Cleopatra, Caliban and musings

Original theatrical release poster

Have been watching the long (three hours and 12 minutes) 1963 film version of Cleopatra, staring the scintillating and dynamic Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. According to the Wikipedia entry, the film was the only film to be the highest-grossing film of the year, yet still ran at a loss and nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox. It won four Academy Awards, and was nominated for five more. Despite production and cast problems, it still holds up today. Sure, the acting is over-blown by today’s standards, but there is no gainsaying the quality of these powerful, Shakespearean-style actors. The costumes are questionable, but certainly eye-candy, and the sets are magnificent. Taylor and Burton are, well, Taylor and Burton: brilliant, incendiary, captivating.

I liken Cleopatra to Gone with the Wind—both films which will remain in the legendary, classical cannon of cinematic history. Very much look forward to finishing my next installment of the film.

Caliban: yes, well. Have been steadily revising the novel in preparation of publication this year. Finally, after some 30 years I understand the alien character Tine, can get inside his head, understand his species and culture, and his difficulty operating in another completely alien society, and through his isolation come to understand another alien. Despite the story’s darkness, it is, in fact, a story of hope, one of discovery and understanding. My thanks, of course, to both Robert Runté and Susan MacGregor for their insights. Has been most helpful and informative.

I’m very much looking forward to Caliban’s publication, to seeing what kind of genius Jeff Minkevics will drip from his oh-so-talented fingers by way of cover, and what the talented and sensitive Éric Desmarais will design in the layout.

The Rose Guardian is on hold for the moment. There has been much in the way of thinking going on with that novel, and then sudden bursts as a result of all that thinking. Still remains the most difficult thing I’ve ever written, and my instinct still says the best. But that’s up to my readers to ascertain in the end. I am but the conduit.

There has been a sudden flurry of short stories streaming off the computer of late, all targeted for specific anthologies. We’ll see how well I do with that. Always such a struggle, but apparently one to which I return again and again. One wonders if being a writer isn’t some sort of mild death wish, some sort of extreme activity that has us plunge into places we’d really rather not go, and then with trembling hands hold out our innards for others to see and assess.

Apparently this current path I’m walking also has me rediscovering my love of painting. It’s such a technically demanding medium, and I do so enjoy that process, of working and waiting, of assessing temperature and humidity, choosing pigments for their transparency and staining qualities. I’ve only done a few sketches at this point to stretch my artistic muscles again. Will return to that again in a few weeks after I finish this next stripping and refinishing of a cherry Duncan Phyfe chair.

The other rather curious occurrence is my exploration of musical instruments. Seems that as a senior citizen all the inhibitors come off. I’m playing the bodhran and piano like a great fool, loving every moment of my raucous, stumbling, stuttering utterances. Very good for the grey matter, let alone the blood pressure and endorphin production.

But I must away for now. These things won’t happen by themselves.


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