Saturday, April 29, 2006

Free Time? What's That?

I'm back! That is, I left, and then I came back. London was great, of course, after my initial reluctance to leave my comfortable nest (always an effort for me) I had a fantastic trip. Successful on all fronts, business and pleasure both. Our hosts in High Wycombe were kind and generous (especially with the beer,) our trade show was spectacular and went off without a hitch, and my day spent at liberty in London was perfect--got to see friends I've not seen in a decade, as well as the V&A Museum and the natural history museum, both on my list. Moments of excitement on the trip included my brief detention by Homeland Security at the Detroit airport, and a genuine brawl at the ticket barrier at Marlebone rail station. 2 drunk girls jumped the barrier and were first detained, then wrestled to the ground by the station guards when they resisted. Famed British politeness--as these two girls were screaming obscenities and kicking and clawing at the railmen, one of them is pulling out his can of mace and saying quite calmly, "Now, luv, if you don't stop that I'll spray something in your face, OK?"

Now I'm back, and I've got 200 exams to grade, and it's Film Festival Week. I'd promised you a movie review, but I'll have to save "Hot Wax" for later in favor of a few capsule reviews from the last couple days....

U-Carmen eKhayelitsha
The opera Carmen, set in a small South African township and sung in Xhosa click language--how could you go wrong? Well, for me, the basic problem is that it's still opera, which I am genetically predisposed to dislike. I come from a long line of opera haters, and I'd never seen Bizet's Carmen, so I came a little unsure of what to expect. I actually liked it very much--my main problem with opera is A) I want it to have subtitles, which this did, and B) I get impatient when they sing the same thing over and over again--"I loooove you!" "Dooooo you?" "Yessss, I dooooo! I love youuuu!" "Do you truly love meeee?" Yes, damn it, she said so! Let's move on, shall we? But U-Carmen has very little of this, and when it does the music is catchy. The resetting of it in South Africa is excellent, it had a very gritty feel and reminded me of the small town where I stayed in Kenya. The woman who sings the title role, Pauline Malefane, is incredibly talented--seductive, beautiful, expressive and funny. The neat thing about the film is that it was shot entirely in this small township of Khayelitsha, where they've never had a cinema or really any exposure to either movies or opera. The movie was a hit there (they showed it in their sports facility for several weeks, 3 shows a day.) As the director said in the Q/A afterwards, a film like this, starring people from the poorer towns of South Africa, can go a long way to showing the children of these towns what they too can achieve--whether it's singing, or acting, or going to school to be a doctor or lawyer or whatever. Very cool.

Deepa Mehta's latest in her series of "elemental" films, this was the one I most looked forward to before the festival started. I liked Fire very much, not just because of the theme of love between women but also because it was so beautifully filmed--Mehta captures the soul of India (or India as I imagine it) with color, texture, and light in a way I find utterly breathtaking. Water is like that as well; it's so visually rich that the plot, for me, has to work to overcome the impact of the visuals. It's an intense movie, and disturbing and painful in spots. But it also seemed to me upon reflection that Water wasn't as well put-together as Fire--the plot wasn't as tightly woven, and the characters aren't as deeply developed. It sprawls a bit. But it was still very, very good, a 2 hankie film, and utterly beautiful. The "water" theme is worked in well, a bit more subtly than the fire in Fire. Perhaps because water is more subtle and less dramatic by nature--though the drenching thunderstorms and the monumentality of the river make water a more constant presence throughout this one. More films later, I'm off to volunteer at the festival this afternoon!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

You Know You're in Trouble When....

...2 minutes into a phone conversation with your closest friend, they say, "Are you drunk?"

No! It was 10 am on a Monday! Of course I'm not drunk. Apparently, though, the combination of a tax-related crisis, upcoming travel stress, and general malaise/apathy that I'm experiencing right now comes across as drunken rambling to those who know me best. Ah well--this too shall pass.

I've got a few movie reviews for you, but no time to write them at the moment. Just bask in the knowledge that my next post will expose you to the horror that is "Hot Wax: Zombies on Wheels." And with that thought, I bid you good day.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Horror! The HORROR!!!

I've officially changed my position on gay marriage. This Gibletsian vision of the apocalypse has convinced me that when gay marriage happens, the robot appliance hordes cannot be far behind! Speak out now, America! And in the meantime, be careful; I caught my blender reading a skin magazine this week.

Mr. Noz's endless movie review postings have contributed to my enthusiasm for the upcoming Film Festival here in town. Noz and I used to go to independant and foreign films together all the time; we each went through several frequent buyer cards at the Music Box while we both lived in Chicago. We saw some great stuff there, and also the occasional dog. The worst thing we ever saw, actually, was the animated short session at the Gay & Lesbian film fest in 1998--one short was so horrible I can't even bring it up without wincing. It's like the opposite of gay pride... that movie was serious gay shame. Getting a free pair of saltshakers shaped like Absolut bottles from the sponsor didn't make up for the sheer tastelessness of the film. (though it WAS a nice perk! I used those things for years.) Anyway, there are several things I feel a strong urge to see, so I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to get a 10-ticket bundle and then try to pawn off some tickets on friends, or if I can manage to do enough volunteering to get 2-3 passes free and then buy a single ticket or two if I need it. It's taking up a lot of the brain space I should be using to grade the Art 102 exams that are hulking in a pile on top of my steamer trunk... Hmm....Caravaggio, or Carmen? Tough call.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Could Life Be More Exciting?

Yes, I found my passport. No, I'm not going to tell you where it was. Suffice it to say it's a good thing I'm off work today, as there's a hellish mess to clean up downstairs. (of course, what am I doing? blogging.) Included under the headline "hellish mess" is the horror created by Mean Cat having inflicted a small but potent injury to Big Cat yesterday afternoon. He's fine--but she hit a blood vessel near his eye and he painted the town red, as it were, running around the house and shaking his head violently. I wanted to make him a little pirate eye patch and teach him to say "arrr!" but settled for getting the bleeding stopped and wiping up the splatters he left on me, the floor, the rug, my clothes, etc. and so on. It was a stressful day. Then the storms hit, and while my house and yard are unscathed, my boss' place a half mile north of me got pummelled. Telephone poles snapped like toothpicks, trees uprooted.... And no power at Casa de Croc. So off I go to clean.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Originally uploaded by blackbear88.
Guess When I Took This?

Actually, this is from a snowstorm back in December; the one last week was not nearly so cool-looking, with flotillas of slush moving down the canal in ribbony patterns. I'm hoping by posting it that it will serve as a farewell to winter weather. We're now well into spring weather, which involves lightning and hail and occasional tornado warnings. I met friends for a beer last night, and they drove through hail on the way up from Little Flower; I left my house in a driving sideways rain. By the time we reached the appointed place, the sun was out (though setting) and the only sign of danger was the continual flashing of lightning in the clouds to the east. Which we got to look at for quite a while, as we had to go to three different brew pubs to find one that had table space. Thus the dangers of going out in Broad Ripple during the first warm days of spring, even with the occasional torrential downpour.

This all pales in comparison to my crisis du jour, which is that I can't find my passport. I'm supposed to go to London on business in exactly 3 weeks. I've not needed my passport since October of 2000, before I moved into this house. I have no memory of seeing it between then and now, and it's not where I would ordinarily put such an important document. While I'm the Supreme Overlord of Disorganization and Clutter, I'm finding it hard to believe I'd have just thrown it someplace stupid when I got back from Brazil. So if any of you knows where it is, feel free to email me.

Indiana goes to Daylight Savings for the first time this weekend. DST is stupid and pointless, and our Governor is a dick for pushing it through. I can only hope that when he's out of office, we'll repeal it--as should the rest of the civilized world...