3/15/19 THE POLLEN
Sounds like a horror movie.  It’s not yet been made,  but it would certainly make for a good one.

Since moving to the southeast, some 20 plus years ago, I have always had my particular opinions about  seasonal changes. First – I love them! Growing up in LA, we didn’t get much differential in seasons. I remember fall, a few trees would lose their leaves and I so loved crunching them while walking to the bus stop every morning. But there weren’t too many. I had to search hard. Winter – not too cold. And you had to ‘go to the snow,’ the snow did not come to you. Spring meant a change in time and often drab, grey, foggy weather.  It’s still called June gloom. And summer well, it was after June gloom and was all about swimming pools and beaches.  Wait – you might say June, Spring??? Yes, that’s the second thing.

I’m a stickler for seasonal changes – such as equinoxes and solstices. Meaning, Summer and winter begin on the Solstice, June 21 and Dec 21.  Autumn and Spring equinoxes are September 22 and March 20, respectively.  But down here – seasons often have nothing to with actual dates!  Summer begins on Memorial Day, the end of May! What? Fall begins when school starts again- the beginning of August?????? Winter- as soon as its cold. And Spring – when the pollen comes. First, the daffodils bloom. This year it was ridiculously early, sometime in early February. Then, before you blink, the tulip trees open (that’s not the real name but we all call them that because they look like tulips, on trees!). Then come the red buds and the cherry trees – for maybe a week, if we’re lucky. The weather warms. Then it freezes. Then it warms again. Then come the winds. Then the rains. Then the daffodils.   Then the dogwoods and everything in between. And somewhere, between the end of winter (actual dates) and the beginning of spring (actual dates,) comes … THE POLLEN.  Yes, pollen is always here in the Deep South. But today, March 15, 5 days before the official start of spring, the pollen has crept into my lungs, my hair, my sinuses.  And we haven’t even seen the best of it yet — the time we all love to hate — THE GREEEN/YELLOW dust!  It covers everything.  It’s coming. It’s actually tree pollen, and as the pink, yellow, white and rainbow colors of the flowers fade, the leaf buds begin to open and the next thing you know, you’re living in a dust bowl of pollen.  It’s horrible. It’s beautiful. It’s a headache. It’s a temptation.  It lures you outside, to run and bike and walk and play. And then, bam! splat! you’re done. You can’t breath. You can’t see. Your head hurts. You can’t think. You need to go back outside. And then ….. just when you figured out to wash your hair before going to bed, only to open the window because it’s so pleasant outside and there’s only so many weeks you can before the stifling summer humidity sets in…. you’re covered again in pollen.  It’s unfair. Beauty and the Beast. And then… well before June 21, summer hits. Hard. And a whole new crop of pollen sets in. But that’s for another post.




This is amazing. Go see it in a theater -on the biggest screen you can.  This beautifully edited documentary about NASA sending the first men to the moon in 1969 is truly a wonder to behold.  No narrator. No nonsense. No melodrama. Just the story, in its raw form (well, not exactly, but it definitely feels like a time lapse,) starting from before liftoff with the humongous shuttle being brought to the launch pad, and then taking you on the ride for those few days in July where the world watched.  The footage – much of it never-before-seen-70mm film will take your breath away as it moves from the launch pad, to the thousands of specatators, to inside the inner workings of the hundreds of engineers, scientists and everyone else involved in getting that rocket off the ground, to mission control in Houston, to views from the shuttle you can’t believe were not done in ‘post production’.   Not only is it amazing to see the actual footage of the all the rocket boosters being ditched (from the shuttle,) it’s a wonder to realize how forward thinking the scientists were who not only built this thing – but put so many amazing cameras on it to capture every angle imaginable.  Watching history from today’s perspective makes you forget sometimes that this had never been done before.

Go see First Man.  Then see Apollo 11 documentary. Or in any order you like. Let yourself feel awed by something. Allow yourself to believe in mankind once again, and what we’re capable of.  This is not science fiction – it is science amazing!

9/9/17 DUNKIRK
We went to see Dunkirk at an 11:35a showing.  Turns out, this was an excellent time to see the film, as there was only one other family in the theater this Sunday morning. And though it’s always nice to be in a packed theater, there was something very intimate about being alone(almost)  with so much cinema around us. Then again, after 20 minutes of previews, my ears were starting to ring from the all the sound effects… which bled from one preview into  another.  It’s almost like one giant soundtrack.  And our popcorn was nearly gone.  More people may have helped absorb the sound, but the popcorn was solely on us.

As the film started, I felt a sinking feeling in my gut. I’m not currently a fan of violence or war movies, especially since I’ve seen so much of the real world version of it, and I worried I wasn’t going to make it through the film’s dark, disturbing subject: British soldiers (and some French) during WWII, stranded on the beach in Dunkirk, France. Surrounded by the enemy, and waiting to be somehow, rescued.  Very existentialist. Annhilistic. It was very grey.  And contrasty.  It was clear from the dark shadows on the beach of the exhausted men, the drab colored sand, sea and sky, that they were all sitting ducks for the Germans to pick them off.  Thousands of them, orderly queued up, waiting, to get on the next boat and carrier, of which there seemed to only be one, to be taken across the channel.  Much of what happens next is daunting, predictable, yet thrilling.

I’d read and heard reviews about how the film was told, visually, from three different perspectives – land, sea, and air, and that there wasn’t much dialogue. I was prepared for the ride, as best I could be. The main characters we followed had names, but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t about them, but rather how they were just a snippet of all the different lives lived and lost through this war, and this event.  All the personal struggles, tiny successes, discomforts, never-knowing which step could be your last. Though there were so so many soldiers,  honing in to just one in each theater of war was able to bring you in to just one of those thousands of lives. It was the tiny details that drew you in.  By land – he discomfort of no place to relieve oneself, or hide. And yet, the ability to be incognito was essential for survival. By air, it was the details in the facial expressions, in the cockpit, in the small dialogue between pilots, or the sounds of bullets buzzing at you or at the other guy.  By sea, what seemed to be the peaceful sounds of lapping waves, finally a place to take a deep breath of relief, turns instead into a watery grave with no way out.

One of the things that stood apart in this film experience was how the lives lost and saved were not in ways you might expect.  It wasn’t always a soldier fighting that brought about death, but an accident somewhere. Or the unexpected survivalist not being who you thought it was.

All in all, I would highly recommend Dunkirk for its cinematic splendor, the direction of actors who with sometimes nothing but a tweak of an eyebrow to express so much of so much emotion underneath. The little intimacies of unspoken words between strangers, sharing an experience. The different views of the same event, where time doesn’t matter, but perception is everything.  My only real complaint is that the soundtrack, which was beautiful, was too loud and too often. When there was dialogue, it was often drowned out by the score, and it made and exhausting picture even more exhausting which wasn’t fair to the audience.   But Dunkirk brought back humanity in a place where none seemed to exist.