Those days

Those days sneak up on me.
A little nudge.
A slight poke.
Something doesn’t feel quite right.
I cannot name it.
I cannot place it.
I try to ignore it and then
To shoo it away.

A cloud has descended,
Dimming life.
Then I realize
And all makes sense.
One of those days is fast approaching.
Those days that return each year
As the calendar winds through the year.

I fear I will never be free from them.
And yet each time that feeling descends
I am unable initially to recognize it
And am surprised by it.

I shouldn’t be surprised.
The memories will always be with me.
I will continue to encounter
Those days.

Do I really want them to leave me in peace?
I don’t know.
They have been my companions for so long now.
Unwanted guests from my past.
Must I remember them?
Yes, it seems. Yes.
Must I relive the regret, the pain, the loss?
Yes, it seems. Yes.

Those days are reminders
Of what was, what wasn’t.
Who I was, who I wasn’t.
They are the past.
As if I need reminders of
Those days.


Art favorites: Obsession

Obsession grew on me.

The painting is an optical illusion that even when you know it is an illusion, you swear it isn’t. When I initially approached the painting, I felt a bit queasy. Then I realized it was almost three-dimensional.

Wait, was it a three-dimensional painting? No, it wasn’t. I looked at the painting from the side to confirm. No, it isn’t three-dimensional. Then I looked at the painting straight on. Parts of the painting jumped out at me, as if it was not on a single plane. I looked again at the painting from the side. Then straight on. Then from the side.

I was hooked by this piece of art. And bothered by its real flatness and unreal dimensional quality.

Julian Stanczak (American, born Polish, 1928-2017)
American (1928-2017)
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Movie review: Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

Shadow of the Vampire is a creative story about the filming of the famous 1922 silent film Nosferatu. The movie takes quite a bit of liberty with the facts but has an engaging and somewhat spooky storyline.

Nosferatu was F. W. Murnau’s masterpiece, a German film about vampires that took Bram Stoker’s Dracula as its inspiration. (Stoker’s widow would not give Murnau the rights to make a movie based on the book.)

In Shadow of the Vampire, Murnau is an egomaniac, driven to make the perfect film no matter what the cost. And the cost, it turns out, is huge. He keeps his cast and crew in the dark about some scenes, locations, and most importantly, the actor playing Count Orlok (his movie version of Count Dracula). Orlok, he pronounced, will be played by Max Schreck, a certain actor that no one else knew. Schreck would stay in character the entire time, never coming out of character even when no filming was taking place.

People thought Schreck/Count Orlok odd, but no one thought much of it. Not even when cast members had to be replaced because Orlok was attacking them to drink their blood. This is not to say that the cast and crew weren’t weirded out by Orlok—they were. But no one really thought anything was amiss.

And then during one drug-induced bout of honesty, Murnau confides in some crew members about Orlok’s true nature, where he found him, and what he promised him. The crew members who heard the truth were horrified. But not horrified enough to try to prevent the inevitable from happening.

The film follows many of the shots and scenes in the original Nosferatu. Murnau shoots Gustav approaching the castle, Gustav and Orlok looking over and signing the contracts, and Orlok attacking Greta. The original story is spooky enough but the storyline of the new movie adds a new layer on top, more horrifying than scary.

Once the crew is in the know about the truth—that Murnau made a deal with Orlok—they go along. That is almost more horrifying than the deal that Murnau made—if Count Orlok acts in his movie, in the end, Murnau will give the vampire Greta, the female lead. In the end, those in the know become victims of the vampire too. All the while Murnau films—one death after another—until the vampire is killed by the rising sun.

Shadow of the Vampire truly sports an unusual storyline and is populated with outstanding actors. If you are a fan of Nosferatu, the vampire genre, or horror, you will likely enjoy this movie. The horror revolves around how far one man will go for glory and others will go as passive enablers. The movie resonates with history. Just a decade or two after the movie takes place, Germans would be passive enablers of Hitler. Horror indeed.

Selective hearing

On a particular day I hear exactly what I need to hear
From the cacophony around me.
On another day I hear something different
From the melee of words spoken.

What I take in varies.
I hear what I want,
What I need,
What my wounded soul resonates with.
The rest falls away as though it was never spoken,
As though I never heard it.

In truth, I didn’t.

In the past I heard reassurances.
Everything will be OK.
That soothed my soul.

Today I hear how much you care.
My soul sobs,
Parched for this sentiment.
But it is much too late.

What will I hear next?
Why did I not hear this in the past?
And will I ever hear it again in the future?