Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday's again more than one


I’m still amazed at how a 30 second glance combined with my ever present curiosity led me to interact with people in places I’ve read about but have never visited. What a fascinating group! Poets and Playwrights and Writers…oh my. With styles as distinct as their personalities, they’ve opened my eyes and made me rethink a thing or two. Growth is good. Growth among friends is cool.

All these new connections simply because my brain casually noted that David Strathairn is aging nicely.

I’ve shared this story before. About how I was reading the newspaper, waiting for some t.v. program when out of the corner of my eye I caught a promo for the movie “The Bourne Ultimatum”. What my brain latched on to in passing was actor David Strathairn. He’s often described as “good but with an odd mix of features, isn’t a classically handsome leading man type.” The brain cells not involved in reading smirked as feminine admiration noted that some gray haired men actually get sexier with age.

Strathairn has always been my favorite character actor. As a teenager I recall him being on my Mom’s soap opera, stuck with a one time appearance which probably was just to pay the bills. He made it last for months. When he was onscreen, soap opera evolved into legitimate theater. While his co-workers practiced the over-the-top method of acting, he quietly drew you in, allowing you to suspend disbelief and enjoy the moment. He was so convincing that when they killed off his character, I wept. Sure, I felt silly. But he was a master storyteller, allowing me along for the ride. I hated when the ride was over.

And there I was, newspaper in lap years later, when my curiosity raised its head and whispered, “Yeah, but what do you really know about him?”

Ah, the mental challenge. I swear I inherited the go-look-it-up gene instead of one for bravery or mathematically brilliance. I looked up Strathairn and discovered that “odd mix” was inherited from a Scottish father and a Hawaiian grandmother.

Scotland, my curiosity whispered.

Ah, when my curiosity is peaked, there is no stopping it until I’ve got enough information to drown it into submission. In short I got hooked on researching Scotland. A poem by Alexander Anderson made me smile, so I had to read more. This in turn led to accidentally stumbling onto a site manned by Colin Will of Scottish poets which included a section where poets read their work. Music to my ears. I listened to most of them, meaning a poem apiece, then moved on. Until I got to Hugh McMillan. I listened to all of his. Twice. I found a link to his blog. And I was hooked. If I’ve suddenly appeared to have taken up residence at your blog, you know the rest. I found you. Good days or bad, I find all of you fascinating!

Today’s confession: I love the sound of words. In school when asked to pick out a word whose sound brought a vivid mental picture, most kids chose words like “Bam!” “Pow!” “Smack”. I picked “cacophony”. If words make me happy, then accents are icing on the cake. They are a word’s personality. I’ve lived in the south all my life. Yet I grew up with friends from all over, so my accent evened out. I don’t talk like molasses in winter. Because I speak rapidly people still ask, “But seriously. Where were you from? Before you moved here.” My reply, “I didn’t exist before here,” always confuses them.

Television has homogenized Americans, removing regional seclusion. We’re like a nation of one sound. Or as my ears think of it: bland. Oh sure, catch me when I’m tired and you’ll hear me drawl out a word or two. That love of word sounds is why I enjoy listening to other cultures speak. It’s like chocolate for my ears. My natural curiosity, combined with the ear candy effect, explains why I often try to pronounce a word with the accent I heard it spoken. I’m sure Susan would get a kick out of the fact I attempted an Irish pronunciation of Fergus after one of our family tree conversations. Not just once. No, for about half a day. When no one was around to have me committed.

It makes me wonder: am I the only one who thinks curiosity is a good thing? The kids I work with don’t have any. Questions on the work front are discouraged. Someone suggested it’s a manifestation of a person who doesn’t want to grow up, insinuating I cling to childhood by needing to always ask “Why?”

Grumpy Grown Ups. I pity them.

I stumbled onto a couple of quotes about curiosity today that made me realize I’m not alone on my quest to understand. The second quote made me think of Dave King. And Ken, the last one definitely belongs to you.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.Walt Disney

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Albert Einstein

Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.” comedian Steven Wright

Curiosity is as much a part of me as my green eyes. It’ll only stop functioning when I do. Perhaps I owe David Strathairn a thank you note… for that twinkle in his eye led me to you.


Susan said...

Curiosity is my downfall and what keeps me going.

On a related note, the internet is the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to me. Before we all had PCs, I had a clean house and a job.


hope said...

Clean houses are highly overrated. I'd rather have a conversation with you. :)

shug said...

I see David Strathairn is to play in the upcoming film of Howl with James Franco as Alan Ginsberg.

Radge said...

'Good Night, And Good Luck' is one of the best dramas of the last ten years, and it's mostly down to his portrayal of Ed Murrow.

Great post Hope, there are worse addictions than words...

hope said...

I read that too Shug. That's what I love about Strathairn...that he takes on such a wide variety of interesting roles.

And I agree Radge, one of the best movies I've ever seen was "Good Night & Good Luck."

Rachel Fox said...

'Chocolate for the ears'...shows the beginnings of an interesting poem, I think. It could get messy...but clearing up could be fun too!

I think maybe we are long-lost sisters...the not-quite-local accents, the speaking rapidly, the green eyes, the love of Scotland...

Dave King said...

I, too, love the sound of words and can remember telling my teacher once that I did not like a poem she had read because all the words were drab.

hope said...

Rachel, I haven't had time yet to comment on your post today but you may be right about the long lost part. I saw the picture of Small Girl and grinned ear to ear. I always wanted red hair. Maybe my next post should explain why.

Dave, I once had a teacher who used poetry as punishment for chewing gum in her class. You chewed, you memorized a poem and recited it to the class. My buddy got caught and thought he'd fix the teacher. He memorized some love poem, which he offered...with feeling. She coolly reminded him to never chew gum again and he sat down, crestfallen. But I saw the twinkle in her eye and was sitting close enough to hear her mutter a feminine "oh dear!" in approval. Funny what sticks with you, huh?