Before It Kills
Will-o-wisps are living’s bane
the bright lights that promise much
an escape from the pain
in the swamp beyond safe paths
when clearest road is overgrown
with cruel brambles none may see
except the one who always bleeds
seeking something beyond that way.
The flickering orb is always there
though the hills may block the eye
and the trees mask the fire
held by revenants of misdeed
a respite is wonderful
no star of doom seen in the moor
then the rays return in force
whispering words of dooming hope.
Bearings are already lost
set adrift by mind’s turmoil
sanity slipped from its leash
when chasing imps seems prudent
the shame seeks to meet its own
despair contained will break loose
running from the light of day
to find the trace of false aid.
Baptism in the darkest pools
washing anguish from the soul
this is the promise of the flame
quick to shine before it kills
the will-o-wisp becomes a pal
an ally none should befriend
when the road becomes a path
then to despair, lured to death.
© 2017. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved. 20170925.
"mother!" is a compelling work of allegorical art, but you need to be on the right wavelength to truly appreciate it.
Into the isolated home of a writer struggling to create a new work (Javier Bardem) and his much younger wife (Jennifer Lawrence) come a dying older man (Ed Harris) and his aggressive wife (Michelle Pfeiffer). The latter couple bring with them some family drama centered around the jealousy and anger of their older son (Domhnall Gleeson) against their younger son (Brian Gleeson) with catastrophic results, and soon events spiral out of control.
Writer/director Darren Aronofsky ("Requiem for a Dream", "Black Swan") makes a bold artistic statement, full of ambitious ideas. The film employs Judeo-Christian iconography and themes, but it's not really a religious film (or even anti-religious, as some have accused it of being) in a conventional sense. It can be read as a metaphor for the relationship between a creator and their muse or how humanity treats Mother Earth. Aronofsky has described it as a "punk movie", and that accurately describes its middle finger raised attitude toward the conventional, and he also described it as a "howl" representing the creative anguish of a filmmaker, and I think that goes back to what I see as the creator/muse metaphor. It's a multifaceted film open to different interpretations. What each viewer brings with them is as important as what Aronofsky provides, I think.
The film's narrative becomes increasingly driven by dream logic and surreal, sometimes disturbing, imagery, and on that level, it's absolutely stunning. It's the kind of film where you should just sit back and let it wash over you. If you try to understand it in terms of a conventional narrative while you're watching it, you'll only become frustrated and miss the experience of it. By using religious imagery and themes, the film taps into the deep well of our collective unconscious. Ideas that have survived and thrived culturally for thousands of years make for potent metaphors, as they're disassembled and then reassembled to tell different stories. It's a remix process that has been occurring for a very long time.
Aronofsky collaborates with his cinematographer of choice Matthew Libatique (who has shot all of Aronofsky's films with the exception of "The Wrestler"), and the lighting is meticulous, from soft, naturalistic lighting early on to almost Caravaggio-esque intensity later in the film. The story takes place in just one location, an old house, but production designer Philip Messina (who worked on all four "Hunger Games" films) creates a visually interesting set for Libatique to light. The visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic and Hybride Technologies shimmer with magic. Jóhann Jóhannsson ("Sicario", "Arrival") composed a score, but Aronofsky decided against using it and instead Jóhannsson worked with sound designer Craig Henighan to create an organic soundscape.
The cast is spectacular. It's hard to take your eyes off of Lawrence as the title character and Bardem as Him (the name provided in the credits, and the only name in the credits that is capitalized), while Harris and Pfeiffer also shine as the unstable elements listed in the credits only as man and woman (lower case), while man and woman's unnamed rival sons are well-played by the Gleeson brothers. The cast also includes Kristen Wiig and Stephen McHattie.
It's refreshing to see a major studio back what is essentially a very personal artistic statement put forward with bold strokes that challenge the viewer. "mother!" was always destined to be a cult film rather than an appeal to mainstream tastes. It's the kind of film that will be a turn off to many people, while drawing others into its web. Love it or hate it, it's an achievement. I loved it.
Warning: This poem is flangst. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. Shiv has trouble relaxing and having fun, due to his history of abuse and neglect, so a beach trip is more complicated for him than for most people. ECR Boy! The poem includes multiple flashbacks, social anxiety, financial anxiety, extreme body modesty, hypervigilance, reference to past near-drowning, emergency manhandling (by Aida of Shiv and by Shiv of Edison), flibbering over acceptance vs. rejection, awkward interactions with another family, mild overstrain of superpowers, awkward apologies, Edison is blunt as a bowling ball and has no filter because he is four, and Shiv is little better due to past abuse, frustration over solar limitations, and other challenges. On the whole, though, it has a positive tone. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward. This is the second in the beach thread, and you'll need it to make sense of later poetry as well as dialecticdreamer's story "Family Stories."
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Poem: "We Must Bear Witness"
Poem: "An Atmosphere of Shame"
Poem: "Black Swan Lake"
Crowdfunding Creative Jam
The Jewel in the Heart of Quantum Physics
The half-price sale in Polychrome Heroics is now complete. I have a few new poems up already, and more to post.
"Branded in His Memory" is fully committed, so if you pledged money toward that, now is the time to send it (not counting the person who specified a later date of donation). Look on the sale page to see the tally; I had to put it there because the donor comments kind of spread around several posts.
The discussion "Working Around Microphones" has gained a lot of attention. If you're concerned about accessibility and diversity, please check out this list of ideas for supporting everyone's comfort and communication. If you're an organizer, or you know someone who is, by all means print it out and pass it around.
Poetry in Microfunding:
"The Inner Transition" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Berettaflies. Stylet enjoys a shower and Valor's Widow starts cooking. "The Higher a Monkey Climbs" belongs to Polychrome Heroics and has 23 new verses. Pips and Jules discuss what to get for G and Joshua after the fire. "Two Foxes" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Iron Horses. The Iron Horses tell Kenzie what happened to the gaybashers.
Weather has been hot and muggy. Currently blooming: dandelions, marigolds, petunias, lantana, million bells, firecracker plant, white and red clover, morning glories, frost asters, torenia, purple aster, sawtooth sunflowers, pink sedum, purple sedum.
We went on an adventure through Blackwood River National Park
never actually seeing the river.
Stopped by the farm properly we always admire on Caves Rd,
because it's just somehow very beautiful to us.
There was a tiny welcome swallow
about the size of my little finger,
where we were staying.
So there's photos of him too.
Prevelly - we went here between storms, and ate sushi, while watching the very choppy surf. We watched two women with their two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels go to take the spaniels for a walk on the green, and the spaniels quickly looked very unimpressed to be in such a windy, salty, spray-filled place.
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and White-Bellied Sea Eagles.
Pretty sure the White-Bellied Sea Eagle is a juvenile,
that's nearly got all it's adult feathers.
The White Goshawk is the white morph of the Grey Goshawk.
It is not an albino.
It is the only regularly naturally occurring entirely white bird of prey in the world.
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===We are still in the season of spiders, but the drunken and upset Yellowjackets, Hornets, and groundbees are making themselves rather known. They still hunt and support the hives, but are very surly about it. They know the fermenting fruits and (if urbanish)trashcans are a sign that the land is not theirs for much longer.
===I do occasionally consider the ripples in the human world...the White Faced Hornets are rather surly as of late. European Hornets have been making a lot of noise outside around lights at night. (my beehives are sadly depleted...I have some reason to believe that the hornet harassment may have made them abscond. The hornets are nested in a tree by the church up the way.)
===Autumnal tides are here. Shifting towards a grounding into hearth rythms and resources.
Walk A Line
Passing asks for time to freeze
before harsh censure is released
upon the ones that masquerade
hoping that the veil remains
a state of fear is ever present
echoes of the larger group
in alarm they’d badly act
abuse exacted in response.
Highly functioning is a term
for the life that suffers same
as the one without the goal
of seeming normal in the world
biding time is done at risk
of losing self within the mess
when on the sly the fake is real
normal done is normal lost.
Cages are built to house
those who deem to live within
with disguises that may slip
when disclosure risks their close
losing being or ending job
pushed out of home by family
all of these may come to pass
when revelation destroys a life.
Liberty is assumed by those
who stand outside, looking in
seeing privilege as the path
as freedom gained and self gone
to find a place for a short time
without oppression they then find
passing people walk a line
between themselves and the pit.
© 2017. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved. 20170919.
Warning: This poem contains imagery which may disturb some readers. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It takes place during and after World War II. Thus it features genocide, discrimination, extreme violence, death and destruction, killing captive Nazis via superpower, jailbreaking, erotic art, orphaning, traumatic rage, war trials, extrajudicial execution, and other mayhem. Please consider your tastes and headspace before deciding if this is something you want to read.
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Warning: This poem contains some touchy topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features multiple references to past child abuse and neglect, social anxiety, financial anxiety, extreme body modesty, jealousy, shame, sex/gender diversity, creepy mannequins, visible scars from past abuse, unwelcome attention from Dr. G who quickly extrapolates the origin of Shiv's scars, unwelcome touching of Shiv by Edison who is too young to have learned better, lingering awkwardness from Halley's prior violation of Shiv's boundaries, and other challenges. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward. However, this is the beginning of the whole beach thread, so you need it to make sense of the later poems and the story "Family Stories" by dialecticdreamer.
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Share the Words
Don’t you hush when words are there
awaiting voice, a place to share
to like ones to be affirmed
by the wounds they will be known
discovery yields blessed insight
to life’s full scope under strife
by existence much like their own
the lowest strive to still survive
the blows of fate will soon come
when circumstance is unkind
the sun will shine, the rain will fall
commonality in public eye
the bruising egos and wounding flesh
distributed to mortal souls
are not the venue of one group
when the pen scratches page
these instructions denote the fall
brought out of shadows on poet’s thoughts
perhaps it’s best to concede
when on knees the lesson comes
escape is found in the phrase
a load distributed is less held
then considered to be normal
within the breadth of God’s domain
a choice made to take the plunge
comments penned are my own
escape is found in the phrase
release of poison or of praise
no longer festering in the dark
when light of phrase shows the way
do your part to stake your place
with a voice to share the words.
© 2017. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved. 20170924.
[Rewatched/Blu-ray] "Assimilate this!" The second film based on the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" television series is the absolute best one, and it also ranks among the very best of the entire Star Trek franchise.
After "Star Trek: Generations" demonstrated in 1994 that a "Next Generation" film could succeed at the box office, a sequel was inevitable. Producer Rick Berman once again worked with veteran "Next Generation" writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore (the latter went on to develop the "Battlestar Galactica" reboot) to conceive the story, leaving them to write the actual screenplay.
The two elements they all agreed on was the inclusion of the Borg and time travel. From there, it could have gone disastrously wrong. Berman's idea was to have the Enterprise crew travel back in time to the Renaissance and have sword fights with the Borg in European castles. Thankfully, Braga and Moore realized that could descend into camp, and conceived a better story set on post-apocalyptic Earth in 2063, where the Enterprise crew would have to defeat the Borg in order to ensure humanity's first contact with an extra-terrestrial species would happen, paving the way for the Federation.
The Borg are tailor-made for a big-screen action film, and make no mistake, of all the pre-reboot Trek films, this is the most action-oriented. However, it's not empty spectacle. What drives the film is Captain Jean-Luc Picard's earlier experience of being assimilated by the Borg, and his obsessive, Ahab-esque (the best Trek films always seem to have literary allusions) behavior when he confronts them again here. The story also expands the portrayal of the Borg Collective to include a Borg Queen (reportedly at the behest of a studio executive), while also filling in more of the history of the fictional Star Trek universe. The humanism and optimism of creator Gene Roddenberry is part of the film's DNA.
A major character in 2063 is Zefram Cochrane, the creator of the first warp drive and instigator of first contact. Far from being the saint remembered in the history the Enterprise crew knows from 300 years in the future, he's an alcoholic who created the warp drive to get rich, but by the end of the film, it's clear he's on his way to becoming more of the man remembered in history. However, his portrayal seemingly contradicts his previous appearance on "Star Trek: The Original Series" in the 1967 episode "Metamorphosis" (played by a different actor), but explanations have been theorized that can square that without much difficulty. What matters is Cochrane is changed by stepping into a larger universe than he can imagine, and his acts usher humanity into a better future. The film concludes with first contact, and it's a magical scene.
With a screenplay calling for an action film approach, Paramount Pictures approached both Ridley Scott and John McTiernan ("Die Hard") to direct, but neither was interested. "Next Generation" cast member Jonathan Frakes had directed multiple episodes of the television series, so he was eventually hired to make his debut as a feature film director. To adjust to the demands of making an action film and shooting in the Panavision format, rather than the old square aspect ratio of television, Frakes studied films by Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and Ridley Scott. It paid off. Frakes delivers a muscular action film without abstaining from character-based drama, and balances the serious elements with sheer entertainment and bits of comic relief. It's for this reason I put Frakes in the same category as Nicholas Meyer ("Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan", "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered County") and Leonard Nimoy ("Star Trek III: The Search for Spock", "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home") as the Holy Trinity of Star Trek directors.
One of the best sequences comes early in the film, as a massive contingent of Starfleet vessels, including the USS Defiant from the "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" television series, takes on a Borg cube attacking Earth, with the Enterprise suddenly joining the fray. The visual effects, largely by Industrial Light & Magic, are superb. ILM had some fun by including the Millennium Falcon in the attack on the Borg cube.
Cinematographer Matthew F. Leonetti ("Poltergeist", "Strange Days") provides a lot of dramatic lighting aboard the Enterprise, particularly once the Borg take it over. After the Enterprise-D was destroyed at the end of the previous film, veteran Trek production designer Herman Zimmerman got to design the new Enterprise-E, and it's a beauty, surpassing its immediate predecessor (although the refit Enterprise and later the Enterprise-A in the six original cast films remains the absolute best ship in the franchise).
The film also marks the return of composer Jerry Goldsmith ("Star Trek: The Motion Picture", "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier"), and Goldsmith brings back the main theme first composed for "The Motion Picture" and later reused for the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" television series, easily the best theme ever composed for the franchise. Goldsmith also repurposes his Klingon theme from "The Motion Picture" as Worf's personal theme. With only three weeks to compose the score, Goldsmith enlisted his son Joel (who later did the music for the "Stargate" television franchise) to compose additional music. The fanfare Alexander Courage composed for "Star Trek: The Original Series" in the 1960s also plays a role, and Courage also worked on this film as an orchestrator for the Goldsmiths. Roy Orbison's "Ooby Dooby" and Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride" are also put to good use.
One of the big strengths of the film is Patrick Stewart's performance as Picard. Stewart is one of those actors who's always in excellent form, and this film is no exception, but he absolutely takes over the entire film when he briefly goes off the rails in his obsession to fight the Borg. Splendid acting, and had it not been a genre film, he might have received some awards consideration. Brent Spiner also gets some scenes to shine once again as the android Commander Data, still with his emotion chip, and briefly tempted by the Borg Queen. Frakes is his usual dependable self as Commander Riker, but with fewer scenes, perhaps to allow him to focus more on directing.
Frakes gets good performances out of his cast, including LeVar Burton as La Forge (who has eye implants instead of his familiar visor), Michael Dorn as Worf (by this time, a regular on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", but given a logical reason for his appearance here), Marina Sirtis as Counselor Troi, Gates McFadden as Dr. Crusher, James Cromwell as Cochrane (another really good and frequently hilarious performance, but the role was originally offered to Tom Hanks, whose schedule simply wouldn't allow him to take the part), Alfre Woodard as Lily, Alice Krige as the Borg Queen (a delicious, strangely erotic performance), Neal McDonough as Lt. Hawk, Michael Horton as Lt. Daniels, Dwight Schultz as Lt. Barclay, Patti Yasutake as Nurse Ogawa, and Cully Fredricksen as the Vulcan commander, plus cameos from Robert Picardo as the Emergency Medical Hologram (a role he originated on the "Star Trek: Voyager" tv series) and Ethan Phillips (Neelix on "Voyager") as a holodeck maitre d'.
"Star Trek: First Contact" is one of the best films the franchise has to offer, certainly the best "Next Generation" film. A for effort and achievement.
Published: July 2016 by IFWG Publishing
Format reviewed: Trade paperback, 336 pages
Genres: Supernatural, psychological horror
Reading Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017
Available: Publisher (print) ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia~ Kobo
There are many grief holes. There’s the grief hole you fall into when a loved one dies. There’s another grief hole in all of us; small or large, it determines how much we want to live. And there are the places, the physical grief holes, which attract suicides to their centre. Sol Evictus, a powerful, charismatic singer, sends a young artist into The Grief Hole to capture the faces of the teenagers dying there. When she inevitably dies herself, her cousin Theresa resolves to stop this man so many love. Theresa sees ghosts; she knows how you’ll die by the spirits haunting you. If you’ll drown, she’ll see drowned people. Most often she sees battered women, because she works to find emergency housing for abused women. She sees no ghosts around Sol Evictus but she doesn’t let that stop her. Her passion to help, to be a saint, drives her to find a way to destroy him.
Kaaron Warren is a multi-award-winning author and The Grief Hole shows why. I’ve held off reading her work for a while, since horror is really not my jam. However, when The Grief Hole was nominated for a Ditmar Award, I knew it was time for me to dive in.
At first glance, the book looks like supernatural horror. Theresa can, after all, see ghosts. These ghosts reflect the way a person is most likely to die.
However, the ghosts are not the scary part.
Although they’re keen to gather more of their number, they are ultimately powerless background noise. As the story progresses and Theresa comes to understand things better, they become somewhat more sympathetic.
Instead, what is clear from the start of the novel is that it’s about human monsters. The story is divided up into Interventions. These are times when the ghosts around someone are so numerous or otherwise strange that Theresa is prompted to act: to commit some deed that results in death or incarceration for the perpetrator. She’s very clear she acts out of a sense of justice, rather than revenge.
However, this doesn’t make Theresa a good person by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, we’re shown all the ways that Theresa herself is monstrous. She thrives on the suffering of others, often poking at emotional tender points and claiming it’s to help. She frames newspaper smeared with blood from her cousin’s suicide, looking on it as somehow inspirational. She keeps files of atrocities reported in the media. And she jumps to conclusions about what her ghosts are trying to tell her, acting on information that is sometimes incomplete or incorrect. She shows how good intentions are sometimes self-delusion.
While the ghosts aren’t exactly central to the story, I still refused to read this story after dark. The author does a fantastic job of creating an oppressive atmosphere that lingers over the reader as much as the characters. Towards the end, the story took on a dark fairytale resonance, somewhat reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm or the story of Bluebeard. This is enhanced by the characters, some of whom feel otherworldly. Theresa’s aunt Prudence is a prime example. Her association with the colour red and the way she always carries balloons with her gives her the feeling of a hallucination, only kept partially at bay by the fact she’s visible to people other than Theresa.
I can’t say I enjoyed The Grief Hole; it is not a book intended for comfort or enjoyment. However, it is a well-written and thoughtful examination of grief and altruism. It won three major Australian awards this year and most certainly deserves the accolades it has received.
Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.
I am willing to extend the quarter-price option for "Branded in His Memory" beyond the sale proper if people have confirmed their intent to sponsor it. These mega-epics are so big, they rarely sell at full price, so it's to everyone's benefit to catch them in a sale. If you're looking to shop in the sale but have not yet done so, here's a great opportunity to get the most bang for your buck. The one person who's seen this piece so far is raving about it.
it was a good day for seeing the raptors.
I think the wind stirred their spirits a bit.
This batch of photos includes:
the Boobook owl, the Powerful Owl, the Tawny Frogmouth, the Brahminy Kite and the Wedge-Tailed Eagle (which it's still legal to hunt in most states, making it the most persecuted / killed eagle in the world)
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