out of the ashes

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dirty Dancing

Once in a while. Okay, quite often…I get sidetracked over at Youtube. Rostropovich’s performances grab me, and then suddenly Sara Bareilles appears and knocks me out. Well, Mr. Rostropovich doesn’t dance (that I know of), but Sara does…and does it so well! Bobby Brown. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. Ah, Dirty Dancing.


Put a great dancer onstage. Put TWO great dancers together out there. The result can be amazing. Put an entire cast of great dancers and a great song…

I’m not sure what I was doing that prompted me this afternoon to pull up Time Of My Life, but I’m so glad I did. I remember the movie Dirty Dancing well. I vividly remember that remarkable scene at the movie’s finale. Medley’s voice coming on soft and husky. Who else could have fit the singer’s role better than he? And Jennifer Warnes floating in a few bars down the line. The song was magic! The lyrics have the power to melt you (still, after all these years), the melody, and maybe best, the arrangement. Perfect for the movie.

But that is only half the draw for me. Like I said, two great dancers in Swayze and Grey—yes, she really was good. Patrick Swayze was merely phenomenal--but it was the choreography, I think. Yes, that’s what did it for me. I keep going back to about three minutes into this seven-minute segment, watching the dancers led by Swayze, coming up that middle aisle. I could watch that short portion (and listen to the music) all day long. Somehow I feel so much better about life, about the world when I see and hear this kind of art.

Thanks Hollywood. Thanks Jennifer and Jennifer, and Phil, and--God bless--thanks Mr. Swayze, you went away much too soon.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday and Writing

I woke up early. Well, 5:00 o'clock at least.

I'm going to finish Closer To Heaven. I'm GOING to! thinks I. I'm so close. Yet I'd written a chapter...the latest...in which ten years have flown by. Amelia is all grown up. 18 years-old, now. She has a new voice. Mature. Educated. Reflective. It all made sense at the outset; her voice and point of view. You see, Mr. "Klondor" Baxter wasn't really bad at all. In fact he was simply another victim of the Oops! by the visitors from galaxies beyond. He was a teacher before the cataclysm struck. And what do teachers do?

Jerrick has read many of the classics (in those opening pages of C2H). In Braille, certainly, but fingers are as delicate as the eyes. Note to self: Listen again, watch Rostropovich perform Dvorak's Cello Concerto, Parts 3 and 4. He did not NEED his eyes.

Between Jerrick and Bax, reading becomes part of the daily regimen. Like planting and nourishing the crops that will feed the survivors. You do it or you die. It seemed to me--seems to me--that in a new order, reading would/should be as important as breathing and eating. All of the beautiful ideas of past generations live on in books. If all we know are video games, network sitcoms, Facebook, sometimes (often) hideous music, what have we missed? What are we? Little Amelia missed these things at first, but Amelia is my archetypal woman-to-be.

I decided at 5:01 to go back to my working draft doc and push that chapter--ten years after--down. I think it has a place. I know it does. It is really an epilogue, and I love epilogues. Byatt's Postscript 1868 comes to mind immediately. Stunning, like the ending notes of the Concerto.

I'd ended Chapter 14 with Munster and Mr. Baxter knocking on the window at the rectory. Amelia is freaking. She sees death at Baxter's hand...

So there I left the reader hanging. The End, save the "Epilogue" entitled Chapter 15. All forward motion ceased. There was really no climax, only a wrapping up. Tidy. Unfulfilling even if the reader knew, having finished 15, the why's, the who's, the wherefore's. Ah! I see what happened.

Not precisely. Tell them in Amelia's charming young voice. Put it all in scene.


And so this morning I'm listening to Rostropovich as I move into the new scenes, clicking over occasionally to Youtube in order to see an artist perform as only a master can. His intensity. Eyes closed, fingers moving like a raging forest fire at times, other times as though they were caressing his love's breasts.

I most likely will never write like Rostropovich plays. I most likely will never write like Roch composed and played, but I close my eyes, and I'm in Amelia's church, frightened, and I'm able to walk right beside her into the real climax and ending.