Saturday, March 31, 2007

Thinking about friends and friendship

This week I've been fortunate to spend time with friends and those occasions really helped boost my spirits and endure some stress of recent days and weeks. I wrote last week about having gone to see the movie "Amazing Grace." I went with a new friend whose sense of humor and good cheer really made me feel at ease; this week we'll dine out at one of my favorite Juneau restaurants - Pasta Garden. I'm anticipating another evening of good conversation, smiles and laughter in her company.

Last night I attended a joint birthday celebration which recognized the birth dates of two fellow workers; we met at another fine Juneau restaurant - the Baranof - and ate a sumptuous meal. Earlier in the day I'd had lunch with another friend.

All of these occasions and many which preceded them make me a very blessed individual and the friendships I enjoy with each of these persons is just what I've needed lately. So, I'd say, don't neglect friendships; you can never have too many friends, as a wise brother of mine tells me, and of course he's right. One of the major benefits of being over 50 years old is the number of friends I've made over the years. In that regard - if in no other - I've had a rich and rewarding life.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The movie: "Amazing Grace"

I am just back tonight from seeing "Amazing Grace," which is featured on the web at Unlike most movies these days, it was long - 1 hour and 56 minutes, I think, but the audience's attention was rapt and, so, when the movie finished with a bagpiper and band playing Amazing Grace in front of Westminster Abbey, no one got up from a seat to leave. The only comparable movie in the past ten years is that other movie about the slave trade called "Amistad."

For once, a major motion picture presented religion - Christian religion - with respect and reverence. While at times, the actors indulged in a little preaching, what else would you have in a movie with a moral theme such as the evil of slavery. What should make the movie even more poignant in these times is the fact noted by the United Nations that there remain at least 16,000,000 persons in slavery today - more than ever before at any one time!

The movie was powerful enough to evoke tears in the audience (me, too) and to cause it to sit in respectful silence throughout the speeches and more dramatic scenes. I can recommend and heartily that this movie needs to be seen; it must be seen throughout the world, I think, to beat back the evil and the sin of modern slavery!

Not a new idea about war...

The impersonal and indirect nature of much of warfare these days is one of the prime attributes I have noticed. Some of this can be attributed to the invention and use of the airplane. Some of it is attributable to the development of more powerful and longer range weaponry. Compare the relatively short distance between combatants in the American Civil War and the much greater distance between combatants in Vietnam or Bosnia. One of the more vivid depictions of the horrors of war is that presented in Widow of the South by Robert Hicks - now out in paperback. The book tells the story of the Battle of Franklin (TN) and its impact on nearby residents and the people involved in the battle and its aftermath. For me, the most memorable description is that of the Confederate officer who died standing up because he was so closely surrounded by his dead comrades that he could not fall! Warfare then was highly personal and awful in its impact! In the midst of that brutality, though, there were episodes of humanity at its best such as the Christmas-time truces and the aid rendered to wounded enemy combatants. War then was "up close and personal" as the modern cliche strains to say. I think it is an inescapable conclusion - not the only one, mind you - that the impersonality and indirect nature of modern combat makes the resort to arms much more likely and easier to justify by those who direct such awful adventures.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Getting from now to then

I read the other day that anxiety is the place between Now and Then. Have you been there recently? It's sort of like the bar scene, familiar ambience but nothing new is ever learned there. And, just like the bar scene, passivity gets you nowhere, certainly nowhere new and enjoyable. Of course, you could just go to sleep and try to forget it!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dating Sites...Where the Women Go Wrong

Have you ever checked out those dating sites where the participants are supposed to create a "profile" which is meant to introduce them to prospective new acquaintances, i.e., pen pals, short-term friendship/relationship, long-term (marriage) relationship, just friends, etc.? I've been looking those over of late and I have noticed two things. The ones that interest me are those who spend their 1200 words (or so) writing about what they enjoy and those who spend at least half of their allotted words writing about what they hate in men and activities. One even hates Brussels sprouts and took the time to say so; fortunately, it was said in the context of many things humorously expressed. I find it off-putting that someone seeking to introduce herself would start off so negatively and by trimming the universe of acceptable human beings by so broad a list of "cannot abides" and "will not tolerates." Of course, there are my own personal deal breakers which some profilers cannot help but present: a proliferation of tattoos and a great insistence that life is not worth living if not spent largely upon the back of a motorcycle, preferably a Harley! Is it just me?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Writing Fiction

Creating a novel is unlike any other writing experience I have had. The ideas seem to come in spurts, often late at night. New ideas change the flow of the story and sometimes require rewriting earlier parts to accommodate the new ideas. It is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle in that I am constantly looking for the right pieces to present my story to readers. Some of the characters I thought would be prominent early on have not even shown up in the story; others I thought would have small parts have had them grow and become especially important. I've created a brand new female character based on lengthy conversations with a writer friend who continually provides me with invaluable inspiration. I keep discovering new ways to present themes and provide subtle plot details which give strength and credibility (I hope) to the story as I create it. Every so often I am struck by a major new idea which does not always mean re-writing but does always mean more serious thought about how to reach a satisfying conclusion. What is most surprising to me is the number of old story ideas have reappeared in my writing and now seem to fit where they never did before. And so it goes..............

Saturday, February 24, 2007

More Snow, Just What Was Wanted!

Having endured snow since the middle of November 2006 with very few dry days, we are blessed again this week with more snow; yippee! I hear predictions are for an early spring, but probably down south was meant, don't you think? In any event, the larder is reasonably full, there are books to read and episodes of "Rumpole of the Bailey" to watch on the telly. Thank goodness for Netflix! Otherwise, I'm likely to be puttering around on my web site which - those of you who cannot help themselves and must check it out - is found at More Favorite Web Sites
Catchy title that, eh what? Too much Rumpole could lead to an escape in the general direction of Pomeroy's Wine Bar for me. Back to the telly!