©2021 Michael Raven

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puzzles my jigsaw pieces
tumble to the floor
all three boxes -- four!
dizzy in this haze
of words, flames and
i cannot sort the piles
much less make the
pictures complete


Poor Man’s Art House Film

I was scrolling through HBOMax’s offerings last night after I realized I didn’t have enough time to watch Doctor Sleep like I had originally planned (actually, the plan was to catch up on Black Spot, but there was no catching up to do). Yes, I am an early-riser, even on weekends, and I have a bedtime I have set for myself to maintain the semblance of being interested in avoiding by regular bouts with insomnia and restlessness — something I am currently being plagued with every night. It doesn’t help, but I go through the motions all the same.

Anyway, as I was scrolling through the A-Z filter of movies, I came across a few that I wasn’t aware were available to watch that fit into that “art house” category. Foreign films I have watched in the past (or never got around to watching) and a few American films that are also artsy (for better or worse). I had considered purchasing a few B-type films when I am alone with the cats next week, but I found a plethora of films that I thought might be nice to watch again, so I’ll probably avoid paying money and just make do with what I have available.

A few films I recall enjoying “back in the day”:

  • My Life as a Dog
  • Au Revoir les Enfants
  • Wild Strawberries
  • Dead Man
  • The 39 Steps
  • The Seventh Seal
  • Seven Samurai
  • 8 1/2
  • M

Not to mention a slew of Godzilla movies in case I don’t want to think…

The short version — Next week I can watch my arty films without someone moaning that what’s on the television is BORING. At least I don’t think the cats will say that. Guess I’ll find out…

Follow Friday

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I realized recently that I really don’t probably do enough to promote writers that I like to read in the blogosphere, so I’m going to try an experiment (for me) to see if I can commit to doing more to bring attention to some awesome people, let alone writers I’ve encountered since I decided to throw myself back into regular blogging after a hiatus of about three years, with multiple false starts in the interim as I tried to be someone I was not when it came to writing.

I haven’t decided if I plan to give multiple links each week, or if I plan to just highlight a single writer — this is a very ad hoc post based on musings of the past few weeks while I came to the conclusion I was not a very good neighbor. I’ll stick to two folks for this round so I don’t use everybody up and defeating the purpose of a “Follow Friday” post. My choices are in no particular order, but just whimsy on my part. If I have mentioned a site here in the past, I’ll probably do so again on one of these FF posts, but I’m trying to hit some people I may not have mentioned in my other posts.

I think I owe something to Grace of the Sun and I should mention her here because of her willingness to find the positives in my own attempts at throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping that something sticks — plus she was willing to nominate me for one of those “spread the wealth” circles/awards that go around on blogs and it seems that the least I could do is return the favor in kind. I had declined the nomination, mostly because my motivations are almost never about expanding my audience when I write (shocker, I know), but letting an audience develop more organically. Grace is kinder than I am with her posts: instead of posting up to ten posts of varying themes and quality each day, she sticks largely to two posts a day — one shorter poem each morning (haiku, it seems), and a longer poem in the afternoon (typically with a rhyme scheme). She stated at one point that she likes to end her poems on a positive note and I think she largely succeeds. And she always finds time to give me plenty of encouragement in comments on this site as well, which helps with perpetuating my own shenanigans.

Another writer folks should check out has had some significant influence on my own writing since I started following her early on in this iteration of my blogging life, although I doubt she realizes that until she reads this (if she reads this). Lauren (the wee smirk) from The Lexicon has felt like a kindred writer/spirit. While she writes if a completely different vein, I like to think we share some of the same themes in our writing; approached differently, of course, but similar in my mind, nonetheless. The influence she has had on my own writing goes towards the presentation elements — utilizing bold, italics, non-letter characters, shape, and whitespace. I think she does a beautiful job of making poetry more visual and it’s something I snatched up right away as an alternative to the performance elements that I miss from my poetry heyday in Seattle and late teen years in Minneapolis before that [aside: I am not interested in competitive performance, seemingly the rage since the mid-90s, but collaborative performance]. There are some barbs in her pieces, which I thoroughly enjoy, a smidgen of snark at times as well, which I enjoy even more. Her posting frequency is more sporadic, but I find that makes each one more likely to be a true gem.

So, let’s see how well I stick with this whole FF thing. Don’t be afraid to post your own suggestions below (unless it starts to look spam or self-serving links, both of which will be deleted).


I grew up in an era where claims of a platonic relationship between people of the opposite sex was given a nod and a wink with a heavy dose of: “Riiiiiiight. Platonic… Uh-huh. Gotcha.” Cocked finger gun. tch tch. Mouthed: Bang.

I should know — I got that response all the time as a teen and well into my twenties, although I never defined my friendships with women as “platonic”. In reality, that’s mostly what it was, save for the use of the word. Most of my friends (when I had more) have been women over the years and I can safely say that I only felt romantically inclined with a small portion of them. Some of them turned into relationships of one sort another, but most were better as friendships. I just preferred to hang out with the opposite gender, as I felt I was better received and understood by women compared to the guys I befriended. Women were more accepting of my tendency to wear androgynous clothing, makeup and spend too much time on my hair making sure it was just so before going out (no wonder I shave it down these days). Men would roll their eyes and, not occasionally, avoid being seen with me in public. or leverage my eccentricities to meet people curious about “that strange-looking bloke” across the nightclub floor.

Times have changed between rejection of gender identity and folks coming out more easily and, out of curiosity (and the blue), I wondered if I needed to update my concepts of “platonic”.

source: somewhere on the internets

Good grief. The above is just a fraction (although inclusive of the most common definitions I saw) of the different types of attraction one person can have for another (or mutually) by today’s definitions. I guess they all make sense, but it sure shows how out of touch I am with these concepts. Being an introverted SOB will do that, I suppose.

And I “get” all of these. Experienced them over the ages, too — even the less familiar terms. And it’s interesting how the upper row used to be of primary importance in the past, but the lower row of terms seems somehow more appealing in recent times (although I’m not immune to having a stray crush here and there ::whistles innocently::). I mean, they all have their level of “interesting” to me, but I’m leaning more (especially lately) toward the lower tier.

Anyway, no real motivation to write this post other than to assume (quite possibly incorrectly) there is at least one person who is lacking in the world savvy skills of identifying attraction types that might find this information interesting as well.

Or maybe I just to find myself a squish.

Obligatory Kitten Update

Ghost is integrating nicely.

Ghost, with Fennekin.

He’s already more than half the size of the standard American shorthairs (and one longhair), with bobcat cheeks filling in and his fur looking decidedly less rumpled as the guard hairs fill in some of the empty space. He gets along best with the other two Maine Coons, who both have a familiar approach to interacting with him. Wraith acts like the big brother, making sure he doesn’t get into too much trouble (or helping him get into it at times), while Fen is a bit more like a mothering figure. The other cats are, in turn, terrified of his mad ninja skills, or unconvinced that he really wants to be a friend. For the record, the ninja attacks on the two cats that receive them the most often are more than well-deserved.

Because of the situation and number of cats, he still sleeps in a cage at night, although we’re slowly letting him try to stay out. The problem is he wants to play if anyone is awake so, until the other humans are gone next week, I’ll wait to work on getting him to understand that sleeping times is sleeping time. He’s a quick learner — has learned “up”, “down” and “come” with the help of treat incentives, which have started diminishing in frequency, and he’d learned which door thresholds are not to be crossed (e.g., open patio doors and the door to the basement). With everyone gone, I’ll probably introduce him to the basement next week now that we’re mostly understanding that electrical wires are not chew toys.

He loves training and purrs up a storm whenever we have our short little training sessions. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt with the treats, but he’s generally a happy little dude and interested in pleasing people.

It’s been gruesomely hot in Minnesota lately by the time I’m done with work (or forest fire haze reaching unsafe breathing levels), which has killed any outdoor adventures he and I might have, so there is a bit of a bummer there. And I have yet to harness him anyway, let alone leash (maybe next week).

So far, his personality alone has made him worth his weight in gold — he’s a real Casanova with the humans and the cats — always happy and looking to get the odd, casual display of affection before running off to create mischief.

Joe Abercrombie quote

Nothing like being wanted, is there? Wanted by someone you want. Always seems like magic, that something can feel so good but cost nothing.

Rikki’s thoughts, A Little Hatred

“Never scratch your eyebrows with a sword.”

Advice from one warrior to another, A Little Hatred

I’m winding down on the last couple of books by Abercrombie that take place in his “First Law” worlds, so I’ll probably not stumble on what I feel like as being quote-worthy things from him and you’ll see other writers more in my “quotes” category of posts. By soon, I mean it may be a month or more — I’m a very slow reader and I never understood the appeal of people being proud of being able to finish books in hours or a few days. I want to savor books, not consume them.

I’ve thought about prepping myself for the upcoming first season of The Wheel of Time by re-reading The Eye of the World, but maybe I’ll move onto something a little less fantasy like Les Liaisons Dangereuses. I’ve also been inclined to reread or get around to some “classics” that I haven’t gotten around to previously.

Regardless, if you tire of my Abercrombie fixation, rest assured I’ll probably be less inclined to quote him relatively soon.

Mixed bag

I watched The Wicker Man (1973) for the first time in years last night; it had been long enough that I could see it with new eyes. I didn’t like it as much the first time I watched it, but I think I had set up my expectations that it was a horror film of a different nature than it was intended to be. This time I enjoyed it much more, likely because I had left my biases behind. I think it was quite well done, although I am sure there were mixed inspirations for it that don’t stand up to scholarship. But it was largely respectful of the old religion and evidently well-researched based on my own knowledge about the customs.

I had forgotten how nudity in the 70s and 80s was more commonplace in movies — at least female nudity. My eldest walked in early on the movie and died a bit of embarrassment, but stuck around to watch it in spite of the sexual overtones and nudity. She seemed to enjoy it and had lots of questions about the symbolism that I actually could answer. Made me feel smart for a change of pace.

I have a meeting in 20 minutes that I will struggle to stay awake for. I slept like crap and it’s one of those meetings where it will devolve into a bitching session. I’ll keep my mute on so maybe they won’t here me snort when my hand slips and my head bobs.

I’m still trying to decide how to entertain myself next week. Looks like another scorcher is on the way, last I looked, so outdoors is out. I live in Minnesota because I like cool weather — heat destroys me. And there are fewer venomous things in my neck of the woods. I really should take the interruption-free time to go some serious writing instead of the quick stuff I’ve focused on for a long time, but I’m disinclined to commit to it nearly a week before the quiet descends. Part of me thinks I should also try to find something social to do, but it never pans out for all my expended effort, so I’ll probably just not try to set anything up online or in real life. Honestly, that was some of my thinking a day or so ago when I posted my “dumb idea“. Set up some time to rap about writing (or whatever) with a few folks, but… well… see above about social things never quite getting off the ground for me.

War. What is it good for?

Dumb idea

I get plenty of dumb ideas and this is probably one of those dumber ideas. Because I have no shame, I’ll float it out to y’all anyway and let the chirping of grasshoppers be the final vote on such matters, causing me to rethink my wayward life and hold off on proposing such absurdities for at least a few weeks.

I’ll admit my concept is in the embryonic phase — why bother developing it further if there is zero interest in it, after all? But here it goes…

I was thinking about a quote since I first saw it these past few weeks from one of the people associated with the Velvet Underground (I forget who; the who is not all that important). But they were saying something to the effect of how the Underground grew out of the artistic multi-discipline collaborative scene in the Warhol collective. The person commented that, in this day of the internet and pandemic, that they didn’t know if there was any real opportunities for that kind of collaboration in the current age. People tend to eschew the café scene for such things anymore and he really didn’t know how one would emulate it with the present conditions.

I think there was a bit too much hand-wringing in his statements, because I think it just takes imagination to overcome the minor hurdles he mentioned.

While I don’t have any “vision” about recreating that kind of scene, I do go back to some of the “collective” nature of what I was doing back in high school and when I was mixing it up with artists of various disciplines in a Seattle performance night at a café in the 90s. We had the performances/readings on a monthly basis, but a number of the participants knew they could find yours truly (their fearless leader) at the espresso bar almost any day after five, and quite a few hours/days outside that range. We’d sit, drink coffee, and plot world domination. And, occasionally, critique and cull through our pieces planned for the performance night.

Like I said, it’s probably a stupid idea, but I’d be interested in seeing if anyone here might be up for a virtual café using something like Google Meet with the idea of group discussion, sharing or just bullshitting.

Lemme know how horrid that sounds. Crickets are my cue to drop the idea and let other bad ideas ferment in its place.

Boys don’t cry

I have several movies that I keep meaning to get around to re-watching, some real tear-jerkers — at least for my “manly” sensibilities. I’m as much a product of my generation as most people are and, in that paradigm: boys don’t cry. I had crying shamed out of me by about fourth or fifth grade, and the lesson stuck to such a degree that it takes quite a bit to get obvious tears out of me most days.

All humans will be out of the house next week, so I can safely have a bawling session (or at least relax enough to do so) while there are no eyes upon me — which means I might have to break down and buy/rent a few jerkers if I don’t have the movies already in my streaming collection.

I don’t even need to watch all of Dangerous Liaisons to get me going — I can just fast-forward to the end of the duel scene between Valmont and Danceny. “Let it be. He had good cause. I don’t believe that’s something anyone has ever been able to say about me.”


But I do so very much love that story and I feel that the Malkovich/Close version of the movie was about as close as anyone could hope to come to the actual novel. Other versions of the same story that I’ve seen on stage and in film were, at best, pale imitations of the book. Which, to be honest, I’m tempted to reread once I get through the last two Abercrombie books that take place in his “First Law” world. The novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses makes me cry, too, in case you wondered.

I also have some weepy memories of watching Legends of the Fall, although it looks like reviewers pretty much panned the film when it was in the theater. Maybe it is the wanderlust I had, maybe I hade read too many translations of the Tristan/Tristram and Isolde tale and have a different connection to that movie than most people, or maybe I just like the idea of someone going off and getting lost to escape their world. I have more than once over the years thought about just fading away to forget who I am and get out of my skin. I can relate to Tristan — always trying to do the right thing even though you’d rather be bad. And even, sometimes, succeeding in spite of yourself.

If I really want to get myself blubbering, I can watch the scene at the top of the climb, Rodrigo’s penance scene, in The Mission. Do you see a pattern emerging? No matter how many times I watch that scene, I start crying and even have difficulty in maintaining my façade trained into me from those years ago when someone is around. I love the movie as a whole, but it is that scene that slays me each time. Snotty, weeping mess…

There are other movies too, these are just a few. Usually, it is the trials and tribulations of the misunderstood, the misfits, and the remorseful that get me crying.

Maybe because I can relate all too well.

Throw me a few tear-jerkers in the comments so I can maybe expose myself to something new.