My birthday was last weekend, and we spent the evening sitting on the floor in the living room, drinking cheap wine, listening to 45s on the record player, and reading through the notebooks of very bad gothic poetry I wrote in high school. This poetry was so important to me at the time. I would sit in my room most nights with candles lit and classic music playing pouring out my heart onto the page. My heart, as it turns out, was pretty preoccupied with death, blood, and tragic romance, as most of the poems involved all three. Cheesy as these poems were, they were an important step in my development as a writer, and as a human being awake to my own emotions and imagination.
I finally caught up with Moonlight this week, this year’s Best Picture winner. It was good, but I wasn’t left wowed like I expected to be. It had a quieter power. I also finally saw a number of classics I’d missed over the years–Diary of a Country Priest, Nights of Cabiria, Matewan. Matewan, directed by John Sayles, was surprisingly good. The scene toward the end in which the mayor is dying and says, “I just want a dog,” brought tears to my eyes. I also rewatched Nightmare Alley, a second-tier noir classic about the rise and fall of a carnival performed-turned-conman. I’m a sucker for any movie set in a circus (The Greatest Show on Earth, Sawdust and Tinsel, Man on a Tightrope, and so many others), and this one was Joan Blondell to boot. At a friend’s nostalgic urging, I also watched the 1981 horror film The Watcher in the Woods, starring a late-career Bette Davis. It was deliciously campy and moody.
I read several poetry books this week, including Lucky Girl by performance poet Tatyana Brown and Piano Rats by traveling typewriter poet Franki Elliot. The best I read this week however was Cindy Hunter Morgan’s Harborless, a collection about Great Lakes shipwrecks. I’ll be publishing a review of the book soon.
On what will probably end up being one of the last cold days of the year, we opened a youngish bottle of MadTree Ye Olde Battering Ram bourbon barrel-aged barleywine. It was phenomenal, with the hops turned down a bit from the extremes of the typical American version of the style, and the barrel character in a supporting character rather than overpowering. I’ll have a full review in the next issue of Fuggles: A Beer Zine.
The title of this post is a line from Franki Elliot’s Piano Rats.