mood ring

05Apr10

Yesterday I hiked into Griffith Park with a friend. We found an unmarked side trail down a steep ridge and set up a picnic blanket on a bluff overlooking the city where no one could see us. Not a soul passed by the two or three hours we were there. I experienced the earthquake that some in Los Angeles felt from this picturesque spot. It felt like the narrow, high bluff was just blowing along in the wind. What a moody afternoon!

Late Winter Rains

by Amber Coverdale Sumrall

When the rains finally start they do not stop.
The mockingbirds sing all day as if someone
were feeding quarters into slots on their bodies.
Hyacinths bloom in violet glass along the window ledge,
the long white strands of their roots suspended in water.
One by one they open, filling the room with sweetness.
The silent crow who has perched on your shoulder
flies off like a spell in reverse.

Last winter, wrapped in red velvet curtains,
we leaned out the window
of your ninth-story Manhattan apartment
to catch the swirling snowflakes on our tongues.
It seemed so effortless, the falling.
Snow turned to sleet and then to rain.
We moved from window to bed to tub
leaving wet trails across the hardwood floor.
When you touched me, always it was the first time.

The kitchen window fogs with steam,
damp heat of kisses. Outside, a crow calls once
in the grey light then is gone. I remember our beginning,
a time before dark wings began beating in your blood.
How I believed there was nothing our love couldn’t heal.
How after the sky cleared we walked through Riverside Park
startled to see lavender and mauve iris
flowering in the wake of so much cold,
their swollen centers like hearts turned inside out.

(Thanks Allie.)

I feel like nobody reads poetry anymore (let alone reads at all). Poetry interests me less for the words and narrative and more for its ability to transport and create mood, on the same level as some of my favorite albums. I have an affinity for art that is all about mood, which gives me a much stronger tolerance than most for beautiful movies in which not a lot happens. Some of my favorite visual tone-poems:

[Clips from Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and David Gordon Greene’s George Washington]


I remember a film production professor I once had instructing class to remember that “MOOD equals DOOM backwards.” I’m sure he was onto something in terms of the correlation between moody pieces and box office dollars (as evidenced by the financial success or lack thereof of the movies above). Still, in my writing (or at least my aspirations for my writing) I tend toward stories that are spare in dialogue with emphasis on images and moments that would have to be treated by the full panoply of production effects to fulfill their meaning. Makes for a difficult write and, I imagine, an equally difficult read. But I think, if done well, this is the type of writing that best lends itself to collaboration, which in my opinion is what filmmaking is all about.

Speaking of writing, moving along quite well on my screenplay via the ScriptFrenzy April writers’ challenge. My posts will likely continue to be infrequent on here ’til the end of April when I’ll emerge with a first draft…

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