30 September 2008


or at least, that's my excuse for neglecting these entries all month. playing catch-up:

~ paeans and sorrow for the passing of paul newman, an actor and director who lived his political and philanthropic beliefs offscreen, and who brought intensity, wit and genuine talent to his roles onscreen. he could say more with a glance or a quirked smile than most actors can manage in a lifetime. of his movies, my personal favorites include The Hustler, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, Sometimes A Great Notion, The Sting, Nobody's Fool, and Road to Perdition.

~ praise and awe for the HBO series The Wire, which ran for five years. i just finished watching the last episode on DVD. though centered on baltimore homicide detectives, the show managed to vividly portray hundreds of characters, in layered settings ranging from the corridors of political power to crack corners in the ghetto, from the Sun newsroom to the waterfront. i loved the interwoven complexity and relevance of the issues presented, with grit and profanity and humor and violence and tenderness, and always a clear eye for the human frailties which drive us all to acts which we would hate to see on the evening news. no preaching to be found, but relentless insistence on authenticity and thought-provocation.

~ pleasure and a slower pace of life (I) in Conrad, MT, over the weekend. like many rural, agriculture-based towns, Conrad has shrunk by attrition as its youth have moved away, and local businesses have been forced to close or consolidate in response to the advent of big box stores in Great Falls. still, a core of energetic, determined and inventive residents has kept the community alive by creating an arts council, restoring to Art Deco glory the local movie theater, expanding the city library, and supporting local schools. i'm proud to call Conrad my home town (one of several, actually, but the one in which i lived the longest before adulthood.)

~ pleasure and a slower pace of life (II) in the countryside where i grew up, on the northern plains along the Rocky Mountain Front. the drive from Missoula along state route 200, over rogers pass and emerging through the foothills onto the great sea of prairie, never fails to take my breath away. it is here that you can understand that Montana's nickname, Big Sky Country, is literally true. only out on the open ocean can one view an expanse of sky so vast, through air so clear that you can see weather forming many miles away. i've lived all over this country of ours, and my heart dwells in many places, but the deepest of my taproots is here, where the stillness is so complete that you can hear birdsong half a mile away, and you would swear that you can feel and hear the earth breathe.

~ finally (as the reader heaves a sigh of relief), props and a big hug to my friend Jan in Casper, WY, with whom i've shared a number of long, wide-ranging phone conversations. she is a formidable scrabble player, as i've learned the hard way at an online site. she is also a viola player and general renaissance woman with a lively intellect and a sly talent for fun. Jan is a keeper on life's list of friendships, or relationships, or however we decide to fashion it.

cheers to one and all. welcome to fall ! !

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