The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Role of the Artist

           Within the last week, I read an interview of Jake Gyllenhall.  He said his father had always told him that the job of an artist was to "disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed."

           That idea really struck a chord. 

          Many of the books and paintings and films I have fallen in love with have shaken me.  They have left me with my mouth gaping open, in amazement or shock or perhaps anguish.

           One of my all-time favorite novels is Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted.  It is certainly disturbing--not for the weak-kneed, especially one of the earlier "stories" entitled "Guts."  But the premise of the book is mind-boggling:  a group of people go to a 3-month writing retreat where they are isolated from any outside contact.  All the writers are hiding in some way, and they soon find out that unless they start doing things to each other, they will never churn out any decent writing.

photo by F. Sigorski--Part One

         I think of pieces of music like "Strange Fruit."  It was meant to sicken, disgust, and enrage. 

photo of Billie Holiday by "My camera'" My camera! My Kingdom for a camera!"

         I think of movies like Into the Wild.  The end was so slammingly sad...

         I think of songs like "Crazy" by Brett Dennen.  It makes me bounce around when everything else fails...
         How have books and films and music "disturbed" you?  How has art comforted you?

A Fantasy Christmas

Every day in December,
She'd blog if she remembered,
But last night a puddle of drool
Reminded her that hormones still rule!

She got up this morning, glanced in the mirror
and screamed without warning...
Her mustache hairs had gone wild---
They were white and wiry and looked riled
up.  "Why is aging so rough?
My breasts have grown long enough!
This Christmas season, I want no jewels,
Nor do I want any kitchen tools.
No chic, new, stylish clothes
Or even cute socks that warm my toes.

Instead I'd like a fleet of personal trainers---
And who would they be?  That's a no-brainer!
Viggo (Mortensen) to run with me across the plains,
Johnny (Depp), on his guitar he'd strum
While I thump on my belly like a big bass drum.

photo of Johhny Depp by skittleydoo04

photo of Viggo Mortensen by Arnthor

  Mark (Harmon) would walk with me from here to St. Elsewhere,
and Benecio (Del Toro) would teach me not to care--
Not being able to stop traffic with my looks
is less important that nibbling on chocolate while reading a great book.

photo of Mark Harmon by nathfromfrance

photo of Benecio Del Toro by elezde

So, this Christmas, all I want are my two front teeth
(to stay put, 'cause my gums are receding)
And a band of brave men--that's all that I'm needing..."

Sunday, November 28, 2010


            I was a weenie when it came to NaNoWriMo; I lasted a few days, found out I really did not have a story to write, and surrendered. 

          However, I think I can accept this simpler challenge, and even succeed.

          The idea is to post on your blog every day during the month of December. 

           Some of you bloggers post several times a day.  Perhaps you could hold off, and save one as a draft, so you can post it the next day?  

           There are quite a few blogs I love to read; I look forward when there is a new posting.  I would really enjoy it if there was a new post every day on the blogs I follow.

           So, who is going to join me?  

Getting Older is Getting Better: Seven Reasons Why Fifty is Nifty

           Honestly, if I could be thirty again, with a smokin' hot figure and a gorgeous face and great hair, I would trade it for all the wisdom I've gained over the decades. 

          Important sidebar:  Did you note that the "again" only applies to the age?  I wasn't smokin' hot ever, nor did I ever have fantastic facial features or cooperative (and thick) hair.

         So, if I returned to that age of limbo---too old to be young and stupid and too young to really know--I would only be younger and thinner.  Not a lot of pluses to weigh in against all the things I'm now aware of.

          Since I am 50-something, these are things I have learned:

  • In a pinch, a tube of lipstick from the Dollar Store is just as good as the tubes you pay $5-8 for at Target.  Granted, the color choice is limited, and probably it is made from blubber off of "Free Willy" himself, but hey, I can smear it across my lips and chin just like I can the expensive stuff. (And I just looked at the tube I am currently using. It is Sally Hansen's brand, and the color is called "Hint of Desire."  For the fifty and fat group, the "desire" is for fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies...)

    photo by iamdogsmom
  • A good bra is great friend.  Take the time to go to a real bra shop where a swarm of short, blue-haired women will hover around and take your measurements in a very unobtrusive manner (I promise), and after finding out your real bra size, you will leave a changed woman.  No more bonus boob for you (you know what I mean--when you have a third breast in the middle, because your cups overfloweth...)If you're in the St. Louis/Wentzville area, I recommend Ann's Bra Shop.  They are wonderful.

photo by patti white

  • Napping is delicious.  While toddlers rail against taking a nap, when you're my age, you rail when you have a nap planned and something screws it up.  Falling asleep in the middle of a Saturday afternoon while reading a marvelous book, a puddle of drool forming around your head, is even better...

photo by wojszyca
  • Your eyesight is getting worse.  Really, it's a good thing.  When you look in the mirror, you cannot see all the lines and wrinkles and craters that are forming on your face unless...unless you get one of those magnifying mirrors, that makes your face 20x bigger than it actually is.  Do not, under any circumstances, buy one of these mirrors.  They are evil.  (I used one that belonged to a friend, and I spotted Buzz Aldrin walking around. Scary!)
sketch by david shepstone sketches

  • You seem formidable and trustworthy.  Younger people are scared when you roar occasionally.  They also believe anything you tell them, even when you're being extremely sarcastic.  It's entertaining to mess with their minds.  Really.

photo by swrvler9284

  • People are easily surprised...They're surprised you did not just emerge from under a rock--gray-haired and grayish skin--where you've spent the last half of a century.  And in their mind, while you were under that rock, you listened to nothing but Lawrence Welk.  When you can sing along with a Train song or Lady Gaga, their mouths gape open, amazed.  It's funny. 

  • Laughter is important.  Look at life through humorous-colored glasses.  And realize that it's crucial to make the ordinary seem extraordinary.  Elevate a simple dinner into a gala affair with some candles and the "good" china.  Sing along with your significant other--loudly--when "Me and Mrs. Jones" (and overexaggerate the lisp) comes on the car radio.  And have fun...

photo by nanettesol
(Note:  Great writers take the everyday and make it extraordinary.  Today Tammy has a post about mowing the lawn.  Now, I never thought someone could write about cutting the grass in a way that would make me laugh,  but I'm wrong. Check it out.)