Bring It On Home

It’s spring. Life is stirring again. But first, there must be mud, at least in Maine. And then there are the pigheaded strips of snow that refuse to trot off.

Darwin and his Beagle, it’s lonely being a writer. Not the physical solitude (I’m equipped for that), but the loneliness of never knowing. I probably shouldn’t have read Adam Phillips’ Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life. Instead of inspiring me to greater heights of sufferance, I can’t nudge free the idea that I’m missing out on something.

And what do I feel like I’m missing out on? A gang of one’s own (instead of a room); John Ashbery talking to himself; a lovely coterie of friends; more involvement in the literary world (although I don’t even know what shape that should take); a vintage pair of jeans; a book deal.

“We make sense of our lives in order to be free not to have to make sense.”

My life at times feels like a boat in dead waters: waiting to get an agent to love me through the leafy vines; waiting for the sun to go supernova; waiting to hear if there is water on Mars; waiting for a physicist to find the God particle. If only it could be just Waiting For Godot. Why can’t I get a Golden Ticket like Charlie? “I never thought my life could be anything but catastrophe….”

But as King Lear told me the other night, “The art of our necessities is strange.” But the night before that, Mad Cyril told me: “The future is simply a ship in a bottle waiting for the right wave to let you out.”

What has happened to universities and the academic life? Send me off to American Idol with a song in my mediocre heart, but aren’t universities and colleges the Land for the Lotus Eaters? I thought it was the last refuge for exiles, eccentrics, the obsessed, thinkers, libertines, seekers, the disaffected, the lonely, those who don’t wanna grow up, those who fled the working world with Ginsberg’s Howl in their veins, those whose backs were pushed up against the wall by the world and who hopped over it into some cerebral paradise. How did all this professionalism and success and play the bonny tenured prof come about? Shouldn’t universities be letting misfits and miscreants and the mad teach the bright young things of the future?

Why is it that the middle class always work like dogs and yet never have anything to show for it but debt and mortgages and exhaustion and unfulfilled dreams? I don’t want that. I want the Alexandria Quartet in my backyard. I want the sun and moon to pass over my writing desk. And I want to someday go to Bruges as a hitman.

I have gone on long enough. I must get back to my bean field. If I don’t, somebody will think me a curmudgeon in the prime of life. I’m not that irascible. I just have this thing called life breathing down my neck all the time.


Down The Rabbit Hole

I was dubious about going to see Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.  To begin with, I was worried that Burton would ruin it like he botched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — which was a crass interpretation of a Dahl classic.

But I enjoyed Alice. A Burton spectacular. His vision for Wonderland was visually stunning, I wanted to munch on my Raisinets and be there among the bright fungi.

It was the right mix of faithfulness to Carroll (although it’s not the Alice story, but a weird hybrid) and inventive entertainment.

The actress Mia Wasikowska who played Alice was super, and Bonham Carter and Depp were good. Although Depp’s portrayal of the Mad Hatter as a fey, carrot-haired campy clown with huge chartreuse eyes really got on my nerves. I understand that the mercury hatters used to make hats made them go mad, but eyes like that? Annoying.

All in all, though, a fun flick. Nothing ground shattering or mind enhancing.

But Alan Rickman’s voice as the caterpillar and Stephen Fry’s as the Cheshire Cat were definite stand-outs. And the Mad Hatter in a kilt and wielding a Scottish claymore was a treat.

And one of the best lines was by Crispin Glover about the bloodhound (voiced by Timothy Spall): “Dogs believe anything you say.”

So was it worth going down the rabbit hole for? Yes, but not entirely.

If you still want weird and wonderful and nonsense, read Carroll. He’s the master.