October 15, 2010

Plurals and Dimensions

I, without question, am my best excuse. I hope you won't mind the intimacy of first person plural here. It just makes me feel like we are so much closer. You and me, me and you... on this page... alone. And I am writing this to you, yes, quite you. While we are here I must say that I am charmed to indebtedness with your presence here. I do not lie. Why should I? After all, it's just you and me here and there is no need for pretense or illusions of favour. No face to save or ego to swell. Just us. And as an offering of my sentiment on the issue, I'm smiling like the cat who ate all the canaries to think of it. If we could move from this second dimension page to the third dimension adjacent sitting room I would offer you a cup of tea (Do you take sugar or milk?) but as we cannot, take my intention at the gesture's worth. I do wish to be hospitable at the sincerest least.

I do digress, do I not? Oh me! Where was I now... Ah yes, my best excuse: that would be me. I think that's all I had to say on the matter. Your silence I shall take as merely imposed quiescence. I do not offend easily but my feelings do bruise with the slightest suspicion of displeasure. Your displeasure, of course, not mine. As most know I would do nothing short of acting a complete and utter fool to please you. And, not to my credit perhaps but rather my deficit, possibly have.

Well, I must push off now. I hate to leave you on your own here but in all honesty, I left awhile ago. Which leaves the subject of second dimensional first person plural for you to ponder at your leisure should you choose to remain here for a bit...

Nah, I didn't think so...

January 13, 2010

All Good Things Spin

Spin. Spinning. Spun. Round and round, bare feet on cool grass. Spin "around and around and around we go where we stop nobody knows" until up is down and right-side-in is wrong-side-out. Remember the swish, twist tilt-a-whirl world of childhood where you reel around the fountain, twirl and swirl like the downy-tufted seeds of a dandelion floating on a closed-eyed wish. The rise and fall revolution of a majestic carousel horse. The tippidy-top pause thrill of a Ferris wheel. The beautiful mysterious moon in orbit. Running to the top of the hill, face to the sky, airplane arms. Now lay dazed in the too-dazzling sunshine and roll to the bottom, a dizzy, dizzy giggle puff. Far off, the sound of a Merry-Go-Round. The graceful pirouette of a paper whirlybird. A yo-yo tricking "Around The World." A pinwheel's paper curl whirl on a breeze. A loopty-loop hula hoop. A spinning top. Spun sugar. All good things spin. ~H.L.

September 17, 2009

Down The Rabbit Hole Again

I love just about any movie with Johnny Depp, especially when paired with the celluloid god, Tim Burton. However, I was not so smitten with Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Athough the film was amusing, and downright (brilliantly) bizarre in some parts, my loyalties lay with the original, if not solely for my dislike of the heretical plot twists that varied from the original and for sentimental reasons, then for the disappointment in Depp’s portrayal of Willy Wonka, embedding the role with the qualities of the lately late Michael Jackson. Depp’s Wonka seemed more likened to the man-down-the-street-your-mother-warned-you-about. I much perfer the charming albeit peculiar candy man played by Wilder. Nevertheless, I look forward to Burton’s movies like a kid looks forward to Christmas morning or the last day of school.

So, In March of 2010, Burton is delivering another masterpiece, Alice in Wonderland. Of course you’ll find Johnny Depp (whose crystalline eyes and gapped teeth make him look eerily like a demented Elijah Wood) and Helena Bonham Carter as you do in most Burton flicks, I was beyond thrilled to find Crispin Glover and Little Britain’s Matt Lucas are also in the cast. To top it all off, the steampunk chic costumes are divine. 

Although it is stated in the reviews there will be a few Burton-esque twists to the plot, I’m hoping he follows Carroll’s White Rabbit more than less faithfully. All the same, I'll be watching out for subtle allusions in the landscape of Burton's Wonderland (i.e., the pink sheep in Wonka's factory, a wink to Ed Wood's pink angora sweaters).  No doubt merchandising will be aimed at a Hot Topic near you. I simply must have The Red Queen's tights!


September 7, 2009

Living In The Moment

“If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything.” Win Borden

I've noticed a certain vacuous phenomenon which occurs in nearly everyone as we mature into productive, responsible adults. It's the fact that you can say with certainty you know exactly what you will be doing at any given moment tomorrow or the next day or the next and so on. Everything is planned out and etched into the stone confines of your calendar. The alarm is set. The time is allotted. It’s all nicely structured and it’s all predictable and somehow, somewhere along the way, you became perfectly willing to carve yourself a hole inside this itinerary internment and climb inside. Where is the fun in that? Where’s the wonder? Where is the thrill? Where is the life, I ask you?

I love this photograph. Not because it is iconic or shares the feelings of triumph and elation at the announcement that World War II had ended. What I see is the undeniable quintessence of life in the moment, of spontaneity. Glenn McDuffie took hold of the moment by taking hold of this nurse and firmly planting a kiss on her unsuspecting lips. And, by the grace of serendipity, the moment was also captured on film. Thus, this outstanding impulse indulgence birthed an enduring American icon.

Spontaneity is doing something just because you feel like it. It’s being in the moment and taking yourself by surprise while recklessly seizing control of your organized routine and throwing caution to the wind. Who can deny that these moments always seem stand out more in our memory than others? They are the things that went against the monotonous flow of our everyday existence, their distinction created by following caprice without premeditation or hesitation. And, dear reader, therein lies the key: hesitation.

Hesitation leads to second thoughts, which is the revolving door that inevitably leads back to convention, back to the regular uninteresting lack-luster flow of everyday life. Impulse has no time for hesitation. It’s an impatient creature that waits for no one. All it gives you is a wink and you can choose follow or not in the blink of that eye.

Maybe you are the type that never strays from the well-worn path of routine. Never given way to the raw impetus of whim. Maybe it was for fear of being judged or fear of losing control or just fear itself but who can deny, for instance, the thrill of being a passenger in a convertible car with the music up loud and, without thought, the gateway of adrenaline spills forth its vim and next thing you know you’re standing up with your arms spread out, slicing through the wind like a bird in flight. Or to saddle ones spoon with a generous mound of mashed potatoes, take steady aim at ones spouse and, with a shot heard ‘round the table, start an all out food fight to the surprise and glee of the children. Yes, these are a couple of my more whimsical moments. My kids still talk about that messy albeit marvelously mad-capped night years later.

I personally try never to let one of these zany inclinations go by without some consideration. I don’t always follow every impulse but I can’t imagine life without their added sparkle reminding me that I’m still living, still discovering, still feeling the joie de vivre, and still not acknowledging maturity’s grim minion, spiritual rigor mortis.

So, go forth, my friend, and follow whim wherever that little imp may take you! If it’s permission you need, I lavishly give it to you. Start small if you have to. Have that extra shot of espresso in your morning latte, crank that stereo and sing like nobody’s watching or hurl mashed potatoes (or any edible with decent adhesion properties) at dining loved ones and see if it doesn’t make your day just a little more vibrant. Looking back, these recollections will always outshine the rest and the smile you smiled in that moment will return to your face. It’s those smiles that live on and on, never expiring, and hence become your own personal icon to the moment lived well.

January 1, 2009

Ex Libris

Tell me your life story. Start at the beginning, your birth - or your conception, if the details be known - and divulge the years between then and now. Write it down - all of it, even the embarrassing or appalling parts, if you would be so daring. And now, if I were to turn your pages, what would I find? What section would you be filed under? M for Mystery or T for Tragedy? R for Romance or S for Science Fiction? A for Adventure or D for Drama? F for Fantasy or C for Comedy? I imagine it would be a mix of them all. We are all anthologies, I suppose. Mixed bags - a little of this; a little of that. The one thing we can never be again is blank.

A little known fact about me: I collect antique books. The oldest in my collection is Romola by George Eliot (seen right). Within the front cover is a sentimental inscription done by ink-dipped fountain pen, I imagine by the light of an oil or gas lamp, in the year of 1872. I love the history of these old books... the imagined history, that is. I wonder about the people who owned them, the fingers that turned the pages. How fascinating it would be if the books could tell their story, not the story in the text but the book's story in actuality.

We are so like books, as I've mentioned. The years
mellow and subtract their toll. What we have is no longer first editions, with the confidence of a hard cover and panache of a dust jacket. We are half-priced and dog-eared with the faint odor of time-yellowed paper. Our spines relent, laying open carelessly to show the scrawl-littered margins, chocolate smudges, coffee drip blossoms and, occasionally, highlighted attributes.

Then there is the inside cover, home to a cluster of pasted
Ex Libras, This book belongs to, From the library of… and the names, the loves, once written with flourish in indelible ink, now invalidated, blotted out by scribble. Starting over. But do we ever really start over? No. Never fresh – never again new. We change directions. Choose another path, another face, another here and now… But never ever again brand new.

Ahem… and now a silly little poem:

If I Were Brand New
By H.T. Lisle

Oh, the things we could do
If we were brand new
A remake retake do-over debut
Bidding adieu to déjà vu

What a marvelous hullabaloo!
If there existed no hitherto
Emptied our pages of recount and review
Never to utter "with reference to"

While having our cake
And eating it too
We'd still know the things
All the things that we knew

Oh, what a great ballyhoo!
To see the world without point of view
How pleased I'd be, through and through
If only, if only, I were brand new


First, if you don't mind, I'd like to speculate about you for a moment. If I know you like I think I do, I'd have to say this: you are a curious procrastinator. Curious because you are here reading these words. After rummaging around the internet or other blogs, you decided to go ahead and click here. (For the record, I'd like to state that I hate the word blog. I practically cringe each time I have to utter that inelegant syllabically-challenged name for this activity and platform. Writing is writing.... it's the name of this apparatus that I'm finding difficult to embrace. Like an extremely handsome charming man whom you adore and whose name is something like Fester.) Paper has a pure and simple dignity. The scroll -Hear ye! Hear ye! - old world charm. Parchment nods to a chivalrous age of swords and wax seals. Tablets deserve our deepest respect, if for only the blood, sweat and hammer-whacked thumbnails it took to create them. But blog? Blog. Blog rhymes with frog, log, bog, hog… I see no redeeming qualities.

And to push on, you are a procrastinator because you and I both know there's something else you should probably be doing at this very moment. A more productive way to whittle away your time. But, my friend and trusted confidant, here you are now and I give you permission (should you need it) to get to that other stuff later.

Curiosity is not a bad thing and I'd stake my left hand that it's not killed as many cats as is claimed. However, nosy is different all together. Nosy is a term I'd apply to that neighbor with nothing better to do than to watch and note anything falling under the heading of bizarre or significant, collecting those observances like baseball cards of gossip to be traded with friends and other neighbors. Remember the extremely nosy Gladys Kravitz of Bewitched always peeking through her window at the Stephens home? (I'm convinced my own neighbors peer a little too long in my own home's direction but that, boys and girls, is what we call mild paranoia.) Kravitz was convinced that there was something strange going on in their household. Only the television viewing audience knew she wasn't off her rocker but we still reveled in her futile attempts to prove her suspicions. Who can deny the satisfaction in the well-deserved toll it took on her reputation? We can be so mean, can't we? The Germans call that particular callousness schadenfreude. There's no exact translation for it in English but it basically means finding joy in the misfortunes of others and is said to be the most genuine kind of joy since it doesn't include even a trace of envy.

No, you are not nosy in that sense. Whatever peculiarities I may have are set out on my best china for you here in my {cough} blogs. I won't promise not to make up some excuse for them if asked though. Some things just don't have explanations but one must try to make a good, or at least, sane impression, shouldn't one? So, neighbor, voyeur and friend, pull up a lawn chair, the curtains are open.

I've been asked to explain someone by a few of you out there so here it goes. If you have read anything I have written from the past, you may wonder who Aleister is. He peeks in these lines from time to time unannounced and unaccredited. He was in previous {resentful groan here} blog entries, which exist no longer. He's a friend of mine and I like very much referring to him.

When I knew him long ago, I was too young to appreciate someone so opposite to myself. He seemed broody and almost narcissistic, his sense of humor dry, often condescending. My own is drippy, syrupy even, but playful or silly. (I think my senior high school English teacher said it best: when she signed my yearbook she referred to me as "impish.") The contradictions were mistaken as discord, and therefore intolerable. We were too different.

But I've found with some maturity that contradictions are good things. When two are too alike, what's there to offer each other? I had not seen the value of that pairing until recently. So instead of avoiding him, I submerged myself in that friendship and started to learn from him.

He could say no but without guilt or hard feelings. I could not. My no's were worn like badges of guilt so I avoided them with yes's. I was a push over, practically a fall over, and he was a confident and assertive pillar. Now, Aleister has become my compass North, my politic barometer, my imperious "check and balance" when needed.

Graciously, he's been helping me clean out my closet, discarding skeletons that weren't really mine to begin with. Shredding forged documents of blame where, somewhere along the way, I had signed my name to them. Ridding my spiritual medicine cabinet of poisons, placebos and antibiotics for chronic infections of self-doubt and diffidence. And more importantly, he has shown me to value myself enough to protect myself from those who drain and never fill, take without giving and do more harm than good. It's easy really. Just say no.

I'm not coming empty handed either. Aleister will admit he's a little too, how shall I say, starchy. I'm doing my best to infuse a little "impish" into his character. We could all do with some of that, I think. Perhaps I can convince him to get his own {for the love of God!} blog going and he can give you his own logic in writing. However, he's anti-curious, vehemently apposed to nosy and anti-procrastination… which is what he thinks of {I'm sorry but I refuse to write it even one more time today.}….

April 1, 2008

To Whom It May Concern

Dear M. L. King, Jr.: I had a dream too. I tossed it into a wishing well thinking that’s what I was suppose to do. But my dream has turned into a mere wish. I've tried to retrieve it but the well is far too deep. Please forward this to Captain Nemo or Jacques Cousteau at your earliest convenience! I need reinforcements!

Dear Mary Poppins: I found your umbrella. It was in tatters, torn apart by bullies like the balloon in Le Ballon Rouge. I searched for you. Where are you? I have brought my tuppance and would like very much to feed the birds.

Dear vinyl collection: I miss the crackling of the needle in your grooves. The sounds were like fingerprints, unique to each of my records. The digital movement has made crystal clear clones of your songs. I long for your imperfections.

Dear Blue Fairy: I’ve been quite flesh and blood my whole life. Since I’ve grown into an adult, I’ve lived a respectable life. I’ve been dutiful and virtuous, following my conscience unquestioningly. I’ve been a good girl. I’m telling the truth. Nevertheless, I appear to be turning to wood. Please advise.

Dear Reese’s: Kindly remove your peanut butter from my chocolate. I’m a purist. The overly sweetened and inferior peanut paste overpowers the chocolate, which, in turn, does not make for a very advantageous marriage on the chocolate’s behalf.

Dear Willy Wonka: Isolating yourself from society in a world of pure imagination is detrimental to one’s sanity. Believe me, I know. Although you have the Oompa-Loompas, you have lost touch with humanity. Might I suggest a roommate? His name is Pink. He’s a bit "walled up" but I think you two would get along famously. I thought I’d mention that he’s lost his marbles but I’m sure some gumballs would do in a pinch.

Dear White-Out: On behalf of the world, I’m sorry to say it’s just not working out anymore. It’s not you - it’s me. When obsolescence comes in the door, love goes out the window. We’ve had many good times. It’s not personal; it’s just business supplies.

Dear Borg: So, resistance is futile. I would not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. I keep spotting your assimilated collective with their bluetooth cellphone headsets. I always assume they are crazies, talking to the products on the shelves in the grocery store aisles. You were subtle…

Dear Lurch: I rang. It was Thursday night. You never answered the door. Perhaps I should have called first. Then I remembered - Thursday’s are Bunco nights at the Munster’s.

Dear MTV: I don’t want my MTV anymore. I used to wait anxiously for Post Modern and 120 Minutes to come on. You used to be about music. You have gone through more changes than Michael Jackson’s face and I hardly recognize you anymore. I’m suggesting you be stripped of your M without further ceremony, replacing it with a more fitting initial.

Dear Reader: It's been said to let bygones be bygones. However, since they discovered the world is not flat, bygones never really stay gone. It’s all what goes around comes around now. So, let’s just say forgive and forget, but do write it down somewhere just in case you may need to reference it in the future.

Dear Mr. Roarke and Tattoo: I was so pleased to find the Fantasy Island travel brochure. I see you’ve added an amusement park, a miniature golf course and many gift shops. The bobble-head Tattoo dolls exclaiming "De plane! De plane!" and the impossibly stark white suits are sure to be collector’s items. However, I have so many fantasies that I cannot decide on one so I have postponed my reservation until I am cured from my chronic indecision. By the way, does the Love Boat dock on your island?

Dear Trix: It’s about time that silly rabbit had a bowl of your cereal. He’s been working your ads for how many years now? I’ve heard of delayed gratification but this is ridiculous! Bugs and Little Bunny Foo Foo would have never put up with this.

Dear Mr. C. Porter: I agree - Let’s call the whole thing off.