Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Boy Named Hawk

Introducing Hawk Octavian Parker Rasmussen.

Born Saturday, August 30 at 1:30 AM.

Full report to come.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

40 Weeks

[Insert pic here, Fire Dog willing.]

Note: We are grateful so many of you share our excitement for the baby's arrival! As we approach the big day, whenever it comes, we ask that you please refrain from calling or e-mailing for news. You can be sure it will be posted here. Thank you!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I had this entry nearly in the can when our laptop contracted a particularly virulent virus, and thus I am posting through extremely non-standard means and under the most trying of conditions. Fortunately, no pedaling is involved. However, I can’t help but feel like I’m sending these words from a distant star. As soon as the ‘puter is back from the shop, you can be sure I will include a few quasi-Sebaldian illustrations.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. What I mean to say is: Welcome, and thank you for joining me on this, the 100th entry on Holy Embers. It’s hard to believe there are already so many, and harder still to judge the correct approach for the occasion. Do I go for the epic or the intimate? Do I take this opportunity to catalogue the Austerities of Ryan Rasmussen, or review the Top 100 Films I’ve Seen Part Of, or . . . ?

It’s a strange thing, this blogging. Unless you’re treating it as an out-and-out diary, there will naturally be items left out, hidden, squirreled away for an auspicious moment, to say nothing of sidestepping the risk of prematurely giving voice to those victories along the way. But perhaps this is as good a time as any to share a confession: I am not the only Ryan Rasmussen out there.

My crack blogitorial team has looked into the situation and discovered that there are in fact 99 other Ryan Rasmussens on the Internet. Let me be clear: I am not from Chicago nor do I bill myself as “the world’s greatest salesman.” I am also pretty sure that we are not a secret subset of the Templars (or at least I haven’t been invited). Nonetheless, whatever charms I offer up in these pages have been sufficient to garner me the title of Number Two Ryan Rasmussen on the Internet. (For a time I actually wore the Yellow Jersey myself, but the Chicagoan swiped it while I was touring New Zealand. You can’t be too careful.)

I am well aware of the responsibility this carries. After all, these pages have been visited by individuals from no less than six continents. True, they sometimes come searching for clarity on matters such as the “purple bag along 422,” but others are on a quest for something more profound, for insights of a more philosophical nature, pondering “what can the strongest man not hold forever” and “what is the function of finland.” I would like to think I have provided something of an answer from time to time. (Of course, my great aunt once told me that my writing was “philosophical,” but I don’t think she was worried about Finland.)

When I began this blog I didn’t know what I was getting into, or that I would enjoy it so much. In fact, it was only a few months ago that I realized I have a bona fide hobby. Sure, it supports the screenwriting, but it’s also become something else, a focal point for making sense of the journey. And this entry, I suppose, is really a roundabout way of acknowledging that you could have chosen to visit any of the other Ryan Rasmussens on the Web, but you didn’t. Thanks for stopping by.

In gratitude,

“knight in training ryan rasmussen”

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

38 Weeks

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

Soil for legs
Axe for hands
Flower for eyes
Bird for ears
Mushroom for nose
Smile for mouth
Songs for lungs
Sweat for skin
Wind for mind
Just Enough by Nanao Sakaki
The days are strange. Their shape matches that of prior days, the responsibilities known and commonplace, but these days are marked by an unfamiliar waiting-but-not-waiting, and filled with an eagerness to meet the new person in Jenifer’s belly. They herald the end of one era and the beginning of another. I will not be the same.

The day job has been intense, unremitting, and there I am told repeatedly to enjoy all the sleep I’m supposedly enjoying at the moment; my take is that I’ve been training for the sleeplessness that is to come. Dreams of editing newsletters three days in the past week are not encouraging, especially when there is no possibility of a holiday. The evening job has been no less intense, unremitting, and there I tell myself repeatedly not to be so hard on myself as I head into the second half of the current draft.

The real work, of course, is taking place in the ever-growing Pod that houses the nascent visitor soon to join the party. But not too soon. As Wing Commander of the Mobile Pod Defense Forces, my mission objective demands that I deflect all well-meaning but misguided attacks (such as the classic “How is she?” — the special intonation and accompanying hand-wringing reserved for the infirm and those perishing of consumption), wherever possible establishing a high-energy perimeter and employing whatever verbal throws and locks are required to squeeze the well-wishers from “Any day now!” to “When the baby’s ready.”

On my end, at numerous points along the axis I’ve been asked whether it’s hit me yet that I’m going to be a father, as if I were about to be struck by a baseball knocked over the hedge by a gangly urchin. To date the answer to that question has been an assertion of my readiness, my preparation, my active choosing. Now, however, as Jenifer and I approach the end of our time as Two, and I realize that our future travels will include a Third companion, I can offer a revised edition: the image of a an alarmed Wall-E scurrying from the massive dreadnought that’s now blotting out the sun, and whose landing is stirring up gale-force winds and the resulting dust storms. Of course, that could also be the result of our housecleaning campaign.

Going through books is a perilous task. In clearing out our old office, converting it to a guest room, I end up reading E.B. White’s “Once More to the Lake,” triggered by a friend’s annual summer retreat to his Vermont summer home, and James Baldwin’s account of his time in a remote Swiss village, when I’m supposed to be reading manuals on parenting and childcare.

Amid these preparations, I receive news that an early script, Disaster Man, landed in the top 15 percent at the Nicholl Fellowships. It doesn’t advance, but nonetheless it’s encouraging to get a note from program director Greg Beal, who writes the nicest rejection letter you’ll ever get. I’ll have to catch up with him at the Austin Film Festival this fall (one of many reasons to make the pilgrimage). I find myself looking forward to this conference more than ever, in part because it will require the first significant travel in a year.

Last week Tom and I met to discuss future projects, things to pitch at the festival. He picked me up from the gym and we rode to his place in his convertible Skye. With the wind in my hair and Billy Corgan sneering on the “radio” (or whatever sort of satellite contraption Tom has set up), I was instantly whisked back in time to an earlier season, riding with Jenifer through the Stockholm archipelago the day after Midsummer. And then earlier: on the Autobahn with my old friend Thorsten, feeling very European with a scarf lashed around my neck because of a sore throat brought on by nightclub carousing. I was traveling through time, and the years held no meaning.

This spell held its power as, several days later, I found myself sifting through yet more books, more memories, stored in my parents’ garage. Here we reorganized space and time, and old books were not the only unwanted things discarded. Perhaps awareness that the Podnaut would soon be cleared to initiate its landing sequence is what helped us begin to dissolve the awkwardness that had passed between us for the whole of my adult life. All of us would soon take on new roles and there was no longer time for inherited and worn-out patterns of judgment and avoidance.

Afterwards my father and I threw the football for the first time in a decade. The motion came right back, as if no time had passed, and we dropped into an effortless harmony. I recalled the pang Mr. White felt, the chill of death, as he watched his son duplicate the actions of his youth, and I knew that I was stronger now, and my father knew it too.

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