THE DOLLS HAVE IT

Soulful Machines — Machines, appliances, and gadgets sometimes feel like they have their own personalities — from quirky cars to dignified food processors. What’s the most “human” machine you own?


I’m looking around me house at the many machines that keep our life running more or less smoothly. I like some better than others. Use some more than others. Some are quirkier, require more coddling and even an occasional good talking to. But soulful?

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Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in this morning … but nothing seems to quite fit the bill. It all seems like plastic and metal and wires today. Except the dolls. They aren’t machines. They are toys, representation of people, mostly young girls. Dressed in pretty outfits. They are souls, I think, in a plastic smiley sort of way. Each a little different from the other.

Dolls and dulcimer

The dolls are everywhere in this house. In every room but the bathrooms and the kitchen. They line shelves, bookcases, any place a dolls might stand and they watch, their sweet faces forever set in a glassy-eyes look of happiness.

BEDROOM SOUTH 10

Not glee. I wouldn’t stand for a gleeful doll. Too “Bride of Chucky” for me. No, my girls — and some Action Figure Guys — are pleased with themselves, but nothing morbid. Nothing frightening. They are my plastic pals. I talk to them and at night, they whisper amongst themselves, making plans for their future.

I can hear them.

BEDROOM SOUTH 14

 

STUDIES IN CONTRAST – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Contrasting Colors

color-wheel

The color wheel is one of the primary tools of anyone who works with graphics. It shows us which colors oppose or complement each other. Most of us know it instinctively, but a reminder can be useful.

bouquet flowers september 2014

Contrast generally means the mixing of colors that oppose each other on the color wheel. Of course they don’t have to directly oppose each other. While blue opposes orange, it contrasts just fine with yellow. Green versus red — Christmas colors — are so popular we probably don’t even think of them as contrasting.

deck daisies flowers

This presented a particular challenge for me since I favor a monochrome palette, in my life and in my photography. I like gradations of color more than I like contrast, saving contrast for spot color.

SUNFLOWERs

The ultimate contrast is, of course, black and white, white being “all colors” and black being the absence of color. When we talk casually of contrast, we are really referring to any two colors, one light, one dark — a variation on a theme of black and white.

Hadley Snow Farm

 

I’M GOING TO KILL YOU

An episode of Law and Order got me thinking (again) about something I’ve thought about off and on for a while. The subject is “Under what circumstances might I commit murder — or kill someone — for any reason?”

We all say stuff. “I’m going to kill you,” doesn’t mean you are actually planning a murder. You are blowing off steam, saying “I’m so angry, I’ve run out of words to express it.” Garry pointed out that television and movies would be pretty dull if everyone behaved sensibly.

blood evidenceWe yell at each other. Sometimes there’s a slammed door and I occasionally rattle the pots and pans, but we don’t throw things. Don’t break things. Don’t kick the dogs or get in the car and drive like crazy people. We don’t binge drink or comfort ourselves with drugs.

We get angry with each other, though. We think about breaking a window. Throwing a piece of crockery. Then reconsider. Having that picture window replaced would cost a bundle. Never mind.

Under no circumstances do you hurt your pets.

In short, we are rational. We are never so angry we can’t see the consequences of our behavior.

I think most people have a hard-wired inhibition against killing people. If we didn’t, the world would be a much worse place than it already is. You have to train soldiers to kill. Young men won’t (normally) kill other young men unless you break down their inhibitions against killing. That’s what boot camp is about, right? Right. You knew that.

Garry said something perceptive, smart, reminding me of one of many reasons we’re together. He said “That’s why it’s good we have things like Facebook. People can go there to rant, rage, carry on. No knives, guns, bats. No corpses. Angry people vent. No one really gets hurt. Like the guys on the sports radio stations who call in screaming about the Red Sox. They’re just letting off steam. It’s just as well there are safe places for them to do it.” (Note: That explains Facebook. Nothing explains Twitter.)

Maybe it’s because Garry has seen so much violence and the results of violence. It was part of his job. Not the part he liked, but something he had to accept to be a reporter. I couldn’t have done it.

As to my original question, what would it take to make me kill another person? I don’t know.

Would I kill to protect my life style or for money — even a great deal of money? No.

Would I kill to protect someone? I’d want to, but could I? I’m not sure I could kill to protect myself. Many people can’t and lose their own lives because they hesitate. Television, fiction, and mythology notwithstanding, most people’s instinct is to not kill.

Inconvenient, but it may be the saving grace of the human race.


Kill Your Darlings – In this multi-day writing and editing challenge, we’re putting your red pen to the test. Each day, 10% of your post gets the axe.

POSTSCRIPT This was written a few days ago. I’ve been editing it since. Beginning at just under 750 words, it’s now 560. I’m not sure how that works out by percentage of cutting per day, but it’s in the ballpark. I do this with all my posts, except the daily prompt. Everything else sits as a draft for at least 3 days, often more.

WHEN THE TOWERS FELL

I had just gotten back from a business trip to Tel Aviv. I had picked up some horrible bug — I drank the water — so I was home when my son called.

“Turn the TV on,” he said. He was working for Genuity, the former GTE backbone of the Internet.

“What channel,” I asked.

“Any channel,” he said.

I did. “The World Trade Center is on fire,” I said. Confused. Had there been a terrible accident? A few moments later, as I stood there watching, the second plane hit the towers.

I kept watching as I think all America — maybe the world — also watched.

The towers went down. The world has never been the same. Probably never will be the same again.

The console at my son’s office went dark … each light representing a company buried by the collapse of the World Trade Center, representing lives lost when the towers fell.

But our flag is, was, still there. Is still there. And so are we.

GREAT NARRATORS FROM WHOM TO CHOOSE

Voice Work – Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?


Narrating is not acting. It is a separate skill set from acting, though it is certainly related. Many great actors make atrocious narrators. Witness Meryl Streep’s venture into narration where she totally failed to grasp the concept — the narrator is not the voice of any or all the characters. The narrator is the mind of the author.

More than that, the narrator is the mind of the reader, the almost subliminal prompt that gives us the images without forcing us to notice what he or she is doing. It’s the subtlety of narration that makes it such a difficult art form. Enough animation to make the characters identifiable from one another … but not so “acted” that the narrator becomes more important than the story. It’s a thin line.

As a devotee of audiobooks, I think I’d have to go with either (both?) of my two favorite narrators — Will Patton, who narrates all of James Lee Burke’s books as well as many other southern authors and was terrific in the movie I saw last night, playing the good-bad CIA director in November Man

Will Patton

Will Patton

If a woman seems called for, Marguerite Gavin, who has done a remarkable job narrating Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series would be my top choice.

WitchWithNoName

I’m very much looking forward to listening to her one more time as she narrates the just-released final (13th book) book of the series, The Witch With No Name.

And because he is willing and has such a beautiful voice, Garry — who offered to narrate my book for audible years ago before life so altered my plans — can narrate anything. Because he will do a wonderful job and understands the difference between narrating and acting.

 

HARVEST MOON 2014

Super moons are full moons which coincide with “lunar perigee,” when the moon is at its closest orbital point to Earth. This moon appears bigger and brighter than a typical full moon. The true full moon was two days ago, so this is the waning, full Harvest Moon. It’s the last super moon of 2014.

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We went to the movies this evening and I was able to get a few pictures from the parking lot of the theater. Kind of a bonus, because I can’t see the moon, much less take pictures of it from home. The trees block the sky. Even during the winter, the branches of our trees make getting a clear shot of the moon impossible.

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The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox. This year’s equinox will take place Tuesday, September 23, at which  point the day and night will be of equal length. From the solstice on, the days will get shorter day by day. Until we reach the Winter Solstice — Sunday, December 21st — the shortest day, longest night of the year. From that point on, the days get longer and hopefully, warmer.

If you haven’t yet done so, go take a look at the moon. Do it tonight because it’s just about over. It’s already a waning moon and there won’t be another super moon this year.

On nights like this, I’m very glad I carry a camera in my bag.

MARILYN’S FAVORITE YEAR – 1969

1969 was the year I learned to fly. The world was happening and I was part of it while everything changed.

Apollo 11

Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July 1969. I was a new mommy with a 2 months old baby boy. Home with the baby, not working or in school. I had time to see it. We watched it on CBS. Walter Cronkite wanted to be up there too. Up there, with Neil and the rest of Apollo 11. He could barely control his excitement, almost in tears, his voice breaking with emotion. The great Arthur C. Clarke was his guest for the historic broadcast.

Neil Armstrong died last year. He had a good life. Unlike so many others who fell from grace, he remained an honorable man: a real American hero. How I envied him his trip to the moon. I always tell Garry no man will ever take me from him, but if the Mother Ship drops by to offer me a trip to the stars, I’m outta here. I’m getting a bit long in the tooth, but if they could do it on Cocoon, maybe there’s hope for me, too. Maybe we can go together. To paraphrase Wendy in Peter Pan, “That would be a very great adventure.”

woodstock-1

Woodstock was just a month away and there were rumors flying about this amazing rock concert which would happen in upstate New York. Friends had tickets and were planning to go. I was busy with the baby. I wished them well.

There were hippies giving out flowers in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco. I didn’t envy anyone. I was happy that year, probably happier than I’d ever been and freer than I’d ever be again.

I was young, healthy. I believed we would change the world, end war. Make the world a better place. I was still of the opinion the world could be changed. All we had to do was love one another, join together to make it happen. Vietnam was in high gear, but we believed it would end any day. Though we soon found out how terribly wrong we were, for a little bit of time, we saw the future bright and full of hope.

I had a baby boy and I sang “Everything’s Fine Right Now.” It made my baby boy laugh. 

It was the year of the Miracle Mets. I watched as they took New York all the way to the top. A World Series win. 1969. What a year. I rocked my son to sleep and discovered Oktoberfest beer. New York went crazy for the Mets. It should have been the Dodgers, but they’d abandoned us for the west coast.

I wore patchwork bell-bottom jeans and rose-tinted spectacles. I had long fringes on my sleeves and a baby on my hip.

Music was wonderful. How young we were! We were sure we could do anything, everything. We would end war and right every wrong. For one year, the stars aligned and everything was good.

Decades passed; youth was a long time ago. The drugs we take control our blood pressure, not our state of consciousness. They aren’t any fun at all.

I worry about Social Security and Medicare and I know I’m not going to fix what’s wrong with the world. I’ve lived a lifetime. My granddaughter is barely younger than I was then. I’ve remarried, lived in another country, owned houses, moved from the city to the country, and partied with a President … but 1969 remains my year.