Anyone familiar with by blog, and especially my tumblr, knows how much I love the silent film comedian, Buster Keaton. To be honest, it hasn't been a long affair - I discovered him back in October when TCM had the entire month dedicated to Keaton films. But I was hooked immediately. Needless to say, I stayed up as late as I could on Sundays so I could be mesmerized by his skilled acrobatics, hilarious stunts, and expression-filled "stone" face. And that wasn't enough. I bought a box set containing the bulk of his silent films and I've also gotten a few smaller collections that are the numerous short films he did later in life (after MGM screwed him over) that never came close to the golden years of his silent films (though, in my opinion, they're still fun to watch. It's a treat to hear Buster's voice and he is, even without creative license, still as talented as he had always been).
Silent film, in general, has been an exciting new world for me. I discovered it in the fall - my gateway drug, in a sense, had been Mary Pickford. Even though she was a famous actress that did so much for film as we know it today, getting a hold of her movies is extremely hard (and the ones that are available are super expensive). I'm hoping that, like with Buster, having TCM dedicate a month to her will help fix that. So although I'd love to kick back with a bunch of her films, I had to expand my exploration of silent films before finishing with her movies. I tumbled right into Buster at that time, haha.
The great thing about silent film is that, when you watch one, it feels like you're being told a secret. The characters are delightful, the music funny and sometimes extremely catchy, and, as a viewer, you are engaged with the film at a higher level because you have to watch the character's expressions and fill in the gaps. It's not that hard, really. A good silent film is easy to follow.
Buster Keaton is fantastic in those regards. Sure, he's funny, but humor has never been enough for me to engage in a particular actor or actress. He's an artist; his films are surreal and risky and Buster knows how to grab a viewer's attention. Of course, it helps that he's been performing acrobatics and athletic feats since he was a baby (no joke) and that it's a marvel to watch him fall gracefully and dive under moving cars and dodge trains.... yep. The characters he plays are consistently sympathetic, charming, and melancholy. If you're a fan of Ziggy comics, you'll connect with him immediately, haha.
I could probably go on and on about him until I'm blue in the face, but I thought that it'd be better to show, rather than tell, my favorite Buster films. I've chosen gifs from my top favorites in two categories - feature-length films (45 minute - 70 minute movies) and short films (only about 20 minutes). The gifs respectfully come from tumblr, haha.
Perhaps this month should be about something I didn't do, haha. As you've already gathered, I've been back in school for a few weeks now (we start early in Florida). My to-be-graded folder is fattening every day and I think that most of my new files open on my laptop consist of splendid power points and worksheets. The rain is unrelenting, so much so that I haven't had the opportunity to trek on over across campus to pick up some sushi and pomegranate iced tea. One of my office mates is determined to refashion her cubicle with a new theme - something very pink and French - but even she's been busy enough to have her cubicle unfinished and thirsting for a new face.
I did, in fact, go to Disney this past weekend. Epcot again. I love that park - it's so relaxing, and yet there's always and adventure waiting around the corner. As I waited in line for Soarin', I listened to an unhappy family complain about dinner reservations and the long plane ride back home. A little boy and his mother sat near me in the first row and eventually got off the ride before it started. The boy was apparently scared to go up in the air... it went like this:
Boy: How are we going to fly?
Mother: By magic!
Note to self: if your child is scared of a harmless ride, do not ever feed the fire by throwing magic into the mix. They'll miss out on, in this case, a glorious sky-tour of California.
A Quote from a Book I Love
I raided the public library down the street for the first time in months; the books in my arms piled all the way up to my chin. What I sight I must have been - most people come to the library to use the computers, haha. I picked up, among other delights, two books by Shannon Hale. I love her writing and how she creates some great stories centered around myths and fairy tales. The Goose Girl fairy tale itself has been one of my favorites and it was so exciting to hear that someone - Hale - had ventured into retelling it. I had already read The Goose Girl, but I wanted to reread it since it had been a long time. And it was still very, very good:
"Ani pulled loose her headscarf and let it fall to the floor. 'I will not hide anymore,' she said to her reflection. Two feet, one in the mirror and one in the world, kicked the scarf aside. Her hair, braided up, had loosened, and its weight pulled it out of its plait and off her head. She picked up one of Selia's - one of her - brushes, silver plated, the face of a horse a rigid knob on its handle, and broke her snarls loose. The sun was dipping low in the west and sent a lustrous orange glow from the horizon to her hair. She moved, and it flashed gold in the light. She held up the dress against her now, the ray of the setting sun brightening her eyes, painting her face a yellow rose, regal like her mother (308)."
I've been in the mood lately for songs that have an added atmosphere to them, along with soft melodies and and lovely lyrics. Strange, it seems to be a trend with me, haha. In this particular song, I feel very breathy when I listen to it. I imagine a room full of bells - silver, gold, brass - hanging from cords while sunlight rides in like a wave. Maybe it's a symbol for a heart full of soft joy:
I can feel the sky cracking in my heart It's falling to the pavement Don't know where to start So, let's go to the tower one more time and Climb high, love, climb high
Oh bells Nothing here but bells ringing in my heart in my heart... in my heart... in my heart la la la la
A Writer Thing
I've been dancing the fine line between short story writing and novel writing this summer, and it seems to be bleeding into fall. A proper thing for a budding writer to do is send out short stories to literary magazines in the hopes that they will get accepted and published. I remember the pure joy (and some disbelief) when I received my first acceptance from Pure Francis. It was fantastic. I can't put it to words. But most of the time rejections will fly their way to your inbox on swift wings - it's just the way of things.
Lately though, I've been immersed in creating longer stories. I've been jotting down ideas for novel-length stories way too often, haha. So, as a important side project, I'm going to dig into my folder of old or unfinished short stories and try to shine them up. I like looking around that folder and finding some strange stories - and remembering how I planned to end them. It's probably a good project to embark on. I should really get excited about it *heroic face*
Video I Watched Too Many Times
So, I've been on a huge silent movie kick. Huge. It all started when my mother bought a classic horror movie collection; all of the movies were in black and white and some were even silent. My favorite movies turned out to the be silent ones (Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari). Like a hungry vampire... or somnambulist, I searched the interwebs for other silent films that would be excellent finds - and I started, of course, with looking for fairy tales.
I found a 1914 silent film called Cinderella, and for a while, the whole movie was on youtube. Sadly, when I did have time to watch it, it was taken down. So there's only a few clips left. I can't even it buy it online. So frustrating. I did discover that the actress is called Mary Pickford - and she's totally amazing! I just finished watching Poor Little Rich Girl starring Mary and it was fantastic. By watching her in other films, I think I feel less deprived from my Cinderella story, haha.
Does anyone have any silent film recommendations for me? I'd like to watch some romantic ones, actually. Still haven't stumbled upon one of those yet.
It's a bit too repetitive to say that I'm been drowning in work and, thusly, have not been able to keep up with blogging and responding to my readers as quickly as I'd like. So I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge one of my awesome readers, elfarmy17, who suggested I check out a song someone made, the lyrics taken from a poem that appears in a book called Welcome to Bordertown (which sounds awesome, indeed! I recognize Bordertown by Charles De Lint's contribution to it - he's so cool. It's been added to my book list, haha).
The poem-turned-song is called "Stairs in Her Hair" - have a listen! It's very folksy, taking you back to a time with dangerous goblin markets and other such tricky fey.
Thank you very much for the recommendation, elfarmy17!