Mad Max Fury Road Sweeps the Oscars & Takes Home 6 Statues

Early in February of this year, I saw a great documentary about the Oscars that have been presented over the years. I have many passions, and watching movies is one of them. I undertook the challenge to watch all of the Oscar movies throughout the years and to offer my opinion of them. You can find those posts by searching the word Oscars.

As I began to watch the old Oscar movies and write about them, I became interested in who would win this year. For the first time ever, I watched the Academy of Awards last night. I wish I had gotten to the theater to see all of the movies before the presentation program. I think that will be my goal this year. I think I’ll return to my resolve to go to the movies once a week. Some movies really much be watched on the big screen. An example of this truth is the movie Mad Max Fury Road.

I did not see Mad Max until it came to television, and that award-winning movie needed the big screen. I reviewed Mad Max Here As I have said before, Mad Max is like taking a road trip through hell. There really is not much dialog and not even much of a plot; yet, the movie won six awards and was also nominated for Best Picture.

When I reviewed Mad Max, I volunteered that it is not my kind of movie. Had I not pledged to watch all of the Oscar nominations, too, I would have skipped that one–simply because I judged the book by its covers. Yet, after watching the movie, I admired its special effects. If you look at Max’s awards, all of them, in one way or another, have to do with the ingenuity of Max’s effects.

Mad Max won the following 6 Awards:

  1. Best Costume Design

2. Best Makeup and Hairstyling

3. Best Production Design 

4. Best Film Editing 

5. Best Sound Mixing

6. Best Sound Editing

I am glad that Mad Max did not receive the Oscar for Best Picture. The story simply is not there, but I absolutely agree that it deserved all of the awards that it got–the awards which are have to do with what it takes to  turn movies into magic. In it own way, Mad Max Fury Road is a magical film.

©Jacki Kellum February 29, 2016

 

 

 

Advertisements

I’m Redoing My Kitchen with a Leap of Faith

Leap, Jump, Chasm, Jumping, Person, Courage, Man, Gap

n
diningroom

Over a year ago, I ripped out the wall that divided 2 small, 10′ x 10’rooms that had been built to serve as my kitchen and my dining room. Both of the diminutive areas were dark and constrictive. I always felt that I could hardly breathe in them, and while a table for 6 would fit in the dining room, it was not large enough for 6 people to sit in the chairs. Neither the kitchen nor the dining room were adequate.

bluekitchen1On top of it all, my kitchen floors and counters were an obnoxious color of blue, and to make matters worse, the cabinets were covered with a thin veneer of a type of plastic–and the plastic was peeling away. Beneath the plastic, the cabinets were particle board. One of the drawers had gotten soggy too many times and the front of the drawer had fallen off. The particle board had corroded away and there was no way to re-attach the drawer-front. Other drawers were beginning to follow suit, and my kitchen was beginning to look like a snaggle-toothed jack-o-lantern.

A couple of times, I considered selling my house and I briefly listed it both times. People would walk through the front door and about 15 feet through a nice living room, with old wood floors. Their faces would seem calm and perhaps even pleased until they reached the kitchen. Once would-be-buyers saw my blue kitchen, their expressions would sour and within minutes, they were out the door and off to look at someone else’s house. My blue kitchen was appalling, and  I couldn’t pass through my house without its flagging me, reminding me that I had an unresolved problem.

I knew what I needed to do. I needed to get rid of the peeling cabinets and I needed to tear out the wall between living room and the dining room. My problem was that I had almost no available funds for remodeling, but I finally found some used cabinets and an affordable handyman to hang them, and without seeing how I’d reach the end of the project, I dove in and began chiseling away the errant wall.

Don’t get me wrong. I was afraid to begin that project, but I knew that if I ever wanted to sell my house, I had to make a change, and I simply began moving toward my goal, trusting  that somehow, I would make it to the end.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1

As I thought about what needed to be done, I talked myself out of action several times. Finally, with almost a Build-It-They-Will-Come attitude, I ripped out the wall myself and took a leap of faith.

Things can fall apart, or threaten to, for many reasons, and then there’s got to be a leap of faith. Ultimately, when you’re at the edge, you have to go forward or backward; if you go forward, you have to jump…. – Yo Yo Ma

No doubt, my tearing up my kitchen was an impulsive and dubious move. I am quite sure that my being an artist enabled me to do what I did. In creating, a person is forced to leap time and again; and redoing my kitchen has become a creative endeavor for me.

Faith is almost the bottom line of creativity; it requires a leap of faith any time we undertake a creative endeavor, whether this is going to the easel, or the page, or onto the stage – or for that matter, in a homelier way, picking out the right fabric for the kitchen curtains, which is also a creative act. – Julia Cameron

I often write about the fear that binds most people who want to create art. I also write about the artist’s need to trust his intuition in creating. Years ago, I learned to hush the voice of caution that had defied my artistic efforts before then.

There are many talented people who haven’t fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious and were unwilling to make the leap of faith. – James Cameron

Creating a kitchen is not much different than painting or sculpting a piece of art. Surely, money is an issue, but I simply had to trust that I would somehow hop over that hurdle, too. My first handyman was a loser–He was more of a doper and crook than anything else. In fact, I wrote a poem about him.

A Limerick for My Contractor
by Jacki Kellum
I hired me a contractor who
Preferred the white the powder and flew
Clear out the door.
My money! You boar!
My house is still far from half-through.

After that guy fled, my project was paralyzed for more than a year. During that time, I have been forced to look at my half-down wall that looks like giant rats have been eating it, and after I yanked up the blue linoleum, I have been forced to see the scabby-looking sub-floor.

It all became depressing to me. I had almost given up on my kitchen project, my creative intuition, and my leap of faith, but just before I did so, things turned around. Someone me a complete kitchen that is gorgeous. It comes with all the appliances, a huge pantry,  the light fixtures and a table and benches. In this case, one man’s trash is more than any treasure that I could even imagine.

I have even found a new contractor that I can barely afford, and I know that I can trust him. He did my friend’s kitchen. For at least one more time, my dreams are about to come true.

Dream it, it will come.

©Jacki Kellum February 29, 2016
Happy 2016 Leap Year

Leap

My Packing List for the Day I’ll be Stranded on a Deserted Island

When I was 10-years-old, the movie Swiss Family Robinson was released. I have been coveting those treehouses for the half a century since that time. For my morning writing exercise, I’ll endeavor to make a list of items that I’ll need for the day that I’ll also find myself stranded on a deserted island.

  1. I’ll need the ship that stranded me and all its goods. That is a biggie.

The ship would have a hammer, nails, a saw, knives, scissors, and other tools. It would have water and food–at least enough to sustain me until I can find other sources, and it would have pots and pans for cooking and storing food and for carrying water from the fresh stream of water that I’ll also wish for my camp.

My ship will also have lumber and rope and needles and thread. I’ll need all of that, and like the Swiss Family, I’ll use the ship’s staircase and banister to help me ascend to my treehouse and afterward, to descend again.

The crow's nest bedroom at Swiss Family Treehouse including hammocks and strewn clothing

Hopefully, I’ll be able to save a great deal of the ship itself. That will save me a great deal of building time.
My ship’s sails will serve as tarps for my camp. I’ll hang one tarp over the top of my treehouse–beneath the thatch roof that I’ll weave above that–and I’ll hang the others on the sides. I’ll roll my sails away on all but the rainiest of days, but during the monsoon season, the tarps will serve to protect me from most of the natural elements. The ship’s store of rum and ale will also be useful during the monsoon season.

 

I’ll salvage the dishes and furniture from my ship. Note to self: use the steering wheel to hang all of the macrame and weavings that you will make. Also, self, start practicing the piano again. You will need it once you bring your organ to camp.
The master bedroom at Swiss Family Treehouse in Magic Kingdom park

I’ll treasure the ornately carved mirror from the Captain’s quarters. It will be both functional and a source of beauty for me, and the ship’s brushes, combs, soap, and detergent will be indispensable. Without them, I would not bother looking into my mirror.

This might seem unimportant to many, but I love rich fabrics. In addition to my other types of art, I enjoy working with textiles. I am one of those people who routinely goes into fabric stores simply to touch the fabrics. I buy much too much fabric. I buy it simply to look at it once I get it home. Textiles are beautiful to me, and I love to work with them, transposing them into other pieces that are more uniquely me.

Saving the captain’s bed, sheets, and pillows would be luxurious, but my spirit would need at least one quilt. If I have a fetish, it is a quilt fetish. My quilt must be soft, 100% cotton, and filled with cotton batting. If it is not these things, it will not drape around my body the way that I need it to drape. Now, this is picky, but my quilt must be totally stitched by hand–the quilting and all. My grandmother made quilts like that, and regardless of how hot the temperature gets, it is essential for to sleep with an old quilt. I like the way that it cups and cradles me as I rest.

The ship’s matches, candles, kerosene, and lamps will be my beacons. They will light my nights–both the physical ones and the emotional ones. You see, being stranded on an island can last a lifetime, and a lifetime without light and without beauty and without hope would be crushing for me. Once my spirit had been crushed, I wouldn’t last very long anyway.

My ship will also have writing utensils and journals and other paper. I don’t think that I could survive without a way to record my thoughts and feelings. With my writing devices, I’ll be able to express myself both in words and with drawings. I’ll use the paint on the ship to color my art, and I’ll use the oil onboard to develop other paint from berries and other things on the island.

 I’ll hang the ship’s masthead to serve as sculpture and to also remind me from whence I came and the human that I am. My masthead will also be my angel–she will be my shrine–the place where I can simply look and feel peaceful.

 

Compass, Antique, Map Of The World, Navigation, Route

After my excursions for more supplies are complete, the ship’s compass will help me find my way back to camp.

On listless nights, I’ll use the telescope to chart the starry sky and to help me dream and lullaby away the hours. During the days, I’ll use it to scour the horizon looking for rescue ships and predators.

My ship will also have guns and ammunition. I’m not sure how I’ll get it to my base, but it will have a cannon, too. I’ll need that when the approaching ship is flying a black flag with a skull and crossbones.

 

 

Other things that I will need for being stranded on my island.

2. Animals – I’ll need chickens to lay eggs and to provide an ever-renewing source of meat and writing quills. I’ll need a cow for milk, and I’ll need some sweet dogs to be my companions. One of the dogs must be my Lady girl. She would have been with me on the ship, and as we crashed, I would have held her tightly; therefore, getting her to camp would be simple.

10409747_10204144772922650_8295910139967235536_n

3. Strong Handyman – All of these plans are nice, but I am not strong enough to do all the heavy lifting. I’ll need a strong man for that. He doesn’t have to be my lover. He just needs to help me lift and tote. I’ll help him build and adorn his own treehouse–in another tree.

4. Waterfall and Fresh Stream of Water – I’ll need the fresh, churning water for drinking water and bathing, and I’ll need the waterfall to provide me with a meditative retreat, complete with the soothing sounds that waterfalls make. When the sun hits the waterfall just right and creates a rainbow, my heart will skip a beat.

5. Flowers – Just yesterday, I wrote about the fact that I’ll always need flowers. They are a must for me.

In summary, it is nice to stop and consider all of the little, practical things that we depend upon–things that we take for granted. It is also nice to consider how much beauty helps sustain us. When asked to list the things that you would need when you are stranded on an island, you might think that the list would be short, but in reality, for most of today’s Americans, things that other people would consider to be luxuries have become our actual needs. Most of us have been allowed to move beyond physical survival in life. Some of us also need things to help us survive spiritually. While I am sure that I could continue to live without a few of the things that I would salvage from my shipwreck, I do need a certain number of things to sustain not only my body but also my soul.

©Jacki Kellum February 28, 2016

Five Items

The 1994 Oscar Nomination Shawshank Redemption Is Absolutely Great!

For the first two hours of the movie Shawshank Redemption, I was not sure which way the movie was going. I immediately knew that the warden was a hard and evil man. In my opinion, he is the worst kind of evil–the kind that totes the Bible and quotes scripture. That kind of evil slithers along.

 

But several sweet and decent things develop during the fist 2/3 of the movie. We come to know Morgan Freeman as a warm and trustworthy man.  As the Tim Robbins character comes to befriend Morgan Freeman’s character, we also do. Morgan Freeman’s character is the movie’s spirit.

Some powerful truths surface during the movie Shawshank Redemption. When the old librarian is released after fifty years, he cannot survive on the outside. As Mogan Freeman [Red] says, it is because he had become institutionalized:

Red: These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.

Heywood: Shit. I could never get like that.

Ernie: Oh yeah? Say that when you been here as long as Brooks has.

Red: Goddamn right. They send you here for life, and that’s exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyway.

Another profound thought about the importance of music is explored:

Red: I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.

[Later, Andy says]: That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you…

Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.

Red: Forget?

Andy: Forget that… there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.

Red: What’re you talking about?

Andy: Hope.

Shawshank is a movie about hope. It is about that spark of hope that haunts you, when survival seems almost impossible:

Red: Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.

And it’s a movie about hope, when there is a light at the end of the tunnel:

Red: I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

Shawshank Redemption is a study of true justice, as opposed to the flawed justice system, and it is also a reflection upon the miserable way that the prison system mishandles rehabilitation.

Andy: You know the funny thing is, on the outside I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook.

We do not realize it until much later, but while Andy had been in prison, he [who was innocent when he came to prison] was forced to launder the money that the warden had skimmed off the top of prison funds. The innocent man processes the illegal monies made by the leader of the institution that was supposed to be rehabilitating him. Ultimately, however, as a result of what he had been forced to do in prison, the innocent Andy does become a crook. He diverts the illegal funds so that he can access them, once he escapes:

Red: Ever bother you?

Andy: I don’t run the scams Red, I just process the profits. Fine line, maybe, but I also built that library and used it to help a dozen guys get their high school diploma. Why do you think the warden lets me do all that?

Red: To keep you happy and doing the laundry. Money instead of sheets.

Later, at his final parole hearing Red is asked if he felt he was rehabilitated. Following i his response:

Parole Board Man: Ellis Boyd Redding, your files say you’ve served 40 years of a life sentence. Do you feel you’ve been rehabilitated?

Red: Rehabilitated? Well, now let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means.

Parole Board Man: Well, it means that you’re ready to rejoin society…

Red: I know what you think it means, sonny. To me, it’s just a made up word. A politician’s word, so young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie, and have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did?

Parole Board Man: Well, are you?

Red: There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that. Rehabilitated? It’s just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.

Another theme of Shawshank has to do with pressure and time. Andy’s hobby was geology. Red said the following about geology:

“Red: In 1966, Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub. I remember thinking it would take a man six hundred years to tunnel through the wall with it. Old Andy did it in less than twenty. Oh, Andy loved geology. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature. An ice age here, million years of mountain building there. Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes really, pressure, and time. That, and a big goddamn poster. Like I said, in prison a man will do most anything to keep his mind occupied. Turns out Andy’s favorite hobby was totin’ his wall out into the exercise yard, a handful at a time. I guess after Tommy was killed, Andy decided he’d been here just about long enough. Andy did like he was told, buffed those shoes to a high mirror shine. The guards simply didn’t notice. Neither did I… I mean, seriously, how often do you really look at a mans shoes? Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can’t even imagine, or maybe I just don’t want to. Five hundred yards… that’s the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile.”

For anyone who is dealing with adversity, the deciding factor has to do with pressure and time. Shawshank Redemption is the story of how intense pressure, over time, motivated Andy Dufresne to devise an ingenious plan to escape.

When Morgan Freemon says the following, he speaks both a physical and a symbolic truth.

Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit-smelling foulness…

On one level, Andy had crawled through one-half mile of sewage pipes to escape. On another level, he had crawled through twenty years of demoralizing insults wielded by the warden and his wicked sidekick.

Red: Sometimes it makes me sad, though… Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice.

After having his parole rejected for years, Red is finally released from Shawshank and like his friend the old librarian who had been released before, he becomes depressed and he becomes afraid:

Red: There’s a harsh truth to face. No way I’m gonna make it on the outside. All I do anymore is think of ways to break my parole, so maybe they’d send me back. Terrible thing, to live in fear. Brooks Hatlen knew it. Knew it all too well. All I want is to be back where things make sense. Where I won’t have to be afraid all the time. Only one thing stops me. A promise I made to Andy.

Then, he remembers what Andy had said about something that would be waiting for him, should he ever be released  from prison:

Andy: Red. If you ever get out of here, do me a favor.

Red: Sure, Andy. Anything.

Andy: There’s a big hayfield up near Buxton. You know where Buxton is?

Red: Well, there’s… there’s a lot of hayfields up there.

Andy: One in particular. It’s got a long rock wall with a big oak tree at the north end. It’s like something out of a Robert Frost poem. It’s where I asked my wife to marry me. We went there for a picnic and made love under that oak and I asked and she said yes. Promise me, Red. If you ever get out… find that spot. At the base of that wall, you’ll find a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield. Piece of black, volcanic glass. There’s something buried under it I want you to have.

Red: What, Andy? What’s buried under there?

Andy: [turns to walk away] You’ll have to pry it up… to see.

In summary, for people who like to think, the movie Shawshank Redemption is a treasure. I had forgotten how many gems it contains. Quoting Andy Dufresne again, “You’ll have to pry it up…to see.”

©Jacki Kellum February 27, 2016

 

 

Consider the Lilies – It’s Time to Plan Your Garden

August42015adj

 Jacki Kellum’s Garden in July of 2015

The other day, I wrote about the fact that April is on its way and along with April, flowers will begin their annual parade of color through my yard. I have been ruminating over the reasons that I feel compelled to work like a slave in my garden.  I often say that if someone told me that I had to garden–just for pay, I’d pass.  If money were the only motivation, I would say that the labor of gardening is far too much for what I’d be paid for my efforts. Surely, there are other benefits. There are other reasons that I am compelled to garden.

ZenGarden Quote2

As a result of my gardening efforts, I am able to create Zen-like spots where I can go to unwind.

It’s been proven by quite a few studies that plants are good for our psychological development. If you green an area, the rate of crime goes down. Torture victims begin to recover when they spend time outside in a garden with flowers. So we need them, in some deep psychological sense, which I don’t suppose anybody really understands yet. – Jane Goodall

There are several health benefits to gardening.  For me, the only anecdote for the winter doldrums is spring and getting back outside and back to work in my garden.  https://cottagegardenliving.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/the-health-benefits-of-gardening/

Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day – like writing a poem or saying a prayer. – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I also garden to keep the gate that links to my childhood open. My grandmother was an avid gardener. She had massive flower beds, and gardening reminds me of my grandmother.

grandmascloset

Grandma’s Closet
by Jacki Kellum

The bonnet’s at the very top
The duster’s down below.
Fancy flowers are drying still,
They’re hanging in a row.

Breathe the sunshine, weeds, and dirt,
Catch the seeds from Grandma’s skirt,
Store them in you summer shirt,
Plant them, let them grow.

© jacki Kellum November 24, 2015

My grandparents not only owned their own home, they also owned the string of houses next to them.  Keep in mind that this was a rural community, and my grandparent’s houses had immense lots.  The people who rented had nice yards, but my grandmother gardened the backs of all of the yards that my grandparents owned, and on the absolute back of the land, my grandmother planted a glorious stand of hollyhocks.

There was an alley behind the hollyhocks and my street was behind the hollyhocks.  As a young child, at least once a day, I used to walk through the alley, into the towering stand of hollyhocks, and through my grandmother’s flower garden–and finally, to her house.  As soon as I passed beneath the sheltering arms of the hollyhocks, I felt safe and protected. It was a magnificent pilgrimage, and even today as I retrace those steps, my spirit is lifted.

Certainly, as I labor to create my own garden now, my main ambition must be that of holding on to my grandmother’s garden, my grandmother, and my own childhood.  Actually, there could be no better reason at all.

But I also love wildflowers–even those that are often considered to be weeds.

arnica-lupine-2

Wildflowers Painted in Alaska – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – A. A. Milne

Flowers have motivated many painters.

I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. – Claude Monet

sunflower

Sunflower – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him. –  Augueste Rodin

Flowers inspire musicians and writers, too.

In a meadow full of flowers, you cannot walk through and breathe those smells and see all those colors and remain angry. We have to support the beauty, the poetry, of life. – Jonas Mekas

tulips1 (1)

In the Pink – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

My parents told me I’d point to a bed of flowers and say ‘Pink. Pretty,’ before I knew any other words. – Joni Mitchell

red-hibiscus-2-june-22-20135

Red Hibiscus – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Especially in the Northeast, where winters are long, everything becomes dull when the world is not in bloom. Flowers are the simple, little punches of color that transform the vista from the ordinary–from the blah–to the extraordinary.

If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers. – Doug Larson

Both working and sitting in my garden are probably the activities that most keep me sane. I have written blog posts in which I have tried to catalog all of the reasons that my garden is vital to me.  For example, there are health benefits in my being able to root around in the dirt and become part of what nature, plants, and seeds can produce.  I have built a waterfall, and the sounds that it makes are soothing to me and watching the cascading water is mesmerizing. I also have bird feeders and bird baths.  Being able to sit, just feet away from my feeding and bathing birds is an invaluable treat for me. It is through gardening that I am most delighted.

Earth laughs in flowers. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

12003286_10207654460182638_6047258159518096419_nadj

My garden is also the way that I process time. I mark the seasons that come and have gone in my life through flowers. Something about nature softens the blow of aging.

thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Across the Lake – Jacki Kellum

dec1cropped

December River – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Because of their seasonal natures, flowers are even more beautiful to me because of winter. I often wish that I lived in a tropical area, where flowers bloom all year long, but in reality, because flowers go, I enjoy them even more when they return, and during winter, I allow my spirit to rest–just as the flowers rest.

Nature is essential for me. It is also the main way that I pray.

God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. – Martin Luther

My love and my absolute need of nature and gardening and flowers are the reasons that I would hate living on Mars. Because I love to garden, I don’t even want to live in a condominium. Living on Mars would be hell for me.

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. – Iris Murdoch

©Jacki Kellum February 27, 2015

Longing for Gravity

The 1975 Oscar Movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Is Enlightening – Are We All Insane?

Before tonight, I had not seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for Years. Over that timespan, I began to hear this person or that referred to as a Nurse Ratched. It has been enlightening to watch Cuckoo’s Nest again–simply to reacquaint myself with the Nurse Ratched’s of the world.

I often write about narcissism, and in observing Nurse Ratched, we are allowed to witness the manipulative pranks of one type of narcissistic personality type. The interesting thing is that Nurse Ratched is supposedly the sanest person around–she is the overseer and the caretaker of an insane asylum. Shouldn’t she be extremely sane? Unfortunately, she is not. In fact, she may be far more dangerously ill than the people that she “helps.”Nurse Ratched simply has a type of illness that is acceptable. Like someone with walking pneumonia, Nurse Ratched is functionally insane.

Nurse Ratched is a type of narcissist. One of the narcissist’s best tricks is that he is able to fool most people around himself. Narcissists are able to step into one role or another, and in almost every instance, the roles that they choose are those of people that society admires.

For instance, some narcissists are powerful CEO’s and politicians. Because this type of narcissist is able to conceal his true motives, society sees them as brilliant and successful. The Nurse Ratched narcissists of the world fool society into believing that they are the saviors–the selfless givers and caretakers–the angels.

In every case that I have seen, narcissists are wounded people who use their camouflaging behaviors to gain approval. As long as their ruses are working and as long as they are getting the approval that they seek, they are able to run on a fairly even keel, but when their camouflages are stripped away and light is flashed on their true motives, narcissists begin to behave in inappropriate ways. At the very least, they become outraged.

Early in the movie, we see Nurse Ratched dispensing medicine in the ward. She begins to play soupy music and everyone begins a mindless processional toward the altar for the high priestess to provide them with the host. This was all working smoothly until Jack Nicholson appears on the scene and begins the process of challenging Nurse Ratched’s authority and of showing the type of person that she truly is.

Notice in the following clip that Ratched still has that smooth, fake, holier-than-thou super-sweet tone and behavior going for her.

As the movie progresses, Nurse Ratched’s overwhelmingly nice facade begins to slip, and toward the end of the movie, she begins to behave as the wicked person that she truly is–beneath her manipulative veil.

Ultimately, Nurse Ratched wins in the power struggle with Jack Nicholson. Because of her, a frontal lobotomy is performed on him. Before that time, he was probably the least insane person on the ward [certainly less insane than Nurse Ratched is]. Because she cannot exercise control over Nicholson otherwise, she rendered him totally and permanently incapable of dissent. It was not a maneuver to help Nicholson–it s]was a way that Ratched could resume her power, her control, and her manipulative facade.

One of the outakes from the movie is that we are left, asking ourselves who is truly sane and who is insane. What you see is not always what is there. Narcissicism is a psychiatric diagnosis, but all of us have a touch of narcissism. It is the way that we survive. When that touch of narcissism is swelled out of proportion, the narcissist becomes a menace.

I recommend watching Cuckoo’s Nest. It is enlightening. Everyone needs to learn to pick out the Nurse Ratcheds around themeselves. They are ticking bombs.

©Jacki Kellum February 27, 2016

 

 

Let’s Talk – Just You & Me – The Loneliest Place Is In A Crowd

People, Crowded, Steps, Walking

Many years ago, I observed that the loneliest places are in crowds. People are either rushing past each other–never even seeing who is around them, or they sit and chatter, saying nothing at all. I detest idle chit-chat. Actually, I am fairly good at it, but even when I am rattling along, I know that the entire mockery is a sham. In my opinion, the best conversations are one-on-one, when people become individuals and when they speak truths about who and why they are.

biscuit-quote

I think I fall in love a little bit with anyone who shows me their soul.
This world is so guarded and fearful.
I appreciate rawness so much. – Emery Allen

I write a lot about connection–seeing, as opposed to mere looking–hearing–communicating. Probably everyone is familiar with the song Sounds of Silence. That song haunts me.

City, Moon, Buildings, Cityscape, Night, Evening, Dark

Hello, Darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk to you again.

Because a vision softly creeping

Because a vision, softly creeping. Left its seeds while I was sleeping.
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In Restless Dreams I Walk Along

In restless dreams, I walked alone.
Narrow streets of cobblestone.

Neath the halo of a street lamp, I turned my collar to the cold and damp.

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light That split the night And touched the sound of silence

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light that split the night
And touched the sounds of silence.

And in the Naked Light I Saw !0,000 People Maybe More

And in the naked light, I saw ten thousand people maybe more.

People Talking without Speaking

Fools, said I, you do not know. Silence, like a cancer, grows…..

In my opinion, idle chatter is deafening. It is Much Ado about Nothing. It is a waste of energy. On the other hand, it is possible to communicate with people–without saying a word. Eyes are great communicators. Even in a crowded room, eyes can meet and connect. Gaps are bridged, and there is interaction.

People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

In my opinion, when people get in crowd behavior, they tend to speak in generalities. They tend to say what they feel they “should” say or they go into argument mode–shouting to rise above the mob. When I talk to people, I like to shave away the generalities and the platitudes. I like for people to bare their souls. I like to speak and I like to hear. I like to connect.

Take My Arms That I Might Reach You

Hear my voice that I might teach you.
Take my arms that I might reach you.

But My Words, Like Silent Raindrops, Fell

But my words, like silent raindrops fell.
And echoed in the sounds of silence.

And Echoed in the Wells of Sildence

And the People Bowed and Prayed to the Neon Gods They Made

And the people bowed and prayed to the Neon God they made.

And the Words of the Prophet Are Written on the Subway Walls

The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls….
And echoed in the sounds of silence.

Amen – Simon & Garfunkel
Thank you, Paul Simon, for your golden guitar
and your magical words.

Paul Simon has said all of this so very well–long before I muttered it on my blog, but the loneliest place is in a crowd. A crowd is the best place to say and hear nothing at all. In fact, I believe that because most people are afraid to communicate, they hide in crowds. Because they are afraid of what they might hear otherwise, they choose to utter corporate non-speak. None of that is for me. If I have my choice, I’ll sit and talk, one-on-one– every time.

©Jacki Kellum February 26, 2016

Counting Voices

April, Come She Will – Spring Will Arrive; It Always Does

Sunset, Trees, Winter, Mood, Kahl, Evening, Twilight

April, come she will,
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain.
May, she will stay,
Resting in my arms again.
June, she’ll change her tune.
In restless walks she’ll prowl the night.
July, she will fly,
And give no warning of her flight.
August, die she must.
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold.
September, I’ll remember.
A love once new has now grown old.
I lived most of my life in the South and by the end of February there, daffodils begin to bloom, the icy winds have subsided, and spring has all but arrived. For the past several years, I have lived on the New Jersey Shore, and it can still be brutally cold in February here.
In the South, people hope for snow. With fingers crossed and while holding their breath, they do the Snow Dance every time the sky turns gray in winter. In the mid-Atlantic region, I begin winter that way, as I anxiously await the first soft and silent snow that will come and white-wash everything around me. By the time that February ends, however, I have become tired of the cold weather and the high winds–the N’or-Easters.

 

This past week, we had a few 40-degree days and perhaps even one 50-degree day.  Tufts of greenness have begun to shoot above the earth, signaling that spring is on its way, but last night, the winds shifted. One cold blast too many landed on my old, massive, and majestic magnolia tree, toppling it to the ground–only inches from my house. Tonight, temperatures will dip to the 20’s again, and I have to remind myself that in this region, spring is not here until April, but April does come–it always does.
If I were Mother Nature, I’d have long, long springs and falls, and I’d steal days from winter, making it shorter. I enjoy a brief, winter show, but by the end of February, I am ready for yellow jonquils and fat robins. Right now, I am singing Paul Simon’s song, reminding myself: “April, come she will.”
©Jacki Kellum February 26, 2016

Pace Oddity

 

Differences Between Memoir & Autobiography, Which Is Traditionally A List of Facts

Tea, Cup, Rest, Calm, Afternoon, Beverage, Hot, Mug

Memoirs can be a collection of all types of writings — and even illustrations — but a Memoir is not an Autobiography, which traditionally is limited to simple facts.

For years, I thought about writing my memoir. I am a natural storyteller–it is simply part of my genetic code. I was born into a family of storytellers. I have also been through a wide of assortment of experiences, which have collectively provided me with the fodder for some good tales. Yet, before now, each of my attempts to write memoir has been doomed because I believed that Memoirs were Confessions–Confessions that were stretched across the confines of a timetable. In reality, the best Memoir writing is not a confessional and it is not a mere personal history.

What A Memoir Is Not

  • Memoirs are not the places that the writers go to hash and rehash all of the brutal and unfortunate experiences of their lives. I have tried that kind of writing, and it is like wading in quicksand. The more you stir your pity pot, the quicker you are sucked into your own deep and black hole.
  • Memoirs are also not simple histories that begin with what a writer has been told about his birth and followed by the most cogent points after that–all listed, according to a timeline.

What A Memoir Is

  • In reality, the best memoirs are not chronological at all. They are simply groups of stories that are told in a searching and reflective way.
  • Quite often, memoirs skip all around the writer’s history.
  • In one chapter, stories from several times during a person’s life may be pulled together around one theme.  An entire memoir may examine several themes.
  • Memoirs may ask more questions than provide lists of facts. Through a person’s memoir, we are allowed to listen to the writer as he thinks–as he processes and tries to make sense of some of the events of his life.
  • Memoirs are also invitations into the writer’s heart. While an autobiography might be a cold and precise treatise–much like a textbook or a history book–good memoirs tend to be written more creatively–using figures of speech, poetic devices, etc. The facts are not made up, and liberties are not taken when repeating them. They are simply laced together with fine and textured thread.

Skills Needed for Writing Memoir

In my experience, some important skills are needed for writing Memoir.

  • The writer needs to be able to recall actual things that have happened to him during the course of his lifetime.
  • The writer needs to learn to write more sensitively and more creatively.
  • The writer needs to learn to actually see several times during his past.
  • The writer needs to learn to paint what he sees with words.

Take the Jacki Kellum 6-Word Memoir Challenge to Help Learn to Write Descriptive Memoir

Day 1 Step 1 of the 6-Word Memoir Challenge is Here

©Jacki Kellum February 24, 2016

 

The 1963 Movie Nomination Lilies of the Field Is Delightful!

If you need to watch a Feel-Good Film, watch the 1963 Oscar Movie nomination Lilies of the Field. Amen!

Sidney Poitier is perfect in Lilies of the Field, and for his effort, he became the first African-American to win the Oscar for Best Actor. Denzel Washington was the second African-American to win the same award, but that was not for another 38 years.

The competition for the Oscar in 1963 was steep. In that same year, Cleopatra, How the West Was Won, and Tom Jones were also nominated. Tom Jones won the award, and if my memory serves me right about Tom Jones, Lilies would have been my choice. It is certainly a movie that brings me more joy.

In 1963, I was 13-years-old. Because of Lilies of the Field, the song Amen became famous, and it is still one of my favorites.

Lilies of the Field is a film about faith. The title suggests the followiong scripture:

22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.

23 For the life is more than the food, and the body than the raiment.

24 Consider the ravens, that they sow not, neither reap; which have no store-chamber nor barn; and God feedeth them: of how much more value are ye than the birds!

25 And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit unto the measure of his life?

26 If then ye are not able to do even that which is least, why are ye anxious concerning the rest?

27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

28 But if God doth so clothe the grass in the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more shall he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Luke 12: 22 – 28

The movie is set in an almost barren field, and in my opinion that almost Wasteland-like field is a symbol. A group of German nuns are essentially stranded on the field, struggling to chisel sustenance from it. We see them hoeing the hard and rocky ground. They barely have enough food to eat, but they have dared to want more than sustenance. Even though bare survival seems a tall order, they also want to build a chapel. When Fate arranges a chance meeting between the nuns and Poitier, the sisters believe that God has answered almost all of their prayers. God has brought them a strong man to do their work.

Initially, Poitier refuses to do the job, but eventually he agrees; however, there are no materials for the project. Mother Superior believes that prayer will provide the materials. When it seems that prayer has not worked, Poitier is ready to bale. The following dialog takes place:

Poitier: Where are the bricks?
Mother Superior: They will come. Maybe not tonight, but there is
other things, you could be busy. Raking and planting trees.

Poitier: We had this contract. You failed to keep your part.

Mother Superior: I failed because I put my faith in people
instead of in God!

Ultimately, Mother Superior’s faith is rewarded and Poitier grows. This movie has no surprises. Early, you know how the movie will end, but because it is delightful, you continue to watch. You continue to be delighted.

As I said before, Lilies of the Field is a feel-good movie, and in my opinion, there are far too many of those.

©Jacki Kellum February 23, 2016