Film With An Odd Name– MANDORLA

Review #1 of  MANDORLA

I learned to enjoy film critiques by completing a filmmaking master’s degree program.  Here is a review of a wonderful film refreshing and peculiar for its out-of-the-mainstream flavor.  A friend in my favorite international organization, L’Alliance Francaise (de Memphis), asked me to review it:  MANDORLA (2016, Roberto Miller, Writer/Dir. and Liz Holdship, Producer ).  “Mandorla” is a word in the dictionary.  In a nutshell, it is “almond;” all kidding aside, a mandorla is “a pointed oval shape used in medieval Christian art as an aureole to surround a sacred figure (see vesica piscis);” in painting, sculpture, and other, it is an almond-shaped area of light, usually surrounding the resurrected Christ or the Virgin at the Assumption.  One way of describing the film is to say it deals with the definition of vesica piscis— a pointed shape formed by the intersection of the circumference of one circle with the center of another circle with an equal radius.  The two circles would be Ernesto’s ordinary reality and his imaginative reality.  The phrase vesica piscis is not Italian, as is “mandorla,” but rather Latin:  bladder = vesica fish = piscis (from the resemblance in shape).  To read the sample of the use of the word mandorla is to understand that the eponymous film deals with the soul’s longing for wholeness and full expression.  The power comes to a person following the light, in a religious way of thinking.

Here is a dictionary sample from use in a periodical:  “During a recent struggle with a misdiagnosis of terminal illness . . . she took off her vesica piscis of rayos and bade me pass through her fiery corona, burning away my terror and grief time and again.”

The film perhaps, and definitely this excerpt from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book about La Madre Grande, richly bring to mind the Blessed Mother Mary as the utmost feminine power who leaves no one stranded, bringing the “aerial viewpoint” for seeing the greater soul-picture in everything around us.  Pinkola Estes believes Holy Mary to be a force of Nature inlaid with the profound creativity of sheltering, showing, and other attributes of mothering.

MANDORLA’s creative team told their story with a feminine-empowerment approach, casting a beautiful woman of long dark hair in a yellow field, a spirit in the protagonist’s imagination.  A second powerful lady met him on a bridge in Lyon, France by serendipity, a stroke of perfect good luck in Ernesto’s time of need.  She was a member of the everyday, ordinary reality.  The stunning beauty in the sunny field was from the glowing circle of dreams, the circle intersecting the protagonist’s normal circle from time to time.  Ernesto bravely struggled for change.


REVIEW #2:  Guest reviewer Jim Eubanks writes about the film MANDORLA by first choosing a Fairyland concept for the out-of-the-ordinary imaginative place that Ernesto takes himself to, Ernesto being seduced there by his soul’s longing to live creatively.  Does he have a choice?  Visions have power.  I have not thought much about “Faery,” the word for the enchanted realm of fairies, although once I directed middle-school students putting on Act V of A Midsummer Night’s Dream wherein we meet the mischievous sprite Puck. Because I have an inkling for gardening, I kind of like gnomes, defined as legendary creatures resembling tiny old men, living in the depths of the earth.  Jim’s way of reviewing the fresh, possibly ahead of its time, and memorable film MANDORLA [2016, producer Liz Holdship, writer/director Roberto Miller] took a different turn from my approach.  In fact, my perception does not follow Jim’s last line.  I believe Ernesto did indeed abandon his office job for self-regulated work in an imaginative realm.  Can he still pay the mortgage?  He was brave to connect with fearsome shadows.  He embraced dreams reaching out to him.  Jim Eubanks tells much about the unusual places to which brave Ernesto allowed himself to travel on . . .

A Perilous Quest, a review of the film MANDORLA by Jim Eubanks

In the old faery lore, it was at the borders that faerie enchantment was found— the border between light and dark, life and death, land and water, evening and day, field and forest. There is a small gap there, which most people do not see, and which is a place of magic. But that magic can be deadly. An encounter with the faeries or their enchantment can lead to inspiration, or madness. It was much like our modern stories of alien abductions. Some people who have been abducted (whatever the reality of it is) describe great joy; most are left feeling desperate and with a feeling of cosmic loneliness.

Ernesto, the main character of MANDORLA finds himself at the border of his outer world of high-stakes commercial advertising and his inner world of artistic spiritual vision. There is a gap at that border, a gap between being a successful practical person and being a person who acts on his inner spiritual vision. Ernesto becomes aware of this gap, this place between two different vibrations, and is drawn into a place of perilous magic.

It is the faerie encounter; it is the Grail Quest, in modern terms. This quest can lead to madness, despair, ensorcellement (ed. under a spell), ruination— after all, only one knight found the Grail, and even then at great cost. But the knights had no other choice than to find the Grail in order to heal the king.

This well-done, entrancing film tells the story of Ernesto’s quest. This is not something someone made up— it is based on actual events, many of which are quite intense. The last scene, in which Ernesto, in medieval garb, walks across a field of golden grain to see a splendorous castle on a lake in the distance is very beautiful, and seems to me to sum up the theme of the movie:  Ernesto might like the convenience of computers and jet flights to Lyon, but he still wants his world to have enchantment, romance and even magic, and he does not think that one excludes the other.

STAYING POWER VERSUS “FLASH IN THE PAN”: Which New People and Stuff Are Which?

Coca Cola “Coke” Has Staying Power

“Staying power” means being in the older sector of society, and if persons have it, can mean they behave in a curmudgeonly fashion, which is cool.  At the older, wiser ages of sixty, seventy, eighty or so, a non-freaky balanced-thinking person can see what the problems are in society that are holding back advancement.  Growing, changing, flexing, embracing the new are traits of advancing.  It is ironic that sometimes new trends hold us back.  They are usually those that can be termed “flashes in the pan.”  One example might be texting while driving.  While this is seductively empowering for multi-taskers, the tendency to do this leads to wrecks.  Time will tell if driverless cars have staying power.

Each individual caller fends for himself/herself nowadays when using a rest stop.

Other screen devices may have changed the brains of children craving the empowerment of playing warring games on the computer or TV.  Does it change the way their eyes see what’s around them, too?  Another example could be handwriting.  Although definitely not a flash in the pan, handwriting is not being taught much in school any more.



Cursive writing used to be third-grade curriculum.  Nowadays, some people trying to communicate cannot produce an attractively legible note or letter any more, being out of practice from keyboarding.  This missing form of politeness is one of the new things that stands out to us older, wiser types.  Who doesn’t feel good when receiving a thank-you note, handwritten, for doing something nice?  Who doesn’t like the feeling of opening the mailbox and finding something personal?  A note is a work of art because the author chose the paper and pen, the thoughts, and even which postage stamp.  Add a clever seal for a final touch?  Stick on a custom-made return address label?  In the book The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, author Anne Trubek states that handwriting is lauded as something that embodies positive personal qualities such as rigor over facile information processing, and individual emotion over impersonal mechanization.

Handwriting Exhibiting Fluidity and Skill

Also, she misses typing, as do I– I was so fast at it– the hard shove of the carriage return and the satisfying flick of the completed page out of the platen, Trubek writes.

Not all things new have staying power.  Like our cell phones, the computer does, for writing.  So much editing can be so easily done by a writer using the computer.  The cell phone and the computer have staying power, but how about cursive writing skill?  Can society keep valuing the forming of lovely connected marks, the fluid forward-going ellipses of cursive writing?

To repeat, the older person can often discern which people new in serving a role, or which processes/best practices will stay around versus those that soon are done for, simply a flash in the pan.  Staying power can mean “sustainable,” a well-worn word.  It brings to mind another word, “ecology,” new in the 1950s, a word that may have been coined by Rachel Carson in her famous nonfiction book SILENT SPRING.  She was the author who blew the whistle on DDT pesticide’s killing off birds .

A Darling Sleeping Baby In Spotless White Bib, whose parents will change several thousand diapers for her.



Even though plastics awareness has taken hold in the public consciousness, which is the concept that too much non-biodegradable material is bad for earth, we know that plastic items are handy and you don’t have to wash them.  Consider diapers.  From the earliest of ancient time, babies have needed diapers.  Can you imagine any parent refusing the perfectly designed and engineered Pampers, Huggies, and other paper + plastic diapers?  No, you can’t, but oddly enough, plastics, sustainable in concept, being an inventive solution with staying power in the public eye, are “non-sustainable” trash items that planet earth cannot forever provide the graveyard.

Rolls of paper towels in every kitchen are certain to stay, have the power to stay, used for blotting washed vegetables and wiping anything on any surface.  And speaking of kitchens, the iron skillet has sustained itself to good cooks.  Meats brown up in them; an iron skillet even seeming to add flavor.  An iron skillet is not just a flash in the pan; it is a cook’s old friend, perfect for braising, going straight into the oven from the cooktop.

Consider vinyl recordings.  The first grooved musical platters to be heard from the effect of a stylus in the groove of that spinning black vinyl have never disappeared for good.  Records diminished in popularity, but they have staying power, even though technology advanced to audiotape and CDs.  Those new products got popular, but vinyl record collectors held steady.  Vinyl has proven to have staying power.

Athletic competition is a fruitful area of interest when considering staying power versus the flash in the pan, both in terms of individual performers and the event as the structure for performance.  Fans who follow horse racing on television each May have heard commentary that the Triple Crown, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Horse Races, are the most popular events of all, through and through, events with staying power.

The Preakness Horse Race, Second of The Triple Crown

Close To The Finish:  The Preakness Horse Race



Consider a bouquet. Through long, long times ago and still today, presenting a bouquet has signified “You Are Successful!” whether in a stage performance, celebrating a birthday or anniversary, a get-well-quick gift, or declaration of love or appreciation.  Beautiful flowers wrapped together for passing from one hand to another have proven to have staying power.

Bouquets ensure that the beauty of nature is present for the marker event. A tiny bouquet of just a few stems is fine.

















New meanings of words, and word pairings ease communications efforts.  A current example is the popular phrase “going forward,” used in ways such as this:  “What with New York and Brooklyn’s underground train-signaling system needing an upgrade of so many billions of dollars, ‘going forward,’ what is the city to do?”  Moreover, “sayings,” even if very old, help us expedite communication.  This author is completely enamored with sayings.  If they are epigrammatic, I love them all the more.  I do not surprise myself by my choice of subject matter for this post on my six-year-old blog.

I wonder, will there be any other images that could be worked in here, into this post?  Portraits of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Jean-Michel Basquiat?

Interest And Controversy Over Such Modernistic Style Continues 27 Years After His Death

Having Begun As A Graffiti Artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Body Of Work Created Fame And Fortune.  He lived 27 years, dying about 30 years ago, just after his friend Andy Warhol’s passing.  A Basquiat painting sold for over one-hundred million dollars in 2017.


Here’s an to end this post with some definitions of the term “sayings,” sayings such as “a flash in the pan,” and then here’s a list of sayings I can think of that are cool.  For my fellow word lovers and sentence writers out there in the blogosphere, and for every custodian of the English language, I say catch yourself using these sayings, and then think of little children who would benefit from an interpretation of the saying.  Especially enjoy the list if you help toddlers who would otherwise have no clue about the meaning.  Here is the string of synonyms for “sayings”:  Sayings are “epigrams,” “adages,” “maxims,” “aphorisms,” “proverbs,” “euphemisms,” “idioms,” “cliches,” “mottos,” “witticisms,” “quips,” or “old saws.”  And here are some good ones:

  1. flash in the pan: the person getting the attention cannot sustain the role
  2. fly by the seat of your pants: no approach is seen, so invent what to do
  3. God willing and the creek don’t rise: a response to an invitation that is “yes” but provides a loophole
  4. no time like the present: when opportunity presents itself, perhaps it should be taken!
  5. throw in the towel: you are beaten; the other person or situation against you has won
  6. pedaling through sauerkraut: someone who is having a tough time going in a happy flow (sauerkraut being a shredded mess of wet, fermented cabbage, it would be tricky)
  7. even monkeys fall from trees: said to comfort someone who couldn’t believe she had an accident or other negative surprise
  8. water under the bridge: don’t keep something on your mind– let it go! that thing has flowed away
  9. kill two birds with one stone: the “bird” is a task or responsibility; a smart worker doubles the accomplishment with one effort
  10. thumb in your back: someone’s thumb pushing encourages you to put your shoulders back and keep going
  11. tie a string around your finger: see it and remember; “Now, what was it I was supposed to remember?”
  12. there is no free lunch: alas, when you thought you were being given a nourishing thing for free, you ended up paying something after all
  13. eyes in the back of your head: someone in authority has a skill of transperception and sees that no misbehavior goes unnoticed
  14. keep your eyes peeled: a request for assistance in being on the lookout for something
  15. open a can of worms: detail a subject that causes tiresome communication, disinterest, or disagreement
  16. fill the bill: something or someone that is just right, what was hoped for
  17. third time’s charm: heralding that someone got or would get the desired result by keeping on after two tries
  18. a New York minute: the unknown time that something may take that usually only takes a minute or two


With Trepidation, I Went To See The Film AMERICAN SNIPER

I wasn’t sure but I went to see this film anyway . . . by myself, a matinee, $8, the midtown theatre that serves wine (thought I might need some).  I have a military cognizance, and my husband not so much so.  My dad served as a US Army truck mechanic in India, drafted in 1942.  My husband’s dad had a deferment, and my husband had one also.   I have a film degree, and my husband does not.  All things considered, I felt the cultural stir about this film, and needed to check it out.  The controversy this academy-award-nominated film in six categories has generated may stem from the political right wing’s ruckus about patriotism.  Of course, that would stimulate the left wing to confront.  The political right wing may be behaving as a usurper of the film’s high value– the film is excellent.  It is long, two-and-a-half hours, and must have cost a fortune, blowing up sets, equipping so many actors with armaments, teaching actors how to be machine-gunners.  Watching credits roll, I learned that some of the filming was done in Morocco.  I can imagine that one of those Oscar nominations is for the set: the pale orange hues of a desert sandstorm, the stucco-looking structures having faint resemblance to a Tuscan landscape, the creamy American helmets capping crisp, green-streaked camouflage fabric, in contrast to dark colors of the opposing flowing apparel.  The giant white military Humvees powering through the towns stirred my heart through my screening eye.  A huge scary skull stenciled on a rotating shield atop them added a strange beauty to the shots.

One of the Oscar nominations is for best actor.  Bradley Cooper deserves it; I cannot imagine the role of Chris Kyle, legendary sharpshooter, better played.  Funnily enough, I can relate to the Chris Kyle character.  I too got narrow beliefs from my family and church.  Anyone who knows me or read my memoir knows I was steeped in Christian ethics.  I wasn’t a rodeo rider like Chris, but I am a Texas girl.  Cowboys and cowgirls were continual metaphors.  As a junior-high Eaglettes Captain, I wore white vinyl gauntlets over white gloves, and got fit and strong for marching in white boots across the Dallas football fields for half-time shows.  This is my take on the main character of AMERICAN SNIPER Chris Kyle:  he became a SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land) to express his gifts of mental strength and supremely developed physique to serve a desperate need his country had.  A quote from Coretta Scott King fits this character:  “There is a spirit, and a need, and a person at the beginning of every great human advance.  Every one of these must be right for that particular moment of history or nothing happens.”  Chris Kyle left the Texas rodeo scene as a thirty-year-old for sharpshooting in Iraq, committing spirit, mind, and body to the need.  Terrorists had penetrated his country.  They flew passenger airplanes into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.  The Chris character said that it was important to keep them out of Los Angeles, right?  You don’t want them in San Francisco or farther in, right?

THE CHRIS KYLE CHARACTER WORE A BASEBALL CAP AND PHONED HOME FROM A CELL DEVICE HE CARRIED WHILE PERFORMING SHARPSHOOTING The Chris Kyle Character Wore A Baseball Cap and Phoned Home on a Cell He Carried In closing, when we go to the movies, let’s call to mind the teaching channel that the movies provide.  We must also remember that each pair of screening eyes sees individually.  A powerful film means different things to different people.  To end this essay, instead of including the instigative quotes of the more “black & white” thinkers, I choose one from a seasoned linguist, one in his last years as writer and lecturer to university-oriented audiences of thousands, an academic renown for studying our country’s cultural wars, Noam Chomsky.  According to a January 29th article in The New York Times, Professor Chomsky was aware that Mr. Kyle noted in his memoir that he was fighting “savage, despicable evil.” Mr. Chomsky added, “We’re all tarred with the same brush . . . for largely keeping silent about official policy . . .”  He was particularly referring to the USA “global drone assassination campaign,” but not having studied this initiative, I am hesitant to close with that view.

A closing thought I like resembles the one I began with– if you feel an opinion heating up in you about this controversial film, go and see it.  Exercise a freedom, and do not lay aside critical mindedness; same way you treated your teachers.  Then, do what I did: write down your feelings about the character of Chris Kyle (b. 1974, d. 2013).  Mr. Kyle did not succumb to terrorists.  He did four tours and holds the record of kills among sharpshooters.  At home stateside, figuring out how to live as a husband, father, and giver of community service to veterans in hospital, he was shot dead at the hand of a disturbed veteran he had volunteered to help.  The newspaper article mentioned above addressed this irony with a ring of truth, “Are guns useful for self-defense?  Here was one of the most skillful shooters in American history holding guns, surrounded by guns, and was unable to protect himself.”  Oh, and one more from the producer, Clint Eastwood, “The biggest antiwar statement is what it does to the families left behind.”  I do not mean to present an antiwar statement, rather I mean to herald writing, and in writing, aiming small for the particular expression of meaning.


The Disney production group has had a pretty good idea.  I wouldn’t say SAVING MR. BANKS ranks with the best films I’ve ever seen, but I can say that this movie was sublimely acted by Emma Thompson (Helen Goff, alias P. L. Travers), and Tom Hanks (Walt Disney), performing at the peak of their craft.  Paul Giamatti of the film SIDEWAYS played Ralph the limousine driver for Mrs. Travers in Los Angeles when she came to (not) sign the rights to the Mary Poppins book from London.  I liked seeing Bradley Whitford of the TV series West Wing as top team member in the collaboration between Disney Studios and Mrs. Travers.  The film was directed by John Lee Hancock and is rated PG.

This film was recommended by my brother-in-law who let on that I would be watching a story unfold about the Mary Poppins’ author’s life and some cruelties in it.  We mentioned the recommendation to two friends, and they also had a desire to catch it on the big screen, given that the “serious” “must-see” film TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE starring Chiwetel Eljiofor had left our area.  All four of us felt engaged and amused throughout the approximately two hours, and praised the work of Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks.  We had a bit of a feeling of wanting to see MARY POPPINS again on the big screen, even though the dancing penguins were flat cartoons in that old flick.  Anyone who has seen MR. POPPIINS’ PENGUINS can attest to the amazing upgrade in film technology comparing the two.

What I liked about Mrs. Travers was:  her look that fit her achievements as a famous author of inspiring children’s books, a reined-in look of thorough organization and the public reserve often thought of as “keeping up appearances.”  She had brown curls never straying far from her head, black eyeliner– no smudging, and a slightly downward-to-the-right lipliner mistake.  Her skin-toned, not-sheer hose over thin calves, and her pencil straight skirts called out, “all business and things appropriate.”  She said to her driver when she was starting to warm up to him, “You’re someone who asks a lot of questions, and you do not limit yourself.” To which he responded, “Two.”  I liked Mrs. Travers’ leadership style.  It is one I could have used as a teacher to succeed longer in my classroom career.  She knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that she would retain the rights to the production of her beloved Mary Poppins, a children’s savior popping in under a magic umbrella out of thin air.




Review of THE LONE RANGER (Director Gore Verbinski, 2013)

As an eight-year-old, I watched The Lone Ranger on the early, small TV screen. From the big screen, the “silver” screen, fifty-seven years later, comes Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as John Reid, the masked man.

Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger

The reviews were right– this is a crazy pieced-together quilt of a film. It is easy to become restless watching it for its lack of a clearly told narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. But looking back on my viewing experience, I feel that this film, a comedy, contained all the humor anybody involved in the making of it could muster. Crew and actors obviously had a great time with this piece. It had plenty of scenes resembling slapstick. “Slapstick” stresses farce (satirical/patently ridiculous events) and horseplay. Believe me, with the white Spirit Horse who communicated truths to Tonto, and launched the career of lawyer John Reid as The Lone Ranger, brother and son of Texas Rangers, you will see plenty of “horseplay.” The white horse told Tonto John was back from the land of spirit and could not be killed.

"Hi ho Silver, away!"

“Silver,” Mount of the Masked Man

Johnny Depp, of Edward Scissorhands, Whatever Happened to Gilbert Grape, Pirates of the Caribbean, Chocolate, Nick of Time, and much more, must have had a great time in the role of Tonto. And Armie Hammer must have as well in the role of Lone Ranger. Their vibe was terrific as partners, both reluctant heroes. If not for “Spirit Horse’s” ability to discern a man, a good man, come back from the other side of existence (satire), neither would have had his job of riding for justice and fighting for law and order in the Wild West. Their attempts take place in the early part of the 1900s when railroad barons dreamed of an iron-horse empire. Moreover, the precious metal silver, transported in trainloads of nuggets, is a character in this film. “Silver,” as we who watched the show in the 1950s know, is the horse’s name, given the white Spirit Horse at the end of the film. Comanches and US Cavalry fight in this film. Tonto is long ago an outcast Comanche, a boy who made a fatal error and caused great destruction to his tribe. The raven-carcass headpiece he wears, quite dead (more satire), signifies “spirit.” Tonto feeds it corn kernels. I didn’t get this during the screening, but I came home and wrote down themes, one regarding the raven-carcass headpiece, and now I understand:

A person must feed his/her spirit. At times, the spirit may appear to be dead. Jerk its head up. With consistent feeding, the spirit does cover your thinking.

What follows are a number of other themes that erupted as I continued to think about how  such a crazy piece of work could get produced. Thus, you could say I came a bit late to the fan club of the producers’ and director Verbinski’s THE LONE RANGER of 2013.

Themes Treated in the Movie– Even an Indian tribe can term one of its own a mental case. (The Comanches ousted Tonto and laugh at him.)

If someone chooses a partner for self-gain, the choosing partner behaves loyally, looking after the chosen mate. (Tonto has no hope of survival but for the Spirit Man he teams up with.)

Trading objects can solve worry and alleviate uncertainty between two individuals. (Tonto believes this down to his marrow and never fails to give back when he takes, even while holding on under a moving train.)

Nature out of balance can produce cannibalistic rabbits, that same kind of bad, murdering gunslinger, and a cursed silver nugget. (Attack scene by rabbits, and human eating human organ, thankfully off screen)

Truth and justice are more often than not traded for empire building. (Outlaws, those of good spirit, do better for the world than corrupted big-wigs.)

A woman with a big gun determined to shoot straight, living in community with gunslingers, may have lost a leg in the process. (She saved the day with just the right angle on her shooting leg.)

A woman can love two brothers, and timing determines which one she marries. (A tiny touch of romance is included, and the lady is a gentle mother of a young boy.)

A young boy does not know what to do if receiving conflicting instructions (while pointing a gun). To shed increasing tension and avoid a catastrophic wrong choice, he turns and cries out to mama. The child did some good acting.


A Dead Raven On His Head and Black Streaks Drawn Down Cheeks Reminded Tonto of His Catastrophic Decision He Made As a Boy

Stuck in my mind is the strange beginning of this film. We meet a lovely brown-eyed boy dressed in a white hat and black mask. In sharp contrast, he, alone, spectating among the exhibits of a museum of natural history, meets a hugely wrinkled, ancient-looking Indian in a diorama. The diorama is titled “The Noble Savage.” This unexpected approach to the story of the Lone Ranger (you understand the old Indian better at the end), contributes to the montage effect of this film’s style, separate scenes cut apart and strung like diverse  beads on a strand of wire.

In addition, the tough-to-look-at early characters in the first filmic images are bad, bad  gunslingers with greasy complexions, tarter-tainted teeth, sliced and scarred upper lip, long, unruly scruff, filthy-looking heads of hair, and flasks of whiskey. Later, a couple of them seem to be transvestites. I don’t really get this, so I guess it was one of the many jollies or increasing ironies the producers enjoyed in the making of this pieced-together quilt of a long film (about two and a half hours).

In closing, THE LONE RANGER may have every joke that everyone involved in the work thought of, a definite overplaying of humor. An example is Tonto wearing a birdcage over his crow headpiece to protect against the cat that has gone missing. Tonto is departing from the saloon girl’s salon. She has a noteworthy leg, an ivory, rifle-shooting leg with scrimshaw work all over it. Her leg is excruciatingly sexy to soldiers in the cavalry who do not know about the rifle inside. They want to touch her leg. Did I explain the strangeness? Can you see how this is one of the craziest movies you will ever see? No wonder movie-goers held back on this one, based on critical review. I wonder . . . would I be able to make it through a second screening? I loved the Dolby sound. I can hear the trumpet call and galloping strands of “The William Tell Overture” as a great-looking guy in a form-fitting black leather mask atop an amazing white horse ride down the desert slope . . . “Da da dum, da da dum, da da dum dum dum . . .”


The Brooklyn Bridge was begun in 1869 and completed in 1883.

The Brooklyn Bridge is 129 years old, construction having been begun in 1869 and finished in 1883 (for the literary-minded– 1869 is the year Tolstoy published War and Peace). The bridge’s towers, dark grey stone rectangles, heavy in demeanor, march strongly upward as though wearing heavy boots to their vertical lookout. They are topped with caps. Two arches were built into the rectangular design, from a distance giving a hint of carving. The effect is similar to the crowning arches with keystones of gothic cathedrals. The tower tops sling lighter-colored cables down creating a lacy effect. Tan lamps on tall poles add to the complexity. There are so many cables attached to the towers that observing them, one might think of a giant loom spinning wool threads. At the tip top center, the American flag waves in the breezes.

On the pedestrian walkway/bikeway, a bronze plaque reads: Erected by the cities of New York and Brooklyn, MDCCCLXIX — MDCCCLXXXIII. It lists TRUSTEES of the project, too numerous to mention, and these ENGINEERS: John A Roebling, 1869, Washington A.  Roebling, Charles C. Martin, William H. Paine, Francis Collingwood, Wilhelm Hildenbrand, George W. McNulty, Samuel R. Probasco, E. F. Farrington — Master Mechanic. A second plaque reads BROOKLYN BRIDGE RECONSTRUCTION 1954, Design and construction supervised by the Department of Public Works.

Good views of the Manhattan Bridge and the new Frank Gehry-designed skyscraper can be had walking the span of the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as distant views of the Statue of Liberty. Walking here was a truly international-feeling activity– so many languages could be heard, so many styles of wearing apparel, shoes, and purses, bags,

Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) area of Brooklyn.

and totes could be seen. A light mood was shared by all who walked across a great American landmark.

In my post describing Memphis, Tennessee, home for the last twenty-six years, I mention “supremely urban” New Yorkers, in the context of whether they desire more contact with grass, tall trees, plantlife, and wildlife, or if they have made their peace with soot on the bottom of their shoes and buildings and skyscrapers dominating the landscape. Of course a recent surge in incidences of bedbugs in hotels, offices, and private residences could be counted as contact with wildlife, but . . . not really, just kidding! Having spent a week in Brooklyn visiting our son and staying at the nu hotel on Smith Street, not doing blatant touristy activities, but rather enjoying the unpretentious vibe of the borough, trying to adapt our Southernness to a neutral “don’t look or smile” while passing people in miles of street walking, I can say resoundingly that I like Brooklyn!  I liked choosing interesting spots for lunch and dinner. I like that there are bars and corner grocers with fresh flowers at every turn. I liked having a chat with a butcher in a prime red meat shop in the Cobble Hill neighborhood.

Even with riding the subway trains and hailing high-cost rides from taxi drivers, I could live in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is the largest borough of New York City. So many people work in Manhattan, but can better afford to live in the middle-class borough. The neighborhood I prefer is Park Slope, but Cobble Hill, south downtown, and Carroll Gardens also had that comfortable vibe of the working middle class, those people on the street who seemed purposeful, sturdy in health, honest, and alert to creative possibilities. Young mothers stroll babies and young toddlers into the corner grocery for the few items that can be managed, while carrying an umbrella or jacket to accommodate weather changes. There seems to be an acceptance of casual dress in Brooklyn. Casual dress would contribute to energy savings through the day.

Our son, who lives in the Park Slope neighborhood, said that functioning in Brooklyn is hard. Feeling tired with sore feet when I heard it, I took it to mean that the barage of people wanting the same things you want means that a state of constant alertness must be carried in the mind to succeed in the day’s goals. The exception?  Working-class subway patrons after quitting time:   trains are loaded with exhausted workers, sleeping with head on lap, or head tilted against the seatback.

Next in this essay, having heralded the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, I want to depict the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens of Prospect Park and the Manhattan High Line,

An artist's rendering of birdhouses accents this section of the High Line.

Delightful for over a mile, maybe two, surprises crop up every block or so. Close inhabitants create humor with cardboard statues. Small sculptures are tucked in with shrubs.

places noteworthy for the international flavor of their visitors. Walking in these places, one can hear three or four languages or more spoken by patrons. I enjoy the idea that visitors from Europe, South America, and other parts of the world are sharing the experience I am having.

"The High Line Zoo"


The month of May lent itself to sunshine and cool mornings and evenings. My husband and I happily walked tens of blocks carrying stuff, he a big Canon camera with a bag of lenses and a subway map, I a flat travel purse over one shoulder stuffed with a Lumix camera, bottle of water, Cocoon sunglasses (large enough to fit over eyeglasses), moleskin blank notebook and pen, lipstick, and of course our iPhones. I also tended to carry that third piece, so as not to feel chilled if a breeze came up. By the third morning starting out, I decided to wear Naot cork-footbed sandals instead of sturdy, black athletic shoes with SmartWool socks. The flatter, cooler shoe provided temporary relief, but the fact remained that older feet need horizontal rest in addition to orthotic insoles. It was during this middle part of our vacation that our son, a year-long Brooklyn resident, gave us that previously mentioned believable theme for us,  “It’s hard to live in Brooklyn.” He made breakfast for us in his flat, and we continued our walking as a threesome, which was our preference over the trains and cabs.

Off across Prospect Park and onto one of its trails we went, coming upon the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. We had a stroke of good luck– free admission for seniors on Friday. Our first stop was the array of cacti in the Desert Garden, and it  was exquisite, as were the Bonsai trees in another part of the gardens.

Having visited these lovely, well-cared-for plants, I realized that keeping my own gardens, front and back of my own property in Memphis, was indeed something that matters.

In closing this writing highlighting our Brooklyn and Manhattan vacation of May 2012, here are some last images. We went to New Haven, Connecticut after the vacation, in support of a very special friend who was receiving her MArch from Yale University. I heard an influential professor of architecture at Yale University say this in his address to the graduates:  Architecture opens people’s minds. An architect must be positive and open-minded. In all that it takes to get a building built, there is only one of all those doing the work that “loves” the building– it is the architect. I include some favorite skyscrapers of Manhattan:

Frank Gehry has built many buildings, and this is one of his latest. It seems to have twists in it.