Saturday, August 05, 2006

Pictorial lunch

The boys called me and asked me to join them at Poor Richard's and I decided to go -- for a little while. I gathered up my laptop, digital camera and bag and drove over, passing Monument Valley Park. Every time I pass it's hard to drive on because the spot is such an idyllic space with weeping willows trailing their branches in the water and a cool breeze from the fountain in the center of the little lake. There's a little ornamental garden but I didn't get pictures. I will next time.

While waiting in line to order at Poor Richard's Bill came up to ask for the avocado missing on his sandwich and waited to walk back to the cafe with me. Bear was already enjoying his lunch and I plugged in my laptop only to find I couldn't get a clear Wi-Fi signal; there was something affecting the strength of the signal. I put away the laptop and finished lunch and then we walked over to find our regular booth near the bar was free. Bill plugged in my laptop and we settled in. Bill and Bear decided on cappuccino and coffee, respectively, while I settled for more water and lots of lemon. I showed Bear my ideas for inexpensive business cards for his housekeeping business from Vista Print and talked about some other marketing items that will keep his name and his business in front of clients and prospective clients. I came up with a tag line that pleased Bear, "We're all about the details," but I may have another idea or two.

We also talked about my plans for redecorating my home and talked about next week's spate of house cleaning. Bear even left me with Bill for a while to go out for a smoke, but he eventually returned and began mugging for the camera.

About this time, Jude Law look-a-like Chris mused about why his latest girlfriend decided they should see other people. It seems she thought him a very nice guy. The waitress and I told him that was the kiss of death. But if any of you girls between 20 and 30 are interested in a very intelligent, good looking and available young man who likes to clean but needs someone to teach him how to cook, head down to Rico's cafe and ask for Chris. Rico's cafe is part of the Poor Richard's group of bookstore, cafe, restaurant and toy store on Tejon and Boulder here in Colorado Springs. I'd ask him out if he was twenty years older, but he's younger than my own sons and so not old enough for me. I'll leave him to some smart young lady who knows how to win a good looking young man with a little home cooking. I'm sure he'd even be willing to provide the wine. Rico's has a very extensive wine list and boasts quite a few good vintages.

The boys bought a pizza and we shared dinner together and then it was time for me to walk over to the public parking garage on Cascade and go home, but before I left the boys were kind enough to tone it down just a little and show their normal faces. I had to take one last parting shot of Rico's Internet cafe where the band was setting up to play. I didn't get much work done, but I did have a very pleasant afternoon with good friends and I really didn't want to sleep tonight anyway. Work is better for me.


I slept late this morning: 7:45. I'm usually up between 5 and 6 AM, but this morning I slept so good I didn't get up every hour or so to visit the bathroom. Of course I did have to sit in the bathroom longer, but that's a small price to pay to sleep deeply and wake refreshed. I balked at my usual morning ritual, a new one I started this week. I don't know if it will work but it did heal the rough spot inside my cheek where I have a tendency to bite down every once in a while. In fact, the ridge that causes the problem by sticking out is almost gone, so who knows? It doesn't hurt to attempt new things and I learn so much from the people on the herbal medicine tribe I joined. I even get to share some of what I've learned over the years. There are so many different tribes I'm sure you'll find at least one that suits your needs or sparks/shares your interests. If you do go join up, you'll find me at fixnwrtr, as always.

I've so much to do this weekend I don't know where to start. One thing I do want to do is take a walk to Bancroft Park with my camera and my canvas bags and pick up some fresh produce from the farmer's market. I haven't done that in a long time because I've either been gone or too busy working to even think about venturing out. I also need to finish some painting and get some writing done before I jump back into the working fray so the squirrels can flash and entertain me with squirrel porn. Not the first sighting and certainly not the last.

I am tempted to turn on the lamp because the morning sun doesn't really hit this room, but at least it stays cooler than the sunroom where I work. Maybe I should consider using the sunroom as the living room and the living room as my office, except I'd never get all the furniture in there and still be able to move. I'd have to settle for the couch or the chaise. No, the sunroom is the best place for the office for right now.

I showed the landlady the pictures I took yesterday and she was ecstatic about the picture of Pastor. She said she didn't have anything recent and due to an interesting bit of happenstance at Office Max a couple weeks ago I bought two packages of 4x6 photographic paper (buy one get one free) and this morning I cropped Pastor's picture and will print out a couple copies. It will be my first chance to print something other than mailbox labels that can withstand the weather, look good and be a little hint of who and what the tenants here are like. I'll take pictures of the mailbox labels and post them later after I come back from my trip to the farmer's market. I'm craving fresh organic produce and a walk in the sunshine even if it means getting caught in the coming thunderstorm brewing over my mountains now fading behind a thickening veil of fog and clouds. It's hard to believe this sun spangled view can be so suddenly obscured by rain and darkness as the clouds hide the light behind charcoal slashed puffs of gray and white but it will happen and the oh-so-green that last year was a pale burnt out reflection of green will be brighter and cleaner with leaves bowing heavily with pregnant seeds about to burst their yellow pods.

The neighborhood is far from quiet but the sounds are soothing and familiar: children playing with and chasing each other and questioning their parents, horns beeping, couples talking, cars shushing by, squirrels scrabbling along the trunks and branches, the wind rustling the leaves and delivery truck doors banging. Girls walking up the street laugh together with the particular teenage glee at the belief in their immortality and the eternity it will take to reach old age while chafing at the bit to be 18 or 21 and free to come and go as they please, feeling they are being denied their rights by adults who have forgotten what it is to be young. I haven't forgotten.

I haven't forgotten the time either, and it's time for me to put on some clothes and saunter over to the park before all the produce is gone.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, August 04, 2006

For Beanie

Beanie complained this morning that I didn't take any pictures today and especially no pictures of Pastor, so this little photo display is for her.

While the landlady went on a hike with her friend Rui to the crags, I had Pastor. He hasn't been feeling well and didn't want to come upstairs even for a cookie, which means he really isn't feeling good. I needed to get some fresh air, so I rousted Pastor from his cage and forced him outside using the German commands the landlady taught me. He is, after all, a German Shepherd. While outside I decided to take some pictures of the front of the house and a close up of my office up there on the right next to the squirrel porn tree now demurely dressed in heavy foliage, at least from this angle. I also decided to take pictures of the house on the corner and the new house built just last year and now occupied by the Evans family that I see every day out of my office window in the sunroom.

That's it for today since my memory card has not yet arrived and I am limited to six pictures at a time. For Beanie, I promise I'll take at least a couple pictures every day so you can see where you'll be visiting come October.

That is all. Disperse.

Plug time

My latest review for AuthorLink is out and is a translation of Guillermo Arriaga's The Night Buffalo.

That is all. Disperse.

A place to call my own

It has been raining off and on for the past few days, deluges that slow down into steady falls of rain that have cooled the summer heat so much I actually wore a nightgown to bed, closed the living room windows and turned off the fans -- for a while. I had to turn the bedroom fan back on because I had another of those center of hell flushes. It's cool and damp this morning and I have a date with a very sweet fella today. The landlady is going to the crags with a friend and since Pastor has been ill he's staying with me. Of course I have to put up the trash to keep him from nosing through it and strewing it all over the clean kitchen floor but that's a small price to pay for such loving companionship. I get to have him next week, too, and again in a couple of weeks when the landlady is out of town. I'm looking forward to all the cuddling and petting and even the walks together. I'll have a companion for a little while who wants to spend time with me and will show it in no uncertain terms. Dogs are so uncomplicated.

Beanie emailed me yesterday to tell me that when she comes in October she may bring my mother and my other sister. That should be interesting. Mom has been threatening to come for "one last trip" ever since she left her nearly two years ago. My place is much smaller and I don't have the extra bed I had at the cabin, but if it was just Tracy she was going to stay with me. We've slept together before -- about 100 years ago. We'd have almost a whole week of catching up and talking and laughing and probably her begging me to make gumbo and crab cakes. Every fall she reminds me how much she misses that. I don't mind cooking and I certainly don't mind making gumbo and crab cakes but she's going to have to reciprocate by making her oatmeal cake. I'll probably gain fifty pounds, but I can lose it again and at least my bagging and sagging clothes will fit once again.

But having Mom and Carol along will change everything. They'll have to stay in a hotel because there is definitely not enough room for all of us here unless I move out and go to a hotel. Beanie said it was Mom's idea to bring Carol and I don't think she's informed Carol yet. I guess we'll see.

I'm planning a leisurely weekend of work, work and more work, fitting in time to do a little laundry on Saturday and reorganize and shelve all my books. I need to separate them into my books and review books and weed out the books I've read and reviewed and donate them to the library. I almost have everything organized and put away but some of the clutter remains. It's hard planning to spend my weekend working when I know it's going to keep raining in between glorious blazing sunshiny hours like now when the morning sun is shining on newly washed leaves, creating a shimmery halo effect that's just a little bit out of focus like a fairy tale dream. The view out my bedroom window as I sit on the bed writing is of a peaked red roof, rough brown bark reaching toward the sun between, behind and spearing through a forest of variegated green sparkling with rain and lit by a hidden sun. Except for the intermittent sounds of traffic whooshing by and the clank and sweep of the city truck cleaning the streets, I might be hidden in a forest with no one around for miles. The busy street cleaning truck brushing up the accumulated wind blown dust and storm debris reminds me I should be up and working not sitting here in this calm and peaceful reverie happily tapping out the letters and words that give some reality to this dreamy existence.

I could easily sit here for hours, nudged into action only by the demands of my body, and simply write, but in order to be able to write I must work to make the money to keep me in this comfort and stability like I've not know before. For the first time in my life, I don't feel the urge to pack the car and get moving to another city, another country, another life. I have finally found my home and not even a threatened invasion of relatives makes me uneasy and anxious to get back on the road. I need little more than I have: friends, a pet I can borrow from time to time and the peace that comes with having found my place in the world.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Playing around

My maid arrived today and began the monumental task of cleaning my cluttered and box filled apartment. He did a wonderful job, but there is still so much to do. He only had a few hours and didn't want to move in to finish. While he worked (yes, I decided on a male maid) I worked. I also took a little time off to play with a new toy and catch some impromptu shots of the views out the sunroom windows where I work every day. They aren't quite what I wanted but the tree out the side window is almost visible that overlooks Lon Chaney's one time house. Because of the angle you can't quite see the squirrel porn tree, but I got a great night time shot of the relationship corner in the living room and the new paint job. Here's a close-up of the corner.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I am psychic. I can see the future. Right now I see a future playing around with the new digital camera and catching better shots that will require me to take the screens out of the windows and wander around the neighborhood so I can show off what I've been writing about for so long. The camera was a necessary expense that I will be paid for over a little bit of time but will come in handy when I go up to St. George, the most haunted spot in Colorado, to take pictures of the Hayman fire, now four years past, for an article with a major magazine. I get extra for pictures so I have to do a lot of practicing. Hope you're all up for a very boring time while I play.

Cheap dates and good times

Monday was Nel's birthday. Yesterday I took her to Front Range BBQ for dinner to celebrate. At first she was a cheap date, but that changed once she caught a whiff of my dinner and decided to eat two dinners.

When I got home after running some errands, one of which was taking money out of my account to pay the rent, it was raining. It had been raining harder but slacked off a bit just before I reached home and parked the car. Good thing it didn't rain harder. Ever since the last big hail storm when I had to go to the PPRAA board meeting one of my wiper blades quit working. It took a hit from a big hail stone and weakly fidgets in place while the other wiper blade does it's job. Yesterday, just before the rain really cut loose, I snagged it with the long handled purple ice scraper and pulled it up to the side of the windshield. Luckily, it was the driver's side wiper blade that took the hit, making it really interesting driving while I'm leaning toward the passenger side to look out and see whose tail pipe I'm about to climb up.

When I switched the wipers from pulse to full run, the fidgety wiper blade fidgeted it's way off the windshield to hang pulsing and fidgeting over the outside mirror. I still had the window down, so I pushed it back up onto the windshield where it fidgeted and fretted and jumped off onto the mirror again. After pushing it back up onto the windshield twice more, I gave up. It stopped raining. I need to take it in to be fixed.

Anyway, it was spitting a little here and there when Nel and I walked over to the restaurant. We went inside and I felt closed in and too warm, courtesy of Father Time and Mother Nature's intermittent battling over my fretting and pulsing hormones, so we decided to sit outside on the porch and eat dinner. We were the only brave souls for a while, but as soon as we sat down the rain cut loose, pelting and pounding the streets with unrestrained wet glee, the wind driving some of the rain towards us. Nel hitched her chair around closer to my side of the table and I stayed put, enjoying the cooling splashes.

Our waitress, a cute young thing with a pale streaked cap of soft blonde hair took our orders. I decided on the elk burger with smoked cheddar, bacon, the works, and extra pickles with a side of cucumber, onion and roasted tomato vinaigrette. Nel chose the Front Range salad. I told her to enjoy herself and called her a cheap date. Should have kept my mouth closed.

While the skies showered the streets, the temperature dropped and my flustered hormones decided to switch off and let me cool down, Nel and I talked about everything and nothing. Time passed. Another couple chose to have their dinner at the other table on the porch while I gulped down huge glasses of water, no ice, and thick half moons of lemon. Nel, unlike her usual habit of enjoying a beer or four after work before she climbs into bed at eight, drank water, too. Our waitress rushed out the door with a flustered look, dithering apologies. She forgot to put in our orders and, she looked at me like a puppy about to be hit on the nose with a newspaper, there were no elk burgers. I smiled up at her and said, "No problem." She dithered on while I changed my order to Kobe beef, promising my dinner, whatever I chose, was on the house. Dinner would indeed be cheap. She finally took my order, promised not to forget to put in the order and rushed off for water to fill my glass a third time.

Nel and I chuckled as she touched her lion's mane of blonde curls. "Just another blonde," she said. We talked and laughed until I stopped her mid sentence, struck by the perfectly clear rainbow arcing over the eastern side of Colorado Boulevard. She pointed out a couple of homeless guys hung with canteens, packs and various bulging items riding their American flag sporting bikes to the laundromat across the street. I pointed out with expensive bikes like those they could hardly be homeless and were probably touring the country and stopping off to wash some clothes.

Our dithering, constantly apologizing whipped puppy of a waitress came back and filled our glasses yet again before rushing off and appearing moments later with our dinners. Nel's salad was huge and so was my burger with it's crossed foot long antenna of bacon spiking out from the sides. We both tucked into dinner but the charcoal grilled scent of cooked Kobe beef was too much for Nel. "Maybe I should have ordered meat," she said eyeing my burger like a lion crouched in the high grass at succulent antelope on the hoof grazing peacefully within range. I cut off a piece of my burger and offered it to her, pulling back my fingers just in time to save them from disappearing like the burger. A predatory look came over her burger juice slicked lips as she asked if I'd flag down the waitress (I was pointed in the right direction). Our cheap date climbed into mid range.

Another waitress came to clear the other couple's table and I asked if she'd send our waitress back out. Moments later the blonde whipped puppy raced out with a pitcher of water and Nel ordered her own Kobe beef burger while still forking up her salad. In the meantime, I finished my burger and we talked and watched the parade of BBQ patrons, kids on scooters and skates pushing grocery carts and tourists racing in and out of the rain. Nel's burger arrived and I reminded her she said she would probably take some of her salad home. She didn't. She didn't take any of the burger home either, it having ended up a mere smear of ketchup on the plate.

All during our meal a band played in the park behind us, the music swirling in and around the sounds of pounding rain and the stop and go chorus of traffic in the street. As the band played their last song, Nel and I walked home. Nel said, "I guess I as hungrier than I thought." The rain had stopped and the air was cool and fresh. When we reached home I sat down on the bench on the porch to enjoy the last few moments of the watery sun as it sank into the purpled hills. Pastor barked and I heard the landlady tell him it was just Nel and me, but he had to check. He skidded to a stop at my knees, let me ruffle his fur just a moment, completely ignoring Nel, turned and went back into the house satisfied he had greeted me. The landlady, Nel and I chatted briefly and then Nel and I climbed the stairs. She hugged me and thanked me for dinner (she's still a pretty cheap date even with my free dinner - I hope I get that waitress again) and we parted in the hall. She may be a cheap date (sometimes) but she's always a good time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What does it take?

I had just finished commenting on another journal where someone had posted their own pictures. When my comment posted I noticed the comment above mine. The person asked if that was her. She said it was. He commented again, saying that looking as good as she did she should be happy and with someone. That stuck in my mind. Just because she was pretty and had a nice body she should be happy and not alone. I couldn't get rid of the idea. People really believe that being beautiful or pretty, having a nice body, or money, or a better situation in life means you should be happy. The other side of that coin is that if you have a good portion of what is advertised to make you happy and you're not, what is wrong with you?

Most people keep hold of the wrong end of the stick when it comes to happiness. They believe that if you have enough money, property, beauty, clothes, toys, things, people around you and any number of material possessions you should be happy. Happiness isn't something you can buy, although you might feel happy for a little while when you purchase that big screen TV you've been wanting or a designer dress, coat, pair of boots/shoes or golden or silver jeweled bauble, but that isn't a lasting happiness. If that was all it took to be happy then people wouldn't need credit cards to keep shopping and buying for that fleeting moment of happiness that dissolves like soap bubbles in the wind. Happiness is a choice not an item.

Buying and acquiring material goods and services is an addiction, one that has grown to pandemic proportions in the past few decades. Where once it was enough to have a nice home and food on the table and to have enough comfortable clothes to wear for every day and something nice for Sundays at church or special occasions, now we must have the best and brightest and newest and most expensive advertised designer labeled whatever in order to be happy and satisfied, and we are neither happy nor satisfied. Happiness at its best is transitory even when it comes from accomplishment or achievement of a goal through struggle, hard work and study. The idea that happiness must come from outside is the problem. Happiness must come from inside.

I have been leery of settling anywhere for a while because every time I got comfortable and unpacked the last box and put its contents away something came up and I ended up moving. As I buy the things I need to stop camping here in my haunted apartment and begin to get settled a feeling of uncertainty nags at me. I was happy here when all I had to set my books and magazines on were empty boxes and I was sleeping on a borrowed feather bed on the floor. I was happy when I didn't have a television or sofa and chaise or a bed to sleep on. That doesn't mean I wasn't momentarily happy when my dishes and silverware arrived or when I assembled the inexpensive little table to put in the corner by the windows in the living room and arranged my plant and new little statue on it. I am happy every time a book arrives in the mail (even when I have to go to the post office to pick it up) or an author sends me a book to review. If I end up back on the road to somewhere else I will still be happy because I know the secret everyone else frantically consuming and buying hasn't learned. I choose to be happy.

Whether I live in a cabin in the mountains secluded from the rest of the world or here in my box filled haunted apartment I am happy because each day is a gift of possibility. As long as I have a scrap of paper and a pen or pencil to write, I am happy. I would be happy without even those things because there is joy in everything I see around me, from the ants determined to find a way in and make off with scraps of food to the oppressive heat making me sweaty and uncomfortable. If I were a hobo tramping the road or a wealthy writer traveling around the world, I would be happy simply to be doing what I want to do and being who I am.

There will always be people who won't like me or approve of my lifestyle and choices, some of them in my own family and among my friends, but I'm not living for them. I am living for myself. This is my journey, not theirs. I could attempt to convince them that I am not who they think I am to win them over, offer them explanations and justifications for my actions and words, but inevitably in the back of their minds they would still cling to those negative impressions and trot them out the first time I had a bad day or didn't act grateful enough for their acceptance. Nothing I say would ever change their minds and would be a waste of my time and theirs. Not everyone will like me just as I will not like everyone I meet. It's a fact of life and one I'm not about to lose any sleep over, just as I won't lose any sleep over people who pass into and out of my life. Instead I choose to be happy I met them and had a chance to know them at all because even the most negative experiences teach me something about myself and about the nature of people. As in nature, nothing is wasted or useless. Everything has a purpose and an effect.

When all is said and done, I am grateful to have known everyone I have met and happy to have shared whatever time we had together. There are some people I would have liked to walk alongside for the rest of my days, but they chose to take a different path, one that they did not wish to share or one I chose not to share. Like everything I have learned throughout my life, what they shared with me -- good and bad -- remain with me, as I hope some essence of me remains with them and hopefully, in some brief flash of memory, they will smile.

What does it take to be happy?

A choice.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Notice and nodding

First of all, anyone who needs to get in touch with me, please either call or comment on here because otherwise I will not get your messages. My ISP has not allowed me into my email since Friday morning and they have promised to find and fix the problem but have yet to do so. Needless to say, I have been checking LJ where I have made comments to keep up. It's time consuming and frustrating especially in this heat. Hopefully, it will be fixed today and I'll have the pleasure of deleting hundreds of messages and responding late to others. Hope this hasn't caused anyone any problems -- other than me, of course.

I did get some writing done but most of yesterday when I returned from our country drive was spent in getting the ham radio club newsletter together and out. I admit that I thought I had to have it done this morning as I have set the arbitrary deadline (for me) of the first of every month and it wasn't until I talked to Mike last night that I realized the first was on Tuesday and not Monday. Too late. The newsletter was nearly finished so I decided to finish it all the way. I did. I finished at 11 PM last night and I was beat, not to mention sweaty, cranky, hot and cramped from sitting too long. I sent it out to the various people and the printer through another email service (Yahell) and I'm hoping for the best. I'll call and check up on the printer to make sure he received it as he is not very good about calling or emailing to let me know even when I specifically ask him to do so. No big. I'm getting used to following along behind people to make sure they do their jobs. It's not fun but it keeps me busy with silly tasks that I shouldn't have to do. But that's another story.

Against my better judgment I went back to eBay and checked out some ham radio equipment. I found a dealer who sells crystal radio kits. I decided to buy a couple (one AM and one FM) and put them together to help me understand the theory currently knocking around in my head. They have been here for a week and it suddenly occurred to me that what I should do with the kits is donate them to either a scout troop or school or somewhere there are curious kids and let them put the radios together. The idea is to get them interested in radio, and ham radio specifically.

When I talked to Mike last night we discussed ways to get some new blood into the field of amateur radio because so many hams are dying. George WØGHL finally succumbed to cancer on the 23rd and I got an email that Dr. Chuck Brady died last week. He was only 54 and an amateur radio operator who made contacts (QSOs) from the space shuttle and from the ISS (International Space Station). It had been said Dr. Brady spent a little too much time making contacts from space to earth, but I don't think any ham would agree. We're only happy when we're building radios to operate or simply operating, sending out signals all over the world and into space and receiving a return signal. It's magic plain and simple.

We take so much for granted. We are so used to the conveniences and the technology that permeates every single aspect of our lives that we forget what it took, and often who it took, to create what we use so often. It's as if we can no longer understand the dreams that became radio, television, telephone, cell phones, computers and the appliances we use without thinking twice. Even at our worst, humans are marvelous creatures who create so much out of nothing more than an idea. It takes so little to dream and not much more to reach and and take hold of a dream. All it takes is passion, desire, curiosity and a disregard for opinions other than our own. Can't and shouldn't aren't deterrents but goads to fire our imaginations and walk into the unknown. So much has been accomplished, and is still being accomplished, simply because humans refuse to be told they can't or shouldn't do something. For sheer cussedness, humans take the cake every time.

Sitting here with the ceiling fan rattling overhead as the temperature rises with the sun boiling and basting in my own sweat, all I can think of is how to keep cool. Showers and spritzing myself with water or flower water only lasts for a few rapid seconds. Climbing into the refrigerator isn't an option and I can't stay in the shower forever. Being outside is nearly as bad because there is no shade that blocks out the pervasive heat that forces more sweat to the surface, a surface covered by clothing that keeps the sweat from evaporating as nature intended. Yet it is at this moment that I experience what it must have been like for the person who invented air conditioning. That person was tired of broiling in summer's heat, most likely a creature of the cold who wished to be cool and comfortable instead of sweltering, making every movement, every task, every moment misery. Instead of praying for rain or a summer blizzard, looking forward to another ice age, that person did something about his misery and, sweating and toiling in the heat, gave us air conditioning. We complain about the fuel and electric bills when we get them in the mail or online but how many of those complainants would give up the A/C?

Dreams and the desire to walk into the undiscovered country of the future without a guarantee that what we want will be worth the effort and the sacrifice deter only the faint of heart. Nothing deters anyone whose dreams and desires will not be stilled by the voice of reason or the cannot and should not they hear from the people around them, and even from the haunting voice of fear inside them. They know somewhere inside that scary as it is they must walk out along the path and take what comes because what they leave behind may be worse. Without our dreams, without our desire to see what's over the next mountain or around the next curve we only exist; we do not live. Without our dreams we die.

Good thing I'm addicted to dreams and whatever setbacks and missteps I've known, I will still keep going -- with rest stops every now and again. I still have so much to see and learn and do and be. "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." Not me.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Basic training

My ex-husband Nick hated the movie, Basic Instinct because it showed a woman in control of everyone around her, a woman who controlled men. He failed to see Catherine Tramell also controlled women. Basic Instinct 2 is no surprise in that regard; Catherine Tramell is still controlling everyone around her, men and women.

The cold cobra-like deadliness is just as evident in this sequel as it was in the original, but Catherine is colder and harder and less sympathetic. In the first movie, Catherine had at least one or two moments when she wasn't blatantly flaunting her sexuality and her control over everyone; there are none in this sequel. Despite the fact Sharon Stone is older and showing her age a bit, despite the strange almost Elizabeth R haircut and hairline (without all the curls, of course), she is still Catherine Tramell grown less repentant more manipulative. There was a brief moment in the opening where she was almost human in trying to unfasten dazed and drugged Kevin Franks's seat belt after they went into the water while Franks diddled her to orgasm after she sucked his finger and guided it between her legs at 110 mph, but it was all too brief. From that point on Catherine pits cops against shrinks, shrinks against journalists, cops against journalists, and shrinks against shrinks while she writes her next book, The Analyst.

Catherine loves to muddy the psychological water, and does it very well, all the while bringing out everyone's most basic instincts, stripping away the civilized veneer until no one is sure who to trust or where next to turn. Everyone is on the defensive when Catherine is on the offensive. Perhaps one person in the whole mix is not dazzled by Catherine's beauty and blatant seductive sexuality, but even she succumbs in the end to Catherine's spin on the truth -- and Catherine knows how to spin things to her advantage.

The ending was a bit of a surprise but not a shocker by any means. What does interest me is not so much the story, which is worth getting and watching a couple times to pick up everything going on, but the history of these two movies and their similarities. I don't mean the superficial similarities but rather the basic bedrock similarities that point to a subtext about the mind games people play.

In both films Catherine is suspected of killing or manipulating the death and destruction of three psychotherapists: her advisor and mentor in college, Noah, the LAPD psychiatrist, Beth, who is also Shooter's shrink, and finally, and most spectacularly, Michael Glass in this sequel. Makes me wonder if the writers don't have something against psychiatrists/psychotherapists, especially since Catherine Tramell trained as a psychologist, as she aptly points out to Nick the cop in the first movie, and knows how to manipulate people with mind games.

You can nitpick with the chronology of events, especially where it touches on Glass's sexual involvement with his patient, Catherine, who was not his patient at that point, and the ethics of treating a patient about whom a psychiatrist has given forensic testimony in a court of law. What it boils down to is at the end of this movie there is no clear cut feeling of whodunit. I do find it hard to believe that Catherine Tramell is anything other than a genius when it comes to manipulating other people into position to take the fall for her murders or that she is the poor little rich girl who acts out because everyone around her dies.

In both movies the original target of Catherine's literary murder fantasies is alive at the end when she "falls in love with them" and lets them off the hook, but the remain damaged, and none so damaged as Michael Glass doped up on a Thorazine and anti-psychotic cocktail to keep him droolingly quiescent while Catherine drops off her latest book and tells Michael she'll wait for him. I am still left wondering at the end, as I wondered at the beginning, where is Nick the cop? I thought Nick and Catherine were going to f**k happily ever after like minks.