Sunday, April 16, 2017

Week in Seven Words #337

admiring
"Look at this beautiful sand castle!" the boy's mother says, moments before he kicks it apart.

desquamated
The professor's voice is undercut by a steady 'scrape scrape scrape' like wood getting planed by hand. It comes from three seats in front of me. A woman is scratching her arm, showering large flakes of skin.

firewater
Alcohol isn't allowed on the beach, but who would look twice at their coffee thermos, even if they pour its contents into plastic shot glasses.

fluctuate
The skin cooks, and the wind cools it.

intertidal
A dog on the beach frisking away from the incoming water, then leaping after it as it retreats.

pinwheel
The girl takes off her flip-flops, holds one in each hand, and twirls on the sand.

unsurprised
I ask her why she rarely says anything kind to me. I don't get the answer I want to hear, though I do get the one I expect.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Break me off a piece of that sugar, chocolate, and palm kernel oil composite

One of my selections for Deal Me In was “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food,” an article by Michael Moss on how food companies refine their products to increase consumption as much as possible.

The article looks at the issue from the point-of-view of the companies and their scientists and marketers. We come across as lab rats sucking on sugar water in a bare cage. Any weakness, preference, or craving is an opening for more food to pour in. (I love the names of some of these - a cheap substitute for cheese might be something called “cheese food.” It’s cheese-like in nature; cheese-ish.)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Week in Seven Words #336

bistro
Cold dishes, AC pouring down on us in syrupy chillness.

disquiet
When I arrive, the first things I hear are "Hey! There's a large horsefly around, and it bites. See, this is where it bit me. I was bleeding. No one knows where it went. So, how are you? Why are you just standing there? Sit, relax."

possible
On the heels of a first draft, plenty of doubt. But a healthy sort of doubt, one that invites new considerations instead of feelings of futility.

pursuit
In the pool, he pretends to be a seal, and his dad is the killer whale hunting him. The other kids play a more straightforward game of tag, ducking among pool floats and getting caught and tossed around.

queued
A response to my recent breakup: "You aren't dating someone else yet?"

sanguine
He's lost a finger to DIY fireworks, but says that one of these days he'll get the hang of them.

unconsidered
He shares stories from camp, mostly involving counselors and camp administrators exercising poor judgment. One of these golden moments involved a man roaring in on a motorcycle to terrify the kids as a joke. (The cops didn't find it funny.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Week in Seven Words #335

blot
I don't always know how an author's life will affect the way I react to or analyze their work. Just sometimes, the knowledge interposes itself between the work and me. The literary merits may still exist, but with the shadow of the knowledge on them.

extent
People have a village mind and vote on global issues.

glide
What she does on the diving board isn't diving; it's flying. She throws herself into the air with a faint smile. She's just as much at ease in the air as in the water.

masked
She sets up a doll schoolroom, where her doll, equipped with tiny books and pens, pretends to be stupid.

prominency
She's over six feet tall, and has trained herself to be less intimidating by smiling and laughing a lot. She's also been advised to give up high heels but has refused so far.

savings
They're sweating and shivering as they wait in line at the bank. The loss from their account is only a glitch, they hope, easily reversed.

tremulous
The ghost stories we share become explorations of what we're really afraid of - the fears that we hesitate to speak on the off-chance they'll become true.

Friday, March 10, 2017

What does a representation of home mean?

For Deal Me In 2017, I read "Home," a part of Maya Angelou's Letter to My Daughter.

She considers how people carry a representation of their childhood homes in them - the landscapes, the struggles, what the imagination constructs, the impressions that are strongest.

At one point she writes:
I am convinced that most people do not grow up... I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.
What would it mean to grow up as opposed to grow old? Is my 'inner child' my real self, or only part of my real self (I'd say part of, an important part, but not the only one).

Do most people only grow up superficially? I've seen adults of otherwise sound mind throw tantrums like young children, because of something that struck them the wrong way. Maybe they're acting on an old wound or giving voice to a part of them that never grew up. They may have gotten stuck somewhere in their middle school years emotionally or psychologically. People often don't realize how much they're influenced by their childhood experiences, the patterns of thoughts and behavior they established then.
... I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.
What if someone doesn't have that sense of a place in them? How does one find it? (Or construct it?) Is there a danger of getting trapped in it?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Week in Seven Words #334

chirruping
A waterfall of bird chatter in the hour before dawn.

creeds
Tracing threads in the development of a religion. A move towards greater compassion here, an intensifying disgust of women there. Scholars scrambling to tie together the disparate threads.

fuzz
He's straining to grow a beard, so he can look like a worthy substitute for a respected older teacher. As he lectures, he scratches his cheeks.

letdown
After struggling over whether or not to call him, I reach for the phone, only to have it ring as soon as I touch it. Our conversation doesn't go well.

malfunctioning
If only my laptop could talk back. It would freeze halfway through its request for me to stop cursing at it.

misdeed
I show up five minutes late to find the stage set for a courtroom scene. I'm the accused.

perfidious
We watch Chamber of Secrets together, and the part that upsets him most isn't the basilisk, but the teacher betraying the students and threatening to wipe out their minds with a spell.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Three Billy Wilder Films on Self-Respect

Much goes on in these movies directed by Billy Wilder, but an important theme in each is self-respect.

Title: The Apartment (1960)
Language: English
Rating: Not rated


The main characters in The Apartment are commodities, useful to the executives in the company they work for. C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a corporate drone who lets the higher-ups use his apartment for extra-marital hookups. Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) is an elevator girl who has made terrible relationship choices. One executive in particular, Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), has them living in the palm of his hand. They look to him to make their lives better, even though he's a major source of their problems.

By the end of The Apartment, both Baxter and Kubelik gain some self-respect. The movie plays out as a comedy sometimes, a drama too (with MacLaine's performance really holding the movie together and giving it its emotional weight). It's also a romance, though I didn't care much about Baxter and Kubelik getting together. They break free of Sheldrake, and the movie ends with a card game, which struck me as a reminder that they've now entered a chancier sort of life. They've lost some security in their future. Before, life played out predictably. Their increased self-respect is worth it, but it's risky. At least now they're stronger and can bear those risks.