Point of Exquisite Suspension

Ramblings, musings and postings about thoughts & life experiences of a graphic artist living in the Chicago area.

23 September 2014


Illustration © 2014 by O. Douglas Jennings

I was like a sorcerer's apprentice. Rather, I should say, sorceress' apprentice. My grandmother, whom I called "Maw Maw", would sometimes seem like a being of dreadful magic. With her shelves full of jars containing herbs and powders and soaps, she would conjure remedies, tasty meals or sparkling clean linen. 

During canning season, with all her arcane presses, strainers, pestles and jars, no one but Maw Maw would have the strength to undo a lid that she would screw onto the glass recepticles to seal up her harvest toil. A stick she would plunge into the ground would take root and produce leaves. Her ancient garden, planted decades before my parents were born, was full of aromatic blooms and carefully cultivated fruits. 

But her most fearsome power was over the fowl of the farm. I witnessed her bloody sacrifice first-hand and to my regret when I was four Summers old. I followed her as she carried a large hen down the path between the old stable and the chicken coup to the small field next to the old walnut tree. She had no axe. What was she up to?

When she was clear of any post or plant and stood holding the chicken almost like a sword with the head being the handle, she began. In a furious blur the chicken was propelled round and round then suddenly there was a sickening, muffled "POP". The next thing I know, the headless creature was running in circles as if it wanted to re-enact on foot it's spiral of death at the end of Maw Maw's arm.

Spouting blood like an old-time percolating coffee pot, but not contained by a lid, the creature that was once a living chicken hurled itself into my body as I stood dumbfounded. Trying to climb up my legs, it was over half as tall as me, and splattered it's blood with each blindly fumbled assault.

Maw Maw took my hand and rushed me to the house to clean me up. But later she came back to the eventually spent lifeless hen to prepare it for dinner. I recovered and joined her in the back yard as she submerged the chicken into a large pot of scalding water so its pores would open and release its feathers. Last, she freed the naked form of its scaly legs and feet before she took it in to the kitchen for cleaning, gutting an cooking.

Those discarded feet: they looked to my small eyes like eagle talons. I claimed them as my own to serve as powerful artifacts. Holding them out in front of me, one in each hand, I looked out over them and felt the ground recede. I was an eagle. Flying free from the earthy farm, I soared. Swooping low above the beasts of the field (in this case, actually just my dog Skipper) I would strike terror.

After my extended reverie, I needed a safe place for my talimans. An empty discarded Hershey Choclate box would do nicely. And this humble reliquary I would slide discretely behind Maw Maw's kitchen china cabinet.

Days later Maw Maw complained about the smell of what must of been some varmint that had died in the house. With her broom handle, she fished the Hershey box out from its hiding place. I claimed to know nothing about it.

09 September 2014

2nd Viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy

I had the pleasure of watching Guardians of the Galaxy for the second time this past weekend. It definitely merits multiple viewings. I enjoyed noticing more details to the non-stop, action-packed, cleverly-plotted and hyphenated-accolade-worthy fun story of Star Lord and Company.

As this past weekend's movie report shows, apparently I was one of many cineplex-goers who made Guardians the top box-office movie for the fourth weekend in a row. I think the relationship between (and respective excellent voice portrayals of) the two CGI-rendered characters, Rocket and Groot stole the show. But, don't misunderstand, I enjoyed the terrific complexity and fine performances underlying all the characters.

There was so much I had forgotten about the movie from the first time I saw it (It's an indictment of my overly-hectic schedule that I don't take much time to reflect on movies much after I see them). The "We are Groot" scene was brilliant! And I had to laugh again at the "blacklight/Jackson Pollock" reference. So many of the lines and plot twists were terrific.

Watching the movie a second time also confirmed for me part of the symbolism of the movie that shows it as part of our time in the character of the villain Ronan the Accuser.  His particular brand of malevolence echoes the villains in present day news: Islamic extremist terrorists. I am not the only one who noticed this connection. A conservative newspaper movie review makes an analogy not only to Islamic terrorism in general but to Hamas leaders in Gaza specifically. Another newspaper review (this time a conservative Christian paper) is only too happy to point out the Ronan/Jihadist connection.

But was happier to find a less partisan blogger Paul Michael Carlisle, who, in his well-analyzed, incisive write-up, briefly acknowledged the connection with no ax of his own to grind:

"Ronan the Accuser is a thinly veiled interpretation of a Jihad extremist; a religious fanatic who wants to bring his ancient code of tyranny to bare on a progressive mostly-white society for their perceived sins. His tactics include suicide bombings and even his facial warpaint resembled an Islamic beard!"

I hadn't even noticed the beard/warpaint connection.

So there you have it. Guardians not only is a fun, humorous, action-packed, delightful movie. It also has cultural relevance.