Monday, May 28, 2007
The Hawaii Lantern Festival is in progress as I write this. I imagine the evening to be much like this brief highlighted version of the annual commemerative event last year. As darkness falls, the lanterns will slowly float out to sea honoring the spirit of so many no longer living. On this particular evening, for our family, the names of loved ones, so recently with us in body and spirit, will be launched from the shoreline to ebb seaward.
Here is a link to closeup pictures of the event, lanterns from the
2006 Hawaii Lantern Festival you can view by clicking on the arrow above the photos.
This a Memorial Day annual event that a local Honolulu station, KITV-TV, will televise. Reportedly, one week later, the program will be aired on the Internet.
My sincere wish on this day is Peace for all.
Friday, May 25, 2007
This is a continuation of memories and thoughts stimulated by a preceding post “More Movies” in which I ended the piece with observations about one of the movies I had viewed being a sometimes overlooked suspenseful psychological thriller.
I will repeat here some of my comments with a quote from an interview in special features on “The Night Listener” DVD with the book’s author, Armistead Maupin, on whom the movie’s lead character is based.
“…I was intrigued by some of Maupin's observations about the world in which we live today and how we frequently find ourselves in virtual relationships. He talked about how we "...have constructs about the other person that are often more about what we need than what that person actually is and we fool each other by mutual consent in order to get what we want." Interesting thought for those of us in the blogosphere.”
And now … TV Day Memories …
Glass Ceilings for Women … The classic for me along the psychological thriller line, as for many people, was "Psycho" and Janet Leigh in the shower scene. Here's a bit of behind the scenes humor I learned recently
about the filming of that scene for the movie trailer. Seems another well known actress may have been coerced into playing that role for the filming of that trailer as retribution for her earlier withdrawal as the lead actress in another of this director’s movies.
Before “Psycho” many years ago, I recall seeing a movie that may have been "Cat People."
This was the first and only movie, that quite unnerved me, until "Psycho." I was haunted, literally for years, after exposure to some of that movie’s cat scenes. My horror film aversion developed then.
I recall when "Psycho" was finally first released in movie leasing packages for airing on television stations. I was working at a TV station during that time when movies were carefully edited to allow far fewer commercials than today. Film editing was seriously taken to minimize disruption of the mood and storyline with commercial scheduling sometimes adjusted, even omitted, for a film judged to be of top quality. Movies then were not made to accommodate the time schedules for television showing to end on the hour or half-hour, unless specifically edited to do so, unlike many today. There was little or no TV cable service, much less all movie channels. Old movies were shown for night owls, shift workers just returning home, those who just couldn't get to sleep in the early wee hours of morning.
Also, more serious consideration was given as to the time of day and/or evening when some movies would even be allowed to air, in consideration of younger eyes and ears. The expectation also was that parents used some influence on the viewing habits of their children to enable them to develop some critical judgments about what they viewed, that still seems like a good idea today.
Our station had acquired a certain number of runs or airings for "Psycho," so, it came to be one afternoon, unbeknown to me, the time had come for the engineers to follow-up on our film director's careful editing instructions on "Psycho." Knowing of my sensitivity to this "Psycho" shower scene, and on what must have been a dull afternoon for those engineers, they contrived to lure me into the edit room where I was treated to the shower scene, audio, video in all it's gory glory. My imagination created the rest from the stimulation of a stabbing knife, running blood, a collapsing victim, and that instrumental eerie-sounding music segment. To say that I became unnerved would be putting it mildly. I just could not help myself, to their great delight, since this was probably the only time they ever got the best of me in such a manner. Keeping one step ahead of their pranks took some pretty fancy dancing footwork, let me tell you. Of course, when all was said and done, that was a fun and enjoyable time of my life and the guys were a great group with which to work.
These thirty to forty engineers were all members of the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.) At that time B&W television cameras were huge in size and heavy in weight, were mounted to a cameraman’s eye level, then the mount on wheels had to be pushed around on the studio floor (see the evolution of the floor camera size in pictures HERE at the site of a then major powerhouse electronics manufacturer.)
Cameras became even more cumbersome when we went to color. In both instances there were large circumference thick black cables spread out all over the studio floors during our live programming. These cables came under the province of engineering, to be moved only by them. If the cameraman's responsibilities were such he was unable to do so, then clearly another engineer needed to be hired was the classic view. This increased the costs for producing programs and commercials. Cost containment was always of concern to programming, production, sales, sponsors and managment.
The cables often needed to be pushed out of the way so guests wouldn't trip over them. If the need arose I could with some slight effort readily push the cables aside with my feet (couldn't touch them with my hands.) This was more than welcomed by engineers and all production crew members as an incidental little act, a quick convenience for all concerned, since I was there in the studio, responsible for the welfare of guests and audiences and a multitude of other tasks required of all in a station of only one hundred or so employees. Periodically, though, union contract negotiations with management would occur. Sometimes they could become quite contentious. I was young, new and these engineering guys carefully protected me with a reminder that no one could touch the cables, not even with just their feet but them during this time, or a grievance would be filed. That was my first experience with labor unions.
This was the late fifties, early sixties. It did not escape me that there were no women in their ranks, nor until someone slightly older than me, who later became my good friend, returned at the behest of a male supporter to our NBC-TV affiliate station in her home state from then network offices at NYC’s ABC-TV did we have a woman in the control room. This was one of many glass ceilings in various professional areas of which I had been aware. I challenged them first hand as best I could in my limited way. I am quite confident pressures brought to bear by many women of that time, with the support of numerous men, resulting in some limited success, laid the groundwork for the gains from which later generations of women have continued to benefit.
The gains of these later generations of women, to some extent, are a matter of timing and when they were born. The time was ripe for break through and those in later generations who have done so were quite fortunate to have been born into the generation they were. For anyone to fail to recognize groundwork laid by this earlier fifties generation, and the one before them, and the part birth timing played in women’s gains in the sixties and later, or to fail to accord consideration of these older women’s contributions is simply ignoring reality.
The fact there continues to be a disparity of income between the sexes would suggest the women of today should not be idly resting on their laurels, but pressing ahead, enlisting the support of fathers, brothers, other males who understand and support the women in their lives, much as increasing numbers of those in earlier generations have for their own benefit and the benefit of daughters, granddaughters, all women to come.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Jo Van Fleet in her role won an Oscar as Supporting Actress portraying an unorthodox character pivotal in the lives of the family in this story. [Up date 3/7/13 to John Steinbeck biography at "Nobelprize.org" replacing the original link that discontinued publishing, another that requested removal.]
The youthful Julie Harris demonstrated her versatile acting skills caring lovingly for each of these family members as she partially compensated for needs resulting from her own family situation.
I rarely enjoy watching movies more than once because they seldom ever re-create the same feeling and reaction for me as the first time I saw them, but I did rather enjoy seeing this one again. Perhaps if I was in the movie business, and wanting to analyze various aspects of the production I would view it forty or fifty times as I've heard some directors say they've done with movies to tease out specific threads for analyzing various aspects of the whole production.
I decided to add a couple of DVD rentals to my viewing plans, including "The Queen" starring Helen Mirren in her Oscar winning role. This actress has been a favorite of mine from years ago when she first appeared on the U.S.A. PBS television viewing screen resulting in my awareness of her in "Prime Suspect." She's one of those few individuals who populate the world of acting that stimulate me to view whatever they appear in, because I can be pretty sure the role they play will be well acted as likely the whole production will be, too. I was not disappointed. I found myself wondering how closely the character she created paralleled the person she portrayed? We only know our own perceptions from outside Queen Elizabeth's world, so I wonder what the real Queen would say about the approximation of the character Queen to the real Queen's reality during that time surrounding the death of Princess Diana?
As I thought of psychological thriller movies (some, I learned are actually considered horror films, a genre that I generally avoid,) one that I've enjoyed viewing over the years, "Night of the Hunter" came to mind, starring Robert Mitchum. Roger Ebert's review superbly describes this outstanding movie. That's the story where the villain has the words "love" and "hate" on the opposite knuckles of each hand. You may see almost 10 minutes of YouTube's video of "The Riverboat Scene" here:
Friday, May 11, 2007
One experience from numerous others proved to be among the most challenging I've had professionally, while simultaneously being the most satisfying. The satisfaction was largely due to the fact the individuals involved were so open, honest, and most important, comfortable discussing the issues of continued living, dying and death with each other and those, such as myself, with whom they needed to interact.
I was comfortable in that situation and have been in others because of my own experiences with loved ones. I attribute this largely to my mother. She fostered such communication throughout my life in such a warm accepting manner without belabouring the issues. When life issues were at the forefront of decision making for her with me we were as prepared as we could be, though I'm not sure anyone is ever fully prepared for the inevitable when that time comes. We certainly can make the preparation easier for ourselves, loved ones, dear friends, enriching all lives in the process.
In my most recent experience, I was engaged in daily weekday sessions for about two months or so, with a couple who were involved in examining quality of life issues, considering ending alternative ways for sustaining life by means other than eating and drinking by mouth, use of supplemental oxygen for breathing. They were assessing their choices in terms of the means to safely continue life versus risk associated with using or not using these alternative methods.
The pros and cons of compromise for safety versus a desired life style was the basis for their considerations. The major questions centered around how best to receive nutrition and hydration, by mouth or other means, but the former also meant living apart from the healthy spouse in a more restrictive nursing supervised setting that might also lessen the risk of serious life-threatening health issues, or could even prolong life.
The greater risk was present by returning to a prior shared spousal living arrangement in a much less nursing supervised setting that also necessitated receiving nutrition and hydration by mouth. That placed the spouse at significantly increased risk of potential terminal health problems. What if the spouse's health became worse; would they want then to revert to the surgery again so he could resume alternative life giving support?
One of the references provided this couple is a booklet (also available in Spanish) I do recommend that was written by Hank Dunn called "Hard Choices For Loving People" that provides practical information regarding "CPR, Artificial Feeding, Comfort Care, and the Patient with a Life-Threatening Illness."
My involvement with this couple initially was directly related to maximizing an aspect of the ill spouse's physiological functional safety impacting their decision process, but I was drawn in by their clear desire for my inclusion in all of the matters. I had no hesitation in being included in their process as I always respond to the individual with whom I'm interacting as a whole being that encompasses their mind, body and spirit.
So, I responded in such a manner as to facilitate their conversation, sometimes just listening, other times asking thought stimulating questions, always providing them the real facts of his functional condition based on my assessments and perceptions in the area of my expertise. I made no effort to influence their choices or project on to them my own beliefs.
They made numerous plans from the certain to the uncertain decisions, only to rescind them, then alter them again as the ill spouse experienced changes several times in health status across a fluctuating full range framework with sometimes a promising, and other times a not so promising prognosis. Culmination of this whole process occurred in an ethics committee meeting with the couple, where they reiterated their thinking, then fully expressed their final decision with the clear knowledge that we all understood and respected their choices.
Living and dying issues are not always simple, even when advanced directives are
present, which is why I believe we need to talk more freely about this topic throughout our lifetimes. As I reflect on this whole experience, I recall this couple's disappointment
with the loss of intimacy from which all lives would have been richer, when they recounted their interaction with friends and loved ones. They said often those closest to them did not know how to talk with them, were uncomfortable with the subject matter on such a level, or simply could not allow themselves to discuss the topic of dying.
The Los Angeles Times featured an article by James Channing Shaw, a physician at the University of Toronto, in their February 28, 2007 Health segment, in a "My Turn" column that was titled "The acceptance of death can be a gift." His thoughtful comments relative to the choices some individuals encounter include:
"I would have to question whether an extra year or two of life would be worth the potential suffering that goes with treatment. Patients should be respected for thinking the same."
What also comes to mind is a post at "Time Goes By" written by Ronni Bennett titled "Fear of Death" I found the ideas expressed there quite powerful and meaningful. So did the couple about whom I've written here, after select writings, including that one, were shared with them at their request. I was particularly impacted, as were they, by that portion of the piece about half way through the post that begins:
"We fear not being. And that fear -- the most primal of fears -- is built into our DNA."
Later Ronni Bennett writes:
"...most people have made it taboo to speak of death in ordinary conversation even though it is the central problem of life. Have you ever tried? Even your friends will say, "oh, don't be morbid" and change the subject."
This is some of what the couple to whom I refer experienced. They were realistically facing the facts, others with whom they most cared were the ones with whom they wanted to speak of some of these matters, but were unable to bridge this conversational gap.
I find the specific matters in that post discussed above of most significance to the focus here. However, that whole "Time Goes By" post addresses even broader issues that bear serious consideration. I think these are all matters worthy of contemplation for both young people living for their future, middle age individuals determining how they want to live the second half of their lives, and older people engaged in enjoying their lives to the fullest. We all would be wise, as Ronni Bennett wrote there:
"...to pay attention to the changes the later years bring -- to see them, feel them, think about them and to talk about them and the mystery of life."
Monday, May 07, 2007
I have this sense that I have indeed been one of those "old fools" therefore one of those about whom others can say, "Well, there's a fool born every minute, and she's a good example of one." I think my foolishness has come about because of an emotional neediness resulting in my failure to appropriately censure some of my actions, inhibit some of my behaviors, exercise judgement incorporating caution in a new and unique situation when common sense was disregarded. What's done is done -- another cliche'. Nothing to do but chalk it up to the fact that one never gets too old to learn, change ones ways -- oh dear, more cliches'. Well you can check out cliches HERE.
This post is turning into a cliche' dilemma. I want to write all these comments as vaguely as possible, and what better way to do it than with a bunch of cliches'. Now, if I was a poet I could do it so well with metaphors, but I've never written poetry. But, I am overcome with sadness for all those lovely words that have had a tragic demise because of the frequency of their use. They were once considered a proud unique and special grouping of words with which many people became enamoured and, unfortunately, overused to the degree that the word police designated them a cliche'.
I've been taking a writing class since last Sept. when "my cup was running over" with all sorts of classes to coordinate with other activities in which I was engaged. The first of the year I realized I had my "finger in more pies" than I wanted, so I have been slowly extricating myself from many of them. One activity I considered "putting on hold" was writing for this blog -- "easier said than done." Despite everything, thoughts keep seeping into my brain that I seem unable to expunge until I sit down at the computer, and start writing the ideas. They are not particularly profound, but I do find myself expressing them, then, heaven forbid, posting them here.
Now that I'm alone in this house, any verbal expression I was heretofore prone to do, falls on deaf ears, or I should say, no ears at all except my own. I'm not above talking aloud to myself on occasion, but talking to someone, I find to be somewhat more desirable -- because I like feedback. However, we don't always get what we like, so must content ourselves with whatever is second best, or even lower on the rating scale. I'm lucky when I write here, as I can go back and see what I said, often chagrined that I'm not sure I hit the mark of what I was trying to convey as cleanly and precisely as I might have wanted.
About my writing class, I surely hope our instructor never reads this, 'cause I keep violating a writing class "no no" that is to never use cliches'. As you will have read above, I used more than a few. The problem with cliches' is that as soon as someone finds a way to express a thought really well, in just a phrase, with very succinct writing, too many people that like that thought immediately begin to use the phrase, as it says what they've been trying to say or have wanted to say, but they believe the precise words in the thought are expressed so much better than they've been able to do heretofore.
At some point, and I don't know when that happens, the phrase starts to be judged as being used entirely too much; therefore, somebody somewhere determines we now hereby designate that phrase is a cliche'. I suspect the judges are the editors receiving written material being considered for publication. The word gets out, "they didn't accept what I wrote because of the cliche'." Word spreads among the aspiring writers and this once highly revered unique special phrase now is scourged. Writers mentally scurry about searching for new and different words to express this thought now, because that cliche' will no longer be acceptable.
What I keep wondering is, what if someone comes up with another unique special combination of words to express a thought that many people instantly grasp, adopt and use? In that eventuality, then, I guess that poor phrase becomes a cliche' too. What circular madness this all is. But what fun we have playing with all these words, creating more and more word combinations that then become cliches with words in phrases we can no longer write.
Will we eventually run out of words? I think not. The reason being, contrary to what I believed as a child, there is not a finite group of words. New words are being created constantly, some accepted for usage, some not. Therefore, I have concluded the responsibility of the writer is to not only avoid using cliches, but to create new words. I'm going to work on that right away, right after I get over all this foolishness.