Friday, September 30, 2011

Free Associations: Hitchhiking

When I was growing up, quite often you’d see a person at the side of the road, thumbing for a ride.  Lancaster is a city in the high desert of California but when I was young, it was still a town, with long stretches of undeveloped land, miles of sagebrush, sand and Joshua trees.  In the summer, the temperature is often 100 degrees or more, so that alleviating a walker from the distances and heat seemed like a very practical thing to do.  Not that we ever picked anybody up.  Hitchhiking was something that hippies did, or kids who were headed, metaphorically, in the wrong direction.  And later, taking a ride from a stranger would come to be considered a truly dangerous thing.  It used to seem, though, like a key to expanding freedoms, a possibility of adventure.  Like so many other remembrances from childhood, this too would lose its magical connotations, its romanticism, its associations free from adult concerns.

Hitchhiking is still legal in the US, although you have to be sure to stand off the roadway.  There’s a website with the aim of “starting a new hitchhiking craze:”  They have a lofty view of the practice, and define it as a cultural experience, with two or more people meeting to exchange ideas, stories and beliefs.  They do caution, however, that not every ride results in deep conversation.  Oh, and you can “like” hitchhiking here.

I’m not recommending it.  I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that really, it doesn’t typically end well.  I’m just saying that I wish I could look at hitchhiking like I looked at almost everything as a child:  a possibility, an open road.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pas De Deux

Is there any phrase more beautiful on the page, more symmetrical and decisive in its sound, more woven with universal meaning and evocative of the human condition--our intrinsic hopes, dreams and needs--than pas de deux?

Pas de deux

Noun, plural:  pas de deux.  Ballet
  1. a dance by two persons.
  2. (in classical ballet) a set dance for a ballerina and a danseur noble, consisting typically of an entrée, an adagio, a variation for each dancer, and a coda.
One of my favorites.  The best bit comes at 3:15, but the black dress forms that precede it are incredible.  Actually, the whole video is worth the immersion.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Natural Wonders and Wasting Time

I admit it:  sometimes I get side-tracked on YouTube.  I went on this morning to find some footage of turtles because I'm writing a short story that features one.  (On the edge of your seats to read that one, aren't you?)  So after watching several clips of King of Queens (couldn't find the one where Kevin James reads a bit of Jane Eyre--SO funny), I got back to business and found this video.  And watched it again.  And watched it again.  One thing I always wonder when I'm on YouTube is...who made and posted this video, and why?  I suppose there's some inference to pollution on this one but no real point is ever made and besides, the upbeat music and stunning scenery make you want to go to Cuba anyway.

ADVICE:  unless you have time to also view the recommended videos of Siamese crocodiles, a duck with four legs and cats adopting a rabbit (very cute) not follow to YouTube.  Just enjoy the short video of this turtle, as I did, six times.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Witches and Magic, oh my!

I'm working on some content for my website (watch this space for exciting news along those lines)...and I've been contemplating early influences--you know, the signposts on my road to becoming a writer, and I've been thinking about my favorite childhood author, Ruth Chew.  I remember going to the library and poring over the shelves, looking for her books.  They were always checked out, so to happen upon one I hadn't already read was a true treat.  All of her books had some type of magic involved and cutting my teeth on these early "novels" opened my mind to the fact that stories really could do and include anything you wanted them to.

I found out some interesting facts about Ruth Chew.  She was born in Minneapolis but grew up in Washington D.C.  Her father was Canadian, ousted for his pacifist views during World War I.  (Were there pacifists during WWI?--must read further).  Her mother grew up in Burma.  Ruth went to a design school and worked in fashion before beginning a writing career.  Like me, she had several children in a short time.  (And found time to write?  Go, Ruth!)  She penned over thirty books, most of them juvenile fantasy.

And she was quite lovely.  Ruth Chew died in May of 2010 at the age of 90.

I've decided to start collecting some of her books before they're impossible to find.  Thank you, Ruth, for the inspiration on so many levels.
"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka