Monday, March 10, 2008

Thoughts on a Monday


I want my hour back. And that's all I have to say about that.


In a modern day miracle, space heater has risen from the dead and is working again. I have no idea what happened, I plugged it in andwr hoped... Though of course, this says a lot about the quality of electrical gadgets in our home. My husband is a firefighter and if he knew about SH's death and rebirth would say, "Put SH in the garbage," but it's almost spring, I will let SH live out its final days in my office doing its work. SH will be monitored allowed zero alone time. I just think SH has been kicked over one to many times by our dog.


This is what my husband calls Poetry. It's from an old video when our daughter was young and Winnie the Pooh was reading poetry, or has he called it Pooh-a-tree (which doesn't sound good no matter how I try to spell it.)

Anyway, in the Poohatry category--

I watched The Belle of Amherst play on DVD yesterday and it was actually quite charming and funny. It explores the life of Emily Dickinson in a one-woman play starring Julie Harris. It's from 1976, but it really is a timeless performance. I checked my copy out through the local library, so if you need something to watch while you fold the clothes or snuggle into bed one cold night, I'd recommend this. The writer created an Emily who is bright and engaging to listen to and while I may never truly understand *who* Emily was, this was another glimpse into a possibility (and so I'll dwell there.)

Also to do with poetry, I listened to Major Jackson on my walk today in an interview on New Letters. If you are not listening to New Letters on NPR or on their podcast, I cannot tell you how much you are missing out. Here's where you need to be: which will take you to the magazine (also fantastic) and here's New Letters on the Air: the radio show.

In the interview, Major Jackson read the last section of "Letter to Brooks," which is a long poem written to Gwendolyn Brooks. It's a wonderful poem where image after image takes us a place of Popsicle stick races and water fights in the hydrants, and the very last two words in the poem I am left with "Black Lily."

The entire interview was a treat to listen to. Check it out if you have a chance.

Two Movies I Don't Recommend--

Rush Hour 3 (don't ask)
The Nanny Diaries (Jeannine had already warned me about this one)

One movie I highly recommend--

My Kid Could Paint That--

Here's the Amazon Review--

"Suitable for framing, Amir Bar-Lev's "family human interest story" indelibly captures the media maelstrom that engulfed the Olmsteads of Binghamton, N.Y. when their daughter, Marla, age 4, became the darling of the art world with her abstract paintings. As a gallery owner tells Bar-Lev, the situation is "perfect": The family is charismatic, and Marla is, indeed, "a doll" and her paintings, "unbelievable." More on that later.

Bar-Lev chronicles how a community newspaper article about Marla was picked up by the New York Times, leading to more newspaper articles, sold out gallery showings, and media throngs. Marla's paintings sold upward of $25,000 (the owner of the Houston Rockets bought one), and talk-show hosts (Conan, Dave, Oprah) wanted Marla on their shows. "You're in for a wild ride, I hope you're prepared for this," the gallery owner says he told Mark Olmstead, Marla's father, a Frito Lay factory worker who also dabbles as an artist. But no one is prepared when Charlie Rose, during a 60 Minutes Wednesday broadcast, raises questions on whether Marla is the sole artist. Was she coached? Were the paintings doctored, or even painted by someone else? Could she even be called a prodigy?

Bar-Lev's canvas expands to consider the nature of art and media culture. It also becomes something of a self-portrait as he struggles with his own growing suspicions about Marla's paintings after he has befriended the family and earned their trust. My Kid Could Paint That is not a masterpiece, but it will resonate especially for everyone who says --they don't know art, but they know what they like. It would be an excellent companion to Who the #%&% is Jackson Pollock? " --- Donald Liebenson

My favorite person in the movie, though you never really get a chance to see him until the end, was Amir Bar-Lev, the filmmaker. I thought he sincerely felt pulled in trying to produce a film that was fair, but he wasn't really sure what was fair--was Marla doing these paintings all herself or was her father helping her?--you could feel his doubts and his concerns. I could feel his struggle in this documentary as what started as a cute human interest story turns into this huge drama that the family struggles with as well as Bar-Lev has to deal with.

The movie raised a lot of questions for me in what we want to believe, how we are not necessarily buying the art, but the *story* behind it, in trying to find truth in a sea of doubts and maybe. I was impressed with what he choose to show to the world about this story and ultimately in the end, it's up to the viewer to come to his/her own decision about whether Marla's art is completely done by her or if there is a little hands on help from her dad or if it's only "coaching" from her father, does it matter?


  1. Thanks for the new Letters links! I am always looking for audio poetry.

  2. Yep, thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

  3. Regarding the space heater: I wonder if possibly it got just warm enough (at least in the vicinity of the space heater) that the space heater's thermostat caused the space heater to shut off, or not turn on. (If that's the case, the light would still be on, even though no heat was blowing out of it.)

    Eventually, when it got cool enough again, the space heater's thermostat kicked it back on, and it started blowing out heat again.

    Not sure if that's what happened, but a possibility.

  4. Hi Lyle,

    I wondered the same thing (though I've had it on longer and it's never happened before). The only thing odd was that this space heater also has a fan, which I couldn't get to work and I thougth that would work even it it was over-heated.

    I guess there is a just a part of me that wants to think Easter miracle. ;-)

    I'm interested in seeing if it happens again.

    Also, J&V, thanks for your notes!


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