It’s all in how you say it . . .

If you read a lot, and especially if you’re a writer, you will have heard about flash fiction that is so popular now. It’s a story with the traditional beginning, middle, and a suitable ending in anywhere between 500 to 800 words, the number varying somewhat. The idea is to trim every extraneous word away until you absolutely cannot remove another word without ruining the story. I once spent a week’s worth of classes at a writer’s colony working on just this concept. It’s a very difficult, but satisfying, practice in writing if you’re lucky enough to get the hang of it.

Yesterday I received two emails from a couple of my old friends from when I lived in Las Vegas. Both contained a link to this video via another distributor. It’s the winner of the Fourth Annual Short Film Online Competition from the Cannes Film Festival of 2008, Historia de un Letroro (The History of a Sign). The winner’s name is Alonso Alvarez Barreda. The music is outstanding, the story sincere and . . . maybe you’d better have a hanky or a box of Kleenex handy. It’s not sad, it’s uplifting in the ways that make people tear up or cry a little, or at least their throat burns a bit. Also–and this doesn’t hurt either the film either–the hero is very good looking. I’m sure, Eiko and Ginger, that you didn’t even notice! But thanks to you both!

Since my WordPress hosted account limits my options for formatting videos, I had to search it out and link it to youtube rather than the version I first viewed. The quality is a not quite what I wish, but I think it’s satisfactory enough, and the story heartwarming enough, that you will enjoy it very much. The film’s running time is 4 minutes 50 seconds, but it runs almost 6 minutes if you watch full credits at the end. By the way, it’s in Spanish with English subtitles for the very limited “dialogue.” And just like great flash fiction, when a short film says it right, it’s wonderful.

Author’s note: This video IS still available, although I’ve noticed that it sometimes takes a few moments to upload. It’s worth the wait.

With a stroke of the pen, a stranger transforms the afternoon for another, less fortunate man, reminding us that sometimes the gift of time is far more valuable than mere money.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Clearly I still have much to learn about posting blogs directly from Flickr. I’m no knucklehead, and I followed directions explicitly two or three times and still I’m only able to post one photo at a time. I wanted to share the three of my beautiful Oregon coastal lighthouses, but they’ll have to come one at a time. Now, back to the Flickr page to see where I sent wrong. Hope you like this one plus my reflections at the bottom.

IMG_4607, originally uploaded by aliceatwintersong.

The impressive 93 foot tower of the Yaquina Head Light House in Newport, Oregon is visible for several miles along the Pacific Coast highway. Completed in 1873, it is the most visited light house on the west coast with over 400,000 visitors each year. It was quite chilly and windy the day this photograph was taken, as you can probably tell by the direction of the sunflowers.

Lighthouses are compelling and imposing at the same time. They seem to have a lonely tale to tell. I mean, can you imagine living in one year round? Cold, windy, sea waters lapping at you all night long. Once there were thousands of lighthouse keepers on guard. They must have led a very lonely life. Now, there are automated systems for switching the lights on and off. If you know any good lighthouse stories, please mention them in the comments. I love ghost stories especially.

Art & Aquaria Combination at Oregon Coast Aquarium

The Oddwater exhibit in the Oregon Coast Aquarium combines marine biology and colorfully blown art glass inside the displays and life-size murals of some of the ocean’s larger oddities. The theme throughout is that “it’s okay to look different and some of these critters do.” These pieces remind me of a couple of Dale Chihuly exhibits I’ve attended, except on a smaller scale, and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the art, or glass, from the fish.

(Oops! That one should have been turned around. Sorry.)

Of course some exhibits even without the art are still beautiful and interesting; is that art or turquoise fish? This is the underwater walk through tunnel.

Then there was this guy who wanted to get up close and personal. I think he liked my eyes.

And what’s an aquarium without one of these?

Sea Otters

Or these? This little guy is Hunter, a little sea orphan. After being rehabilitated at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, he was released and monitored using a radio tracking implant. After being recaptured five times in 2 1/2 years of begging for food at local piers and jumping in kayaks, he was deemed non-releasable because of his inability to feed himself.

And how about this little fellow, who’s just taken a refreshing dip and is just enjoying the warm sunshine?

This is only a fraction of things you can see there at Oregon’s Aquarium in Newport, and we pretty much managed to see it all thanks to our special friend Mickie. We enjoyed it very much and I think it’s pretty obvious why.