The Caterpilion by Boris Glikman

The CaterpilionThere once was a Caterpillar who was thoroughly sick of always being stuck near the bottom of the food chain. All the other animals –  birds, moles, lizards, frogs and spiders – would hunger for his soft, succulent sausage-like body, licking their lips avidly in anticipation of a delicious meal. Even the tiny ants posed a mortal danger to his life.

The only option open to the Caterpillar was to mimic some inedible object like, for example, a bird dropping, but that would be such an ignominious existence. Not only would he have to remain motionless all day long, but, most humiliating of all, he would be forced to alter his appearance to resemble a piece of dung. Surely, that was a price too high to pay for staying alive, for nothing could be lower than looking exactly like the end product of the digestive process.

One day, full of anxiety and fear as usual, lest he be seen and eaten, the Caterpillar was furtively drinking from a puddle on the forest floor. In the reflection cast by the clear and still water, he noticed, for the first time, that his head was covered by a thick mane of yellow hair. It was then that the Caterpillar was struck by the happiest, most brilliant insight of his life – he realised that, given his looks, he could impersonate a lion! The advantages of such a mimicry would be numerous: amongst other things, not only would he be on the very top of the food chain, afraid of no other animal, but, even more importantly, he would be simply gorgeous.

All the insects scoffed at the Caterpillar, saying how ridiculous his plan was, but the Caterpillar just ignored them and, enclosing himself in a cocoon, proceeded confidently with the metamorphosis.

A certain time had passed and the silly Caterpillar with his crazy dream was almost forgotten about, until early one morning, there was a terrific thunderclap of noise that reverberated right across the woods. The cocoon that held the Caterpillar burst open and out of it emerged a perfect specimen of a flawlessly proportioned, at-the-top-of-his-strength, full-sized lion.

The insects were petrified as to what the Caterpillar-Lion might do to them in revenge for their previous jeers, but he haughtily disregarded them, for, after all, he now was the king of the jungle that wouldn’t even deign to notice such measly bugs.

Proudly, the Caterpilion descended from the tree and began to stride majestically, as befitting his new station in life, roaring at the top of his lungs and showing off his muscular, lithe torso and luxuriant mane.

No other animal dared approach him, of course, and the Caterpilion was very pleased with himself, feeling the kind of deep, pure contentment that only those who had tasted the very dregs of life and found a way to clamber out of the abyss could ever feel. Ahead, a whole new existence shimmered in all of its glory and the Caterpilion was eager to find other lions with which he would live out the rest of his days in joy, happiness and freedom.

And so, when he saw a pride resting lazily in the midday sun, he rushed blithely towards it, eager to make friends with those he now saw as his compatriots, being completely unaware that lions are territorial animals who are viciously protective of their domain. The incensed pride could not believe that a mature lion would be so recklessly stupid as to completely ignore the markings that they assiduously used to bound their dominion, and enter carefree into their land. They promptly tore him into little pieces and that was the end of the Caterpilion and his happy, new life.

Boris Glikman is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia.

He says: “Writing for me is a spiritual activity of the highest degree. Writing gives me the conduit to a world that is unreachable by any other means, a world that is populated by Eternal Truths, Ineffable Questions and Infinite Beauty. It is my hope that these stories of mine will allow the reader to also catch a glimpse of this universe.”

Boris welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at bozlich@yahoo.com.au

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bozlich/
Twitter: @bozlich
Previously published at http://omtimes.com/2013/07/the-caterpilion/

Paul Dano & Zoe Kazan Shine In Romantic Comedy Fantasy Ruby Sparks

DVD REVIEW
Title: Ruby Sparks
Studio/Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Principle Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould, Antonio Banderas
Length: 104 minutes
Released: October 30, 2012
Stars: 3.5

Ruby Sparks is “the true and impossible story of my very great love.”  So says novelist Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano), who wrote a bestselling novel which had everyone declaring him a genius when he was in his late teens, but has never been able to duplicate his success.  Calvin lives alone in a big, colourless, lofty man cave spending his days agonizing over not being able to write, working out with his brother Harry (Chris Messina of The Newsroom,  Julie & Julia), walking his unruly dog Scotty, and visiting his shrink.  The neurotic and somewhat dweeb-like Calvin is suffering from long term writer’s block, so his therapist Dr. Rosenthal (Elliott Gould) suggests that he write about someone who could love him completely.

Calvin starts dreaming about a pretty and quirky redhead named Ruby (Zoe Kazan) that he meets in a park.  She’s everything that he’s ever imagined he wants in a girlfriend.  He starts writing about her out of a need to spend time with her and quickly becomes concerned that he’s falling in love with a figment of his imagination.

Suddenly women’s clothes and personal effects start to mysteriously appear in Calvin’s apartment, much to the consternation of his brother Harry and his wife Susan (Toni Trucks).  Before Calvin can process what’s happening, Ruby appears in the flesh, believing that they’ve been in a relationship for a couple of months and that they’re in the honeymoon stage.  He thinks he’s going crazy.

Calvin brings Ruby out into the real world to prove that he’s not dreaming and finds out that other people can see her too.  Delirious with joy, he leaps into his role as Ruby’s boyfriend with the glee of a high school boy experiencing his first love.  Calvin and Harry discover that Calvin can write anything he wants to about Ruby (for instance, he makes her speak French) and it will become manifested, literally.  However, when Ruby starts to express her need for space in their relationship, a disturbed Calvin decides to write her exactly how he wants her to be.  This backfires on him as he realizes that he has to be very careful and specific about his choice of words.  If he doesn’t write about her, she’s not within his control but if he does write about her, she’s not herself.  Calvin has no idea how to be in a relationship with a woman which he discovers first hand as he makes mistake after mistake with Ruby.

Paul Dano (Looper, There Will Be Blood) is a brilliant young actor and the reason I wanted to watch Ruby Sparks, and he doesn’t disappoint.  He’s an expert at using his face to express a character’s emotions and was completely believable as the confused Calvin.  I was, however, disappointed that Steve Coogan (The Trip, 24 Hour Party People) wasn’t given more to do as pretentious author Langdon Tharp and basically phoned in a stereotypical Coogan performance.  Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas (sporting a grey beard that makes him look older than usual & stealing every scene he was in) appear briefly as Calvin’s hippy-dippy, new age mother Gertrude and her jovial furniture-building partner, Mort, in a fun scene in a beautiful home in Big Sur, highlighted with ravishing gardens and a gorgeous swimming pool.  True Blood’s Deborah Ann Woll has one scene as Calvin’s ex-girlfriend Lila and she also left me wishing she had more. However, the movie belongs to Zoe Kazan (It’s Complicated, Revolutionary Road), granddaughter of director/actor Elia Kazan, who not only wrote the screenplay for Ruby Sparks but also lives with Paul Dano.  Zoe is captivating and delightful as Ruby and you can’t take your eyes off her.

A couple being directed by a couple (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris of Little Miss Sunshine) makes for an interesting experiment and the result is a sweet, whimsical but relatable tale that asks the questions “How do I not seek to control the person I’m with?” and “How do you accept a person for who they are, completely?”  This story defines what it’s like to be in a relationship and to be the partner that doesn’t hold all the cards.

There was no reason that this movie needed to be rated R.  Its language is quite tame and there was only one scene in which characters were smoking a joint.  You see worse behaviour than that on Family Guy.  The extras on the DVD included 3 vignettes about various aspects of the film and were worth watching.  Although the directors didn’t embarrass themselves, they didn’t take any risks either and the only thing that stood out for me aside from Dano & Kazan’s performances was the enchanting French music in the soundtrack.

“Falling in love is an act of magic.  And so is writing.”  It’s too bad that the screenplay for this bittersweet love story with the moral “be careful what you wish for” is not magical, but merely a slightly above average romantic comedy fantasy that will make you smile and agree with how complex relationships are without thinking about it again after the credits roll.