The Home of William Shakespeare

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I found that when I go into a place of history, it never hits me just where I  am. I mean I know where I’m standing. The signs are telling me I’m in the home of one of the most famous and influential playwrights. The tour guide is telling me this. The itinerary is telling me this. The people on the trip with me are telling me this.

And still it just doesn’t seem believable.

How these scraps of past centuries have survived so long is beyond me. People haven’t turned a simple house into dust. Storms haven’t shattered it beyond repair. It’s standing and it’s strong.

There’s another home of his in London which hasn’t been as lucky, but the crippled walls are still growing from the grass. Amongst the busy streets and towering buildings, there is still this shred of history happily resting in the middle of it all.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s amazing how society will find something that speaks to them – something they deem crucial – and care for it generation after generation. If a simple playwright’s words didn’t affect or inspire or make some us laugh then this place would be nothing more than dust. I would have walked over a patch of grass where pieces of a man’s home who loved to write continued to decay under the dirt until it was entirely forgotten.

I feel lucky to have stepped into this place and to witness something so important to the arts. The same feeling emerges when I was standing in the same room where Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudiced or walking up the stairs of Charles Dicken’s home.

It feels unbelievable, but I’m incredibly grateful that these places are alive and still inspiring us.

 

Writing Hours

The Writing Hours. Those moments where the muse is alive and creativity flows like a bubbling spring. For some these times rarely appear. For others there’s no such thing as a specific hour in the day. For me, it’s the late hours of night and on into the early morning.

Something about the clarity of a mind after waking up or getting that second wind long after the day has passed. It’s no longer boggled down by concerns or checklists. This is the time dreams remain fresh or small details begin to come back all at once to offer inspiration. Maybe it’s just the simple tranquility that comes with the soft sky and silent streets. There’s little pressure to be anywhere or to be anyone.

To do anything.

The world is still sleeping, waiting for the sun to beckon it into another busy day.

This is the time my muse decides to show and I have to say, it’s incredibly inconvenient. And yet…at the same time, it becomes one of the most serene experiences for me. This is the only time that I can write and truly enter the world that this story takes place. I care less about making the perfect sentence. I don’t quit after a few lines because I’ve written myself into a corner.

I just write.

I don’t always produce the work I want to. In fact, it’s rare I’m ever fully pleased with what’s in front of me, but writing during those hours somehow makes the process fun again. I get into the characters. I come up with about 10 different pathways to choose from. I let myself write. No over thinking. No frustrated sighs.

Just the story and myself.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

 

May Flowers

IMGP9951IMGP9954blossoms May is one of my favorite months by far. It seems that May through October are some of the better times for me. Maybe it’s the atmosphere that comes between the budding of trees and the eventual fall of reds and golds. In May I think back to grade school and how during PE our class would go to the field to play kickball or baseball. I remember sitting on the grass and plucking dandelions when my team was up to bat. I remember walking out of school on the first warm day and being overcome with this sense of bliss when I realized I could shed the hefty coat over my shoulders. As I got older, it meant driving home with the windows unrolled. Having the Dairy Queen in our small town open up. Being able to take a walk through the park, maybe even drive up to a good hiking spot. Attending all of the summer blockbusters and feeling the pleasantly cool air walking back to the car. The scent of gentle thunderstorms. Fireflies blinking through the garden. Cicadas singing to one another as the sun goes down. May is just the start of that time. When the feeling of anticipation is still lingering, but we’re still receiving a good taste of what’s to come. It always feels like so many things are ending at this time and yet the promise of opportunity is in full swing. That freedom from all the restrictions winter can have brings out this idea that anything can happen from now until the leaves fall.

The Charles Dickens Museum

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

 A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.

– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

It’s almost surreal being in the home of a renowned author. You grow up in school reading their stories, hearing their name on TV, seeing their written word be adapted and referenced over and over again. Suddenly they don’t seem like they were a real person at all. More of a fantastical legend that someone made up long, long ago.

I’ll admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of Dickens. I love the way he writes though. There’s no doubt he has a way with words. I can go to a page in any of his novels and be awestricken at what I find. He’s long winded, but he does it in the most captivating way. I actually love writing in that style, but I will never know how he could create these waves of perfectly constructed poetics.

The museum is small and humble. There’s a little cafe at the end molded out of the kitchen that sells some wonderful coffee. There’s a room that’s just about barren, but the walls are covered in quotes from his books. The rest is filled with relics of his life from old furniture to scraps of clothing. Apart from the tourist areas of the house, it’s easy to forget where you are. I remember walking up the narrow staircase and feeling like I was a guest in someone’s home for a second. There’s a cozy atmosphere. If you’re in the area and have a soft spot for literary locations, I’d recommend taking a visit!

The Cynical Movie Goer

mst3k

Since when have people become so cynical when it comes to film? There seems to be a superior complex where the cynical one comes off as better than the rest for noticing each and every flaw that may present itself in a movie. Suddenly they’re more intelligent for recognizing every con and immediately disregarding a film because it doesn’t reach the right standards. Meanwhile everyone else blindly falls head over heals for the movie and are viewed as uncultured or dumb to the cynical one. It’s a little sad, but it seems to be more and more common today. Then again, maybe this has always been the case, but the internet gives those inner opinions a fog horn.

I personally can’t stand a great deal of cynicism. I believe it has a time and place, but to nitpick every little detail is going overboard – especially when it comes to film. The thing is, they should be fun – for the most part. Can someone still sit down and deconstruct it while giving out constructive criticism? Sure, I do that all the time when I talk about certain movies. Here’s the thing though, there’s a difference between stating what could make a film better and flat out complaining and then placing yourself on a pedestal for harboring such hatred.

A movie going experience should be fun. Even if what you’re seeing isn’t all that good, there’s still something to talk or laugh about. Maybe someone in that theater will notice all the great things about it and it will stay with them. Meanwhile someone else might completely forget what they saw the next day, but at least they got out of the house and saw some good friends for a few hours. Another may have liked the concept, but not the way it was carried out so it may inspire them to create something better. Not everyone will like what they see, but they will walk away with something. I find it important to make sure that something is somewhat constructive.

Again, there is a time and a place where a film should be viewed harshly. For the most part though, I think people should learn to relax and have fun again while watching. Stop taking every scene so seriously. I remember seeing Revenge of the Sith in theaters when I was about 13. This was actually the first and only Star Wars film I  have seen on the big screen and while I don’t enjoy the prequels, I remember that day pretty well and I remember having a good time. It was more about just seeing the last installment (at that point) of a franchise I grew up with and loved in a theater setting. My dad and brother were with me and I think it was nice for my dad to share that experience with us since he also grew up on Star Wars. I walked away from the theater happy and so did my dad. We got to watch Star Wars in the cinema, how could we not be?

The problem I find lately is that people are forgetting to have fun with movies. They should be a source of entertainment, of inspiration, of art and we turn it into a competition of taste. Yes, some are better than others. There are some that the crew spent hours of sweat and tears into and it shows. On some, it’s obvious that the crew didn’t care at all. Still, what happened to sitting and enjoying? Laugh through the wonderfully terrible moments. Get excited for big fight scenes no matter how crazy or impractical. Feel the character’s emotions, embrace the cheesy stuff, appreciate the artistic qualities, indulge yourself in the truly grand moments, and don’t be cruel to someone for liking a movie that is viewed as beneath you.

People should learn to have fun again. Stressful week at work? Watch a movie and let some steam off for a good hour and a half. Had a good week? Celebrate with a movie. Going through some stuff? Forget about it and clear your head by watching a movie. There’s no need to be over analytical or harsh with these films. No reason to roll eyes at a trailer that looks hammy or is only being created so people can watch cars crash into each other. We need to learn to go along for the ride and allow ourselves to enjoy the silliness or over the top acting/fighting/singing. Life is so much better when this happens.

I get being cynical when it comes to entertainment. I do, but it’s also exhausting and too much sometimes. Some days you need to allow yourself to smile and laugh instead of drowning yourself and others in a superior complex fueled by unnecessary cynicism.

Wells Cathedral

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

My group visited about a cathedral a day while we were in England. So much that the reaction to seeing another was “Again? How many are there?”

Not a great reaction to pieces of history that are simultaneously beautiful to look at. The Wells Cathedral was one of the last we visited and I’ll admit that I wasn’t thrilled at first because I wanted to see some other sights. The moment we arrived that awe I had going into the first cathedral on the first day came right back with a renewed edge. This was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been to and the inside is just as stunning as the exterior. It’s still one of the most memorable destinations we were at. Unfortunately, I was unable to take any photos outside the lawn area.

The sheer detail in every bannister, every window, every inch of ceiling, every floor piece is inspiring. It’s so easy to become lost in those halls for a day.

A Film with No Director

twin peaks

I was a little late to discovering just who killed Laura Palmer in the 90’s cult series Twin Peaks, seeing it for the first time only after both seasons were placed onto Netflix and after my brother binge watched it and convinced me to do the same. After episode 3 I was hooked and this amazingly bizarre, emotional, and gorgeous show has become an all-time favorite of mine.

Unfortunately, the show was canceled after season 2 due to low ratings and the absence of mystery and character that attracted its audience in the beginning. Although, that dark charm slithered back in near the end and ultimately left viewers with an intense cliffhanger never to be resolved.

About 6 months ago it announced that Twin Peaks will be returning in 2016 on Showtime so that fans can finally have that season 3 and the series can have a proper conclusion.

twin peaks3

Of course, with all great things, there are always complications. The director, David Lynch, has stated that he will not be returning to the show due to conflicts with Showtime. He needs more money to do the series properly (wanting it done entirely on film and shot on location) and the people at Showtime don’t want to go over their budget.

Here’s why they should: A film needs a director.

For Twin Peaks that director is David Lynch. He’s truly the heart of the show and it was only after he left the project halfway through season 2, that the series started to take it’s downfall. That grim charm was suddenly absent. The plots became too bizarre and not in an entertaining way. The show lost it’s core and because of that, it fell apart.

It was only after Lynch returned that the story started to pick up again and it was only because Lynch said he would be directing again in 2016 that fans got excited. Most of the iconic scenes in Twin Peaks were not scripted. The Black Lodge was created while filming and became a vital part of the overarching story. The character of Bob came about because a sound man accidentally placed himself in a shot and Lynch decided to go with it. He saw something in that one mistake and created a pivotal character out of it.

twin peaks2

If you’ve ever seen a David Lynch film, you’ll know that has this distinct aesthetic. It feels like it was meant to be that he and Mark Frost would come together and combine their styles. Frost giving this pleasant and charming facade that the town of Twin Peaks puts on and Lynch creating the darkness that lies beneath. It was this aesthetic that showered the characters and story in an atmosphere unlike any other. To have one taken away would make a continuation this late in the game unnecessary.

The returning actors recently did a video showing their support for Lynch by each giving a line in coordination to their characters. Each one goes by the same formula – Twin Peaks without David Lynch is like a blank without a blank.

Sometimes I wonder if I’d still love the films I do under a different director. I can’t imagine Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without Terry Gilliam because it’s one of the few films I can honestly say I like more than book and that’s all due to his style. I think of the Wes Anderson films and how much I love them because of the colors, designs, and quirkiness Anderson brings to the table. What would Clockwork Orange or the Shining be without Stanley Kubrick? What would Seventh Seal be without Ingmar Bergman? Annie Hall without Woody Allen? Say what you will about Tim Burton’s talent as of late, but what would Edward Scissorhands be without him? Or the glorious disaster that is the Room without Tommy Wiseau?

Directors have immense influence on their media. Some for the better and some for the worse. With David Lynch being so vital to the way Twin Peaks looks and feels, I’ve never once felt worried that season 3 could ruin the show. I sincerely hope that he and Showtime can reach a deal or that he can find another way to give Twin Peaks the resolution that it’s earned.

After all, Twin Peaks without David Lynch is like a mug without some damn fine coffee.

twin peaks4

 

Live Action Fairytale Remakes: Yes or No?

After the recent adaptation of Cinderella hit theaters, news came up of other fairytales/memorable Disney classics (Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo) following suit. Really, it’s nothing more than a new trend Disney is trying out, but do we need live action versions of all the animated films most of us grew up on?

cinderalla 2015

I say yes.

I view fairytales in the same way I view Shakespeare – both of the source materials are well known and old enough that they can be interpreted in a thousand different ways, each with a new twist to keep it refreshing and shed new light onto the story. Cinderella has been retold in about ten different ways in the past two decades alone. This has been seen in Ever After, A Cinderella Story, the Roger and Hammerstein musical, Into the Woods, and a few episodes of Once Upon a Time. Each different from the last, but still clinging onto what made the original story endearing.

Seeing these new versions with the right costume designers, the right cinematographers, the right directors, cast, etc, would be brilliant. The major issue I take is that these will apparently all be handled by the same company.

For this trend to work, it’d be best that different parties do their own spins rather than Disney pushing out a new one every year. Disney will try to keep to their animated adaptations while other companies would have more courage to stray away from the more well known versions to make something more unique. There’s also the chance that we could end up with a wonderfully more grim storyline that fits well into the source material which is rarely seen and, when it is, rarely executed well.

I think back to Belle et la Bette and how dark that film felt at times just by the atmosphere, but also how beautiful the set was. It’s a little bizarre and a little grim, but it works. I’d like to see at least one revamp in the same spirit as this French film. Just one that plays around with the history and darker elements of the tale with a beautiful design. I’m also hoping for a film that will rely on traditional costume and makeup instead of CGI for the beast or any other elements depending on the story they choose.

la belle et la bete

I also know there is a Hunchback of Notre Dame stage musical and I would be ecstatic to see that turn into a motion picture much like Les Miserables. I see a great amount of opportunity here for some refreshing, yet nostalgic films. I’m only hoping that opportunity is ceased.

 

Beauty of Winter

IMGP9761edit

There’s a dismal solitude that arrives with the first day of winter

Flowers wilt

Skies are left silent

Trees lose their color

But there can be beauty

In the vibrant blue above a fresh blanket of snow

Sunlight glimmering off fair mountains

The luminescent shimmer of holiday lights

Powdered branches

The scent of cocoa

The feeling of a fleece blanket lying over your lap

When I see beauty in winter

I’m reminded of warmth

Promises of sunlight

A dash of vibrant hues

A reminder of spring

For me the beauty of winter

is shown in fragments

of seasons that have passed

and ones not far away

Waiting for the Mail

cb mailbox

I’ve found that one of the most difficult parts of being someone in their 20’s is that I’m constantly looking for a way to establish myself. I might as well have a check list for all the items I need in order to be considered a “successful adult.”

Each day I look at this list and continue to chew on my pencil. The boxes are left blank aside from one or two (those being: “make bed” and “put on clean clothes”). Sometimes I feel like I’m doing my best and life is going at a relatively normal pace, but then I log onto social media. I see peers checking off more boxes than me. I see them creating entirely different lists because they completed the general one already. I see them doing wonderful things – creating, living, traveling, and I’m happy for them. I am. They should be proud of how far they’ve come at the age of 22/23.

The thing is, it doesn’t take long for me to reflect on myself. Why am I not complete with my list? Why have I hardly started my list? It’s not that I’m lazy or unwilling for change. I anticipate change. I crave it, but my life events just aren’t arriving as quickly.

Some days it feels like I’m waiting outside for the mail like someone will do in film. The kid will sit on the steps of her house, elbows on knees, and stare off down the street. Will the mail carrier be there at noon? Is he running late? Did he already come? The mailbox remains empty, so that’s a no on the last question. So the girl continues to wait and when the mail carrier does arrive all she receives is junk mail or letters for someone else. Across the road, her neighbor is jumping up and down at her special letter. She knows that another friend received their letter just a few days ago. Another a month ago. Did hers get lost? She wonders why she’s still waiting on the steps and how long she’ll continue to be stagnant. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the mail delivery service. Her letter just simply hasn’t arrived.

The longer the wait the less important she feels. It’s almost like the world is telling her “there isn’t any room for you out there.”

And so she waits some more.

I don’t have enough life experience to say how this waiting game plays out, but I’m hoping the end result is worth it. I’m realizing that the best thing to do is to stop comparing my check list to that of everyone else. Stop staring down the street for the mail. Start finding things to do during the wait. Try not to pull yourself into a hole of stress and anxiety because who knows what you’ll miss if you can’t climb out?

If all you have to put on your checklist is the fact that you made your bed or did laundry, then don’t feel ashamed. At least you’re doing something. You’re occupying yourself during the wait (and those are good habits regardless). Take pride in even the smallest of accomplishments. One day that letter will arrive and things will start to move again. Nothing truly lasts. Not the good, not the bad, not even this limbo between college and starting a career.

Some of you didn’t have to wait long at all and that’s amazing. Some of you had to wait months and some of us are still waiting and that’s alright too.

Keep that checklist and continue to mark things off no matter how small. Keep your chin up.

The mail will get here.