Sunday, April 24, 2016
Sunday, April 17, 2016
By Olga Agafonova
Certain kinds of music conjure up entire cinematic sequences in my mind and I’d like to share a few of these compositions with you along with some comments.
“Loud Places” by Jamie XX from the album “In Colour” (2015)
This understated, soft and yet vivid song brings to mind a relationship that blossomed in a remote cityscape, two lives intertwined in London, New York, Singapore. There is that one apartment light in a city of a million lights and I watch the couple, her making him a part of her life and him experiencing things he never had before. Then it all falls apart one day and she is there all alone at a bar at the top of a skyscraper looking for him in a crowd and finally spotting him arm-in-arm with a stranger.
This is a gospel song recorded by Blind Willie Johnson in 1927 and covered since then by numerous artists, including Josh White, Led Zeppelin, and Bob Dylan. Led Zeppelin’s version is exploding with almost too much energy for a song about a man contemplating his end but I do like the repeating “Oh my Jesus” and the “I can hear the angels signin’ ” at the end. I don’t hear the angels signing yet but I do like the idea of going out with that kind of fearlessness.
“The Four Seasons: Spring” by Max Richter from “Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, the Four Seasons” (2012)
I like the entire album. Richter’s variations on Vivaldi are exquisite: he brings enough of himself into the music to make it startlingly new and raw. A thousand stories can bloom on this fertile soil – after all, this is classical music, abstract enough to project whatever we want onto it.
“Endless” by Dave Gahan from “Hourglass (Studio Sessions)” (2007)
I’ve been listening to Depeche Mode and Dave Gahan for over a decade now. Their albums from the 80’s have an excess synth-pop sugar for my taste but starting from the mid - 90’s onward, their music has matured into something deeper. The acoustic version of “Endless” brings forth images of hovering above the Earth at night, being drawn to the stars and then being in the back of a taxi, going together with someone special in some other world, some other life where things work out the way exactly the way we want them.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Sunday, April 3, 2016
By Laura P. Valtorta
My writers’ group (SCWW Columbia II) is filled with a bunch of solipsistic pseudo-intellectuals who think they know more than the next guy – especially the guy sitting next to them at the writers’ group. It’s horrifying. Even the African-American members seem too White. A meeting is likely to give you mental snow blindness.
But the group is fun, and I fit in. I love eating at Casa Linda with these clowns.
Another good thing that happens is when I bring in ten pages of a screenplay and other writers take on the various roles of my characters. Reading your own stuff aloud is helpful. You grow a third ear. When somebody else reads your stuff to the group, your errors shine bright like Swedish fish jellybeans.
I think we should mix things up. Once a season, exchange pages with each other at the beginning of the meeting and prevent each writer from reading aloud her own work. I’d love to hear Rex pound out some of Bonnie’s poetry in that sarcastic staccato of his. Let Bonnie tackle the corpses piled “as high as a house,” and Rex read about wrestling with religion in the New South. It would be fun to hear Kasie shoot everyone in sight in post-Civil-War Texas and Mike lecture us about death-defying vampires. I’d like to listen to Ginny read about golf and Fred tell us stories about living with a disability. Just once.
Writing a stage play or a screenplay is miraculous because, eventually, others read your words. Like the experience of the Marquis de Sade in the movie Quills, hearing the mentally ill read your work and change it – consciously or unconsciously— often improves the writing. We are, after all, writing for others. The purpose is to convey a message. However solipsistic we might be, we are attempting to communicate what makes us human.
On April 9, 2016, a group of actors (experienced and new) will be reading my stage play, Bermuda, at Tapp’s 1644 Main Street). The show starts at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited; it’s an absurd comedy filled with messages.
I am no actor. Although I want to read with more expression, I still need to practice and learn. Right now, I hear myself sounding like dry oatmeal. Listening to my play being read by professionals is a learning experience. The same could be true of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.