Hot Air: Mighty Delusional

File under: People Believe What In The Hell Ever They Want

I heard a woman, a D. Trump supporter, being interviewed on the radio today. She was talking about the upcoming second debate between Hillary and Trump. She said she was sure Trump advisors have been telling him to go easy on certain topics and refrain from certain attacks because H. is a woman. “I’m so tired of that woman stuff,” the woman said.

She went on to brag about how strong she and her female friends are. Okay, that’s nice. I hear and read a lot of women’s pronouncements on soc. media about how strong they are. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the more people go out of their way to tell you how strong/kind/patient/successful/generous/intellectual — you name the asset — they are, the less likely they are to believe it in their hearts. But, sure, she says she’s strong so I’ll take her at her word. I’ll bet she is, too, even if she doesn’t know it enough in her gut to refrain from trumpeting it on national radio. She told a revealing anecdote about going out on dates and ordering big juicy steaks, not because she wanted to eat steak but because she needed to be able to take the doggie bag home to her kids.

That’s all the proof I need of her strength.

Anyway, referring to herself and her female friends, she said, “We don’t do the cutesy things that Hillary was doing in that [first] debate where she was sitting there kind of flirting with the cameras and….”

The interviewer cut in and asked, incredulously, “Did you just say ‘flirting with the cameras’?”

“Oh my gosh, yes!” she said. “You saw it. She was like shaking her head and [she dips into a girlish voice a bit here] kind of flirting with the cameras, you know, trying to pull this sweetsie card. We don’t do that.”

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Hillary?

Yeesh. If there’s one thing you can say about Hillary it’s that she is not — emphasis, stress and hammer over the head on not — flirtatious or “sweetsie.” In fact, lots o’folks don’t like her for that very reason. She doesn’t act enough like a girl for their antediluvian tastes.

Yet, somehow this woman, this interviewee, who fancies herself and her friends to be mighty individuals — and of course they are — and who you’d think would view Hillary as a role model, an exemplar of what a strong woman can do, completely counter-stereotypes her by calling her a girly-girl.

Weird, no?

And, natch, further proof that when people find it necessary to demonize others, the truth loses all its meaning.

Calisthenics

Ross Gay and Matt Hart (among others) will be reading in a house-party poetry production a week from tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct 12. The event will be at the home of one of the big shots at Monster House Press, the soon-to-be officially nonprofit that has published Hart’s latest compilation, Radiant Companion.

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Matt Hart

I had the pleasure of chatting with one of the scheduled poetry readers, her performance name is Eszi Waters, yesterday at the Book Corner. Waters confessed she was jittery about reading in public. We got into talking about those dreaded stretches every writer faces, when nothing seems to be coming out of your pen. She said she was afraid she might be in one even now.

I did my best to buck her up because that’s what we writers do. In fact, it can be said it’s what we do best and most often in our creative lives — that is, consoling each other. I shared with her a tip I used to offer back when I’d occasionally lecture high school and college students who fancied themselves writers. I got the idea back in the days when I traipsed around the Art Institute of Chicago on a more regular basis than I’d have preferred at the time (those would be days otherwise spent writing big stories that’d pay off handsomely, altogether too rare occurrences then). I noticed scads of art students sitting on benches in the various galleries, big sketchbooks on their laps, pieces of charcoal in their hands blackening their fingertips. They’d be drawing, faithfully, whatever great work of art was on the wall before them.

The students, I’d learn, had been assigned to copy the masterworks by their drawing teachers. The idea being the kids’d learn by rote how to shade and outline, how to position images, and — most important — how to coordinate their hands and eyes so they could stroke and dot seamlessly and without thinking. Man, I thought, that’s brilliant.

So, simply, I adapted the idea for writing. See, what I do is pick out one of my favorite pieces of writing, say the opening sequence in Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and just copy it verbatim. It’s a great way to deconstruct the author’s methods and processes. Copying down every single word, every punctuation mark, and seeing how she or he created rhythm and meter, harmony and flow, how the author revealed or concealed, was a more fine study than if I’d sat with some tutor trying to explain these things.

Not only that, the physical act of the writing was invaluable. The muscle memory I’d hone was similar to that of the violinist or pianist practicing her scales again and again every day of the week, every week of the year. Rather than let my keyboard-clacking fingers go slack, I’d have them always at the ready, primed for that glorious moment when the dreaded writers block would lift.

I even did the drill one year just before writing my first screenplay. I chose the script for the brilliant, sophisticated movie, Sweet Smell of Success, starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Written by Clifford Odets, Ernest Lehman, and Alexander Mackendrick, the screenplay is violent even though physical mayhem is only hinted at. The wounding words of Lancaster’s J.J. Hunsecker and Curtis’s Sidney Falco are as shattering as sneak punches to the teeth.

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J.J. Leashes Sidney

Examples:

  1. You’re dead, son. Go get yourself buried.
  2. Mr. Falco, let it be said at once, is a man of forty faces, not one, none too pretty and all deceptive. You see that grin? That’s the Charming Street Urchin face. It’s part of his helpless act — he throws himself upon your mercy. He’s got a half dozen faces for the ladies. But the one I like, the really cute one, is the Quick, Dependable Chap. Nothing he won’t do for you in a pinch, so he says. Mr. Falco, whom I did not invite to sit at this table tonight, is a hungry press agent, and fully up to all the tricks of his slimy trade.
  3. The next time you want information, don’t scratch for it like a dog; ask for it like a man.
  4. Everybody knows Manny Davis — except Mrs. Manny Davis.
  5. I love this dirty town.
  6. Son, I don’t relish shooting a mosquito with an elephant gun, so why don’t you just shuffle along?
  7. You’re an amusing boy, but you haven’t got a drop of respect for anything in human life.
  8. I often wish I were deaf and wore a hearing aid. With simple flick of the switch I could shut out the greedy murmur of little men.
  9. I like Harry but I can’t deny he sweats a little.

Merely typing out these words as well as the context in which they were wrapped instantly made me a better writer. Can I explain it further? No. If you’re a writer and you want to learn it, only doing it will do.

[Info: The poetry reading will be at 821 W. Wylie St. in Bloomington, Wednesday, Oct 12, at 7pm.]

One thought on “Hot Air: Mighty Delusional

  1. danny says:

    1 Barb Nichols in Sweet Smell of Success. GRRRRR oww! what a dame!
    2 Front Page: one of the top five snappy dialogue movies?

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