Friday, December 02, 2011

an overdose Of life (Friday's Sunday's Poem/Hot Actor)

About the poems: You may notice a little something different about the way these poems are posted. (They're pictures.)(You got that, right?)

People are always asking me "What does Thinking The Lions mean?"

Well, I mean, once, someone asked me.

Actually, what they said to me was "Did you just eat my french fries?" But I knew what they meant.

Anyway: Thinking The Lions is a code phrase I had for a long time about looking at life a little differently; it means to change your perspective and alter how you view things to improve your life. It comes from a short story I wrote called (three guesses!) "Thinking The Lions", in which a man takes a girl to Africa on safari, and by the last day they're there, they haven't seen lions yet, that being the (ostensible) purpose for the trip. In reality, the whole basis for the trip is his relationship with the woman, and the lions are a symbol.

(Because the only time symbolism isn't complete bunk is when I am creating the symbols.)

He has to, he is told, learn not to look for lions, but to think them, and I won't spoil the story any further. You can read it in this book. And you should.

But thinking the lions represents a hard-to-explain state of mind that I think you'll best understand if you read my blog daily. If you don't, and if you don't have time to go back over five years' of posts, you can understand it by knowing how these two poems got on here today.

Here's how:

I read in the Isthmus, a local paper, that over on Williamson Street in Madison they had imprinted poems right onto the sidewalk, right there in the cement, to be there for as long as the cement lasted.

And I thought: That is awesome.

And that Saturday, I loaded Sweetie and Mr F and Mr Bunches into the car, and got my camera, and we went over to Williamson Street, which is on the other side of the city from us and which I only vaguely knew the location of--

-- I've lived in Madison for 16 years now and use GPS to get around --

-- and we parked the car in a random location. Sweetie said: "Do you know where the poems are?"

And I said: "No."

And Sweetie said: "So what's the plan?"

And I said: "Walk around until we find them, and then take a picture of them."

And we wandered down Williamson Street, heading in one direction for about 8 or 9 blocks and finding these two poems, and taking pictures of them, and holding hands and letting the boys walk on the ledges and looking at people's window decorations and yard signs and just talking. It was a gray, overcast, sort of blustery November day. Up the street was a large protest forming, but most people, I suspect, would have wanted to stay in their houses or head for a warm restaurant or coffeeshop that day.

We never found the other two poems; those remain for another expedition some other day, if I ever run out of other things I want to do.

But that is, in a nutshell, how to think the lions. It's not really explainable, as you can see, because I've done an awful job of explaining it here. It's a state of mind. And if you understand just why it was so important for me to go see those poems, you understand how to think the lions.

About the Hot Actor, who I will now post a photo of:

Today's Hot Actor is a Sweetie choice: Mikhail Baryshnikov. I've chosen to post a picture of the younger him because I'm amazed that any person can stand like that. When I try to tie my shoes, my knees pop and I need assistance getting back up. I'm less limber than your average trestle bridge.

But Mikhail has been waiting his turn for posting on here since about a month ago when Sweetie and I watched the last episode of Sex and the City and I pointed out, again, that Mikhail's character was a great guy and I really liked him. It wouldn't have been bad for Carrie to end up with him, but the writers of that show felt so strongly about the fact that Carrie should end up with Big that they completely altered Mikhail's character and created a trumped-up, dramatic finish by having him hit her.

And I hated his character, then: I hate any man who ever hits a woman for any reason.

So they took one of the few good male characters on that show, an interesting, complex guy, and made him a stereotypical rat and destroyed him, all so that Carrie could go back to New York with Big.

But you know what? The joke is on them. If the big finish to that story was that Carrie loved New York and Big so much that she would give up the world for them, as I believe it was intended to be, then making Mikhail a wife-beater achieved the exact opposite effect: Carrie is alone in a strange city and the only person she can connect to just hit her, and suddenly Big shows up and says "Come with me," and what's she supposed to do? All of her options have just been closed off: she wasn't happy in Paris, and she can't stay with Mikhail (once a guy hits you, it's over. Forever. No going back. That's how you stop guys from hitting women.)

If SATC really wanted to make that point about Carrie's love of the city and Big, they should have had Mikhail stay awesome -- because then Carrie's decision to leave Paris and an awesome rich boyfriend in favor of New York and, well, an equally awesome rich boyfriend, but New York, would mean something.

The writing on SATC was never all that good, but the ending was just awful. Carrie didn't make a choice to go back to New York. She just went to the only place she could go. So in the end, the moral of the entire run of SATC was "Women, you'll inevitably end up exactly the same as you started out, and you don't even have a say in the matter, so might as well just focus on shoes."



Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

Cement is an ingredient in concrete. The poems that you are talking about were embedded in CONCRETE not cement. That's like saying, "I put butter on my flour this morning." put butter on your bread this morning. Flour is an ingredient in bread.


Consider yourself criticized for this post.

Dr. Grumpy Bulldog, PhD of Awesomeness said...

Did you ever read the John Irving short story "Trying to Save Piggy Sneed"? (It's the title of his book of short stories.) The symbolism he uses in that story is like your lion symbolism, I think. Which I would take as a compliment.

Andrew Leon said...

I'm all for symbolism as long as it's unconscious.

Okay, so that's not really true.

However, any talk of symbolism always reminds me of my freshman year in high school when I was forced to talk about the symbolism in Watership Down after I'd said there was none. As it turns out (which I didn't find out till much later), there is none. At least none that the author intended. It was just a story he made up on a long car trip to amuse his daughters.

Not that I don't believe that story says something, because I do. It's one of my favorite novels ever, and everyone should read it.