Tuesday, July 31, 2007

in memoriam

I learned this morning of the death of two of my heroes.

E. Dorrit Hoffleit
(12 march 1907 - 9 April 2007)
Ingmar Bergman
(14 July 1918 – 30 July 2007)

I hope that these two brave, brilliant, passionate souls will move you just as they have moved me.

Dorrit was a lifelong astronomer. I was lucky enough to know her in the last years of her life-- though from her energy and vivacity I did not anticipate her leaving us so soon. Ha! So soon-- after her 100th birthday! She was one of the warmest and funniest people I have ever met. She was light on her feet and in her spirit. And what a hard worker-- she stayed on at Yale, as an astronomer and advisor until last year. And even then-- Dorrit truly LIVED among the stars.

a brief obituary from Yale:
On April 9th Dorrit Hoffleit passed away at her apartment following a brief illness. Dorrit's astronomical career spanned more than 75 years, the first 25 at Harvard and the following 50 plus years at Yale. At the time of her passing she had just celebrated her 100th birthday at a luncheon attended by 94 of her friends and colleagues (at which the accompanying photo was taken). Dorrit's research spanned a wide range of interests including meteors, spectroscopic parallaxes, variable stars, astrometry, providing research opportunities for young women at the Maria Mitchell Observatory, which she directed for 20 years, reporting on current astronomical research to the amateur community and the history of astronomy. Most observers will be familiar with her through the Bright Star Catalogue on which she labored painstakingly to ensure the accuracy of all entries. Dorrit had a major impact on those who collaborated with her or took the time to stop in her office to say hello. As one well-known astronomer put it, Dorrit is our bridge to the beginnings of modern stellar astronomy and one of the many things that makes her so wonderful is that no matter how glad you are to see her, she always leaves you feeling that she was even happier to see you. We will all miss her cheerful presence.
William van Altena
20 April 2007

I was introduced to Ingmar Bergman by my friend, Sam Gold. I sat in on his film class, "Film and Spirituality," and was ncredibly moved by what I saw and what I learned. I loved Bergman's autobiography, The Magic Lantern, as well as his Images. My favorite of his films are The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Persona, Smiles of a Summer Night, and The Silence. I love the story of shooting the image pasted above from The Seventh Seal. The story goes that all the filming was done for the day when Bergman looked up and saw the sky over the hill where they were shooting. He had a vision and hurriedly assembled any remaining actors, p.a.s, whoever... and described the "dance of death." He danced about and told them to run up to the top of the hill. He got the shot off just as the Magic Hour passed. It was spontaneous but lives as one of his most iconic shots. Oh, I love his child-like playfulness and his auteur's unyielding commitment to his vision.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Two inspiring things to share:
Jon Lester returning to the mound yesterday for the Red Sox after being diagnosed with cancer in his rookie season last year...

and this story from The Boston Globe
for full article go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/07/22 haitian_american_finds_her_inner_juliet/?page=full

Haitian-American finds her inner Juliet
By Ric Kahn, Globe Staff | July 22, 2007
Late next month, Kerlyne Cenafils is expected to join 719 other freshmen starting classes at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. She will arrive as a woman changed, having been transformed by the fire walk of her final year at the Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester: intense course load, senior social action project, hospital internship, women's basketball, the college-selection grind -- and, especially, the crucible of a demanding stage performance as the female lead in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."
Come this Friday night, Cenafils, 18, will be in the assistant director's chair as her former Codman schoolmates collaborate with their educational partners from the Huntington Theatre Company in putting on another of the Bard of Avon's plays, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," at the Calderwood Pavilion in the South End.
For Cenafils, it was her rendezvous with Shakespeare during last summer's Huntington-Codman creation of "Romeo and Juliet" that became a defining moment in the life of one young Haitian-American woman going forward into the unknown.
Even now, Cenafils is loath to wax wordy about herself. But her metamorphosis was revealed on her college application, when Cenafils was asked to describe an experience that encapsulated an aspect of her identity. She wrote:
I stare out the window as the #28 bus shifts over city street bumps and hazardous potholes. The lines "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo," run through my head while I try to picture Juliet's sincerity as she reaches out to Romeo and yearns for his love and comfort. I bounce my right leg up and down against the shimmering concrete bus floor to the iambic pentameter of Juliet's lines, "Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love and I'll no longer be a Capulet." My attention is drawn to the constant motion of passengers around me. As I watch them, I wonder, what do they think of me? Who do they think I am and where do they think I am going? They'll probably think right away from my looks that I am a Haitian-American female. I think of all the negative stereotypes people hold against people of my nationality. How many times in my life have I heard Haitians being labeled as poor, uneducated, or destined to be unsuccessful? Too many. Maybe they think I'm like so many of the kids I know, wasting their summers working meaningless jobs, smoking, or selling drugs. I laugh when I think about it. We're riding through Mattapan, my home; one of Boston's most challenged communities. I don't think anyone knows that I'm on my way to the Boston Center for the Arts Calderwood Pavilion. I don't think anyone knows that tonight I will star as Juliet.
Growing up, friends say, Cenafils took the barbs from outsiders to heart, and let them slap around her self-esteem.
The ignoramuses told her that she lived in "Murder-pan," wore low-rent Payless sneakers instead of pricey name brands, and belonged to an ethnic group that was destitute, slated for dead-end jobs, and reeked of HBO -- Haitian Body Odor.
Those snubs, and the abrasive shorthand, "Oh, you're Haitian," sometimes pushed Cenafils to tears, says her longtime friend, Euphrate Louis, 19.
Meanwhile, pressures from her own community to rise above the lot of older immigrants sometimes made it feel like the weight of the Haitian diaspora was on her slender shoulders, friends say, further battering her sense of self.
In the spring of 2006, as summer approached, I decided that I wanted to do something that would really challenge me to overcome my fears -- particularly my fears of failure of being great, strong, and true to myself. It was with this goal that I auditioned for and accepted the role of Juliet in a Huntington Theatre Summer Acting Production. I had devoted my summer to this amazing project and now it was performance day. My director, Lynne Johnson, had helped me to push myself beyond my limits as an actor. She taught me how to make my lines sound natural and even romantic. I had entered the summer thinking that speaking powerfully and with strength of a character would be the most difficult thing. However, I came to realize that what was hardest was allowing myself to feel lovable and to be kissed on stage. Lynne helped me to both feel powerful and feel loved.
Cenafils had arrived at the audition looking for any bit part. She left with the challenge of slipping into the complex soul of Juliet.
Johnson saw an innocence in Cenafils, and was convinced that the teen could do it.
"Part of her charm is that she doesn't realize how beautiful she is," Johnson, the Huntington's associate director of education, says of Cenafils. The Huntington-Codman connection is in its seventh year.
Early on, says Johnson, Cenafils was stiff and uncomfortable during her interactions with Romeo. But it was through more than body language that Cenafils displayed her feelings that she was not worthy of giving her affections to another, complaining to Johnson that she wasn't romantic or enticing.
Johnson says she pulled Cenafils aside and told her, "Do you understand how beautiful you are, how attractive and loving a person you are? You're incredible."
During rehearsals, Johnson saw the changes in Cenafils, as she more easily melted into Romeo's arms, looked lovingly into his eyes, and tenderly received his kisses.
After her dramatic showing at the Calderwood, the audience responded with a standing ovation as Cenafils beamed with pride on stage.
Through acting in the play as Juliet, I was able to be heard and fight through the challenge of not being able to fully love and appreciate myself in addition to always doubting myself. This self doubt and lack of self love were [caused by] the stereotypes made against Haitians. I finally allowed myself to be loved and my director, Lynne Johnson, contributed to this remarkable outcome by teaching me how to bring these qualities out through my words and actions. I push the yellow tape as the bus approaches my stop on Tremont Street. I step off the bus and approach the theater. I push open the big glass doors. I am Juliet.
Offstage, friends say, they also saw the differences in Cenafils, post-Juliet.
She felt confident enough to forge a relationship with her first real boyfriend. She added a sense of playfulness to her intense public mien, teaching other budding thespians how to balance when to be silly and when to be serious. And when confronted by anti-Haitian remarks, says Louis, Cenafils was apt to brush them aside by saying, "I'm Haitian. Look what I've got going for myself." Now, when Cenafils rides the 28 bus out of Mattapan, she does so with a mental shield around her, she says, impervious to whatever psychic slings her fellow travelers may be aiming at her.
"I care less about what people think about me," she says.
Cenafils says she feels secure knowing she is a young Haitian woman striving for pure excellence over guilt-driven ambition, as she follows the road to becoming a doctor or lawyer or forensic scientist, hoping not just to make money, but to make a difference in this world.
"I want to be great," she says.

Lots of positive thoughts for the family of Brandon Mitchell, who died Saturday night in Worland, Wyoming. You were a great man Brandon. I loved talking to you about books and the Worland ways and feeling like a wallflower sometimes. I loved your house. I love Meghan and Eli and I'm thinking about you both. Brandon, I know that your spirit is big enough that you are going to love and hold and help Meghan to go on and to show Eli the kind of man his dad was-- even from up there somewhere. You are in a good place I trust. You will be missed by all who ever passed even a moment with you.

Also, positive thoughts for my mom, who's in the hospital with an appendectomy. A speedy and easy recovery so you can come play in California as planned!!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

triangle of strength

hard day yesterday.
tried going to the ocean and throwing lion's breath at the water
tried losing myself in bliss at the most beautiful wedding reception
tried dancing it out with the sweating throbbing tens of thousands at the daft punk show

sometimes you just have to be with ___________


Friday, July 20, 2007


It has been weeks now with few to no words... at least in this here forum... but I have been writing-- I assure you, that abstract-ether YOU-- I have been writing up a storm!

a few weeks ago I put up a show called Tunnel to Bang as part of LA's EdgeFest. the best part about the 'festival' was the space it was in-- the Regent Theater, in downtown LA. The Regent used to be a movie house in the 1920s and 1930s, then in the 80s got busy as an 'adult' movie house, then like many theaters in downtown districts, the space fell into a boozy cycle of special events/parties followed by extended periods of idleness and disrepair. Shattered shuttered dreams.

I'm doing a screenwriting class too-- my first! Like all firsts-- kisses, cities, languages ... everything seems so simple in the beginning. And the language of the class feels sweetly like just the language, the lens, that might be the right match for me with the world. In my experience though, with Latin and French and Spanish, later on the many and complicated rules came, and as you get to know a language, a mode, a city, or a person, longer-- you feel you owe them something. A certain level of respect and deference as you have in some way (sometimes simply through the passing of time), shown some commitment to them, and to yourself in your passion. Thus, later on, it grows increasingly difficult to find the simplicity you felt when the word for flower was enough to describe the picture in the stoy, and a kiss was just a kiss, nothing loaded, nothing waged or worried over... I think that is why when a person's ability to use language, whether it be spoken, or action, as it is more in the realm of 'loving' a person, when that fails them, forgetting the words, or how to act, is such a disorienting feeling. Not only for the listener, or the 'loved' ... but for the one attempting to communicate.
anyway, at present I am learning new words for the ride I go on during the course of a movie. New terms, and the possibility of bringing them to life in my own head and heart and hand. Three act structure. Seven act structure. Inciting incident. Catalyst. Climax. Characters. Character development. I got a character development worksheet with so many qustions I am not even sure I could answer the worksheet for myself-- much less someone else! Is it easier to know a made-up person or a real one? Is the process of really knowing someone just creating the version of them that suits your particular loves and fancy most?
I keep trying new languages
1. love (familial)
1b. nature
2. ballet
3. music (flute)
4. choreography
5. writing (poems, short stories)
5b. acting (theater)
6. love (romantic)
7. fiction (reading)
8. cities / travel (NY, Paris, Peru)
9. film (watching)
10.altered states
11. laughing
12. writing (plays, screenplays)

a long process of finding the ways to use the ones that feel right

also: Paris Je T'Aime, the movie of 18 shorts celebrating Paris, and cinema, and love... made for Cannes. It was great. Shorts are fragmented and disjointed back to back sometimes but it all came together in the end. Like all good things.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I wrote something on the 4th and it got erased. Before it could upload. Yikes. I DON'T love that.
so instead of words here are pictures. a few.
happy bastille day (yesterday) and what a summer it is.