One Shot #1: The Searchers

Movies are, on a base level, a collection of scenes woven together by a narrative. Like a sweater, comprised of many stitches. Or a sandwich, composed of many layers. And when you break it down even more, and strip more elements away, a film can be reduced solely to images – and some images can remain burned into the eye of the viewer forever.

Take this image, from the final scene of the acclaimed 1956 western The Searchers.

the searchers.PNG

As I’ve admitted before, I’m not a big fan of westerns, and I’m even less a fan of John Wayne movies – but The Searchers is one of the few exceptions. As in, it’s on my all-time “greats” list, thanks to being forced to watch it in film class. And a huge portion of my admiration for this film is rooted in this one image.

The film features more than one threshold/doorway shot, though the final one is the most poignant. By showing several scenes framed in a doorway or through some kind of entrance, the film is allowing the viewer an inside look to see something that might not normally be seen – something that is behind closed doors, or cut off from the world. It is also showing a separation of the “inside world” and the “outside world” and the distinctions between the two.

That makes Ethan’s final scene significant – he is framed in the doorway, but does not go in. He is a creature of the “outside world” and does not belong in the “inside,” which is why he is not shown entering the house after the conflict is over, and ultimately walks away. If The Searchers was a stereotypical western, he probably would have entered the house and they would have had a big ol’ family dinner, and Ethan’s position as a “savior” would be solidified. But Ethan is wild and unpredictable like the rambling western landscape, a restless wanderer, and by going inside, he would be chained down – and he does not belong in a place like that. The “open door” also illustrates the moral ambiguity of the film overall, as Ethan’s reluctance to settle, and his inability to join that “inside” world, is an example of his conflicted “hero” status.

This final shot is the spine of the film – at least for me. A beleaguered man walking away from door, rejecting a fresh start, left to reflect on what he has done. A “hero” who does not get a celebration, because perhaps his deeds are just as bad as the “villain’s.” And that’s how this single image is so powerful – I still reference it whenever I spy a good threshold shot in a movie.

Any other shots from different films come to mind? One that can define the entire film as a whole? Let me know!

~~~~~

If you’re in need of a new read, check out my YA novel, I’m With You! The ebook is only $1.99 or (£1.55) and paperback is $9.99 (£7.99) on Amazon Amazon UK.  Nook book is also $1.99 and paperback is $9.99 on BN.com.

 

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Bursting in Air

I have never been an outwardly patriotic person. I don’t wear flag tees, I don’t have an American flag banner displayed outside my house, I don’t sing along to the national anthem at sporting events, and I stood during, but didn’t recite, the pledge of allegiance during junior high and high school. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about my country. I could go on a long rant about my feelings on patriotism versus what certain people seem to think patriotism and national pride is, especially in our tumultuous and occasionally hostile economic, political, and social climate, but I’ll tell this story instead.

On the night of the 3rd, I tagged along to the local fireworks show with my best friend and her sister. I’m not big on fireworks, especially due to the adverse effects they have on wildlife, pets, and folks (especially veterans) with PTSD, but hey, it got me out of the house and I got to spend time with people I care about. We got snow-cones and snagged excellent seats with a stellar view, at a table up on a patio area right outside our old high school.

As soon as we sat down, there was a drastic shift in the weather. It’s been broiling hot in PA this week – it’s felt like 100+ degrees the last few days – and just the walk from my friend’s car to the high school had me dripping sweat. But when we got to out vantage point, the wind kicked up, and we could see a froth of grey clouds swirling on the horizon, encroaching on the fading blue-gold sky. A few droplets of rain splattered down, but we still had about a half hour before the show would start, so we got a bit nervous that they’d have to cancel.

Then, the first rockets launched into the air – fifteen or so minutes early, likely an effort to beat the oncoming storm. The cloud-filled sky was full of sparkling, glittering colors, explosions and showers of radiant light, crackling gold dust, like stars bursting into the air then fading to ashes. We could feel the intensity of the ear-shattering ‘booms’ and ‘bangs’ down in our marrow. Many people view fireworks as a celebration of national pride, a joyous reminder of our independence, and I get that – it is a marvelous sight to behold. I found myself smiling throughout the display, enjoying my time with friends.

The rain held off, but the lightning didn’t. There’s be a pop of golden light and arcing beams of red and blue, and then a flash of lightning. The crowd would “ooh” and “ahh” at all the splendor, then cringe as the gray clouds were illuminated by flickering white and the growl of approaching thunder. Almost as though the fireworks were at war with the elements, battling for dominion over the sky. And it struck me, then, just how appropriate it was. Our country, and our freedom, fending off the ever-present threat of a storm – a storm of our own making. What is meant to be a celebration, or a moment of pride, eclipsed by something growing and festering beyond our control. The image of what patriotism is meant to be in conjunction with a force that shaves some beauty from it, and sends shivers down the spine.

I hope everyone had a Happy 4th – or just a good week, whether you’re American or not.

(Ant Man and the Wasp review coming Monday!)

~~~~~

If you’re in need of a new read, check out my YA novel, I’m With You! The ebook is only $1.99 or (£1.55) and paperback is $9.99 (£7.99) on Amazon Amazon UK.  Nook book is also $1.99 and paperback is $9.99 on BN.com.

Meant to Be

Last Wednesday night, shortly after 10PM, I was forced to take a detour on my way home from work due to the endless amount of construction that swarms my pocket of PA this time of year. So, I turned off of my usual route and embarked upon the back way home. I made a turn onto a dark street, and soon spotted a fuzzy lump in the middle of the road.

At first, I assumed it was roadkill. It’s unfortunate, but it happens – bunnies, squirrels, gophers, other woodland creatures attempt to make their way across the street when they meet their untimely demise beneath a tire. But, as I was maneuvering to pass over the lump without striking it, a furry little head popped up and I caught the gleam of golden eyes in my headlights.

It was a kitten, and it was alive.

Horrified, I had to turn off onto a different road and circle around in order to get back to the spot. I frantically called my mom (don’t talk on the phone and drive, folks…I’m a bad human, but I was at a stoplight and put her on speaker) and told her what I’d seen and that I was going to check it out further. Luckily, in the five minutes it took me to get back onto that stretch of road, no one else had hit the poor creature – though no one else had stopped, either. I’d hoped it would crawl away or get off the road in that time, but it was still there, curled up in the middle of the lane.

I put my blinkers on, carefully stepped out of my car, and approached the kitten. It made no sound, and it’s eyes were closed, but it was half-upright and didn’t appear to have any grave, visible wounds. So, careful as I could manage, I scooped the kitten up and carried it back to my car, and it sat on my lap the entire ride home. Halfway home, it started purring – which made me hopeful that it wasn’t grievously injured.

When I got home, my mom came out and wrapped Kitty in a towel – after determining the gender as female – and I ventured back out to grab kitten chow and a disposable litter box from the grocery store. We called the emergency vet, who informed us that they would just put Kitty down if we brought her in (especially if she was injured, but mainly because of her stray status) though the only apparent injury was an abrasion on her lip. So we resolved to keep her in a crate overnight (our adult cat was less than pleased by this) in my room and revisit the issue in the morning.

Morning came, and though Kitty was still groggy, she chowed down on kitten food and perked up quite a lot. I let her explore a bit around my room, sniffing and inspecting everything, and she eventually snuggled up on my lap to take a nap. She was so thin – when I ran my hand along her spine, I could feel each individual vertebrae, and her hip bones were protruding. After some phone calls and research, we resolved to go to the SPCA just to ask for some advice on what step to take next.

The dire nature of Kitty’s situation was revealed when we arrived, and the SPCA workers informed us that, because Kitty was so frail and possibly sick, they would likely euthanize her as well. Besides, their shelter was full because it’s kitten season, and they had no room for her. Because we couldn’t surrender Kitty without giving her a fighting chance, we kept her with us. A call to our regular vet to schedule an appointment for the next day and a stop at a local pet store yielded better results, as the manager gave us some helpful advice, a sample of wet food for free, and an abundance of well wishes.

The next day’s visit to our vet proved that Kitty was healthy, but thin – which made me doubly glad we hadn’t surrendered her anywhere that euthanizing was an option. They speculated that she had possibly been tossed from a car, due to the brush burn on her lip – which made my blood boil. The vet didn’t even charge us, because he and his wife asserted that we were doing the right thing by trying to save the poor kitten’s life. So my mom gave her a bath and I continued to let her explore my room, and her spirits seemed high. She even began to meow, though she’d been mostly silent since I’d found her, and her purring was nonstop.

After a handful of social media posts reaching out to family and friends proved fruitless, and local no-kill shelters informed us that they were already full, I began to really believe we wouldn’t find anyone to adopt Kitty, and, by default, she’d stay with us. I’ve wanted a cat to call my own for ages, and it seemed like the universe was telling me that it was time – a kitten had practically fallen into my lap. I was the one to spot the glint of her eyes in the headlights of my car, the one to scoop her up out of the road before a car could hit her, the one to buy her kitty chow and a litter box, the one to let her crawl around my room and explore and let her curl up and fall asleep on my chest, so she wouldn’t feel alone.

My friends and coworkers were convinced it was good karma in action, and I was meant to be the one to find Kitty. Though I had attempted not to grow attached to her, it was an impossible effort. She was just so adorable, and I even picked out a name for her in my head – Ripley, after one of my favorite badass female film heroes. Even my dad started growing attached to her.

Then, on Saturday, my mom called me at work, and informed me that she had pinned down a new home for Kitty – with a woman who works at a local vet’s office, and who is used to handling young kittens. And the wind was promptly sucked out of my sails. I didn’t want to let her go. I wanted her to be my cat, and I felt like she already was, even though she’d only been with me for a couple of days. She would even rub her face against mine, purring like a motorboat, and give me little kitty kisses before curling up to take a nap on my lap or chest.

And though I so, so badly wanted to tell my mom to call it off – to tell her that I was going to keep and care for Kitty on my own – I relented. Though I did make her drive Kitty to my job, so I could give her a cuddle and a kiss goodbye, and ensure that her last memory of me wouldn’t be when I’d put her back into her crate that morning.

I just couldn’t do it. I still live at home, and I’m trying to move out – potentially to a different state. I’m trying to get my second book published, and pay off student loans and my car. Not to mention that it would be very difficult to get a consistent training schedule in place for Kitty with my work schedule, and getting our adult cat, Reese, used to being around a rambunctious kitten would be a gargantuan challenge, considering Reese hates other cats and basically spent the entirety of the three days Kitty was with us hiding under my parents bed and hissing at us. My parents were okay with my keeping the kitten so long as I took full responsibility for her, and I would have done so – but since I haven’t been able to move out yet, I’d still be inflicting a curious new life (and her little claws) on their home, and their new furniture. The timing was bad – and though I know I could have eventually managed, and Kitty wouldn’t be a kitten forever, I just couldn’t do it. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone involved, including Kitty.

img_20180609_150858_2561305050343.jpgIt’s been almost a week now, and initially, I was pretty bummed out – like, “have a nice cry in the shower” kind of bummed. But I know that I did the right thing, in the end. Everything that had happened in those three whirlwind days seemed to indicate that my finding Kitty was meant to be, and I do think that’s true – but in a different way. I think I was only meant to be the in-between, Kitty’s pit stop on the road to her forever home. And I am so thankful that I was able to help her, even a small amount. And in a way, Kitty helped me realize that in order to obtain the life I want, there are steps I need to take, and her sudden appearance in my life has inspired me to start taking action instead of letting fear and doubt rule me.

Too many people adopt pets without knowing the work involved – they see a cute kitten’s face or hear a puppy’s whine and think “Aw, I want one!” instead of considering that it’s an actual life you are committing to care for. That’s how shelters fill to the brim with poor creatures who don’t deserve to be mistreated, and how pets who deserve nothing but love are left to the wilderness to fend for themselves because irresponsible owners didn’t realize the level of care involved, and that’s cruelty to the highest degree. What happened to Kitty before our paths crossed is an unknown – perhaps she was dropped from a car, abandoned by her mother, or climbed up into a car and fell down mid-drive. Whatever it was, there’s a good chance it was cruel. But in the time she was with my family and me, and thanks to all of the outside help we received – advice from friends, kindness from pet store managers, and generosity from our vet – I realized that despite acts of cruelty and hate, kindness and love can still prevail.

And someday, when the time is right, I’ll have a cat to call my own.

~~~~~

If you’re in need of a new read, check out my YA novel, I’m With You! The ebook is only $1.99 or (£1.55) and paperback is $9.99 (£7.99) on Amazon Amazon UK.  Nook book is also $1.99 and paperback is $9.99 on BN.com.

Forking Irrational

Lots of folks have irrational fears. I have a few myself. Jewelry, car washes (I have been making strides against this one, however), mascots, and things with holes in them (not as severe as most who share this fear, thankfully).

But what about irrational anger? Or hatred? I mean, at some point in life, I’m sure almost everyone is guilty of being irrationally angry about some scenario or comment or interaction, or someone feels irrational, inexplicable hatred toward some being or item.

Me? I have an irrational hatred toward forks. Three-pronged forks, to be exact.

Three prongs simply are not enough. I must have four prongs on my forks. I’m not so anal about it that I specifically request four-pronged forks when I go to restaurants, but if it is within my power to procure a fork with four prongs as opposed to one with three, I will do so.

If I could eliminate three-pronged forks from the universe, I absolutely would, no question. I do not care about any potential detriment to etiquette their extinction would cause, three-pronged forks are an abomination and deserve to be destroyed.

Where did this irrational hatred come from? No clue. But the sight of three-pronged forks fills me with intense, fiery hatred. They are the most inferior members of the fork family, of that I will never be dissuaded. In fact, they might even be the lowliest of all utensils… or perhaps that is reserved for the spork.

And, since it’s not causing harm to anyone, I have more or less accepted the fact that, although this particular hatred is 100% forking irrational, there’s nothing wrong with it, and so I shall continue my fork hating ways undeterred.

~~~~~

If you’re in need of a new read, check out my YA novel, I’m With You! The ebook is only $1.99 or (£1.55) and paperback is $9.99 (£7.99) on Amazon Amazon UK.  Nook book is also $1.99 and paperback is $9.99 on BN.com.

 

Book News!

My YA novel, I’m With You, is officially available on the Nook, and it’s only $1.99!

Here is the LINK to the Barnes&Noble website. Give it a read, and leave a review to help an indie author out.

book coverSynopsis: When fifteen-year-old Ciarán Morrigan eavesdrops on a conversation between his father and two mysterious strangers, his life–and the life of his little sister, Remiel–is changed forever. After their father makes a startling decision, the Morrigan siblings are forced to flee the only life they’ve ever known and embark on a dangerous adventure across the nation of Empirya. With the help of a disinherited vagabond, a cynical violinist, a fire-juggler with a fierce temper, an aspiring mechanic, and a cheerful librarian, Ciarán and Remiel must fight to escape those who have been hired to hunt them. But will Remiel’s dark secret prevent the Morrigan children from finding a place they can truly call home?

It’s also still available in ebook format on Amazon, and is still available for paperback on both Amazon and Barnes&Noble for $9.99.

Sick of It

Now that Oscar season is over, and I’ve returned to my regular style of posting, I had big plans for this Friday blog post. I was going to do something eloquent, compelling, perhaps a story about life or loss, or a pearl of wisdom from my (admittedly shallow) pool of life experience…

But no, that will not happen today. And do you want to know why?

Because I am sick.

And not sick as in the slang term for “cool,” like people used to toss out in the 90’s. Sick as in ill, complete with head-pounding, sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. Woke up with a sore throat on Tuesday, and hoped – no, prayed to all the deities I don’t believe in – that it was just an allergy-related side-effect due to the crazy weather that’s beleaguered my neck of the woods for the past couple of weeks. Seriously, not too long ago it was 70 degrees, and then two days later, we got four inches of snow, which promptly all melted the following day and caused minor flooding. So my allergies have been a bit of a tizzy.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Tuesday was mostly fine, to the point where I hoped I could just brush it off as a tickle, but Wednesday, in spite of my best efforts to fend it off, I was sniffling and sneezing and suffering from a massive headache by the end of my work shift. It was undeniable, at that point.

I’ve got a cold.

I suppose when some people come down with a cold, as oft happens at the junction between seasons or due to other outside factors, they use it as an excuse to curl up in bed and wallow in their warm blankets surrounded by piles of crinkled tissues, sipping soup and stewing in misery, binging a new or favorite series on Netflix.

Not I – I do not feel miserable when I get sick. No, I get pissed.

I think, in general, that I have a pretty strong immune system. I mean, I eat fruit every day – that’s supposed to help, right? And that’s no easy feat, since I’m allergic to pineapple and recently discovered a mild sensitivity to citrus. I work out at least 5 days a week, sometimes more, though my arms still have the muscle-strength of a pool noodle. I endeavor to get enough sleep, in spite of my cat’s best efforts to foil those efforts. I wash my hands at a near obsessive rate and avoid germs whenever possible, and keep away from folks I know have a contagious illness until they are cleared by a trained physician. So when my health fails, and I am struck down by the snot demons, my rage-meter hits a solid ten.

It’s worse when I can attribute the illness to a specific cause, because then, I have somewhere to direct my rage. One time, in college, one of my coworkers – who was sick – was using our communal computer to do homework. I used it shortly after, assuming that most sick people have the common decency to disinfect the surfaces/items they use when they know someone else will also be using it, but APPARENTLY, SOME PEOPLE ARE IRREDEEMABLE HEATHENS WITH HORRENDOUS MANNERS WHO ENJOY SPREADING THE PLAGUE WITHOUT ANY THOUGHT OF THE REPERCUSSIONS.

But I digress… this time, there is no certain target for the brunt of my fury. I’m pretty sure it was either the wonky weather or the fact that at least half of my coworkers have been sick over the last month, not to mention the fact that I work with the public and so many people don’t cover their mouths when they cough/sneeze, so, though I valiantly staved colds off for the majority of winter, my formidable immune system has at last failed me.

So I’ve been enraged for about two days now. I’ve tried not to let it hinder me – I went to the gym today, did some grocery shopping, and managed some chores – but I have indulged a bit, and have spent the past few hours watching reruns of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown in bed. But I also have a method for combating illness, which has worked quite well for me in the past. And in order to fight the germs, certain supplies are needed…

1.) Water. Hydration is important at all times, but especially when you can only breathe out of your mouth.

2.) Orange Juice. Or other fruit juice, probably. But the good stuff, not stuff like Sunny D. If you have issues with citric acid, there are low acid brands, and make sure to use a straw. The straw is vital.

3.) Comfy clothes. I’m uncomfortably warm at the moment, but sweating it out helps. Fleece-lined leggings and bulky sweatshirts are my go-to.

4.) Tissues. And splurge on the ones with aloe. Your nose will thank you.

5.) Meds. Depends on what works for you/symptoms and MAKE SURE TO READ THE DIRECTIONS. I’m a quil person, myself. Both Day and Ny.

6.) Heating pad. For aches and pains.

7.) Soup. I get won-ton soup for the Chinese food joint at my local grocery store, and I swear it has medicinal properties. It’s become a go-to for other members of my family, now, that’s how well it works.

8.) Sleep. As much as possible.

9.) Hand sanitizer/disinfectant wipes. I try and wipe down/clean surfaces and items that I use when I am ill and know someone else will be touching it. Because that is what DECENT PEOPLE DO. THEY DON’T TOUCH THINGS WITH THEIR SICK HANDS AND ALLOW THEIR GERMS TO SPREAD WITHOUT ATTEMPTED PREVENTION.

10.) Ice Cream. This one is optional, but after spending an entire day taking care of myself and being steamed over the state of my health, some Tonight Dough is necessary. It does help soothe a sore throat, as well.

Following this method, I have at times been able to conquer a cold before it truly has time to manifest in full glory. A few years back, I realized a cold was brewing, so I stocked up on meds, OJ, and soup, partook in all three in acceptable doses throughout the day, and then swaddled myself in several blankets and warm clothes and slept for 12 hours. Pretty sure I sweated the cold out over the course of the night, because I felt fine the next day. I’ve never been able to replicate such speedy results, but following these guidelines, I am usually able to defeat illnesses within a couple of days, so my life can then resume as normal.

Thankfully today (It’s Thursday March 8th as I write this) I didn’t have to work, so I have consumed 2 quarts of magical won-ton soup, two large glasses of OJ, some meds, a whole ton of water, and I’m wrapped up in my GoT hoodie and comfy leggings and relaxing. So let’s hope this cold is quashed by tomorrow, or when I venture out into the world, some folks are bound to face my wrath…

Blue Screen

Thought I’d share a poem I wrote several years ago for an English assignment when my old desktop computer (which I still have and still works) was constantly blue screening, much to my frustration. 

 

Blue Screen

Go away, blue screen.
With your white words
that no one with average intelligence understands.
I’m trying to do my homework.
And you wipe it all away, blue screen.
With one ‘whirr.’
My hard work disappears.
How dare you.
I forgot to save.
And you shut my computer down.
Before I’ve finished.
EVERY TIME.
And now you’re staring at me.
In all your blue glory.
Making me run my computer in safe mode.
You’ve taken over.
A digital dictator in cobalt blue.
Has a virus made you come, blue screen?
I’m fairly sure I ran a protection program
to make you happy and safe, always
Very well…I’ll do it again.


What’s that? Nothing’s wrong?
Then why are you here, blue screen?
Seriously, this is due tomorrow.
And that is due next week.
I can’t even listen to music
if you keep popping up, blue screen!
I have a s,fjaldgj,smfnbsjhg: error?
Is that even English?
I have erased all of my possibly dangerous files.
And deleted many programs, just for you.
And yet you remain,
taunting me with your blueness,
and incoherent white-lettered babble.
Oh, blue screen…
Can you not see that you are unwanted?
I AM TRYING TO DO MY HOMEWORK.
Seriously.
Go away.
OR I WILL THROW MY COMPUTER INTO THE STREET.
And you will never glow blue again.
Don’t think I won’t do it.



It’s been a while, blue screen.
You haven’t shut down my computer yet today.
It’s been a nice reprieve
from your teal tyranny.
Have you decided to be nice?
I find that difficult to believe.
You’ve never been nice before.
I will wait.
….

And yet, you still don’t come.
Hurrah!
Perhaps now I will accomplish something!
All of my homework will be done!
Without constantly pressing ‘restart!’
Without my anguished cries of ‘Why?!’
Without that annoying blue screen popping up
at the most inconvenient of tim –





Curse you, blue screen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m hosting an Amazon giveaway for kindle copies of my YA novel, I’m With You. 20 copies are up for grabs, and the giveaway ends February 9th, 2018. No cost or special requirement to enter, you just have to be over 18 and live in the US! I hope to run an international one soon.

If you’d like to enter for a chance to win, here is the LINK! (Amazon)