We’ll Always Have Paris

When movie critics and cinema aficionados talk about what they consider the top 100 best movies of all time – at least according to their individual standards – the 1942 film Casablanca usually scores high. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund, the movie is set during World War II as the Nazis are tightening their grip on north Africa.casablanca

Filmed in black and white, readers of the LA Daily News voted in 1997 that Casablanca was the greatest. In Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, it’s deemed the “best Hollywood movie of all time.” It’s number two on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movies, number six on The Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Favorite Films, and number thirty on the IMDb Top 250 Movies of All Time list. Continue reading “We’ll Always Have Paris”

HillBilly Circus

Most of my life, I thought a “well-informed” person should read at least one weekly news-magazine, read a daily newspaper (or more), tune in nightly news broadcasts and listen to a broad range of current-issue radio presentations. After carefully consuming “news” via reading / listening / watching multiple news resources as well as analyzing and evaluating issues, I realize the term “well-informed” can be misleading. I’ve found the freedom to unplug!oldtimeradio

The newspaper was the first to go. I spent entirely too much time everyday … morning coffee eased into mid-morning coffee and even midday. (My thought process went like this:  as long as I held a cup of coffee in my hand, it was still “breakfast.“) About ten years ago, I was ready to cancel delivery, except my Beloved insisted on keeping it. We continue to subscribe but now the accumulation of papers just annoys me. Continue reading “HillBilly Circus”

Beauty In The Last Breath

Kara Tippetts died yesterday. She was 38, the mother of four and wife of 17 years to Jason. Though I never had the pleasure to meet her, like scores of others, I “knew” her through a blog, Mundane Faithfulness, where she shared the story of her short life with grace and authenticity.Kara

My first acquaintance with Tippetts came last fall thanks to an open letter she’d written to another woman also suffering from cancer. That woman had decided to proactively end her own life before the cancer could kill her. In November, after that woman died (by her own hand), I posted my thoughts here. Again in January, I posted a second time (with a sonnet) when Kara’s blog announced she’d begun to receive hospice care. Continue reading “Beauty In The Last Breath”

Doggie Tale

Where do phobias originate? While my ambivalence for dogs probably doesn’t rise to the level of phobia, I’ve often chided myself for what I think of as a defect in my character. I am unlike the hordes of people who view YouTube pet videos and fawn over the cute things they see. These videos rarely amuse me. A FaceBook posting recently noted:  this video is guaranteed to warm your heart. (Nope, didn’t happen.)

cutedogEarlier in the week, my Beloved called me to join him as he watched an AFV segment where dogs and birds were “talking.” I was reminded of David Letterman’s Stupid Pet Tricks episodes that have predictably left me cold. Sure enough, these talking dogs and birds failed to impress me. Continue reading “Doggie Tale”

Fading Into Brilliance

Everyday, dying is a part of our lives. We don’t like to think about it. If we stay busy enough, distract ourselves with entertainment and intellectual pursuits, we can ignore it, even deny the inevitability of it. Why not? Young people exude an air of invincibility; those of us who are older know better, but we’re just as likely to adopt the same mindset … I’m going to live forever!

death_is_swallowed_up_in_victory_by_itsalwaysteatime-d62d85e
FROM: http://tiny.cc/jmq0rx

Still, it’s hard to ignore what our bodies tell us. It’s even harder to be oblivious when others around us are suddenly gone. Continue reading “Fading Into Brilliance”

Onward To 2015

Okay, we’re coming up on the hour when you’ll want to grab that bottle of bubbly and pop the cork to welcome in another New Year … or is it the time to give the old year a boot in the rear as it slinks out the proverbial door? Or, maybe it’s both?

happy_new_year_2015_desktop_wallpaperWhatever your understanding is, tonight’s definitely the night and I know there are plenty of people hoping 2015 will be a better year for them than 2014 was. (As my guys sit and watch their football games, I’m hearing this bowl season has turned into a disappointment for SEC hopes. I’m philosophical about it … there’s always next year.) Continue reading “Onward To 2015”

A Full Life and Long

When I first heard of P.D. James (many long years ago), I initially thought she was a he. I mean, how many women prefer to be known by their initials rather than their actual names? When I heard yesterday that Baroness James had died at the age of 94, I can’t deny I thought with regret about how her most illustrious character and protagonist of fourteen James novels, Adam Dalgliesh, would fare. Yes, James did (more or less) retire Dalgliesh when the last mystery novel (The Private Patient) in which he was featured debuted in 2008. But for readers of the fourteen books, his persona is so familiar, so real! (Did I mention he’s a poet?)

Photo by Sage Goodwin http://www.cherwell.org/culture/interviews/2013/10/19/profile-pd-james
Photo by Sage Goodwin
http://www.cherwell.org/culture/interviews/2013/10/19/profile-pd-james

When I began to be more serious about my writing in adulthood, several others in the writing world – who knew about publishing – told me mystery-writing was an easier avenue for achieving publication success. I read some mystery/detective whodunnits and a ton of Ellery Queen before I acknowledged these weren’t my cup of tea.

In something of a surprise, I stumbled across P.D. James who (I discovered) had begun writing detective stories as a self-taught “apprenticeship” she hoped would assist her development into a “serious” novelist. My aspirations mirrored hers. Before I’d read one book through, I was hooked. Her cautionary comment became a watchword for me:  “a detective story is very easy to write badly but difficult to write well.Continue reading “A Full Life and Long”

Tree Tale

A poem from childhood came to mind today. It was written more than a hundred years ago by a poet named Joyce Kilmer. He was a multi-talented writer but is mainly known for the poem pictured below. The poem was set to music and when I think of this particular poem, I mostly think of it being sung (rather than recited). In the spirit of this poem’s age, I’m including a weblink of the song recorded by Paul Robeson and played on an old scratchy record. Some songs are meant to be heard via the imperfect quality of a phonograph needle.

http://www.bartleby.com/104/119.html
http://www.bartleby.com/104/119.html

The simplicity of Kilmer’s poem has through the years invited its share of criticism and condescension. The religious sentiment of the poem has also drawn a multitude of detractors and even parodies and spoofs. Personally, I’ve always appreciated the poem’s sentiments as well as its simplicity.

Continue reading “Tree Tale”

Fly Away

This weekend, my dear friend R. will be saying a final, final farewell to her daddy. The first time she said goodbye to him was in 2000 when he was buried. Today, the Piasecki CH-21 Shawnee helicopter that he lovingly rebuilt and restored is taking its final flight from its home hangar to the Arkansas Air and Military Museum at Fayetteville (AR) Drake Field. The story of this beautiful bird is recounted here so I’ll let you read about it there.

Helicopter

This weekend has been a long time coming for R. Since the day her daddy died, the aircraft has been a quiet comfort for her, a way in which she was able to keep her daddy close after his untimely passing. Its presence in an airport hangar where she often entertains large social and/or political gatherings (there’s one this evening) has been a frequent reminder of the man whose love and passion went into the rebuilding process. Now that the helicopter is gone from the hangar, there’s going to be a huge void no matter how many other aircraft she manages to cram into its spot. Continue reading “Fly Away”

Finding Home

Imagine with me that you’re flying in a Learjet on your way to your next job. You’ve had a hectic morning preparing for your trip and rushing off to the airport, so once you get settled on the aircraft and the plane is in the air, you close your eyes for a quick nap. This scenario (or something like it … remember, we’re imagining) took place fifteen years ago this day.Payne_wUS_Open_trophy

The tragic death of golfer Payne Stewart and five of his associates occurred when they lost consciousness in a depressurized cabin and fell asleep, ninety minutes before the aircraft crashed when its fuel ran out. Because Stewart hailed from Missouri (my home state) and because he clearly loved golf and life, I considered him a breath of fresh air in the early years when I was learning the sport. Some people called him a showboat … his throwback (but colorful) clothing set him apart. Was it flamboyant (as some commentators described it)? Maybe, but I would have preferred the word memorable. In an era of ordinary polo shirts and khakis as the standard golfing garb, Stewart dressed splendidly so people would not confuse him with his contemporaries Davis Love III or Nick Price or Hal Sutton. Continue reading “Finding Home”