In the Mood for Love

It is a restless moment. She has kept her head lowered… to give him a chance to come closer. But he could not, for lack of courage. She turns and walks away.

—- Kar-Wai Wong, In the Mood for Love

The other day I watched Chunking Express on my streaming Criterion Channel. The movie was not what I expected (though I’m not sure what I was expecting) but enjoyable when taken on its own terms.

Over the weekend I was able to sit down and watch another Kar-Wai Wong film, one that is possibly even more well-known than Chungking ExpressIn the Mood for Love.

The English title of the film comes from the Bryan Ferry  song (though the song does not make an appearance in the movie – only the trailer)

The song was originally recorded in 1935, and there are many versions – this is the best:

Again, the film was unexpected – but enjoyable. Be forewarned – not much actually happens in the film, it’s definitely a movie where you sit back and let it wash over you. It is a beautiful film, with beautiful people wearing amazing costumes. It is a film of mood, of things not said, of ultimate regret.

The ending is a departure from the style (and location)  of what comes before – but like the best of endings that take a turn (if not a twist) in the last few minutes, thinking about it, there is no other way it could end.

I have had a visit to Angor Wat on my bucket list for a long time. Now I really want to go there. Who knows what secrets are locked up between those ancient stones?

Also, I wish I wasn’t on a low-carb diet… I want to carry around an old dented green steel vacuum bottle full of hot noodles.

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Attraction, by Deirdre Danklin

“They waited for the elevator. ” Most people love butterflies and hate moth,” he said. “But moths are more interesting – more engaging.”

“They’re destructive.”

“Some are, a lot are, but they live in all kinds of ways. Just like we do.” Silence for one floor.

“There’s a moth, more than one in fact, that lives only on tears,” he offered. “That’s all they eat or drink.”

“What kind of tears? Whose tears?”

“The tears of large land mammals, about our size.

The old definition of moth was, ‘anything that gradually, silently eats, consumes, or wages any other thing.’

It was a verb for destruction too. . . .”

― Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs

Trees reflected in a pond, inverted, with Chihuly, Red Reeds

The last paragraph of my journal entry from April 4, 2003, describing how I felt when I returned from a long work trip cleaning up a toxic waste site in the swamps of southern Louisiana.

I remember how I felt when that job was over and I flew back home. I had become so used to the swamps, to the green and the water – to the alligators and the snakes – that it began to feel like it was the whole world. I gazed out the window of my plane at the hard concrete and the terminal buildings of DFW airport, the metal planes and the masses of people – a sight I’d seen a hundred times but that seemed suddenly strange and alien after being in the swamp for so long. It took me a long time to feel normal again… or at least as normal as I ever feel.

And today’s piece of flash fiction:

Attraction, by Deirdre Danklin

from Tiny Molecules

Deidre Danklin Twitter

Deidre Danklin homepage

Short Story of the day, Death Constant Beyond Love by Gabriel García Márquez

“Senator Onesimo Sanchez had six months and eleven days to go before his death when he found the woman of his life.”
― Gabriel García Márquez, Death Constant Beyond Love

Black and White love

Reading Gabriel García Márquez is like a breath of fresh air. A breath on the inhale of thick fetid jungles of dense life. On exhale a bare hot desert seashore, like the setting of today’s story.

Death Constant Beyond Love by Gabriel García Márquez

 

Short Story (Poem) Of the Day, Coffee by Bill Chance

“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”
David Lynch

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#27). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.

 


 

Coffee (from an old Turkish proverb)

Black as death

Hot as hell

Bitter as lost dreams

Thick as love

She liked her women like she liked her coffee

Dark, Bitter, and Colombian

 

 

Short Story Of the Day, The Lagoon by Joseph Conrad

A rumor powerful and gentle, a rumor vast and faint; the rumor of trembling leaves, of stirring boughs, ran through the tangled depths of the forests, ran over the starry smoothness of the lagoon, and the water between the piles lapped the slimy timber once with a sudden splash. A breath of warm air touched the two men’s faces and passed on with a mournful sound – a breath loud and short like an uneasy sigh of the dreaming earth.

—- Joseph Conrad, The Lagoon

The land of lakes, volcanoes, and sun. A painting I bought on my last trip to Nicaragua.

I re-read The Secret Sharer the other night (haven’t we all read that in school?) and now I’m thinking of Nostromo – a novel I started once (inspired by the ship in the original Alien) but never finished. I want to finish it now.

So we have a Joseph Conrad short story, The Lagoon, about death and love and courage… and the jungle.

Read it here:

The Lagoon by Joseph Conrad

From East of the Web

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, I Have Entered My Garden, My Sweetheart, My Bride by Jen Julian

Orchids are erotic. You have to consider the honest look of them: the labial petals ballet-slipper pink and eggshell white splayed delicately open, the blood-brown leopard spots on ridged tongues; you’re always compelled to stroke them with your finger. When the children ask why orchids, their mother says, “Because they’re handsome,” as if she is describing a square-faced Irish washerwoman, and when they press her further she says, “Because growing things is good for people.”

—- Jen Julian, I Have Entered My Garden, My Sweetheart, My Bride

Sunflower

Though I would have liked to been one… I haven’t been much of a gardener – it’s tough when you come home from work exhausted every day. Now, though, I’m working on a shade garden in front of my house. The problem is, shade plants grow slowly and it won’t really look good for years. I might not live that long. To compensate I look up places I lived decades ago on Google Street View and see if the plants and trees I did plant back then are still there. It’s surprising how many are. Some have grown to immense size.

Read it here:

I Have Entered My Garden, My Sweetheart, My Bride by Jen Julian

from wig.leaf

Jen Julian twitter

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, A Person’s Essence Feels the Smallest by Jennifer Wortman

And I said that when I said I want to keep things light I meant not-heavy, not not-dark. I don’t want not-dark but I also don’t want dark, I tell her. I want an intense grey.

—- Jennifer Wortman, A Person’s Essence Feels the Smallest

Transcendence, on the first night.

There’s overthinking and there’s overtalking and there are people that don’t know what is in front of them. Born in the USA was great, but I think it was also the tipping point where Springsteen began to believe his own hype. By the way, I thought Darkness on the Edge of Town was brilliant the first time I heard it. I remember buying a copy of the vinyl album in a KMart in Kansas when it first dropped. I guess none of those things have quite stood up to the test of time, but what does, really?

Read it here:

A Person’s Essence Feels the Smallest by Jennifer Wortman

from wig.leaf

Jennifer Wortman’s Postcard

Jennifer Wortman’s twitter

Short Story Of the Day, Through the Fire by Rudyard Kipling

And she really began to wither away because her heart was dried up with fear, and those who believe in curses die from curses.

—- Rudyard Kipling, Through the Fire

Coal and coke fire, Frisco, Texas.

We all remember Rudyard Kipling’s children’s stories when we were children, Just So. I wanted to read something that wasn’t intended for children, though, and today’s tale of doomed love fits the bill.

One nice thing about reading online – especially reading something set somewhere so foreign and exotic as Kipling’s Himalayan village – are the Wikipedia hyperlinks. With one click you can have the little mysteries resolved in the next tab over. This is truly the best of all possible worlds.

Read it here:

Through the Fire by Rudyard Kipling

from The Short Story Project

 

A Love Episode

“It was always the same; other people gave up loving before she did. They got spoilt, or else they went away; in any case, they were partly to blame. Why did it happen so? She herself never changed; when she loved anyone, it was for life. She could not understand desertion; it was something so huge, so monstrous that the notion of it made her little heart break.”
Émile Zola, Une Page d’amour

A Love Episode, Emile Zola

 

I am now a good chunk into Emile Zola’s twenty volume Rougon Macquat series of novels. Attacking this pile of books in the recommended reading order:

  • La Fortune des Rougon (1871) (The Fortune of the Rougons)
  • Son Excellence Eugène Rougon (1876) (His Excellency Eugene Rougon/ His Excellency)
  • La Curée (1871-2) (The Kill)
  • L’Argent (1891) (Money)
  • Le Rêve (1888) (The Dream)
  • La Conquête de Plassans (1874) (The Conquest of Plassans/A Priest in the House)
  • Pot-Bouille (1882) (Pot Luck/Restless House/Piping Hot)
  • Au Bonheur des Dames (1883) (The Ladies’ Paradise/Shop Girls of Paris/Ladies’ Delight)
  • La Faute de l’Abbé Mouret (1875) (The Sin of Father Mouret/Abbe Mouret’s Transgression)
  • Une Page d’amour (1878) (A Lesson in Love/A Love Episode/A Page of Love/A Love Affair)
  • Le Ventre de Paris (1873) (The Belly of Paris/The Fat and the Thin/Savage Paris/The Markets of Paris)
  • La Joie de Vivre (1884) (The Joys of Living/Joy of Life/How Jolly Life Is/Zest for Life)
  • L’Assommoir (1877) (The Dram Shop/The Gin Palace/Drink/Drunkard)
  • L’Œuvre (1886) (The Masterpiece/A Masterpiece/His Masterpiece)
  • La Bête Humaine (1890) (The Beast in the Man/The Human Beast/The Monomaniac)
  • Germinal (1885)
  • Nana (1880)
  • La Terre (1887) (The Earth/The Soil)
  • La Débâcle (1892) (The Downfall/The Smash-up/The Debacle)
  • Le Docteur Pascal (1893) (Doctor Pascal)

The next one up was A Love Episode.

At this point I have finished the last of the books from the Mouret section of the Rougon Macquat books. The Rougon section dwelt mostly on the upper classes, especially on the mad ruthless speculation in L’Argent. Then came the Mouret branch of the family – middle class workers fighting to get ahead – and not always succeeding.  Now, after A Love Episode I will move into the Macquat  books – where poverty, drunkeness, and madness await. I’ve read four of these already – will have to decide whether to re-read them or not.

One characteristic of the last few books has been elaborate, extensive, florid, and detailed description. In A Love Episode this mostly consists of pages of description of the appearance of Paris out of the window of the protagonists suburban apartment. The changes in weather and light over the magnificent city reflect the inner turmoil that the main characters are experiencing.

It’s a short book, the easiest so far to read, that details… as the title suggests, a romance. The love story is between a beautiful young widow and the doctor that lives next door. He comes to her aid when her daughter falls ill. This is Paris, so the fact he is married is not an immovable obstacle, even though she is of sound moral character. The daughter, however, is sickly and very jealous, which leads to complications and, this being a Zola novel, an ultimate disaster.

A quick, fun, read… with a nice bunch of interesting characters – folks like those that you will still meet today.

If you look hard enough

Dick Love

“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”
Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones

Graffiti on the wall across the street from Lee Harvey’s, Dallas, Texas