by Gary Miranda
What matters more than practice
is the fact that you, my audience,
are pulling for me, want me to pull
it off -- this next sleight. Now
you see it. Something more than
whether I succeed's at stake.
This talk is called patter. This
is misdirection -- how my left
hand shows you nothing's in it.
Nothing is. I count on your mistake
of caring. In my right hand your
undoing blooms like cancer.
But I've shown you that already --
empty. Most tricks are done
before you think they've started -- you
who value space more than time.
The balls, the cards, the coins -- they go
into the past, not into my pocket.
If I give you anything, be sure
it's not important. What I keep
keeps me alive -- a truth on which
your interest hinges. We are like
lovers, if you will. Sometimes even
if you don't will. Now you don't.
This is another poem I posted in 2002 -- it was published in The New Yorker some time in the 1970s, and I read a mimeographed copy of it in high school that one of my English teachers passed out as an example of metaphor. The only place I've ever seen this poem is on that mimeograph, which I still have (purple ink, retyped from the magazine -- this was before there were photocopy machines available for regular use in schools). The imagery has always stuck with me.
I am sure I have used up my rightful level of squee for the week, but in between chores and schlepping younger son to the orthodontist who informed both of us that he needs to brush better, I got even more new, improved squee! Thanks in part to a benefactor who probably wishes to remain anonymous and in part to the miracle of DVR technology, I watched certain movies today that I never expected to see on DVD. Well, I did not actually watch all of Kiss of the Spider Woman, which remains, if not the best movie I have ever seen, then at least in the top five -- and it changed the way I watch other movies -- nor did I actually watch all of The Competition, which is half guilty-pleasure with Lee Remick and Sam Wanamaker and half pure pleasure listening to all the piano music in the soundtrack.
But I did watch The Miracle, a movie I have not watched in years because the former rental videotape I owned was in such bad shape that I was afraid of destroying it. I watched it through, though I had intended only to put on the scene where Beverly D'Angelo sings "Stardust"...and it is the perfect movie to watch the day after An Awfully Big Adventure, because the two movies thematically are almost mirrors of each other. They're both set in rundown cities and center around struggling theatrical companies, they both play around with the idea of life as performance and the difference between reality and illusion, they both involve young people being raised by people who feel like they can't tell them the truth about their mothers, and they both involve inadvertent incestuous feelings on the part of the young people with older people who really should know better.
But that is where the similarity ends -- while An Awfully Big Adventure ends up very dark and heavy-handed. The Miracle ends on a stunning, unexpectedly hopeful note. Awfully Big is set in the past in postwar England, while The Miracle is set just slightly in the past in Ireland, and they both have a lot of jazz in the soundtracks but in the case of The Miracle the music itself is thematic -- it's as if the main character is trying to decide whether to play the standards straight or to improvise, as Pauline Kael wrote when she reviewed the movie (that analysis has always stuck with me). The other enormous difference is that while in An Awfully Big Adventure, the father has no idea who his child is, in The Miracle the mother knows full well who her son is and lets him fall in love with her anyway, thinking it's the only way she can touch his life after being so long away. And somehow this doesn't seem reprehensible, in the logic of the film; she means to stop it or to tell him, but she can't quite bring herself to do it and risk losing him until they're both in over their heads. Neil Jordan, who also wrote The Crying Game, doesn't punish anyone for this, though; he sets everything right and even manages to make it seem as if God approves. It's the most absurdly perverse feel-good movie ever.
I can't decide if TV has been disappointing me because I've had good movies around, or if TV has been disappointing me because Veronica Mars and Smallville both sucked this week...well, the latter more than the former, but I am more disappointed in VM because I have come to expect that show to be really good. So the writers seem to believe that because Veronica found out she wasn't actually raped, the trauma of having felt violated will just evaporate, as if finding out she had consensual sex with a guy she'd made out with many times (on a night when she was doped up enough to make out with numerous disgusting strangers) would make everything all better. Maybe Veronica is so relieved it was someone she knew and cared about that she feels genuine relief, but she was still not herself, and even if Duncan did not intend to take her against her will, she did not give real consent. I'm not blaming Duncan or saying that he should be charged with a crime -- this is why teenagers, drugs and alcohol really should not mix -- but it still seems really irresponsible to me to write off the "rape" after months of believing that it happened because there was no malicious intent. She was violated ten different ways that night and we saw all of them in the flashbacks, if we can assume those were real and not her own mental image of what happened...either way, there was cruelty and abuse. I don't buy that in the relief of discovering that she lost her virginity to the guy she sort of intended to lose it to anyway, the rest of it lost all power to hurt her and left her raring to go with Logan...especially right after he told her that he drugged Duncan's drink and then went to get them some booze for their own shag party!
I still think Logan's a total fuckhead -- so he's not a rapist, doesn't stop me from believing he murdered Lily, and why would he be trying to videotape Veronica naked unless he wanted blackmail material to stop her from talking, just like the asshole boyfriend with the cell phone video in the episode a couple of weeks ago? (Would Veronica have made it look like Duncan and Logan were buttfucking to save her own reputation...yep, probably, the way this show works.) Maybe she's trying to live in denial -- not think about her mother leaving, not think about the possibility that Duncan is her brother, not think about Lily's murder, not think about how her dad is getting on with his life, but it's starting to make her frustrating as a protagonist. She almost feels unreal, and even if she's going to have a complete breakdown later from not facing all the things that have happened to her, it's hard to make myself feel things for her when she won't feel them herself. She cried on her best friend's shoulder for a few minutes and then announced that she was fine...if I were the best friend, I'd freak out or back off. And the whole business with Duncan...making her Veronica's brother is just a shortcut on this show for not dealing with the ramifications of their relationship ending, just like declaring the rape a non-rape is a shortcut for not dealing with the ramifications of what that kind of abuse does to a woman. It feels cheap, like a bad horror movie with lots of weird lighting and fast cuts to substitute for content; Rashomon it ain't.
And then there's SV, which -- no matter how much terrible, awful, agonizing Lana dialogue we must sit through, has Lex and Lionel which absurdly makes me excuse everything else. Lex himself didn't have too many moments that made me ngggghh this week -- well, maybe that look at the very end -- but he figured in my two favorite scenes even though he wasn't onscreen at the time. That scene with Genevieve Teague where she wants him to get the stone from Lex and he says, "What do you want me to do, give him a good spanking?" Oh hell yes, PLEASE! I cannot wait to see the fic that comment spawns. I was still howling at that through all the screamingly bad Mommy-Daddy dialogue and the total nonsense of needing an exact bone marrow match, meaning that either of the mutant's parents would do...I don't even have the same blood type as my son, let alone the other factors I understand are required for a marrow match. I would have excused that if Lana's glowing fulfillment as a woman in need of a child was not making me gag every five minutes. But we had another perfect moment in this household, when Clark wanted to go to Lex for help with Evan and his parents were resisting. Clark said, "If I was in trouble, and Lex was the only one who could help, what would you do?" And my older son said, without missing a beat: "Jump off a bridge."
My other point of televised disappointment was the Revenge of the Sith trailer shown during Smallville. I understand that preview was targeted for the WB audience, but after that wonderful one I saw in the theater attached to The Hitchhiker's Guide, I was just not prepared for so much badness! Padme sniveling "You're breaking my heart!" *barf* Why, that could be Lana herself. In the theatrical trailer, the Chancellor-Emperor does most of the talking, and he rocks. Ian McDiarmid could persuade me to try the Dark Side; no wonder Anakin becomes a Sith. And it must be a relief to get away from girlygirl Padme. However, I must have this Christian Bale action figure as Batman! If only there was a Phantom of the Opera action figure, I could introduce them to each other and then they might be my OTP. No wait, I'm confusing life with Reign of Fire, or maybe RPS. *g* Um, ignore that.
When I posted all those photos of things blooming in DC, I did not mean to give the impression that we did not see plenty of flowers while we were in England. Here, an effort to remedy that...
...and similar flowers amidst the ruins at Scarborough Castle.
Flowers in the gardens before the mausoleum adjacent to Ray Wood at Castle Howard.
Little flowers blooming out of cracks in one of the Rollright Stones.
The front of the cottage where we stayed in Barningham.
Daffodils in front of Barningham Village Hall, while a horse grazes beside it...
...and daffodils dot the hill below Clifford's Tower in York, which is where I met liars_dance and friede.
In the garden of the Gretna Green Blacksmith's Shop, flowering trees and more daffodils...just in case anyone needs to take wedding photos.
Am shouting love to melinafandom, valis2 and fuschia. They know why. *g*