Category Archives: Other

Not to be old-fashioned but

Yes, ma’am, I have a past
I was young and overly optimistic
that first love or young love
would be forever.

Yes, ma’am, I have grown up
I have done right by biological crafting,
I mean, what kind of man would I be
if I had done anything less?

Yes, ma’am, I’m walking on the outside
Though, I know you have fast reflexes
and not to be old-fashioned but
can we lay out some promises?

No, ma’am, I don’t intend on dying
but you never know when dire circumstances
come crawling and I want you
to be taken care of
if the battle takes me down with it.

Yes, ma’am, I’ll eat more than a caesar salad
I can wait for a lavish ceremony
and even when the whole room needs me
I’ll find my way to you.

In the form of paper or a painting
or a bundle of red balloons.

— yiqi 26 March 2022 8:39 pm

This poem was inspired by the film A Journal for Jordan (Denzel Washington, 2021).
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Pic cred: Amazon

So That’s why they call it a bundle of joy

I saw one today and it saw me.  By “it,” I mean a human child referred to as “a bundle of joy.”

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I had just spent a couple of hours catching up with a friend I haven’t seen in several years.  The weather was excellent, I felt “normal” again, like myself again.  It’s become subjective whether or not there is such a thing as “normalcy” anymore, or at the very least, it’s become much harder to depend on predictability in day-to-day life.  Yet, for a few hours on a Saturday, doing what I love doing (reading and writing at a non-Starbux coffee shop) coupled with good conversation, I was able to slip back into my preferred “default” self.  Not the self of pessimistic solitude, but that of intellectual fulfillment and ease.

After my friend and I parted ways, I had a moment with a stranger when I was walking to my car.  I noticed a motorist reversing and going the wrong way out of the parking lot, and vocalized to no one in particular, “You’re going the way, you’re going the wrong way.”

This stranger, who was sitting by a staircase and taking a smoke break, had heard me and remarked, “Oh, they don’t care, they do it all the time.”  I trotted over and inquired how many Starbux products could he buy if he had a dollar for every time he saw someone exiting incorrectly the parking lot.  A very short chat was had.  I bid him a good day and proceeded to my car.  I took the usual route back to my bachelor pad, and as I approached an intersection flanked by restaurants and other businesses not half a mile from the coffee shop, I happened to look left outside of the driver side window.

Initially, I didn’t focus on any one person having lunch on the patio…until my eyes landed upon her.  This small human with a head of brown curls, and who clearly had just learned how to stand (and probably walk) within recent weeks, was looking and pointing at me.  She was giggling too.  I whipped my head back towards the windshield to see if the line of cars in front of me had moved or not — it hadn’t.  I returned my gaze to where the little girl was standing, and her face was oozing with cheerfulness.  I waved, her dad waved, she waved, and then her mom waved…and then the cars in front of me started to move.

I have a Mashimaro sticker on the driver side door, maybe she was mesmerized by its iridescence.  Maybe she liked my sunglasses.  I have no idea why she singled me out (and from the distance of 1.5 car-lengths no less), but at least now I know why anyone would call a baby, an infant, or a young child “a bundle of joy.”  Inexplicably, I felt honored to have caught the attention of a vessel of soft tissue, blood, bones, muscle, nerve endings, tendons, and unbridled curiosity.

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Steal I Will Be By Your Side

I felt like translating a couple more Mandarin-Chinese pop songs when I was flossing my teeth tonight.

The first song is called “偷” (Tou/Steal) by 女孩與機器人 (Nu Hai Yu Ji Qi Ren/The Girl and the Robots).  One could interpret “偷” as “thief” because “steal” and “thief” share that same character.  I’m going with “Steal.”  It has some Kate Bush vibes.

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~!~

The next song is called “我會在你身邊” (Wo Huei Zai Ni Sheng Bian/I Will By Your Side) by 朱俐靜 (Miu Chu) and 畢書盡 (Bii).

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Technically, It’s True — I Could End You

Today’s deep thought brought to you by flossing after dinner.

As often as we humans inseminate, cultivate, facilitate, propagate, maintain, resuscitate, elongate, and mandate the spark and expansion of life, we are also one motion away from being (in)voluntarily another person or creature’s harbinger of death.  There isn’t a lone Grim Reaper; there are many and we all have the potential to (un)intentionally participate in the non-existence of another biological entity — and I don’t mean in instances of roadkill, the application of insecticides, or lethal self-defense.

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When you disregard inclement weather, cardiac malfunction, being attacked by large land mammals or marine animals, and one’s own unwise decisions (out of desperation or sheer idiocy), what remains?  Somebody meets an untimely end because of someone else’s negligence, premeditation, or the most potent, so-not-funny dark comedy of errors.

If you can die because of another person’s behavior (with or without a series of very unwanted events), someone else can also die because of your behavior (with or without a series of very unwanted events).  Most of us wouldn’t purposefully be the unwitting enablers of a stranger’s manner of expiration, right?  Being an “ethical” and efficient vigilante is cost-prohibitive unless you’re Batman and socially isolating even if you were Batman (you shouldn’t let too many people know about your secret identity).

Is it bewildering that on the surface, ideating, preparing, and conjuring the beginning and continuation of a presence requires much more focused intent, whereas, ushering in an absence doesn’t even need your (immediate) awareness of it?  I think not.  The butterfly effect of your actions applies to both growth and decomposition.  The conversation you had with that electrician could be one or five degrees removed from his co-producing an heir.  At the same time, that conversation could be one or five degrees removed from his deviating from his post-work routine, thus, putting him in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We all have this non-gift within us.  How would any of us know that we haven’t already dabbled in such morbidity?  I guess we’re all in a young adult fantasy novel whether we like it or not.

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PS.  Can you imagine Minority Report having a sequel where people can be prosecuted for being the initation point of a person’s death?  Would law-abiding citizens have to purchase “initiation point immunity” so that if something they say or do ever leads to someone’s loss of life, they can’t be arrested, charged, or prosecuted?  Maybe different states would have their own threshold of degrees-removed that must not be exceeded in order for a conviction to be won.

Original pic cred: Mathieu Stern @mathieustern, Timothy Dykes @timothycdykes, unsplash

How to Make a Play More like a Movie in One Night in Miami

Regina King‘s feature-film debut as a director, One Night in Miami… (2020), received the Criterion treatment in 2021.  It’s based on Kemp Powers‘s play and exemplifies how to adapt a work of theatre into a cinematic text, infusing it with the kind of movement and multiple perspectives that plays lack.  It’s been on Amazon Prime for over a year but the motivation to watch it didn’t accelerate until it was Criterioned.

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The film’s premise in a pistachio shell: Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) get together in a hotel room in Miami, Florida and discuss and debate the state of being who they are in that moment in time and as part of the struggle to be treated like human beings.  One Night in Miami… feels like watching memories unfurling, sliding into the memories of a time and place.  It’s beautifully filmed and acted.  One scene in particular stayed with me.  It happens on the rooftop of the hotel, soon after this moment where Malcom X takes a picture of his friends with a Rolleiflex 3.5, a German twin-lens reflex camera.

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Malcolm X: You’re performing in-in places where the only Black people not on stage are the ones serving the food.
Same Cooke: Don’t you think I know that? Can’t tell you how many times I wanted to reach out and punch somebody, but you —

Malcolm X: Then…then strike with the weapon that you have, man! Your voice! Black people, we-we standing up…We-we speaking out. Sam, you have possibly one of the most effective, beautiful outlets of us all. Y-you’re not using it to help the cause, brother.
Same Cooke: The hell I’m not. I got the masters to my songs. I started a label. I’m producing tons of Black artists. Don’t you think my determining, my creative and business destiny is every bit as inspiring to people as you standing on a podium trying to piss ’em off? Oh, wait a minute, I forgot. That’s all you do!

Malcolm X: Sam, I do plenty.
Sam Cooke: Oh, do you suck at sports…Can’t sing. Damn sure can’t make shit out of no peanut.
Malcolm X: Is there a point to this rant, Sam?
Sam Cooke: My point is that sometimes I feel like you’re just like all the rest of them people out there, obsessed with the stars…Look around, look around. Which one of us don’t belong?

Malcolm X: Don’t belong?
Sam Cooke: Don’t belong.
Malcolm X: Brother Sam, the only person here white people seem to like — that would be you.

~!~

This screenshot comes from a scene near the end of the film where Malcolm X has just taken a few pictures of Cassius Clay in a diner/bar.  He happens to look out the window next to this neon Budweiser sign… and I find it mesmerizing but I don’t know why.

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I loved this film and am glad I waited to get the Criterion DVD.  One of the special features consists of Regina King, Kemp Powers, and Gil Robertson talking about the film for the Criterion Collection.

King remarks that “One Night in Miami… is an actor’s piece” and if she were a man, she’d have wanted to audition for the role of Malcolm X or Sam.

Powers notes that “I’ve always been a huge cinephile, and in the case of One Night in Miami…, I’d really have to go back to watching 12 Angry Men [Sidney Lumet, 1957]. That was really the film tjat I was just like ‘whoa, this is a film of words that has more action in it than like the biggest action film.”

I look forward to what Regina King will do next.

Another special feature details how each actor prepared for the role he’d play.  Aldis Hodge watched this interview of Jim Brown appearing on The Dick Cavett Show:

Notice that Truman Capote was also a guest on this episode where the then-governor of Georgia, Lester Maddox, left the stage because he didn’t like where the conversation was going.

Pic creds: IMDB, Criterion, Amazon