Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Roberts Blossom, Actor

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is Actor Roberts Blossom:

Have you ever watched a movie and wondered, “Who is that actor with the main character?” If the actor played an old man, it’s possible that actor was Roberts Blossom. He could take a small part and turn it into a gem. And he was a master of old man roles in movie after movie. An actor can move you. Roberts Blossom did this time and time again.

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Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Alice Munro

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. To celebrate Women’s History Month, this week’s Creator Spotlight is the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro:

‘Depth of insight’ distinguishes Nobel-laureate Munro.

I first fell in love with Alice Munro when I read her short story, “Walker Brothers Cowboy”. I have read her short stories over the years and never been disappointed.

First Mornings

This is a creation story inspired by the Book of Genesis. It’s been done before by others. One of my favorites is James Weldon Johnson’s “The Creation”. I have posted another of my creation stories called “Mother Tao and Honorable Monkey“.

The first morning God woke up. An alarm did not wake Him. His Mama did not roust Him out of bed. A boss for a job did not urge Him on to work. Being an entrepreneur, He was His own man. He just woke up. And He woke up bright and early and jumped out of bed.

After a morning shower, next came a look in the mirror. He winked and said, not to anybody in particular, “It’s a mighty fine morning.”

Since it was the First Morning, He wanted to look extra-special nice just in case. He gave his white beard a bit of a trim and combed the kinks out of His long white curls. He headed off to the closet and pulled out his Sunday best white robe, the one that matched His beard and hair. Then He slipped on a new pair of Birkenstocks.

“There’s nothing like a good breakfast to get the day going,” the Big Guy said to Himself. He made Himself a stack of pancakes so high they made the Tower of Babel look miniature. He laid the butter on heavy, threw a bushel or two of blueberries on the stack, and poured out the syrup like there was no tomorrow. He spooned up the pancakes small and bite sized and chewed thirty-three times with each bite. When He cleaned His plate, He swigged down the last of his coffee.

Now God was ready for that First Morning. He had a twinkle in His eye. When God has a twinkle in His eye, it’s going to be a really good day. He fluffed out a cloud and got on for a ride to check things out. Can you imagine how disappointed God felt when He saw there was nothing? And I mean nothing. That would never do.

Since God had never studied Theology or Filosophy, He wasn’t exactly sure what to do. It just didn’t seem right that all there was out there was a whirling ball of emptiness. He gave the matter some thought. At the end of that First Day, He had an idea. Fifteen minutes before sunset, He snapped his fingers. Lo and behold, heaven and earth appeared. To brighten things up, He gave His fingers a second snap and put some light on the situation.

He separated the light from the darkness. And that was that. He said, “Good job.” And He hadn’t even worked up a sweat. With a big smile on His face, He went home for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning, the Second Day, God woke up bright and early again. A good eight hours and He was ready for any challenges the Day might bring. He looked up and all He saw was infinite darkness in the way out there. “That will never do.” He snapped His fingers. Suddenly there was a sky.

And not just any sky. It was a sky bluer than blue. It was so blue it brought tears to God’s eyes. God sat down to admire that sky. If ever there was a sky, this was it.

God sighed a deep sigh. “That’s a mighty fine sky.” If there’d been anybody around, He would have said, “Have you ever seen such a sky?”

Most would have ended the Day right there and then, but not God. While He had been thinking Sky, another thought popped into His head. “Sea,” the thought said. Before you know it, there were oceans and oceans of water tickling His feet. Then He was off to home for a good steak, fries and a nice glass of Chianti. He thought about Merlot but it was Chianti because it was the Second Day.

Well, I guess you know what came next. Yes, the Third Day. God left the house with a big smile on His face. So He went to work. He parted the oceans. He parted the seas. He parted all sorts of water.

Up popped continents and islands and peninsulas and mountains and valleys. And he gardenized them. You heard me. He gardenized those pieces of real estate. He planted seeds and up popped the trees. He planted more seeds and there was grass. Savannas and savannas of it. Meadows and meadows of it.

He then decided a little color was needed. So He raised His palm and wallah. Roses and daisies and lilies and orchids and azaleas. Reds and purples and whites and blues scattered across the landscape. Millions of flowers. There were so many flowers God laughed and laughed and laughed, and more flowers appeared. When  the Day was done, God kicked back with a cold beer and thought, “It’s been a really fine day.”

Now you would think God might stop there. He didn’t. He had ambition. So, the Fourth Morning, He woke up bright and early, and He woke up with a smile on His face. He did a protein mix with His juicer. Chewed up an energy bar with His drink. And He put on His gravity-defying sandals. And out He went to do some interior decoration.

He grabbed the first magic carpet He saw. Like a flash, He took the sky by storm. He hurled stars by the thousands, splattering them all over the heavens and all the way back to the Big Bang. Then He made a circular motion with His hand. Those stars gathered into galaxies. Then He pulled one of those stars into both His hands, rubbed the hands together, and flung a giant ball of fire into the sky to be a sun.

He reached down to the earth below. He picked up some stones. Then He threw them into the sky one by one. The stones rippled across the sky the way stones ripple on water. Each stone landed exactly where God meant it to land. The stones became planets circling the sun or a moon spinning around a world.

Finally He reached down and grabbed up a mountain, rolled it up in his hands, and flung it out into the heavens to be a moon for the earth. This Fourth Day had been so good that He pulled out that bottle of scotch He’d been holding onto, waiting for the right occasion. “It’s been a really good day,” His final words as He laid His head down on a large fluffy pillow.

On the Fifth Day, God gave the oceans, the seas, the lakes and the rivers a little kick. Suddenly out of nowhere, there were fishes, dolphins, whales, sharks and barracuda. There were jelly fishes and all sorts of other creatures roaming the waters. That day He went home early because He knew the next day was going to be thirty-six hours instead of the normal twenty-four.

God seldom dreamed. But that Fifth Night He had the craziest dream. He dreamed that one of His creatures would be a real pain. The dream was one of those foggy kind that the details can’t be made out. All He knew when He awoke the Sixth Morning was care needed to be taken.

Then He was off. It was a day for making creatures of all sorts. And He filled the world with all these creatures. Just about twilight time on that Sixth Day, He had a final thought, “I can’t do all the work. I need someone around to help. To take care of things and make sure everything is in working order. Let him name all these whatchamacallits.”

So He dug down deep into the dirt. It was very moist. He grabbed some of that moist dirt and pulled it out. And He made Him a boy. He gave Him some purple hair and green skin and flippers. “Nope. That’s not it.” He took that boy and spun Him around and around and around faster and faster and then gently dropped him on the grass.

“Yes,” He said, first to Himself, then to all the creatures of the world, then to the sun and moon and stars. “It’s my boy,” God was happy with the boy lying on the ground sleeping. “And He looks just like Me.” If there ever was to be a contest for the handsomest man ever, this boy would be it. He was handsome. And God was pleased, pleased enough to say, “Very good.”

Just before sunset, God breathed a gentle breath into the body of that boy. Then He whispered in the boy’s ear, “Wake up.” The boy woke up and looked into his Daddy’s eyes. God kissed each of the boy’s eyes, squeezed his cheeks gently, and smiled.

“Look around,” God said to the boy. “This is all yours. Wherever you see something, you get to name it.” Then God went away.

The Seventh Day He was going to take the day off for some well-deserved rest. And that’s what He did. He slept late. All the day long He lazed about in His hammock that stretched from Jupiter to Venus and enjoyed Himself. On the Eighth Day, He took Himself an inventory. At the end of the inventory, He said to Himself, “You’ve done a fine work.”

Soon Adam grew up and became a man. He was six feet tall and his muscles had muscles. Every day he was out naming things. “Yep, that’s a bear.” Or “Let’s call this guy a lion.” One bird he named a wren. Another he an eagle. One day, it could have been the Ninth or the Fifteenth or the Forty-ninth Day, who’s to know…one day, Adam woke up to see a woman, standing over him. She had the bluest eyes ever. “My name is Eve,” she said. “You must be Adam.”

After dating a millennium or two, Adam and Eve became engaged. Any other woman would have given up on the guy. After all, Adam was a bit slow on the uptake when it came to women. Not that there were any other women around. So, Eve, being of a patient breed of woman, waited her wait. Finally, Adam got down on his knees and popped the big question. The answer was yes. Of course, it was yes. Otherwise the human race would not be here.

Eve wanted a June wedding. So, Adam agreed. He’d waited this long. What was a few months more or less. Then came the wedding day. Adam was dressed in his best altogethers. Eve was dressed in her best altogethers too. God Himself did the officiating. Michael was the best man. Lillith, the maid of honor. That was before she ran off with Lucifer. Gabriel conducted the music. The choir and orchestra of angels were out of this world.

Afterwards there was a wedding reception. There was no Table 19. All the tables were good ones. After Michael toasted the couple, his archangel wings went and had an accident. They knocked over the punch bowl at the wedding reception. It fell on the angel food wedding cake. All the king’s men and all the king’s horses may not have been able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. But God snapped his fingers and everything was as good as new.

At the end of the reception, God took the couple aside and said, “I have a surprise for you two kids.”

“You do, Dad?” Adam loved surprises. First, Eve, and now this.

“Yes,” God said, smiling his favor down on the two love birds. “When you get back from your honeymoon, here’s the keys to your brand new house.”

Adam and Eve were overwhelmed. It was more than they ever could have hoped for.

“There’s just one thing I have to warn you about.”

“Uh-oh,” Eve thought. “Here comes the bad news. Snake warned me.”

God continued, “Don’t eat the apples in the orchard next to the house.”

“I thought you said we could eat anything in the Garden.” Adam was a little bit miffed. After all, he’d been promised. “Why not the apples?”

“Ask Snow White.”

Near 500 words: The gift no one wanted

Dean loved cameras. The expensive ones. The cheap ones. The in-between ones. The smart phone cameras. There wasn’t a camera he didn’t like. When he found an antique camera he didn’t own, it made his day. He was like a kid in a candy store when he went into a camera shop. The salesman handed him the camera and he turned it this way and then that way. He looked through its lens, then he checked out its heft. Then he scanned the room with its viewfinder. Next he tried the focus. All this trial and error could take an hour or more. But the salesman knew he was in the presence of a true professional.

Since he was five years old, cameras were Dean’s life. He couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t have a camera in his hand. He took pictures of everything. You name it, he had taken it. War zones. The poor and the rich. Refugees. Presidents and politicans. Runway models and fashionistas. City streets and country roads. People from all walks of life. He especially loved getting someone working in his frame.

He was seventy when he took to teaching a photography class. It was a new phase of his life, something he never expected. Just when he thought of retiring and cataloguing all his photographs, suddenly there was this new thing that excited him. To show others a love of the thing he loved.

On the first day of class, he had his class grab their cameras and follow him. He took them to the dingiest ugliest kind of place and then said, “Shoot.” They spent a half day there. Then they returned to the classroom and he asked, “What did you learn today?” No one raised their hand. All he said in response to their response was “Um hmm.”

The next time the class met Dean took them to another dingy ugly spot. After a morning there, they went back to the classroom. “What did you learn?” he asked. Nada was the answer. He cancelled the following class one morning with a note, “Go shoot some pictures.”

The next class Dean walked into the classroom. “Okay,” he said. “Who took pictures?”

They all raised their hands.

“Let’s see them.”

Each of the twenty students showed him their shots. They were all selfies.

Dean shook his head, then said, “Go home. Get a job. But don’t take pictures. You’re not worthy.”

Then he walked out of the room, walked over to the Department Head’s office and resigned.

“Dean,” the department head wanted to know. “Why are you quitting?”

Dean shook his head, then said, “I’ve got some pictures to take and I don’t have time for this nonsense.” Then he was gone.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Artist: Charlotte Salmon, Painter

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. In honor of Hanukkah 2017, this week’s Spotlight is the artist, Charlotte Salmon:

It is the Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. And I have chosen the Jewish artist, Charlotte Salmon, as a Spotlight. She is a reminder that in the darkness, light can shine. And boy, did her light shine.

Despite the tragedies in her life and her family, Charlotte Salmon is an inspiration. Many in her family committed suicide. Her grandfather sexually abused her. She lived during one of the worst periods in human history, the Holocaust.

For quite some time, she had walked the tightrope between suicide and life. At the suggestion of a friend, she began painting and chose life. From 1941 to 1943, she let her creativity shine. She spoke out against the terror in the only way she knew how. She painted 769 works. Then she was sent to Auschwitz where she and her unborn child were gassed to death.

Overcoming the great suffering, and in the midst of the death in her life, she brought great beauty into the world.