Friday, August 24, 2012

Ode to the Sense of Scent

 My friend Sandy, in Washington State was at one time making wonderful soaps to sell.  She asked that I write something to go with each scent in the little linen bag with the soap.  These are the result of that request.  I am not a poet.  As evidenced by the following.




                                                Ode to the Sense of Scents



#1)      Odors are like broken crayons in an old cigar box under the bed.  You only need them long enough to color the picture of the memory they invoke.


#2)      I see my grandmother as a little girl; catching fireflies, looking for Robin’s eggs and smelling the Honeysuckle on the fence.  I wonder, if she ever wonders, if I will exist.                


#3)      Lying on a hammock between two shade trees; doves cooing in the quiet afternoon; the scent of Eucalyptus and Pine fill the air and the long summer days pass sweetly in the great northwest.


#4)      Sitting on a winter beach, wrapped and warm in your favorite sweater; waves and gulls fill the afternoon, waiting for the sunset.  The smell of the Ocean and seaweed mixed with the cup of green tea warming your hands make life so lovely you decide never to die. 


#5)      I’m held close to my mom’s bosom, strong loving arms holding me tight.  I can smell her apron and the biscuits just made, mixed with the odor of Lavender soap. The glistening perspiration on her neck sparkles like the skin of a princess and I could stay in her arms forever. 


#6)      The smell of Sandalwood escapes and runs to hide in your nose as you open the little box that holds your special things. Wonderful memories of days and years of happiness lived. 


#7)      Fresh linens and clean cotton hang on a line under the big oak in the backyard.  They play back and forth with the wind.  The smell of rain brings you outdoors to save your morning’s work.  You gather all and rush into the house smelling of clean linen, soap and sunshine, before the rain.


#8)      The woman stood at the perfume counter... “Oh!” she said, “That ‘s not for me, that smells like my grandmother.”

No one wants to smell like granny, but no one ever remembers what the uncle, aunt or cousins smelled like.  But everyone remembers the wonderful light, floral powder odor of their grandmother.   Maybe it was from all the hugs.


#9)      An old man sits on a park bench watching a little boy eat an apple.  The smell of the apple reminds him of two young hands and a bright shiny new wedding band proudly handing him a piece of her first apple pie; in their first little apartment, in their first month of married life.  They don’t grow apples that taste that good anymore, he thought.         


#10)    Orchids, like Peacocks make you believe in beauty, but the smell of the Rose makes you believe in God. 


#11)    Taking a trip to Miami in 1962, down the Old Spanish Trail; windows open; hair blowing and no cares in the world; the scent of Oranges cover the whole state and release the soul to enjoy the tropics.             


#12)    Jasmine: exotic, romantic, erotic, and heady, like making love on a summer afternoon in New Orleans while the rain falls softly on the banana leaves in the courtyard.       



Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Dangerous Story

                                      “A Dangerous Story”

                                      By F.J. Wilson


The Pecan leaves made lacy designs across her face as she lay in the soft weeds.  ‘Mary Beth’ remembered summers of long ago picking up the pecans in the fall; filling up the burlap sacks and turning in the bounty at the end of the day for a nickel a pound. So much money for such a little girl to have, fifty cents or even seventy-five cents on a good Saturday.  But now the old pecan trees held no bounty, only secrets.  Bad secrets scar the soul and break the spirit.  She lay until the moon came directly over head caressing her wounded soul and damaged body making her feel young again; strong and invincible.

He left early; didn’t even bother to wake her; just packed a quick bag and walked out the door as if going to work.  She knew from his love making the night before he’d be leaving; she felt it in his touch and in his kiss.  Then his eyes said; this is the end, there is no more; I’ve spent my time here and you’re not enough for me to stay longer.   How to feel?  Did she love him?  Was she relieved at his leaving?   He took too much of her with him.  He carried parts of her in his heart and soul and even his smell held her cologne. She felt used up and dismantled.  He took the best parts of her and threw the rest away; those parts weren’t good enough so he allowed her to keep them. 

She used the biggest knife in the kitchen drawer - the one that always made her think of bad things in bad people - the one that made her shutter every time she saw it.  Lying quietly under the trees in the dark she carved her initials in her leg.  They’d say she was crazy, but she had to prove to herself that she wasn’t afraid and she existed outside his love.  She was alive and she knew who she was.  So she carved her initials in her thigh, in capital letters, and thought about adding some vines and flowers around the initials - like an old embroidered handkerchief she’d once seen in a ladies purse at church - but the blood was coming so fast she couldn’t see how to place the design so she  blotted the opened places on her leg and applied pressure with the edge of her jacket.  She stared at her little farm house on the edge of the orchard to see if he’d returned, knowing he hadn’t.

As a moving cloud un-covered the moon Deputy Travis saw the slight movement in the orchard; low under the tree.  It was too small to be a cow in trouble and no calves had been born lately.  Some dread pulled him out of his Patrol Car and into the orchard.  He drew his gun and walked steadily toward the movement.  It was a person; maybe kids necking or doing drugs.

“I’m a Deputy Sheriff, stand up and let me see who you are”.

The movement stopped and the quiet took on an ominous roar in his ears.  He heard the stories about this orchard, about the things people had seen and heard.

“Stand up, I can’t see you”.  His heart beat so fast he had to steady his gun with both hands.

“I said, stand up!  Put your hands on your head”.  That’d let them know he was armed.

“I can’t”.  The voice was soft and sad but he could hear her through the roaring in his ears.

He started to breathe again, it was a girl and she seemed to be in trouble.  Still, he kept the pressure on the weapon. Women could be just as dangerous as men.  Why was she out here by herself unless she was up to no good?

“I can’t stand up.  I’ve hurt myself”.  The voice was weak and very scared.

“Stay there I’ll help you, do you need an ambulance”?

“I think so”.  She panicked when he drove up and the headlights lighted up the night and the puddle of liquid red that was her thigh.  The fear brought her mind back from wherever it’d been to cause such violent behavior.

“Oh, Jesus what have I done”?  Morgan stared down at the butcher knife lying between her legs on the ground, its work over; a tool to be reckoned with for a job well done; evidenced by the gashes in her leg.  Then she remembered she’d come into the orchard to clear her head and take a break from the characters she’d been creating on her computer. “Carl” had just left “Mary Beth” in the ghost story she was writing and it’d become too real for her; she needed to step away and get a breath of air and go back to it later. 

She heard the Deputy speak into his radio and ask for help as she looked up at the moon and saw that the moon didn’t care and the pecan lace had begun to ignore her and the very ground on which she was bleeding seemed to want to be elsewhere. She knew she mattered to no one and she’d never felt this alone in her whole life.

Travis walked and talked as he tried to get back to her with the first aid kit and call for an ambulance at the same time.  He could see the blood through the headlights of the car. There was a lot of it and she looked to be getting weaker as he ran to her.  The blood was coming from large gashes on her left leg.  Moments like this he questioned his choice of careers.  Travis, by nature was a gentle soul and disliked violence.  His mama thought he carried a deep foolish need to rid the world of all  bad people.  His daddy understood him though; he knew Travis just wanted to make a difference in this world and leave it a better place for his having been. 

“Mam, stay awake for me okay?  The ambulance will be here in a minute, stay with me alright, we’ll get you fixed up real soon.  Just stay with me now. Come on stay with me”.

He pulled the towel he brought with the first aid kit from the trunk and applied direct pressure to the wound, praying there was nothing in the gash he was driving further into her leg, Jesus, why hadn’t he paid more attention at the EMR Seminars.

“Mam, can you tell me what happened?  Don’t go to sleep okay, I need you to stay with me and tell me what happened.”  She was sinking into unconsciousness but he could hear the ambulance.

“Thank God, Mark’s on duty tonight, he gets here before yesterday, this is your lucky day, he’ll be here any minute.  Stay with me now.  Yes mam, this could be your lucky day.  Can you tell me your name”?

Morgan had to think through the fog that used to be her memory.  Her name, what was her name, Morgan, of course, Morgan.  Who could forget their own name?  But when she tried to open her mouth, her jaw was so heavy she couldn’t make it work and the smell was back, that horribly sweet bitter smell that clogged the brain and burned the nose.  Her name was Morgan, and she was dying and she was alone but her name was “Mary Beth” character created by Morgan and the moon was looking down at her with disdain.

Travis helped get the unconscious woman into the ambulance, and went back to his Patrol car to report in to the Sheriff.  He’d have to take the big flash light from under the front seat and go over every inch of that pecan orchard to see if there were tracks or clues to what happened.  He carefully went around the orchard stepping slowly not to destroy precious information that he’d need later.

He should wait for the Sheriff, but he continued to the house alone and walked around looking inside the windows.   The bright lights of the house illuminated each corner and space a person could possibly hide.  One closet door in the bedroom was closed and stood un-inviting and foreboding.  It was the only place a person could be hiding.  Travis took a deep breath, un-holstered his gun and started up the porch steps. And continued to look through the windows off the porch.

The little farm house was just as Morgan left it.  Her computer screen was moving to the tulips of Holland in a favorite screen saver. The cold cup of coffee next to a pile of mail to be answered, waited to be refilled and heated and the desk that represented so much of her life stood desheveled and comfortable waiting for a return.  One wall was covered with the framed awards and book jackets of a very successful writing career. A broken Ouija Board was the only trash in a small waste basket under the desk.  Books on the paranormal piled neatly on a small table showed pages flagged and tagged from research in progress.  There was a lingering smell of rosemary on baked chicken drifting through the open kitchen window drawn out by the draft from the open front door. The knife drawer was open creating the only disturbance in an otherwise orderly and homey kitchen.  Travis opened the front screen door and stepped in cautiously, wondering if something happened to him would his dad remember to let his dog, Missy out of the barn and feed her before morning.  He was getting closer to the little closet, and thought of all the “Let’s Make A Deal’s” of his childhood. “Will you take door number one, or what’s behind the curtain?”  Travis got in position to open the door and be prepared to kill.  What was that smell, stronger as he went closer to the closet, sweet, horribly sweet, bitter and old.  And where did the different fear come from.  This was not the fear of a human adversary waiting in a small closet; but horrible unrecognizable  fear.  The fear mixed itself into the sweet horrible smell and became, white fear, frozen white fear slowing him down and making him sweat.  He stopped  not because of his fear, but because his feet wouldn’t move forward.   The smell so sick and sweet now, his nose was stopping up and his eyes were filling with tears and the tears were blurring his eyes so he couldn’t see. They were running into his mouth, choking him on the sickly sweet salt of tears. They ran off his chin and down his arms to his gun and nothing in this world could make him open that door.  He tried to bury his face in the sleeve of his shirt, but nothing stopped the awful smell.  He found  the courage to move and he began to back up toward the front door.  The tears dried up and the fear began to lift and the smell took on a color and it was the color of dried rotting roses. The putrid color of the smell gathered itself together and floated across his vision back into the closet.  Travis smelled that odor on the girl in the orchard.  He’d thought it was blood, but now he could identify the sickly sweet stench of the rotting petals.  He heard the siren of the patrol car coming into the orchard and went out on the front porch to make sense of what had just happened. And to get away from the evil in the house.

Curtis got out of the patrol car and walked up on the porch.

“Jesus Travis, what happened to you, you look like you gone’ faint boy”?

“Give me a minute, Curtis, I‘ve been through a lot here, how’s the girl”?

“She aint gone make it.  Did she tell you anything”?

Travis suddenly became scared and began to sweat again.  Curtis could see he was genuinely frightened of what’d happened tonight.  Travis didn’t want to admit it, but he knew what ever was in that closet was not from around this planet and certainly not human.  He’d seen enough ghost stories on TV to know there was some evil in that closet and it had probably destroyed that poor woman.

“Curtis, you believe in ghost”?  He tried to sound calm, but his hands were trembling and he had to put them in his pockets so Curtis wouldn’t notice them.

“I don’t know.  Myra and I used to get spooked out in the old cemetery when we used to go park and neck out there.  Why?  You seen a ghost boy”?  Curtis loved picking on Travis.   The only way he could still believe in himself was to keep Travis from out doing him at every turn.  Curtis was too old to be doing this anymore, but couldn’t quit.  He knew if he quit, he’d die.  Being a Sheriff was all he knew.  He had no other skills and no hobbies and he hated being in the same room with Myra.  Travis had come along, a young man, likeable and good at his job and suddenly Curtis felt old and used up; worn out and somehow blamed it all on Travis.

“What happened to her, Curtis”?

“She tried to monogram herself with that butcher knife you found out there.  One sick bitch, boy.”

“God, Curtis, shut up! Don’t you ever just get sick of your own mouth”?

“Nope.”  It irritated the hell out of Curtis for Travis to pull his ‘better than thou’ gentleman stuff.  Of course the woman was sick, cutting herself up like that.  He turned to look at Travis and saw again how upset the kid was.  Reaching down to a place he kept well hidden he pulled up some sympathy for the kid.

“Look, kid, this is tough.  I’ve just seen a lot more of this crap than you.  You get a little rough around the edges over the years.  What did you find inside”?

Travis looked at the older man and saw he was serious and really wanted to know.

“Evil, pure horrible evil”.

“Boy, you been out here in these old woods by yourself too long.  What the hell you talking about”?

“Do me a favor Curtis”?


“Go inside there and look in the bedroom closet”.

“Why you to scared to”?  Curtis loosened the safety strap across his holster and went inside. 

“Well, come on, give me some backup, If I’m gonna find the boogie man in the closet, I ain’t doin it by myself.  One damn closet in the whole house and I can’t believe you aint checked it out.  If there was anybody in there, he’d be long gone out the back while we was standin’ here jawin”.

Travis stood just inside the front door.  He wasn’t about to go back in the bedroom, but he could shoot from here if anyone should jump out.  Besides, he knew there was no one human in there to jump out.

Curtis approached the closet…

“If you’re in the closet, come out with your hands up, or I’m comin in”.  He stepped out of the way of the door as he flung it open and aimed.  Just as Travis had known - there was no one.  Travis looked at the closet and back at Curtis?

A few dresses, a sweater and jacket were the only things hanging in the little closet.  Travis saw some computer disks and office supplies on the top shelf.  A few shoes and a tired umbrella took up space where just a few minutes before there was deep evil.

“I told you kid, you got ya pecker all shrunk up for nothin”.

Like all people who have an encounter with another world, Travis began to wonder if he’d imagined it.  After all, he’d been through a lot tonight with the woman bleeding to death right there in front of him and everything.  Other than a few car wrecks that was his first real look at so much blood and from a suicide yet.  Maybe something as morally and spiritually wrong as suicide creates that kind of evil and he just happened to get in its way.

“Curtis, I’m gonna go see that woman and see how she is.  You wanna stay here and lock up”? 

“Sure kid, go ahead, you’ve had a rough one”.  Curtis tried to remember a time he’d been as moved by death as Travis and couldn’t.

Travis got to the hospital minutes before Morgan died.  He walked softly into the room and looked down at her small deathly white face.  Why would anyone be in such despair as to kill themselves?  And how could anyone be in such misery as to do it the way she did?  Travis bent down close to her ear and started to say a sweet good-bye to the woman he didn’t know, couldn’t save, and didn’t understand; but the smell was there, in her hair, on her skin, and mingling on her last breaths.  He jerked his head up so fast, it startled what was left of her energy and she opened her eyes.  She looked into his and recognized the man who had tried to save her. 

“Morgan”?  Travis wanted so badly to have the answers of her life.

“Mary Beth”.  She whispered in that sickly sweet breath, that was so horrible he was going to vomit, and he was having trouble staying in the same room with her.

Travis walked out of the hospital in a daze.  He’d never been that close to someone dying before.  He needed to get home.  He needed to see his mom watching her soap operas she taped while at work. She’d be sitting in her chair with her shoes off; stocking feet propped on the little stool that was his grandma’s.  He didn’t need to tell her all of this; it’d just upset her, but he needed to be there in the room with his mom.  He could tell his dad all about it later at the bar over a few beers and he’d help him make sense out of it, but right now he just needed to be in the room with his Mom.  He needed to smell his mom and get rid of the sweet sick odor of rotting roses.

Travis drove to his mother’s house and walked around to the kitchen door.  She was home and just as he hoped was watching her soaps.

“Hey, honey, you want me to put this on pause”?

“No mam, I just came to get something out of my old room”.

“What is it, I’ve been cleaning back there; you won’t know where anything is”.

“You know what, Mom, I’ll get it later.  Are there any cokes in the icebox”?

“Yeah, honey, help yourself.  Since when do you ask for something in the ice box”?

Travis realized this was a mistake, she’d see through him in one more heartbeat if she hadn’t already and he just wasn’t ready to discuss it yet.

“Travis, honey, come here, Mama wants to say something to you”.

“Oh shit”, Travis knew what that meant.  She was going to open it up.  He’d just have to think of something else, even though he was never able to lie to her.

“Travis, now I don’t want you to get upset about this, but I’ve been thinking of using your old room as my office.  I could work from here instead of having to pay office space down at the square any more. Would you mind that too much”?

Travis almost laughed out loud from relief.

“Mama, that’s not my room anymore; this is your house.   I have my own house; do what you want.  I‘ll go through it this week-end and get some things I want to keep and you can sell the rest.  I think an office is a great idea in there”. 

“Well, I didn’t want you to think you never had this house to come home to, if you needed it”.

Travis walked over to his mom and kissed her on the top of her head and inhaled her shampoo.  He had gotten what he needed, he was back on earth and his feet were once more walking on solid ground.  He said a little prayer that it’d be many years before he had to live without her.

“I’ll see you later, Mom, I’m going back to work”.  He was out the door before she could offer the usual food or drink, and headed to his patrol car.

The little farm house looked empty and lost on the edge of the pecan orchard as he drove up.  Could he do this?  It was part of his job, part of the investigation. No one knew but him that he couldn’t stay away.  He had to find out what this was that killed a woman and almost scared him to death.  He’d seen the house, hadn’t he gone through it looking for a suspect?  There was nothing in that house that looked like a woman would run out into a field and stab herself to death.  He didn’t know that much about suicides, but he suspected a neat, organized living style didn’t go along with one.  He got out of the car and walked up the porch steps. The little swing was swaying gently in the night breeze and the door was shut but not locked.  Curtis must not’ve found a key, which means the locksmith is probably on his way.

The house was pleasant, and there was a slight odor of rosemary left in the kitchen.  The screen saver was still waving tulips.  The desk was inviting, a little messy but comfortable and Travis decided to start with the computer first.  He picked up the mouse and the computer jumped to life.  There on the screen was the first page of a story or novel or article, he couldn’t tell what.  He sat at the chair that had seen better days and began to read.


The Pecan Orchard

                                          By Morgan A. Wallace


The lace of the pecan leaves made a shadow resembling a scar across her face as she lay on her back, in the soft weeds under the old pecan tree.  Mary Beth remembered summers of long ago, picking up pecans in the fall, filling up the burlap sacks, turning…

He read further and got to the pecan orchard and Mary Beth cutting her legs and then Morgan waking up having cut hers instead and then he saw himself on the page, pulling up in his patrol car, he was able to read his thoughts and scrolling down he saw his fear with the evil thing, and saw his visit to Morgan and her dying.  Then he remembered her saying Mary Beth, but Mary Beth is the woman in the story and Morgan wrote the story.  Then Travis read about his mom sitting in her chair watching TV and talking to him… and by the time he was reading how he had sat at the computer to find Morgan, it was getting light and his fear had become a dangerous thing of traps and tricks and he couldn’t see any way out. 

And then, there was the smell of roses and it was sweet; lovely; enticing and mesmerizing and he followed it to the orchard.   The air  was the color of red roses and summer.   It was safe inside the ball of sweet air.  He wanted to be there and the only way to get there was to die He wanted that more than anything he’d ever wanted in his life, so he pulled his gun out of its holster and walked with the thing to the orchard.  The pecan leaves were making morning shadows on the grass.

Curtis saw the patrol car parked in front of the old farm house.  Had that kid stayed here all night trying to prove something to himself?  He pulled into the drive and parked next to the other car.  The house was asleep, no sign of anyone around.  Curtis walked in and looked at the place, how neat, how orderly.  He went over to the desk and looked down at the little laptop sitting there, tulips waving in the Holland landscape.  Maybe he would buy this from the estate.  The coroner made his decision this morning, suicide, and there seemed to be no relatives as yet.  He reached down and took the mouse and opened the story she’d been working on.

“Well, she won’t need this now”.  Without reading it he highlighted the pages and hit delete.  The screen turned grey and Curtis felt a rush of cold wind pulling back and out of the little farm house.

“Jesus, must be some storm comin up out there”. Curtis closed the computer and put it under his arm as he walked out of the house. He opened the trunk and put the computer on an old blanket he kept for his lucky nights with Myra’s sister.  He figured he should look for Travis.

“Damn kid’s probably got himself lost or fell in a well”.

Travis was dying all morning.  He never knew it took so long to die.  When he woke a few minutes ago he felt fine; he felt his spirit had left and then returned.  But he remembered the blood; he’d been choking on blood all morning.  He spat out a mouthful and looked at his chest, surely he’d meant to hit his heart and hadn’t.  He remembered wanting to die, but didn’t know why.  Must’ve been some dream.  He looked up and saw Curtis walking towards him. 

“Oh, man, not this early in the morning. Curtis.  Why you out here so early”?

“Hell, I could ask you that same thing, Jesus, Travis what’s all that blood from, are you hurt?  You shot yourself?  My, God, Travis.  What the hell’s goin’ on?”  He reached down to check on the wound, but Travis pushed him away.

Travis didn’t know; he didn’t know anything anymore.  All he knew was he was dying, then he wasn’t.  He was with his mom, then he wasn’t.  He was hating the smell of roses, then loving the smell of roses.  He needed his dad, he could tell him all of this and his dad would help him get to the bottom of it. 

“I’m going over to see my dad.  I’ll be gone today”.

“Travis you better come back here and answer some questions about this blood and that lady dying in this same spot.  You hear me, come on back now, you got some talkin’ to do.  Travis, you’ve been shot, get back here and wait for the ambulance.  Travis, damn it.”

“You have no idea how many answers I need right now, Curtis, back off”.

Travis got in his patrol car and pulled out of the orchard.  Curtis was still yelling about ambulances and being told to back off as Travis turned onto the highway and headed toward town.  Sometimes a man just needs to talk to his dad.


                                                The End

















Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An article - Reality TV

      This is an article I wrote a few years ago and just found it on a zip drive.  It still applies though some of the shows have changed.
Bring back "Playhouse 90", please.                  

 By F.J. Wilson   



I miss my sit-coms (situation comedies).  I miss the beginning of each season watching the much advertised new comedies starring un-known actors who will or will not soon become household names; maybe the next Tom Hanks, or Will Smith.  I miss setting up my TV tray with my dinner and getting comfortable in front of the TV, ready to laugh out loud at the antics and hi-jinks of my favorite characters.  I mean how many “Rheba” and “Frazier” re-runs can we watch and still find them funny?    Frazier and Niles have turned into un-bearably stupid snobs that I used to find funny, but now want to hit over the head with their pretentious Sherry decanter, and I no longer find  the Mother in ”Everybody Hates Chris” funny and cute, just mean and angry and the racist white teacher unbearable   What about the new one with Betty White?  I love her, I’ve always loved everything she’s done, but this one seems to be made up of mean spirited one-liners barked between four women for a quick laugh from the fake audience laugh box.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendy Malick, all good actresses.  They were chosen for their special talents in “Frazier”, “Kate & Allie”, “Just Shoot Me” and of course Valerie came of age and stole our hearts in “One Day at a Time”.  I told myself I’d watch to see if it got better, it didn’t.  It strikes me as odd that Betty White is proud of her 80 some years, but the other women are trying to play sexy 30yr olds at 50.   “Modern Family” is making a nice showing as are a few more, however, the only TV the networks want us to watch anymore is reality television.    We have a man that used to be Bruce Jenner and his family, the Kardashions?  Why would this young woman buy three wedding dresses for one wedding?  Her marriage lasted only long enough for her to wear all three and then ‘good bye hubby, you’re cramping my style.  Been there done that and have the dresses to prove it.’  Of course there are the game shows where people have to stay alive on an island until hopefully are rescued to win a large sum of money.   I wonder what the actual people who’ve been through such horror think of this as a “game”.   “Kate” and her eight kids trying to live their lives without Dad with TV cameras following them around all day and night is just a hoot, NOT.  We have Hugh Heffner who’s too old to get dressed so lives in his Pajamas, but wants us to believe he is sexually satisfying three young blonde women so full of silicone they could float. No offense to these young women, they seem to be nice and just enjoying being single, BUT…  Whose “reality” is this anyway?

May we discuss “Birthday”?  I gave birth to one son; there were complications and it was not necessarily a pleasant experience and the end result was the love of my life, however, I don’t want to see other women giving birth as entertainment, thank you very much.  I’ve cried my way through “Extreme Makeover, Home Edition”, “Buried Alive, Hoarders”, (people who save everything including dead cats and litter boxes full of dried stuff.) When I was a kid, we called these people lazy slobs, but now we’re to understand it is a sickness.  I’m sure it is, but I’m not entertained by their disgusting selfish behavior when they choose empty cereal boxes and dead rats over their family members.  “Clean House” the same people before the cat died and they decided to have a TV crew come in and clean it.  I don’t know about you folks, but my mom and grandmothers would be spinning in their graves to think I was showing my messy house to the country as entertainment.   “19 Kids and Counting”, stop already your body is worn out.  Enjoy the ones you have and let the smallest ones be babies for goodness sake.  “Housewives of Beverly Hills, Atlanta, New Jersey etc” are an insult to every woman out here who’ss chosen to stay at home, keep a house and raise children.  Kelsey Grammer’s ex-wife, Camille (that name ring a bell?  1969?  Still don’t remember?) doesn’t work, doesn’t keep house and has four nannies for two small children that she chose to have via surrogate and she says not to judge her, she’s a good mom.  The mother in me would like to say how sorry I am for those children and if you ever see in the news that I was stalking the woman, it’d be to give those kids a nice hug.  I won’t even get into “Jersey Shore”.  My grandmother would say, “Nasty people doing nasty things to each other”.

I bought a DVD of the first season of “Kate & Allie” the other day. I haven’t seen this sit-com since I worked on it in 1986/87.   I went home, prepared a lovely dinner, put a linen place mat on a TV tray, put the DVD in the machine, ate my dinner and laughed out loud at six episodes of the show.  After the DVD was through, I began my inevitable channel surfing again. 

Did you know there is actually a show where you can watch total strangers playing Poker?  Who cares??  You want to watch an exciting card game; come watch my friends and I cheat at bridge and call each other names.  Yes, there have been injuries and the law has been called.

I watch as many wonderful documentaries as my channels will get, but how many times can you watch penguins escaping sea lions with the cameraman not helping?  My heart goes out to those documentary film makers, I couldn’t stand by and film the horror, I’d be in there wielding  a rolling pen and skillet at heads of animals just looking for lunch. 
"Masterpiece Theatre" is still wonderful, but doesn't come on as often as I'd like.

I’d go back to reading, but I can’t stay awake long enough to finish a book anymore.  I’d just watch old movies, but I’ve seen them all too many times and I want to re-cast “Ashley Wilkes” with a straight guy, and teach “Patrick Dennis” how to speak without that strange cadence the little actor loves so much. And don’t get me started on “Key Largo” with the poor Native American, Seminoles huddled on a porch during a hurricane with not one hair out of place and the palm trees being held up by visible wires.  If this keeps on I’m going to have to find something worthwhile to do.  Bummer!  Maybe I’ll try writing.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Star is Born

                                      A Star Is Born In Mississippi

                                                By F.J. Wilson

Hattiesburg American 2007

The first movie I remember as a magical venue for escape was “With A Song In My Heart” the Jane Froman story starring Susan Hayward and a young Robert Wagner.  The sets were lavish, the costumes sparkled with rhinestones and sequins and a little girl sitting in the dark theater in Wiggins was transported out of South Mississippi into a world she wouldn’t know existed for another 20 years.  Hollywood.  The real magic kingdom of this country has been the home of America’s film industry for 100 years.  Of course once you visit, you wonder where the magic lives?  Where are the stars?  Hollywood itself is now being renovated from the horrible mess of drugs, run-a ways and prostitution it has been for the last 30 years. It’s once again safe to walk the old boulevard and marvel at the names on the side walk. You can fit your hand to those small fragile ones at the old Chinese Theater and marvel at how small John Wayne’s feet really were.  Hollywood is truly the museum of the movies, but since movies no longer require California to exist, we can all be a part of this vibrant industry.  The magic gowns that amazed me as a child are not fairy wings, but dresses made of satin, crepe, tulle and sequins; designed by the costume designer, made by the seamstresses, fitted by the costumer and coordinated by the Wardrobe Supervisor.  These works of art are as real as any piece of clothing you wear today.    The sets are painstakingly made of lumber and nails by “prop makers” and painted by “scenic artists”.  The prop master is in charge of hand props for the actors and the make-up and hair people make the actors more beautiful than even they thought possible.

As that little girl sitting in the movie theater I only knew that someday I wanted to be a part of the magic.  I reckoned I’d have to become an actress to make my dream come true.  I never dreamed there were so many parts to film making; that any one of the parts could bring a life of travel and excitement.  But once I did, I began a journey that would find me many years later working on films all over the country and parts of the world. Today, that same little girl would have a chance to audition for the movies within 50 to 100 miles from home.  With the new tax incentive the Mississippi Film Commission posts auditions for small films almost weekly all over the state.  Our children have another career choice now, they can choose to be in the film industry and not have to travel 2000 miles to do it.  

In 2000 I left Los Angeles to move home to Hattiesburg to be with my Mother in her last days.  My career was at a point, I no longer had to go to interviews.  I’d built a base of producers who called on me when a project came along.  I could be called to work anywhere around the country and the prospect of living here and still working in the industry was marvelous to me.  Also, the film industry in New Orleans was booming.  So with only a few interruptions such as Katrina when the industry moved to Shreveport, it’s kept me busy.  Now, if I could just stay in Mississippi to work, that would be fine indeed.

Obviously written before I retired in 2009.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

window over my desk

          This short, 3 page story or observation is along the same lines as the mis-conceptions in “The Writer”.  This in no way says I’m against divorce; many times I feel it is absolutely necessary, even got one of those myself.  But, having lived my long years and watched and known couples who’ve stuck through the bad times, the hard times and come through to old age much happier and content with their spouse; I have to say, divorce is many times a mistaken quick-fix to anger and disappointments within the union.  I’ve heard friends say… “I should’ve stayed with my first wife/husband, but it’s too late now, he/she’s happy with the new wife/husband.”  What about the children?  Are they happy with the new husband/wife?         

There is a line in the 1939 movie, “The Women” (Screenplay by Anita Loos from the play by Clare Booth Luce) as the elderly mother gently tries to talk her daughter out of divorcing her husband… “Just remember, it’s being together at the end that matters.”   Also a great line, “Listen to your mother.  Remember, dear I was a married woman before you were born.”

I wrote this in 2008 and it still applies.


                                      By F.J. Wilson

I can look out of my window, across my desk with its bits of clutter, reflections of my daily life, and imagine what goes on in the house across the street.  The winter light gives it a lovely feel this morning, partly hidden by the tall Pines; Crepe Myrtle and Elm.  In a peaceful venue, it backs off the road into a shelter of shrubbery and shadow.  It has a large picture window which teases to what’s inside; the life, the secrets. 

Are there children with hopes and dreams, growing to adulthood with fond memories of today?  Are there good things cooking on the stove, and school lunches lying in wait for little hands to grab and run?  Is there a sleepy bath robed mother waiting at the kitchen sink, mug of coffee in hand wondering what in her life has brought her to this time and place.  Is she standing stoically next to cereal bowls and plastic glasses, smelling of old Kool-Aid and chocolate milk?  Maybe.

 The father is he in the shower, preparing for another day of work and rat race, looking forward to the week-end and the camping trip planned?  Is he the love of her life, or has she strayed?  Has he?  Do they think of it?  Does he still think of her as his baby?  Does she still feel safe and loved in his arms?  Are there college accounts in a bank, set up for the future?  Is there money for groceries; are they behind on the mortgage?  Does she overspend to make up for the lack in her life?  Does he?  Where is the lack in her life, was it caused by him, was his caused by her?

Do they still dance to soft music in the glow of the lights from the Christmas Tree?  Pretty packages bringing hope for futures with plenty.  Their private moment, expressing itself in tender embraces and deep kisses, there, in the Christmas lights before the day and the little ones awake.  Their children and their noise and clatter, bringing another joy between the two, a different love, a conspiratorial joy; parents have for their children?

But, looking again at the house across the street.  Is there a Father?  Is this one of the new generation families where the man of the house has had to set up accommodations elsewhere, due to irreconcilable differences?  Is there really a difference that is truly irreconcilable, or is it another lawyer term for  “My client’s mad as hell at the bastard for not being the person she thought he should be, and she will not take this anymore”?  If so, was his sin so bad he was banished from his family, and home?  Did he not remember dates, important things in her life he didn’t take time to touch?  Little sins that built sin by sin until the pile was so large, she couldn’t vacuum around or over and so she stopped loving?  Could he not hear her pain when she spoke?  Did she speak it, or expect him to guess it?  Was he too busy making a living for his family rather than bringing flowers?  Was she so demanding of him and his affections that he couldn’t keep up and so stopped loving?  Are the things between these two adults and their need for perfect love so important they’d sacrifice their children and the happy home that is theirs by right of birth?  Was he a violent man, with power to hurt or destroy, his being expelled from his home, more safety than want? 

Where are the rules that challenge the expulsion from house and home, of one spouse by another?  Why can it be done so easily when so many are to suffer from the choice?

Is there a Mother?  Is she on a mission other than the one with her home and family?  She’s allowed now, to find another way, to desert the home and challenge the working place, to answer needs not recognized before the first or second child.  Where are the rules for her?  Where are the old rules, rules lived by our grandmothers that say, ‘children’s home and happiness first’?  When did it become, “Mother’s not going to be last, anymore; I deserve to be first.”  The most important rule; you’ve created life, now see it through for the good of the lives you’ve created, has been sacrificed; has been cast aside for greener pastures by one or the other of the parents because they didn’t try harder to make it work and because they think leaving will make them happier.  Are the people in that house so sophisticated that they’ve convinced themselves of the over stated words… “the kids understand, kids are so resilient…” ?  Is the house I watch this morning without a heart?

          Ah, here he comes, out of the front door.   There she is, looking like morning in a tired world, he kisses her, not a husband leaving for work peck, but a deep lover’s kiss.  He grabs her behind and pulls her close, knee between her thighs; she looks around to see if there are watchers, then giggles and kisses him again, the kiss of the married couple the morning after good sex, not had in a while.   The kids come running and laughing out of the house and get in the back of their Dad’s car with their school books. 

Loving people, bonded together, against a new and hostile world of families gone awry, live in the house across the street from my window.  The question, “is it good for the individual instead of good for the family?” is not welcomed in the house across the street.  In the house across the street, the good of the family comes first to make it good for the individual.    

I go back to my writing and stop invading their world, knowing there is still hope for the family in this neighborhood at least. 

Oh, look, the house to my left has left the empty garbage can out all night.  Is there a reason? Is someone too weary or angry or happy to drag it back to its place behind the garage?  What is the life in that house?

 Sometimes it is so hard just to sit at my desk, mind my own business and write.