The Food of Love



Photo Credit: Raphael Pinto

According to Jane Austen speaking through Mr. Darcy, it’s poetry. I believe many others, myself included, would disagree and think of a saucy retort that includes chocolate—that deep, satisfying, melt-in-your-mouth taste. Whichever side you claim, this week provides an opportunity to partake of either one, or both if you are supremely special.

Since I’m a sucker for well-crafted words, I decided to help myself to a smorgasboard of love before the main attraction later this week. And boy, were my eyes bigger than my stomach. My mother always told me not to go to people’s houses and invite myself into their refrigerator like I own the place, but your refrigerator really outdid itself and I say you, meaning people who have poetry up over at the main site. I gorged myself and the following is my first foray into that chaotic world.

But first, here’s what prompted it:

I was doing some research for my novel and realized that I was in over my head. My god and faerie were a little closer than I wanted them to be. The complicated relationship had to seem authentic, had to move people and make them stay on the edge of their seat. I didn’t want to write a romance
1. Because I am a realist and don’t claim to be a romance writer.
2. I feel like it’s been done over and over and so much that we get desensitized in literature to what love actually is. So many books have a kiss, or a guy stalking a girl for a couple of months and suddenly, she is in DEEP life-altering, sky-diving, death-defying love.  Very simplistic and dare I say, a bit much?

I needed an expert opinion. I unwittingly stumbled upon one after reading an excerpt of the book What’s Love Got To Do With It: The Emotional World of Popular Songs. Mainly I clicked on the article because I thought Tina Turner was going to make an appearance, but the excerpt was so compelling, it made me buy the book. And pounce on my laptop like a knowledge-starved cheetah in search of sustenance to immediately email the professor.
In the excerpt, Professor Thomas Scheff discusses attraction, attachment, and attunement, the magical three ingredients that make up love, with attunement being the special sauce. He also goes over the six different kinds of love (or crazy) many people think are the “happily ever after” type.

Needless to say, I was fascinated. My question to him had to do with types 2 and 5 in the grid he provides. I wanted a dark combination of them both. He kindly responded to my over-excited email and told me to vary the level of attunement. It makes sense–without attunement love isn’t really there. It’s just an echo.

And if you have no idea what attunement is, read the article. Hopefully you’ll be as fascinated as I was, or I’ll settle for intrigued.

Now guarded with this ancient truth, I sallied forth into that tumultuous and reckless oblivion. And later, I renewed my  faith in man (and woman) to adequately portray it. To feel strains of the phantom echoes reverberating in my mind, soft words running through my veins.

Thank you, for renewing that. Yes, you and your refrigerator of food. But without further ado, here are the poems that brought me back to life:

Poem: A Love Not Allowed by Uniquely Dysfunctional. Burning, the mind, and the imagery was fantastic.

Poem: You Are by Ten X’s (the x’s are spelled out ten times). This poem really combines the good and bad, the sticking through it through the tough times in a really simply but elegant way. It was fabulous.

Poem: Cocaine Sun by Vangoman. This blew me away. It’s that Candy movie kind of love, the insanely good but horribly wrong kind.

Poem: The Lack of Understanding by ErinHea. This is definitely relatable. I couldn’t get enough of the pacing in this.

Poem: The Autumn Victorian by Luciddreamer1973. Love growing older, the concept of love growing older, love in the twilight of people’s lives—I see it all there.

Poem: Self Persuasion
That last line packed a major punch and I really enjoyed this poem.

If you’re not from the main site and you want to read these fabulous poems, head on over and put the titles in the search box. And poke around a bit! These were my favorites so far, but I’m excited to explore more of them.

Treat yourself with some words or chocolate this week, but most importantly, make sure your choice is love.

Advertisements

Movie Monday: Man of La Mancha


By Alexandria Harris

Premise: Cervantes and his manservant are imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition and the prisoners put him on trial. His defense is a story.

Best Quotes:

“Reality–a stone prison crushing the human spirit. Poetry demands imagination and with imagination, you may discover a dream.”- Cervantes

“Miguel de Cervantes I charge you with being an idealist, a bad poet, and an honest man how plead you?” Prisoner
“GUILTY!”-Cervantes

“We both select from life”-Cervantes, referring to how poets and madmen are alike.

“Madness most of all is seeing life as it is, not as it should be.”-Cervantes

I know this is a musical, but I thought I stepped into a distorted production of the Wizard of Oz or The Wiz with all of the tin men and straw people jumping around and Catholic monks as the wicked witches in the first scene.

But no, it just happens to be Cervantes putting on the play “Don Quixote” in the square–and gets arrested by Inquisition soldiers five seconds later.

I love when movies dive right in and get to the point.

Cervantes and his manservant look like they’re headed to prison, especially because of a dungeon like structure they are escorted to, but apparently they only wait for their trial in two hours.

Cervantes goes into this hilarious monologue where he tells the prisoners that he’s been to prison many times (how mobster of him), that he finds the world a prison at times, and then gets attacked by the inmates!

Cervantes begs the prisoners to “try” him when they almost put his manuscript in flames and he almost dives in to save it. He tells them he presented an entertainment and is to go before the Inquisition. The prisoners put him on trial.

Cervantes and his servant put on Don Quixote for the prisoners and he transforms into the part (meaning Peter O’ Toole looks like he does presently, only in grey and with a longer beard) and breaks out into song.

Warning: the songs are catchy (and really cheesy) with donkeys and other animals doing some fancy footwork. I found myself singing “I’m Don Quixote, yes Lord of La Mancha” over and over.

The first song apparently has magic powers because suddenly Cervantes/Don Quixote and Sancho/his manservant are in a field and living the scene where Don Quixote sees a giant and it’s actually a windmill.

I think Sancho and Don Quixote are both right and it’s a giant windmill. The windmill fighting scene alone will either have you in stitches, give you a slight case of vertigo, or both.

The movie flashes back to the prison where Cervantes picks prisoners to be in his next scene. He goes among the women and picks his Al Donza, saying she could be a tiger crouching with fire and the scene turns back into Don Quixote land.

Sophia Loren’s Al Donza is FEISTY. I admired her character until she started singing. She was literally attacked by all these horny mean to the point that I was for sure I was going to see a rape scene for a hot second. But she sang her way out of it.

The prisoners wonder if Cervantes is trying to distract them from their purpose instead of mounting a defense. Cervantes affirms that it’s exactly what he’s doing and asks to continue. He chooses more for his cast and the audience delves deeper into the world of Don Quixote, into his family.

His niece is soon to be wedded and wants to hide her uncle’s apparent madness from her fiance or he might break the engagement. Thus the intrigue and plotting begins.

Watching the movie helped me to appreciate how much of a storyteller Cervantes was, how much of a genius he was at setting the scene. I usually enjoy a play within a play. It was a nice twist to have the prisoners perform Don Quixote and have it seem drawn from Cervantes’ life.

The fact that Don Quixote looked like the malnourished, human, and ten years older version of Victor from The Corpse Bride only enhanced the movie for me.

It was too long at a little over two hours, but at least it was interesting. If you cut the songs out you’d probably get rid of thirty minutes. The singing didn’t exactly blow me away, but it did the job. I’m not much for musicals, but this one kept me thoroughly entertained. The dialogue was great, O’Toole makes a very convincing, off-his-rocker Don Quixote.

The story was well put together and it makes a good movie. I give it a 6/10 mainly because it does a great job at connecting the writer/story/and reality but the story would have flowed better if it wasn’t a musical. But what an ending! (in a good way)

Alexandria Harris is a writer and former reporter on WSUM 91.7. When she isn’t watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, she tweets regularly as @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Movie Monday: The Raven


By Alexandria Harris

Premise:  A killer is using Edgar Allan Poe’s tales to bring to life unspeakable horrors.

Best Quotes:
“Is imagination now a felony?”-Poe

“I know there is a darkness to Edgar, but they’re all up here (points to head) every woman he’s ever loved has died in his arms. I believe that God gave him a spark of genius and quenched it in misery…” -Henry Maddox, newspaper owner

“Feels as if I’ve gone from author to character in one of my tales, trapped in the devil as any of the hapless bastards that I’ve created.”-Poe

It was time for us to delve into the mind of a poet. However in “The Raven” Edgar Allen Poe is portrayed as a washed up poet, drunkard, and sometimes contributor of a newspaper where he takes it upon himself to criticize the likes of Longfellow, Emerson, and brilliant contemporaries. Apparently the well of Poe’s genius has run dry.

The audience witnesses the extremely bloody pendulum killing (don’t eat and watch this) and then we go from bloodcurdling to sappy with Emily, who Poe is in love with.

Poe is brought in as a specialist by an inspector because the killer is following Poe’s tales to the minute detail to terrorize the city of Baltimore.

Poe’s new fiancee Emily and he decide that they will make their engagement public at a masked ball her father (who hates Poe) is hosting. It is the social event of the year for Baltimore. However, that is the same night that the killer chooses to strike again using “The Masque of the Red Death.”

They shoot the interloper and catch him, but not before the real culprit has disappeared with Emily. Now that Poe is really personally invested, it is up to him to save Emily and find the killer before time runs out.

I’m sure every writer wants to see their stories come alive in real life, but these are particularly gruesome stories to bring to life. The stories are no longer safe with imagination, they are contaminated by reality, fixating our minds with horror.

Then to relive the monsters of your own making, to craft them into more gruesome detail–it’s no wonder Poe was crazy.

It was fascinating to see Poe driven to produce stellar art, being a master at his craft the way sometimes we all are driven to produce amazing pieces of work. Even though he was driven by life or death, sometimes writing and the art of producing literature is a life-consuming passion.

Poetry is food for the soul, a soul wrenching endeavor and so it makes sense that the movie was a little melodramatic. There were a few quotes and glimpses into the mind of a genius. However, I think the movie would have been better served as a biography of Poe’s life. He certainly had an interesting one.

The costumes were bright at times but mainly dull, mimicking the movie setting. Outlandish chases mixed with interesting points of deduction, it was basically watching a mystery movie a la Sherlock Holmes without the Watson and mixed in with a little Saw. Oh, and at two points I was getting Phantom of the Opera deja vu.

It was adventurous of the script writers to add a fictional twist to Poe’s life, but there needed to be more turmoil, more raw emotion. The movie was definitely suspenseful, but too predictable which is why I felt as though there was something missing. A twist at the end made me give it a higher mark, but for the most part you could guess along with Poe.

I would give this movie a 6/10. You don’t need to rush out and buy the DVD, but it’s good for a one-time watch and literary types will appreciate it for what it is–an interesting and mostly fictional take on Poe’s life.

It was intriguing because Poe is generally a mystery/detective gothic-style  fiction writer. The writers tried to turn the movie into that very thing, but taking the mold from his stories didn’t allow for enough imagination to really keep an audience riveted for the entire movie. The way his life, especially the end of his life, was incorporated and tweaked was thought provoking.

Alexandria Harris is a writer and former reporter on WSUM 91.7. When she isn’t watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, she tweets regularly as @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.