Turning the Screw

Bite me!

Fight me!

Come on. Give me all you’ve got. I’m ready for you.

(Silence)

Yawn. I gave you your chance.

I love this piece (Remembering Child). It may not be your cup of tea. I’ve played it, actually – not the cello part, although this guy was our soloist. He’s fabulous. (I know the composer, too.) I just felt like sharing, but not caring. I don’t care if you don’t like it.

I wrote a couple of paragraphs earlier about the composer Benjamin Britten. I was just getting into his opera A Turn of the Screw (based on Henry James), and then I erased it, but I’ve kept the title.

In case you haven’t noticed, I love new music. I want to be challenged – by the music I hear, by the books I read, art, films, etc. I just finished reading Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, which is a dense fat tome, although it isn’t as heavy as 1Q84, which I liked a little better. This one, I was never sure what was real and what wasn’t. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the whole wrapping up at the end seemed to be heading somewhere, and then it wasn’t. I just started reading Rushdie’s first novel Grimus, which is a whole lot easier, although there is some narrator drift – i.e., I’m not sure who is talking in some places. I’ve read a lot of Rushdie, so I know what to expect.

You would think that with all the heavy reading I do, my own writing would be heavier. It is, but I don’t post it here. Perhaps it is a little more magical than magical realism, too. At least Ezzie is moving in that direction. The Wind Whisperer is more the latter (MR), but I’ve hit a roadblock. Also, the first chapter is a little too weird, some magical sex with the spirit of a native American chief’s son. In fact, it was so weird that I lapsed into poetry, well, bad poetry:

We were a pillar of flame,
evaporating the spring
While the stars grew in number
until the sky became like daylight.
The wind swirled, fanning our flame
as we reached into the night.

I was flying, and as Shylah released me
I rose into the stars, my friends.
I had been gone too long.
The fire that was our mortal bodies burned below
with the Grand Canyon looming in the distance
under the golden haze of sunset over the Pacific.

Shylah’s spirit flew east, but I was free,
to soar higher – above the highest clouds.

Kyrah-Deerstalker embraced me.
I knew his name and had drawn him with me.
Holding tightly as we soared into the stars,
my fire kept him warm, enveloping him,
becoming one in the bright sunlight
somewhere between the Earth and the moon.

There was one other line, but I just decided to make that not part of the poetry.

What happened to the novel? Three chapters and then pffft. My main character had her mother die, a near miss with a tornado, and found out her high school flame (who is now a Catholic priest) is dying of a brain tumor. He is saying the funeral mass. She is special (a daughter of the wind), and I’ve lost the plot. There isn’t one really. Three pretty decent chapters, but no plot.

Curtains!

Back to writing bad poetry, I guess.

 

House of Cards

I saw the original House of Cards in the UK when it first came out. Over there it has a justifiably legendary reputation. I fully expect the American version on NetFlix to do the same. I’ve watched the first five episodes and I’m impressed. While Ian Richardson’s Francis Urqhart was ruthless and cold, Kevin Spacey’s Francis Underwood is ruthless but vulnerable and human. Richardson’s anger is very British and Spacey wears his heart on his sleeve. Why so vulnerable? Because of the casting. Robin Wright turns Clare Underwood into Lady Macbeth. There is no mistaking that the real power and ruthlessness is in her hands. Francis is sleeping with a reporter? So what. While Francis wheels and deals, Clare brings him down to Earth when necessary. They have a plan, and they would do whatever it takes to achieve it.

The acting is superb, the photography is brilliant, but for me the real winner is Jeff Beal’s music. Each episode has a symphonic arc, partly defined by the story, but when you hear the closing credits, you realize that the music is what carried it home. Don’t just flip it off, listen to the music at the end of each episode all the way to the end. The closing music is different every time (thus far) and encapsulates the atmosphere at the end of the episode. Let the story sink in. Think of all the ramifications of what has taken place. Then I dare you not to watch the next episode right away. I’ve succumbed to the temptation once (episode 2 to 3), but I’ve been sorely tested every time.

After 5 episodes, I’d give it a solid 5 stars.