little time for in-depth reading, so  many of us found short-cuts through both student collaborations and using the ever-trusty Cliff Notes as we muddled through those essays and exams.

I can still see my Emily Dickinson book with its pink and white cover and my Walt Whitman poetry collection with its green and white cover.  I had other titles such as Henry James’ Daisy Miller and Frank Norris’ The Octopus along with my beloved anthologies of both American and English Literature.

So, now that I have a reprieve, I am taking the time to play catch-up.  I am paying my debt to the literary Universe by truly reading and digesting the great works of those assigned authors from long ago.  Maturity and life experiences are now on my side as I seek to understand why these books were on the syllabus.

On the American front, I have had the pleasure of delving deep into Emily Dickinson’s poems and even visited her home in Amherst.  Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass immediately touched me, so no dues are needed there.  But recently, I truly enjoyed The Pit by Frank Norris which is about the financial district of Chicago around the turn into the 20th century.  I am still reflecting on that book!

On the British front, I have read Fanny Burney’s Evelina.  She was the forerunner of Jane Austen and many of Austen’s plots and characters mirror Burney’s choices.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters and Cranford offered insight into Victorian life and she was a friend to Charlotte Bronte.  Bronte’s father even asked Gaskell to write Charlotte’s biography.  What an honor!

I am currently reading the digital format of Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie.  Again, it takes place in Chicago at the turn into the 20th century.  The lure and trappings of the big city have Carrie, a young Wisconsin woman, making some rash decisions.  Will she come out okay as she shuffles between her two suitors? Who knows?  I will just have to keep scrolling forward as the plot truly thickens while I play catch up on a few more classics!

Lynn M.                                                                      June 8, 2019

 

Phoenix!

The other night, I was listening to NPR radio and I heard Isaac Hayes’ voice during snips of an interview.  Parts of some of his songs were also played along with Carla Thomas, daughter of the legendary Rufus Thomas. The Memphis music sounds came flourishing back to me.

Hayes’ most memorable song for me is “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”  He made great songs and his entire Hot Buttered Soul album is truly historic and marks a certain era.  But the Phoenix song was long and detailed as he contemplates and then leaves his cheating woman.  This time the shoe is on the other foot and this is a man who is in deep pain after he has forgiven her over and over again.

The first line starts, ‘By the time I get to Phoenix, she will be rising.’  He is driving and has left her a letter to say that it is over.  Years ago, I was with some Houston friends and we drove down to Galveston.  We listened to Isaac Hayes belt out this song and the images were so vivid as he created a mental movie for us.

 I am sure it lasted during most of the short trip because it lasts for over 18 minutes. If it had to be a testimonial in a divorce case, I feel certain that the judge would rule on his behalf as he sings of his anguish.

Little did I know that years later, I would name my main character Phoenix in A Golden Leaf in Time Revised and all of its subsequent novels in the series. 

Golden Leaf thumbnail

The city of Phoenix was obviously a place of refuge for the singer.  For me, Phoenix is like the phoenix-bird who continually renews herself and shakes the dust off her feet when life has let her down.  She keeps on getting up and trying again though her heart is heavy.

She is much like Isaac Hayes in the song because she too keeps it moving.  If you have time, push play and listen to one of the greatest R&B singers of all time!

Lynn M.                       June 2, 2019

 

Meeting in the Middle!

Meeing in the middle pic

Have you ever had the amazing opportunity to work with your mentor?  Your guru? Or, your master teacher?  As a professional? I had a recent conversation with a retired teacher- friend who is now regularly emailing her former high school English teacher.  They have met in the middle, so to speak.

It reminds me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story called The Curious Life of Benjamin Button.  He and his destined lover only had those precious years when they were the same age and on the same playing field because he was aging backwards as she was getting older.  The movie from 2008 was well-cast with Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt and Taraji P. Henson.

I had two such sainted experiences when I met my high school freshman English teacher on the city bus some years back. She had moved on to become the English Department Chairwoman at one of the city colleges.  I was happy to share that I had taken her lead and had also taught English on the high school and college levels.  She was pleased to hear it!

Years hence, I received a one-year Lectureship at my college alma mater.  To my astonishment, my former English professor was still working on campus and had also become the Department Chairman.  We had a hearty chat and though he probably did not remember me, he was still impressed that we had become colleagues.  We too had met in the middle!

I am always gladdened and amazed when I run into my former students who are doing well and have made good choices.  It does the heart good to know that seeds tenderly sown produce bountiful and beautiful fruit.

Teachers teach but, they can still be taught.  This certainly holds true when they are able to witness the fruits of their labor.   Buddha said, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”  But let’s reverse that and say, “When the teacher is ready, the student appears!!

Lynn M.                                                                                         May 25, 2019

 

 

 

We Don’t Talk Anymore!

Image result for two people texting free

Today everything is done on the fly, so to speak. One day, I realized that I had not spoken to an old friend for years, though we email each another on a regular basis.  So, I decided to shock her. I picked up the phone and dialed her mobile number.

She said that she started not to answer because she did not recognize the city nor the number. She also said that she considered blocking it.  When she discovered that it was me, we both laughed and admitted that we have allowed social media to take over our lives.

Since we had last spoken, her land-line number had changed years ago and that says a lot about our current state of affairs when is comes to real communication.   When I used to call my older relatives, they would often say, “It’s so good to hear your voice.”

Nowadays, we shy away from actually talking to each other for a host of reasons.  We are too busy or though we may not say it, texting and emailing is a convenient way of not dealing with each others’ feelings and emotions.  When we shoot a brief message over to someone, we don’t have to deal with their being lonely, worried, sad, overly-excited or just too long-winded.

I recently saw a Twitter message where a woman basically wrote, “Text me or email me.  Don’t call because if you do, I will just look at the phone ringing.” I thought, “This speaks volumes and it perfectly makes my point.” People don’t have a lot of time or they are unwilling to spare it to listen to others.

I am currently reading a book called Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell which was written in the mid-1800’s.  Mary Smith, the narrator, has a bird’s eye view and she shares what is going on in the lives of the people in the town of Cranford.

Reading this book is comparable to taking a slow stroll in the park.  The reader gets to see the houses, the roads, the carriages and the gardens.   We feel the silk dresses of the women and witness the threadbare clothing of Captain Brown.  We smell the fresh roses and breathe in the frigid air as the townspeople commune with each other in a variety of settings.

The pace is slow enough where they truly get to know each other and accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Their visits often last weeks if they are visiting from another town.  They have real face time.

Today, we have allowed our little screens to dominate our existences and we are missing out on a large part of simply being human.  Talking and listening to one another are still vital to our wholeness.  It reminds me of Charlie Puth’s song, “We Don’t Talk Anymore.” Think about it!

Lynn M.                                                                                May 18, 2019

Britt-Marie Was Here: A Book Review

Britt-Marie

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman features a 63-year old woman named Britt-Marie who is determined to find a job after leaving her husband, Kent.  She helped him raise his two children from a former marriage and has never held down a job.

She doesn’t know her own value nor strength because he often criticized her and told her she had no sense of humor.  She leaves after he continually cheats on her and comes home smelling like pizza and strange perfume.

Britt-Marie goes to the unemployment office and the lady working there lets her know that she has nothing for her.  But Britt-Marie, who appears to be sporadic in her thinking, goes back everyday and almost begins to harass the woman. She even cooks for her and plants herself into the office worker’s everyday life.  She often calls the woman on her cell phone and the confused and exasperated woman from the unemployment office finally tells her that she has found one job.

It is as a caretaker for a recreation center in a town called Borg about 25 miles away. Britt-Marie packs up her car and heads to Borg and thus the story unfolds.  The author uses an interesting technique of making the reader wonder if Britt-Marie is mentally sound.  Perhaps this is Blackman’s way of sharing how broken she was from living with a domineering husband and being raised in the shadows of her preferred, now deceased sister.

However, Britt-Marie forges ahead and silently has a persistence and resolve that shock those around her.  She finds the recreation center after meeting the woman who ran the pizza shop which was also the main eatery, the post office and the car repair shop.  Borg had fallen on hard times after the trucking company left town.  It was where the men worked and most of the women work at the town hospital.

Borg has become a city of broken dreams and hopelessness. There are For Sale signs in almost every lawn. But Britt-Marie has a cleaning fetish and she keeps her baking soda and special cleanser called Faxin, on hand.  It provides her the therapy that she needs as she dives in and cleans the dirty and long forgotten Rec Center.  As she is going in the center one day, she is knocked unconscious by a soccer ball.

When she regained consciousness, there are children standing around her and this is how Vega, Omar and host of others make their way into her life.  Overtime, she cleans their jerseys, reignites their hearts and eventually becomes their soccer coach.  The town is inspired, and they too attend the games and the For-Sale signs start coming down

Britt-Marie also uses her cleaning frenzies to clean the dirty pizza shop.  She sets things in order in a variety of ways and even reawakens the town’s enthusiasm and interest in soccer. Subtly, her thinking processes seem to iron out and her confidence begins to climb like the mercury on a thermometer.

Many s take notice of her and she makes friends with the woman in the pizza shop who is called Somebody along with a few others.  This is the first time that she’s ever really had friends.  The local policeman, Sven takes a special liking to her. They start having coffee together and she trusts him to drive her around after her car is damaged.

And then, as she is recovering and growing, her husband Kent shows up.  He convinces her to come back home and promises her that the affair is over.  He comes to Borg and is first quite arrogant but backs down and appears to be somewhat reformed. She keeps putting him off until she can tie up some loose ends.

Kent uses his business acumen and helps her go to the city council and get a soccer pitch for the kids’ soccer team.

The book closes with Britt-Marie walking and thinking.  She had knocked on Sven’s door though he was not there.  He had asked her to do so many times in the past.  Kent is waiting at a hotel for her to knock on his door the next morning.  Yet there is a slight indication that he knew it might be too late for him.

The reader is unsure which door Britt-Marie knocks on to start another chapter of her life.  But one thing is certain; Britt-Marie left a big mark on the hearts on the people of Borg.

Lynn M.                                                                                         May 13, 2019

Because He Lives!

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Perhaps during the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the gargoyles performed their duties well.  Though much was lost, much was gained and retained.  It brought the people out in large numbers as they cried, held hands and sang hymns in one voice.

Whenever the burnt-out interior was shown from Paris, the huge golden cross stood starkly for all to see.  During this Holy Week, I thought of the song, “Because He Lives , I Can Face Tomorrow.”  They said that even a well-known bee colony survived the fire.

The cross is still offering hope and serves as a silent reminder that it stands to address our wants and our needs.  It reminds us of our brotherhood because in times of great fear and sorrow, we cling to one another.

And as the gargoyles worked overtime, much was salvaged, and billions of dollars have poured in from around the world.  The towers still stand and much of the structure of this beloved building seems to be sound.

No matter how much we have gained materially, we still have a deep childhood respect for the church as a vital part of our community and civilization.  Some may not have sung hymns in years because we have allowed our busyness and social media to run rampant in our lives.

But this frightening event made us all pause and realize how far we may have ventured off course.  As we take things and people for granted, in times like these, we stop to reclaim our direction as we lean on what has proven to be tried and true.

Lynn M.                                                                  April 20, 2019

Compromised!

Thrown under the bus1]Though you may be set aglow,
With plenty of things in tow.

At night when no one is near,
Your pillow’s stained with a tear.

You have compromised your soul,
For glitter? A painted bowl?

You have sold those close-by out,
Climbed the ladder with a shout.

Woe, to you who are selfish,
Over time, you look elfish.

You threw some under the bus,
So you could ‘gussy up’, plus,

Hanging with those out to wreck,
Weren’t you thinking? What the heck?

Lynn M.                                                                                  April 13, 2019

Filling Up Space!

“… precept upon precept,
line upon line;
here a little and there a little.”
Isaiah 28:10

We can apply this quote as we wait on change.  The lull time between high activity and down-time presents a perfect opportunity to look around at our immediate surroundings. We may notice those things that have quietly fallen into disarray during our busy seasons.

So rather than worrying about the outcome of impeding situations, this is a good time to fill up those spaces with meaningful, mini-projects. We can start a to-do list of things that need to be done and not sit in one place adding more wrinkles to our brows.

Perhaps, those closets need extra attention.  Our wardrobes must be changed from winter clothes to spring wear.  Or are there boxes still sitting somewhere in our abodes silently waiting to be unpacked and discarded?  This is a perfect time to dig in and do some spring cleaning.

Many books are being written about becoming more of a minimalist.  We can use this special time to define what needs to be done.  It’s great chance to throw out surplus personal papers and organize whatever we decide to keep in our possessions.

As we stay faith-filled during our wait times, we can gain a tad of encouragement from John Burroughs’ poem Waiting.   He writes:

“Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time nor fate,
For lo, my own will come to me.”

Amid the flying dust or the upheaval of rearrangement of our things, we might be distracted by a beep signaling an email or text or a ringing phone. We simply pause from our work to answer and hear that there is indeed good news. There has been a breakthrough! After taking the message, we can smile and wonder, “Wow! Where did the time go?”

Lynn M.                                                                              April 6, 2019

Oh, Freddie!

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If there is such a thing as a resurrection, I can safely say that Freddie Mercury has arisen.  Ever since the movie Bohemian Rhapsody came out, people cannot seem to get enough of this icon.  He is on the Internet everyday as people look into the many aspects of his life.

I saw the movie after The Academy Awards and since that time, I have been looking at and watching his interviews and concert videos.  He is both fun to watch  and listen to on  YouTube.  His energy level was up there, and few can ever touch his showmanship.

In one interview he basically said, “I don’t give a damn what people think.  We are putting on a show and each audience is different. I am a totally different person when I am not on  stage.”  Believe it or not, his band mates said that he was a quiet person when he was not performing.  How interesting!

I can’t seem to get some of his lyrics out of my mind.  Lately, I find myself in the middle of some task and before I know it, I am singing some of his tunes.  Take the line, “Nothing really matters at all.”  What a brave and cavalier attitude to have towards life!

As most geniuses, he seemed to understand that he was here to do something and then ready to move on.  In another interview he said that he did not know how much time he had, but he wanted to make music while he was here.  He stated that long before his illness.  He lived with a zest and at times, he lived like there was no tomorrow.

As a writer, I feel somewhat incapable of expressing what Freddie Mercury’s talent means to me.  He said that the words just came to him and I can truly relate to this aspect of his artistry.  He even had a keyboard installed in his headboard so that if lyrics or tunes woke him up, he could immediately commit them to memory.

I do the same by keeping plenty of paper and pens close by because I never know when the inspiration will drop from above.  I have written at stop lights and pulled the car over to jot down ideas as they flow; so, I totally understand.

I keep the rock station WXRT 93.1 Chicago playing softly in my kitchen to give me that little kick as I prepare meals.  Some of the songs that I have stopped to turn up were “Another One Bites the Dust, I Want it All or We Will Rock You.” I had no idea that these songs belonged to the band Queen because I had not heard of them until I saw the movie.

Freddie Mercury’s songs touch the heart and rejuvenate the dancing of the feet.  Any song that starts off with, “Momma, I killed a man,” will make anyone sit up and take notice.  Who is closer to the heartstrings than one’s mother?  It is an instinctive call even for grown adults when danger is near.  He goes on to say, “I wish that I had never been born.”  Wow.  What a deep admission of raw emotion!

Freddie Mercury died in November 1991.  Or, I shall I say that his body died in 1991.  Perhaps, he was spending time in purgatory talking and sorting out the details of his life.  We don’t know what happens in the afterlife.  But obviously, the angels gave him the green light and reset button because right now in 2019, he has returned to reclaim his position as true front man of the band Queen.

Queen is about to go on tour and coming here to the States soon.  I don’t know who will try to imitate Freddie Mercury but all I can say is “May the force be with him.”  And though we wish that brave soul well, we all know that there will never be another Freddie Mercury.  A humble thanks for allowing me to attempt to write the depth of my feelings and gratitude and  I give a hearty thanks to You Tube for keeping Freddie’s memory alive!

Lynn M.                                                                        March 30, 2019