An argument was presented to me recently in the film Words and Pictures (movie, 2013 with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche)
As the students looked up a word, on their electronic devices, the English, Honors teacher presented the theory that if the students relied on their device of choice they would see only the word that was assigned. If they used the (paper) dictionary, and while thumbing through the pages to find the word, they would be exposed to other words and mostly likely one or two would reach out and grab them.
I put it to the test. EQUIDISTANT Definition: equally distant <a location equidistant from two major cities>Origin of EQUIDISTANT
Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French, from Late Latin aequidistant.First Known Use: 1556
Nostalgia: A Greek word meaning to Grieve, to Ache Modern Dictionary: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. And:
Meritocracy: A system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement
BUT then one can make a strong argument for ‘Pictures tell a thousand words’ too. Pictures almost always illicit some sort of reaction from us.
Can you look at any of these photos and say that you feel nothing?
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It all started when a jazz singer/actress asked me to write a one-woman show for her; portraying the life and music of Billie Holiday. At the time she had a three piece band and they played small jazz clubs in Chicago. She had just finished acting in a showcase that I had produced (Women Outside the Walls) and was on her way back to the windy city.
I laughed. Why would she want a middle-aged, white Irish woman to write a play for her showcase of an iconic African-American woman? She replied, “you got inside the heads of the women in this play you wrote. You’ve never been in prison or been married to a convict. But you were able to make us feel empathy for these forgotten wives and families.”
I said I’d think about it and started researching Billie Holiday’s life. Sure, I’d seen “Lady Sings the Blues” but felt certain that there was more to the story than a song-bird who OD’d on hard drugs. I discovered the story of a fearless woman who rose above poverty, rape, bigotry, prostitution and imprisonment to become one of the most memorable and celebrated artists of the twentieth century.
The resulting one-woman show was not only Billie’s story, but the nation’s story. In her own words, she talks about her struggle to succeed in spite of the segregation of that time and the difficulties she experienced singing with the great bands, most of which were white men. Without pity for herself, she talks about the daily slings and arrows which are a part of bigotry. She took complete responsibility for her life, her choices, and her actions. Her triumph was her music and her songs that will live on forever. The script does not dwell on the sensationalism of her addiction to alcohol and drugs but chooses, rather, to celebrate the whole woman.
You might wonder about the title. After all Billie was known for her white gardenias. I chose Scent of Magnolia from the lyrics of Strange Fruit. ‘Pastoral scene of the gallant south The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh Then the sudden smell of burning flesh…..’
Original music by composer/song writer: Gary Swindell PRESS play
My BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with best-selling AUTHORS! November was best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series. Coming up, January: Dinah Jefferies.
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Memories of the South
spanish moss shimmers slave ghosts of days long gone by hanging from the trees
stain on Old Glory dark time of subjugation when man enslaved man
memories forever then bodies, now gray moss hangs tears, blood darken roots