Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The mind works in mysterious ways

I just a truly surreal experience. It actually started a month ago, when I was in Portland, Oregon for the holidays. I had just driven from Portland to Seattle for a day trip to do some interviews for the film. I got back to Portland at about 9 PM, just in time to catch my family finished dessert at a downtown restaurant. Because I still had my car I ended up driving back home by myself. I was listening to the radio and they started playing a song that struck me as a perfect addition to the soundtrack for the film. I was just rolling up to the house as the song was winding up. I had the volume cranked up loud, and my wife and her sister heard the last bars of the song. I mentioned to them that I thought the song would be good for the film, and they both agreed.

A few days later we were back home and I found that I had totally forgotten what the song was, and so had my wife and her sister. I called up the radio station and asked them to run down the playlist at the time which they very graciously agreed to do, but none of the songs that were on the air around the time I was driving home seemed to be the one I was looking for.

I figured that song was gone forever.

Then today as I was waling my dog (funny how so many of the key events in this saga seem to be connected to my dog) a little snippet of melody suddenly popped into my head, just half a dozen notes, but somehow I knew that this was part of the long-lost song. I kept humming that little bit of tune to myself over and over again, and slowly enough of the song reassembled itself in my brain that I was able to recall a bit of the lyrics, which let me look it up on Google, which led me to iTunes, which led me to... 'Question" by the Moody Blues!

I'm looking for someone to change my life
I'm looking for a miracle in my life

That was it! It also explained why I didn't recognize the song when I was going through the playlist. "Question" is almost like two songs in one, a hard-rock intro and a soft ballady ending. I remembered that the song was a ballad, and so when I heard the hard intro I thought that couldn't be it and moved on.

Funny how the mind works.

Now, if I could just find the sunglasses I lost in Las Vegas over the weekend...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Spare change

Ran across this old poem I wrote many years ago. Seems kind of apropos given that I'm making a film about homeless people.


(Copyright (c) by Ron Garret, all rights reserved)

The man says, "Got any spare change, mister?"
Now as it happens I do have spare change.
There are seventy-seven cents in my coat pocket.
I know because I just bought myself a Snickers bar
And paid with one of three crisp dollar bills
That were up against the fives
That were up against the twenties
That came from the magic money machine.

The man looks at me with burning, sunken eyes
That look as if they saw one day too many on the street
About a year ago.
The hair that once was golden
Now is black and stringy, greasy
The hand that holds the broken paper cup
Is sun-dried leather
The clothes that hang like flying-dutchman sails
From bony shoulders
Are as dirty as the street they know so well.

Poverty makes strange bedfellows.

"Got any spare change, mister?"
The man does not repeat himself.
The paper cup speaks for him.
The paper cup, the hands, the hair, the eyes
Peer through my stoic facade and into my coat pocket
At seventy-seven cents.
The eyes gaze at me with a longing and desperation
That I have never known for anything
At seventy-seven cents.

Response comes thick and fast and automatic:
My mouth says, "Sorry, no."
My head bows in regret
My legs pick up the pace
And I walk briskly away
As if only the urgency of my business prevents me
From acting on my true nature
And giving him my seventy-seven cents
And asking his name
And shaking his hand
And offering him a meal and a bed and a shower.

As I walk away I think of a thousand good reasons
Why I'm doing the right thing.
Funny, though, none of them really sound convincing.
But they are enough
To keep me from turning around
And going back.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Slouching towards 1984

And you thought that Big Brother was a fictional character.

America is no longer a free country

Wow, I really thought (hoped) this would go the other way. The Supreme Court today refused to hear a challenge to a law that requires people to show ID when travelling. Why is this significant? This "law" is not actually on the books. It was never passed by Congress. It is a secret law, the very antithesis of free and open democracy. By refusing to hear this appeal the Supreme Court effectively sanctioned the transformation of the U.S. into a totalitarian state.

Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper:Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down (and you're just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

-- Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

We have cut down the law to get at the devil. Heaven help us now, for the law surely will not.

This seems like the right answer

Much as it surprises me to say this, it looks like Chevrolet has found the right answer for the car of the future. It's called the Volt, and it's a hybrid but with a design tilted more towards an electric car than a gas-powered one. Basically, the gas tank is there to provide range when needed, while short trips (up to 40 miles) run on batteries. It also doesn't look nearly as goofy as previous hybrids/electrics, though it's not quite as cool-looking as the Tesla roadster.

I sure hope Chevy can make a go of this. I hate watching the U.S. auto industry go under.