THE BLACK STALLION

 

If I’m going to be in a movie, I say — bring on the horses!

I grew up yearning for a horse and devoured any book about them. My favorites books were the Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. I probably read the book so many times its cover fell apart.

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All through my childhood, Walter Farley wrote a steady stream of new Black Stallion books  — and I read every one of them. About his colts and fillies. About Alec Ramsey, who grew from a teenage boy to a man in the course of the series. Of Henry Daily, the old horse trainer whose career is revived by his accidental encounter with Alec and The Black. Many stories, as the years went on, were about the racing stable Alex and Henry build in upstate New York for which The Black was the founding stud. To this day, I know more about horses and horse racing than most people … because Walter Farley told me all about it in book after book.

Throughout my young years, I wished they would make The Black Stallion into a movie. I wanted to see The Black, to see Alec ride him. To see him come from behind and become the greatest horse to ever run on a track. I was bewitched by horses and was convinced I would need nothing else in this life if I had a horse.

bucephalus

Oddly, the great Secretariat’s real accomplishments — winning the Triple Crown in 1973 — remarkably mirrored those of the fictional Black. Watching Secretariat’s career — in the real world — made up for never having seen The Black race.

I never got a horse. Gradually real life overtook my fantasy life. College, work, husband, baby, home, friends replaced dreams of riding bareback on the greatest stallion of them all.

But the magic wasn’t over me because in 1979, Francis Ford Coppola made the movie I’d yearned for since childhood. He based the movie, The Black Stallion, on the first of Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books, the one he wrote in 1941. In making the movie, they changed the story some. This would have made me crazy as a kid, but by the time I saw the movie — in an old theater in Jerusalem, Israel — I was a 30-year-old mother living overseas and able to cope with relatively minor digressions from the original tale.

Last week, Turner Classic Movies showed “The Black Stallion.” So, of course, we watched it again. I’ve seen it many times. Each is seeing it for the first time.

I am swept away to a desert island for the adventure of a lifetime. Even if you aren’t a great horse lover, the score and the cinematography are so extraordinary, the movie is like a dream. They set the story in its original time period, the early 1940s which helps augment the dreamlike effect.

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I want to be on that island with The Black. To ride him along the edge of the ocean, free from everything but the sun, the wind, the sand beneath my horse’s pounding hoofs. I would give a lot for just one day to live that dream.

“The Black Stallion” is a paean to horses, nature, and overcoming adversity. You don’t have to be a kid to love it. It also contains the least dialogue of any movie since the talkies took over Hollywood.

Director Carroll Ballard tells the story with luscious cinematography and a lovely soundtrack. Music fusing with images that wrench your heart.

COME AGAIN?

It happened again. Someone’s left a voicemail message, but all I can make out are a few words. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I recognize the voice. Maybe not.

roku and headphones

We used to leave messages on our answering machines telling folks to speak slowly and clearly, but most callers thought we were being funny. Leaving a coherent message was apparently a joke. These days, we get lots of incoherent messages. Usually, with caller ID (and now with a caption phone), we know who called and can retrieve the number, but not necessarily. If it’s garbled enough, the caption phone won’t get it either. It’ll just say “Incomprehensible” or “muffled” or something else that means “sorry, no idea what he/she said.”

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“Garry, your brother called. No idea what he said. Call him, okay?”

“Hey, Jim called about something. Call him when you have a moment.”

“One of your cousins called. They left a message but I can’t make it out.”

My favorite: “Someone called. Maybe it was important. They left a number but I can’t understand it.  Guess it wasn’t important enough.” Note: If it really is important and we don’t call back? Pick up the phone and call again. Seriously. If it’s that important, make sure we got the message.

wires and blue sky

If you leave a message, speak up. Clearly. Repeat the phone number. Don’t forget to include your name — in case we don’t actually know you as well as you think we do or can’t recognize your voice.

Don’t mumble.

While we’re on the subject, how about those cell phones, eh? On which you can’t hear anything? From either end? I miss telephones on which you knew you had a connection that wouldn’t drop and on which you could hear what someone said to you — and know they could hear you.

No wonder texting is so popular. No one can understand what anyone else is saying.

10 THINGS I LEARNED ON THE WAY TO 300,000

Sometime during the night between yesterday and today, my total views passed 300,000.

three hundred thousand

That is an incomprehensibly big number. I never imagined having this many people look at my site when I started blogging.

I began Serendipity without thought and no plan. Or objective. For all the hours I’ve spent working on it, I’ve yet to set a goal or decide on a direction. I began because I could. I continued because I like it and I’ve met such wonderful people.

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I need to do say something more than “gee, that’s a really big number,” so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you. For what it’s worth and I admit, it’s not much.

1. The best (most active) days of the week are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Usually, but not always. You can have a terrible — or great day — any time for no apparent reason.

2. Summer is slower than winter. Holidays are always slow.

3. Real drama — by which I mean true life crises — bring out the best in people. They relate to you. All that heart surgery I had back in March 2014 doubled my traffic. (There must be an easier way.)

4. Sentiment sells. I don’t do “sentimental” well. It makes me uncomfortable. Garry does sentimental extremely well. His personal posts always “outsell” mine by a margin of better than two-to-one.

5. Celebrity sells. Garry’s stories about hanging out with the stars always get lots of hits. I love his stories as much as anyone and never get tired of them. Note to self: Encourage Garry to write more.

6. Quality counts as does a steady output.

7. Length (usually) counts against you. Long pieces — 900 words or more — are off-putting to a lot of people. Note: If you write long pieces and everyone reads you anyway? It means you very good. Better than me, for sure.

8. Short and pithy, especially with pictures, is a good formula.

9. The popularity of a post will be inversely proportional to the amount of work you put into writing it. It’s a Murphy’s Law.

10. Make’em laugh, make’em cry. But laughter wears better, long-term.

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If you were looking for something deep and analytical, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Mostly, what I’ve learned is I love blogging.

Writing, having a place to share photographs. If blogging had never been invented, I would have had to invent it myself. I love sharing the up side of my life with you. I try to keep the down side to a minimum.

I look forward to your comments and our conversations. They are the high point of my weeks. You inspire me, entertain me, touch my heart. You are my friends.