seven sentence sunday #4: a visit to perry

So, yes, increasingly, not on Sunday and not seven sentences.

Oh, well.

If I ever finish this book (the infamous “third novel”), and if at some future date somebody does an overall study of my oeuvre — I would be hard pressed to say which of these is less likely — this book would definitely be classified as “the one with all the sex.”

This chapter, “A Visit to Perry,” is where the real plot begins. There are a few sex scenes in this chapter, but I decided to feature this one because it’s amusing, it doesn’t reveal any major plot points, and it features a character I haven’t written about in a while.

It’s SFW, unless you have a really prudish employer.

The small house had become a little claustrophobic, and Marshall had decided to go for a walk. The evening air was cool, and the little gravel road was quiet.

“It’s good that you came here,” said a quiet voice.

He looked around, knowing that he wouldn’t see anything. “Hi,” he said. “I was really thinking that this was a big waste of time.”

Randi laughed. “I know. But it’s good, for a variety of reasons. So, don’t be in any hurry to get back. Perry and SarahBeth have to work through some things, and so do SarahBeth and Vicki. That’s a very complex relationship, as you can probably tell.”

“I think any relationship with SarahBeth in it would be complicated.”

Randi chuckled. “You are very right. She is a piece of work, isn’t she? I’m glad she’s not one of mine.”

There was a turn in the path, and they came upon a small gazebo. It was beautiful in the moonlight. Marshall noticed a long couch with many cushions, and a small table with bottles and glasses.

Randi, slowly becoming visible, took his hand and led him to the couch.

“This is starting to look like a compromising position for a married man,” he said with a small laugh.

She pulled him down beside her on the couch. Her smile was impish, her hair was long and dark and full, and her nightgown was sheer.

He looked around. “This is a dream, right? Isn’t it?”

“Of course it is,” she said, gently pushing him down so he was lying on the couch. “Dreams don’t count as infidelity, or nobody could ever be considered faithful.” (She whispered, “close your eyes,” as she continued speaking in her normal voice.)

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in which I talk about dressage and related subjects

My ex was an equestrian, and so, every year when we were together we’d go to the National Horse Show. I really enjoyed this — it’s always fun to watch something really difficult and esoteric when you are with somebody who is willing to explain things and answer questions.

In addition to the various competitive events, there was usually some sort of sort of exhibition.

One year the exhibition was some top dressage riders. Dressage is hard to describe — it’s sometimes called “horse ballet.” Basically it’s getting horses to do very stylized and unnatural movements in a very natural way.

For example, when a horse canters or gallops (I may get some of the terms wrong — it’s been a while), it always leads with the same foot. One thing you can train a horse to do it called “flying changes,” where you can cue the horse to switch the lead foot while in motion. Top dressage horses can be trained to do “flying changes on every lead,” where they alternate the lead foot every single time.

This is not something that any horse would ever think of doing on its own, but it’s beautiful to watch. (Training a top dressage horse can take ten years.)

Anyway, not to go on and on about dressage, which is beyond my ability to describe, but here’s the point. Watching this dressage exhibition, I was transfixed, but not so transfixed that I didn’t notice my ex, leaning forward intently, her eyes fixed on horse and rider, muttering to herself.

As the exhibition ended, she leaned back in her seat, looking vexed.

“I couldn’t see the cues,” she explained.

Part of the art of dressage is that the rider, who is directing the horse to do all these amazing things, is supposed to look as if the horse is doing everything on its own and the rider is just being taken for a ride. And my ex, with her trained equestrian eyes, had been unable to even detect the cues, the cues which must have been there.

I’ve always thought that art works this way, too. Some art I can figure out exactly why I enjoy it, which doesn’t diminish my enjoyment at all. But other things just knock me for loop, and I have no idea why. I can’t see the cues, though I react to them just the same.

As I reacted to the dressage exhibition, of course.

Robert Altman is my favorite movie director, and I don’t think there’s ever been a wonderful moment in an Altman movie that I didn’t understand how it worked. On the other hand, I love some David Lynch movies and I couldn’t begin to explain why.

Part of that may be the first Lynch is more “visual” (whatever that means), and Altman is much more about human behavior. And I’m not a really “visual” person — I’m sometimes moved by images, but I have no training in how they work.

But it’s more than that. A Harold Pinter play can leave me speechless, even though objectively what happens is something like: “A man is sitting in a room. Another man comes in and they speak. Some of what they’re talking about is difficult to follow, as is their relationship. They could be intimately connected in some way, or they could be complete strangers. One of them could be insane. Then one of them collapses and two other men come in and remove him from the room. First act curtain.”

Damned if I know.

Has that ever happened to you, that you were really affected by something and had no idea why?

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something always good to remember…

I was just reading an interview with Bob Dylan in AARP The Magazine. It’s the only interview he’s doing for his new album, Shadows in the Night, an album of standards from the “Great American Songbook.” And all the songs were recorded at one point or another by Frank Sinatra.

He’s asked if he thinks the album is risky, because he’s following behind Sinatra.

“Risky? Like walking across a field laced with land mines? Or working in a poison gas factory? There’s nothing risky about making records.”

This is always good to remember. As Andy Warhol said: “[I]f you say that artists take ‘risks’ it’s insulting to the men who landed on D-Day, to stuntmen, to baby-sitters, to Evel Knievel, to stepdaughters, to coal miners, and to hitch-hikers, because they’re the ones who really know what ‘risks’ are.”

I had another post I was working on, and that wil be coming soon, but this really struck me.

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seven sentence sunday #3: always crashing in the same car

So, the Sunday thing didn’t take, and the seven-sentence rule isn’t being followed either, but I am going to continue this series.

Having covered A Sane Woman and U-town, I’m going to move on to my third novel (first draft completed, project now on hold indefinitely, no fixed title). My plan is to post a scene from each chapter (each in a separate post — not all at once).

I don’t think I’m going to restart the project any time soon, but there are some good scenes in there. I like to go back and look at it from time to time.

This is from the first section, called “Always Crashing in the Same Car.” It’s not directly connected to the novel that follows, but it leads into it, both in plot and themes. I guess it’s one of those prologues that have such a bad reputation. It stands alone pretty well — I think I’ll post the whole thing here as soon as I clean it up.

Also, this was the first story in my plan — for some reason — to write stories named after three songs on David Bowie’s album Low. I have no idea why I have this plan (which been pn my To Do list for years now). It’s not because of any particular enthusiasm for the album, which is not in my Top Five David Bowie Albums list (or it wouldn’t be if I had such a list).

The other two songs are “Sound and Vision” and “A New Career in a New Town.” I haven’t written those stories yet, though it just occurs to me now that the latter would be a good subtitle for Stevie One

Anyway, here are seven paragraphs.

Coming around the final bend to my house, Ruth stopped suddenly, and after a second I saw what she saw and stopped also.

Celia and the mystery girl were sitting on the beach, talking. I was about to walk forward, to let them know we were there, but at that moment the mystery girl stood up and held out her hand to Celia. My friend looked uncertain, which was unusual for her.

Before I could resume my forward motion, the girl shucked off her denim vest and dropped it to the sand. She didn’t have her leather jacket on.

She looked healthy and invigorated, her attention focused entirely on Celia. It was hard to imagine that she’d been in a motorcycle accident and then unconscious just an hour or two earlier.

Then, making the decision for us about to whether to approach them or not, the girl slowly unbuttoned her shirt and dropped it to the sand as well. She wore a low-cut black bra that showed the pale upper slopes of her breasts in the moonlight, and that apparently made Celia’s decision for her. She reached out, took the girl’s hand and stood up.

They embraced, and then, very slowly, they started to move, first swaying and then, gradually, they started dancing.

As they moved slowly across the sand, embracing tightly, they turned so that the girl was looking at us over Celia’s shoulder. We dropped to the sand, but I was sure she saw us in the moment before we could react. Her only reaction was a faint smile.

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a superhero and two movies

Three links from the A.V. Club:

1. “One year later, Ms. Marvel’s influence is felt far beyond the comics page

I’ve seen photographs of anti-Muslim bus ads in San Francisco which were “defaced” by images of Ms. Marvel, the new superhero (she’s a teenage Muslim girl from Jersey City). The people who were posting the photos on Facebook weren’t comic book readers, so I hastened to tell them that the reason Ms. Marvel is having such an impact is not because of all the adjectives (teenage, Muslim, Pakistani-American, female), it’s because the book is really, really good. Probably the best book on the stands right now, as far as I can tell.

Kamala Khan is a wonderfully specific teenage Muslim superhero.

2. “Peter O’Toole thinks he’s Jesus—and why wouldn’t he?

I think it’s safe to say that the movie The Ruling Class wouldn’t get made today. That’s probably true of a lot of movies from the late 1960s and the early 1970s.

3. “Parker Posey bulldozes her way through a twisted comedy

“You be him, and I’ll be her…”

The House of Yes is not as good as The Ruling Class, though it is quite fun. The problem is, oddly enough, the same as The Claim and Resident Evil Retribution — the women are so good that the men can’t keep up. If the two male leads had only been up to the level of Genevieve Bujold, Parker Posey, and Tori Spelling.

I know, Tori Spelling. There’s got to be a joke in there — but I’ve never seen her in anything other than this movie, and she does very good work here, even hampered by the fact that her character is completely ubelievable. Which is obviously not her fault.

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