A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Offerings

Tonight was payback night. High school buddy Sally took Alma and me out to dinner to thank us for all the rides, errands, tech support, and so on during her visit to Massachusetts. Picking a restaurant was starting to get so complicated, I almost volunteered to cook a meal at my house. But then I thought, the idea was for Sally to treat us, so let her have the satisfaction of doing it.

We ended up at the Iron Chef in Longmeadow, on the theory that Cicily could get a vegetarian meal and Alma, observing Passover, could avoid meat and yeast. The Iron Chef serves Chinese and Japanese cuisine.

I do love Chinese food, and certain Japanese dishes as well. I've learned to make the ones I like best, so I don't really have to go anywhere to enjoy them. Unfortunately, most Chinese restaurants don't serve in the traditional manner (small portions of a variety of dishes). If I limit myself to one vegetarian choice, I'm looking at a massive pile of broccoli, or eggplant, or green beans, with maybe a small bowl of white rice alongside. The goopy chop suey style mélange with the slimy mushrooms isn't even an option for me.

So I had the massive pile of eggplant, the ubiquitous bowl of white rice, weak tea, and a fortune cookie. The talk never turned to family--I still know next to nothing about what Sally's been up to the last forty-odd years--but we had some good conversation, and it was pleasant to be among old friends.

Here's one of those enigmatic fortunes that's more frustration than help. Good offerings are out there. Fine. Now I just have to look in "the right places." I wonder where those are?

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Persephone and Pluto

I had vowed that for tonight's meeting of the Northampton Screenwriters Workshop, I would dress neatly for a change. Every previous meeting has fallen on a snowy day, necessitating unglamorous togs. Finally, we're into April. By midafternoon, however, the sky had darkened and an icky wet, sleety snow had started to fall. Regretfully, I donned what has become my NSW uniform: yellow slicker and puddle boots.

In Northampton, the sky was bright and the ground dry after all. Oh, well. Dinner at Bela was delicious, as usual. And the workshop was the most satisfying yet.

Julian Olf, product of Union, Columbia, and NYU, professor of theater at UMass, already accomplished and awarded screenwriter, gave us Persie and Pluto, a retelling of the Greek myth. In Olf's story, set in NYC, Persephone is a college professor, Pluto a Puerto Rican transvestite, Demeter a rich matron with a shih tzu, and Zeus a prosperous businessman. Julian brought along his wife, another theater prof, and several theater students to read. Wade's southern accent served him well reading the over-the-top part of Bobby. Terrific screenplay, terrific readings, and perceptive commentary afterward. Altogether, the most satisfying workshop I've attended so far.

I very much liked the thematic underpinnings of the script. The plot mirrors the Greek myth faithfully. The underworld of this story is the underworld of nightclubs and crime; the ending is a brilliant modern reinterpretation of the mythic Persephone's fate.

Persie and Pluto was timely, given the coming of spring. I, for one, have been thinking a lot about the seasons lately. This morning, I saw my first crocuses. When it seems winter will never end, flowers are a reassuring sign. And, of course, so are myths of life, death, and rebirth.

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