So Here’s This Bird

My godmother M., from whom I take one of my names and most of my subversion, used to tell the best stories, usually about her run-ins with people whom she considered “dolts.” First she’d settle in at our kitchen table, kicking off her shoes and tucking her feet beneath her while teasing out her thick black wig. Next she’d light a cigarette and take a long, theatrical drag while eyeballing my mother, who’d quit smoking but still luxuriated in the secondhand smoke. Then, only then, M. would start her stories. Invariably they’d begin like this: So here’s this bird…

Today I have a story that begins exactly the same way. I’ll tell it like M. would. Pretend this pen I’m puffing on is a cigarette.

So here’s this bird, and she’s spoiling for a fight. I can tell right off the bat, and honest to Godfrey, I can tell I might give it to her. I’ve been feeling off all day, partly because of the indecency of this New York weather. Partly because I have worries that have just about hit the boiling point. (more…)

All Hail the Heroine’s Journey

It’s a special sort of movie that asks audiences to tag along on an extended trek by foot, as this month’s “A Walk in the Woods” does. An adaptation of Bill Bryson’s eponymous memoir, it stars Robert Redford as travel writer Bill Bryson, hiking the Appalachian Trail while reconnecting with an old friend, Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte). But the walkabout film is actually a beloved genre – perhaps because there is nothing more Hollywood than a hero’s (or heroine’s!) journey. Consider these other walkabout features, many of which, interestingly, are also literary adaptations. I’m deliberately omitting the “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” films (they get enough air time!) but what else do you think deserves mention?… Read More

The End of Summer

An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.

I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.

Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.
–Stanley Kunitz… Read More