Saturday, October 20, 2018

Everything Is Bigger in Texas

Southwest Airlines

Remember my History Vacation blogs?

The last day of our History Vacation when I flew home, I met Marcia Olson and the plane hit a truck. Two most fortuitous events.

I always meet the nicest and most interesting people while flying. Marcia was one of my seat mates on my flight home. She's in education. And music.  And she lives in the Denver Metropolitan area, as do I, so we visited all the way from D.C. to Denver by way of Atlanta.

We had to change planes in Atlanta. I was planning to lunch in Atlanta but ....

When the plane landed there, it hit a truck. I know, how does a plane hit a truck? It happened in the Gate area. The truck was parked where it shouldn't have been and the visibility from the pilot's seat is quite limited. It wasn't a big collision or anything. Just knocked off the tippy-end of one of the wings, the part that has that little flashy light.

It delayed our deplaning but not so much that we missed our flight to Denver. Just missed my lunch. Now the folks who were supposed to stay on the plane and fly to Philadelphia, they were inconvenienced. Like my son John said regarding repair of the plane so they could continue their flight, "It might take a while for the glue to dry."

Long story short: Marcia and I became Facebook friends and she messaged me to check my emails because she got a voucher from Southwest for another flight. Me, too!

Wednesday I used said voucher and flew to Dallas for my grandchildren's birthdays. I boarded the light rail into Denver, transferred to the train-to-the-plane, and was through security at the airport, all before sunup. I haven't seen the sun except for that time period we were flying above the clouds until today.

(We didn't hit anything when we landed.)

Gotta say -- all that stuff you hear about things being "bigger" in Texas is true. This is an agave plant outside the Half Price Books flagship store in Dallas. It's huge.

And that nonspecific pronoun "it" is perfect here because it can refer to the huge agave plant or the huge bookstore.

The day after I arrived I further confirmed the truism of Texas being the home of "bigger." This is the welcoming entrance to a home I passed on my Thursday walk.

That sorta piled-up plant in the background is prickly pear and it's taller than I am. Of course, Central Texas has had rain of Biblical proportions and prickly pear is a cactus so given enough water, it will enthusiastically achieve its genetic potential, .

And this, folks, is a high school football stadium. Yes, that's right high school.
The two pedestrians are my 6 foot-two-inch tall son
 and my normal adult size daughter-in-law.

If you haven't noticed, I gotta tellya, I'm not much of a traveler and even less of a travel blogger. If you want to read some good travel blogs, check out my friend Anabel's blog She and her husband live in Scotland (hence the title) and they travel often and widely.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Lord Finn -- A Movie Review

My friend Al Mertens has a film out. His first as writer and director. He graciously allowed me to view it prior to its release and asked me to review it.

In Shakespeare, theater is either history with familiar names and events and outcomes. Or it is comedy with laughs and obstacles to the inevitable happily-ever-afters. Or it is tragedy where the hero is a person of high birth or one who holds a position of status.  And that hero’s journey unravels because of his own character flaws.

Lord Finn is a tragedy. But certainly not a Shakespearean tragedy. Daniel Finley, well-played by Ben Richardson, is Lord Finn and he hates Shakespeare. The old English speech he enters and exits seamlessly are of Mallory’s King Arthur or Dickens, not Shakespeare.

This heartbreakingly realistic film follows three main characters, none of whom is high born or holds a position of status. They are the people we’d rather not know.

Daniel Finley, his father is a Native American and his mother an Anglo, is mentally ill. The movie opens with him on the ground out behind an Indian casino. His speech is absurd, nonsensical. And his manner, aggressive. You and I see people like him on the street. We avoid eye-contact and pretend that they don’t exist.

Jasmine, a Native American prostitute, enters the story by inducing a car thief to help her steal a john’s car. She’s not the kind of woman a man would bring home to his mother or a mother would point to proudly.

And Cheer, a hostile, white, lesbian, prison inmate. She’s in for selling drugs. We meet her in an AA meeting inside the penitentiary. Even her fellow cons dislike her.

They’re not traditional Shakespearean characters with traditional character flaws like ambition or jealousy. With all their problems, their tragic flaw is how they deal with the tragedies in their lives. It’s how Daniel and Jasmine deal with loss. And for Cheer, it’s how she deals with never having had.
Daniel refuses to take his medication. Jasmine fills her sleepless nights with drugs and johns. And Cheer uses people, alcohol, and whatever other drugs she can get hold of to make her way in whatever world she’s in.

Each of them is an outcast. The movie brings us into their lives. Our sense of discomfort with people like them dissolves and we no longer want to ignore them. We no longer dismiss them with the old saw “There but for the grace of God….” We want to know how they got like that, what’s going to become of them.

Sissie, Daniel’s beloved, younger sister is played by Suzy Weller. She touches the heart of the story -- of all our stories -- when she says twice, “He’s all alone in there.” Once of her brother and once of their father.

Each of the three -- Jasmine, Cheer, and Lord Finn -- is all alone in there.

Lord Finn has abandoned sanity and rejected that part of himself that is his father. Jasmine, played by the beautiful and talented Jamie Loy, has abandoned her birth name and the person she loves most. Sarahjoy Mount plays the mercurial Cheer, who moves from being victim to being predator and back again. She has abandoned freedom and any possibility of acceptance in the world for the surety of prison.

Each of them is like hail damage in a windshield. Fissures spread across the glass from pock mark to pock mark. To the people they should be or could be closest to. People who suffer their own damage.

In his debut film, Al Mertens has written and directed a serious film about people we all know. A father or a child. A girl we went to school with. Someone we once loved. And about us, too. As difficult as these people’s lives are…as difficult as our lives are…in the end, he reminds us that no matter how “alone in there” we feel, the truth is we are not alone.