Done!

Jul. 22nd, 2013 10:25 am
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (DeCordova Laura Ford Bird)
I finished up the leaf compost yesterday with another four hours of work.  So now I know it takes about 10 hours total to spread 10 cubic yards of soil.  The final third of it was easier in some ways because the heat was much less intense yesterday, but on the other hand, the pile had compacted a bit and gotten rained on a little, so it was heavier soil on Sunday than it had been on Friday.  I raised the overall level of the yard high enough that I had to shorten the downspouts.  I'm just so, so excited about my terra rasa!

I did end up with sun poisoning by the end of my work on Sunday, with big itchy rashes all over my arms and neck.  I wore sunscreen all weekend; I didn't get burned on Sunday but I guess whatever it is that triggers the rashes isn't stopped by sunscreen.  I'm still bumpy today but it's going down.  I need to look for some long sleeve gardening shirts.

We watched John Carter on Friday night.  I guess the movie was a box office flop, but it wasn't a bad film.  It wasn't a great film, either, but it was a solid piece of mid-summer hot night escapism.  The aesthetics were really perfect.  The set design and costuming looked like real labors of love of the original source material, because Barsoom and its inhabitants looked exactly as one would have wanted them to.  The character of Dejah Thoris was really well done, so much so that it occurred to me as I watched that I wished the story could have been told from her point of view instead of John Carter's.

Saturday we binge-finished The Fall, the police procedural set in Northern Ireland starring Gillian Anderson.  As I think I've noted before (if not here, then certainly in FB), it is very difficult to watch in parts, but it is truly a feminist crime drama, something really pretty unique.  The Prime Suspect series showed feminist thought in its portrayal of the life of Jane Tennyson, but The Fall extends that line of thinking from observations about Stella Gibson's life to the situation of women in society as a whole, with Stella clearly using her own experiences with the power struggles in the police hierarchy to understand what is going on in the killer's mind.  As much as Scully will forever hold an important place in my heart, this is by far the best work Gillian Anderson has done.  The rest of the cast is also very strong.  I was astonished to discover that the evil, bad, bad, bad murdering man is played by the same actor who played the Huntsman on the tv show Once Upon a Time, in which he was so nobly doomed.  It's been renewed for another series, which is great because there is not exactly closure at the end of this one.

I have heard that there is a deer and her fawn hanging out in the Cemetery.  It wouldn't be the first time, but it's unusual.  I'm sure they are hunkered down somewhere for the day, but it would be sweet to see them on my lunch walk...
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alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
Sitting here watching the fillies and mares races of the Breeders Cup seemed like a good time to write about the movie I watched last night, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story.

it's so predictable I don't really need a cut tag, but just in case )
So all in all, even though this was a very simplistic, heart tugging film with some serious unbelievability issues, in some ways it was a really nice representation of what is best about horse racing--and it was actually a good movie.  I recommend it to anyone who likes racing, and to anyone who just wants something that will make them happy for a couple of hours.

Wow, Zenyatta's at 3-5 for tomorrow.  My heart starts beating faster every time I pause to think about it.
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I watched Herzog's Bad Lieutenant:  Port of Call New Orleans last night.  Really mixed feelings about it.  not too spoilery, but no promises )

Stayed home sick yesterday but am back at work today.  At least there's air conditioning here.
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alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)


I can haz mint julep now?

Watched 30 minutes or so of the Patrick Stewart/David Tennant Hamlet last night--one expects Patrick Stewart to be splendid, and of course he was, but I really liked what I saw of what Tennant brought to the role of Hamlet.  One barely thought of the Doctor at all ;-)  Anyway, I only stopped watching it because once it's available on DVD I'll want to watch the whole thing from the start.
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Our heat went out for the third time in four weeks--the fourth time, really, if you count it working briefly after I hit its reset button earlier today and then dying again.  This is definitely making me think more positively about moving this spring.  Not only can I now not dance or do yoga today because the floor is ice cold, but I can't do laundry or dishes either, since there's no hot water.

Saw Avatar again yesterday, this time at the Imax theatre.  I loved it even more.  The aerial banshee scenes were just breathtaking on the huge screen.  And the plot holes and often clunky dialogue didn't bother me that much this time around, probably because now I cared about the characters and could read more into their motivations. Spoilerish )

Man I'm cold.  It's 63 degrees in here (that would be 17 C) and still no sign of the repairman.  I suppose I could do my cold water laundry, but I do not relish the thought of hanging it all up.  Maybe I'll bake something...

edited to add: yay, furnace guy came and the heat is fixed! The transistor in the lighting mechanism had gone bad. He felt that the previous two repairmen were idiots for not noticing this. He also gave me a crash course in types of fuel and heating systems and boilers which will be very useful for apartment hunting and maybe someday home buying, and also showed me things to do to optimize this boiler's performance. Yay for competent helpful people!
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alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
I just re-watched Orlando for the first time in many years and am so glad I did.  When I watched it years ago, it was with someone who I think was categorically incapable of putting himself in another's place, and thus the whole conceit of the story didn't work for him, plus OMG naked lady and that lady used to be a dude and OMG.  ANYWAY stupid memories aside, I have reclaimed the viewing experience for my own and felt every nuanced minute of it.  Tilda Swinton is just magnificent as Orlando, both male and female.  Lines that easily could have been ridiculous she rendered so convincingly you accepted them, or understood why they were ridiculous.  She's just luminous on the screen (in fact, she and Billy Zane together in 1850s period clothing were just about too beautiful to look at).  And so many little details added so much, like Orlando being a better horsewoman than Billy Zane's adventurer.  I felt like I was catching my breath the entire movie.

Also, Quentin Crisp was clearly born to be Queen Elizabeth I.  Insert old queen joke here, but still, seriously.  And Jimmy Somerville (of Bronski Beat fame) was excellent as an Elizabethan singer and an angel.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never read any Virginia Woolf.  I have to rectify that.
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Where did the weekend go? How can it be Tuesday already?

Last night I watched The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. I had mixed feelings about the film. All the Grateful Dead-ish country-ish music actively hurt me, for one thing. In a brilliant movie I could set that aside, but this one had enough other issues that it bothered me. Really my main issue was the way the filmmaker glossed over the parrot man's homelessness and squatting. She kept showing him doing laundry or sorting clean clothing, so it was clear to me that she was trying to point out that he was not some dirty homeless man, but then why never tackle the subject head on? Is being homeless/squatting just a common enough thing in San Francisco for it to be a normal part of the social fabric of life? Maybe I am too much a Yankee Puritan at heart, but I'm not sure that this is something that ought to be celebrated or glamorized or even normalized, particularly when I know from M's work that on this coast at least homeless people are that way only because of extremely bad luck, mental health issues, substance abuse issues or a borderline sociopathic sense of entitlement that makes one think society owes one everything, that jobs are for other people because you are too enlightened to buy into the capitalist paradigm. With this guy I felt like it was the lattermost.

I was also really bothered when he put Mingus outdoors where the poor bird was terrified, just because Mingus was acting like a parrot and defending his nest. You let animals take up residence in your house on their own terms--staking out under the fridge as a nest, for example--and you have to accept that some of their own terms are not going to be terribly convenient from the human's standpoint. You can't punish them for simply being what they are, let alone expect them to understand what that punishment means. He seemed so sensitive towards the parrots on so many other levels, but to me that interaction with Mingus said all this parrot stuff was more about feeling good about himself, and when it wasn't all beautiful and groovy and peaceable he reacted poorly and not in the parrot's best interest.

At the same time, many of his observations about the parrots were astute and interesting, and I think he did provide a public service by talking about the parrots to people and raising awareness of them. The section about Tupelo, the first parrot he took care of who died while in his care, really moved me, because I knew the feelings he was talking about all too well. And although I frequently had issues with the way the filmmaker was presenting information (saying that the only enemy that the parrots had besides hawks was humans, and then showing fighter planes over SF? the entire military-industrial complex is out to get the parrots? please.), I did walk away from the film with a real sense of the marvelousness of these parrots. That these birds who were mostly born in the wild so far away, underwent traumatic journeys to get to SF and then had to adapt to a totally new climate is a testament to their intelligence, to their intensely social nature and to the determination of nature. I would love to see/read a real study about these birds. A bird specialist interviewed briefly in the film noted that studying social relationships among parrots is very difficult in the wild, as flocks are always moving and individual birds are hard to see, so this represented a wonderful opportunity to do some genuinely new research. That's the movie I'd really like to see.

At any rate despite my criticisms it's well worth seeing, if just for the parrots alone.

Dance class tonight, yay!
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (fruityoatytrio)
Drove to JP and back in the dark rain during rush hour to pick up Sissy's meds. It made me very glad I do not have to drive like that every day. Part of my trip was the route I would take to work if I were to drive to work, and honestly with the traffic I don't think it takes any longer to get there by bus. And it's significantly less frustrating.

My favorite Zipcar Mundorf the Mazda was apparently so seriously injured that he's gone for good :-( But he was replaced with Mallek the Mazda, so that's not too bad. A neat thing about Mallek, apart from having a name that sounds like a Cardassian, is that even when you are driving in automatic, there's an indicator telling you what gear the car is in (it can be driven in either manual or automatic mode). I'm pretty sure Mundorf didn't have that. Seems to me like that might be a good training aid for learning to drive manual, should I be taken with the desire to do so.

Finished watching the Paul Schrader remake of Cat People last night. What a seriously flawed film. It had really luminous moments, but those were usually followed by clunky scenes that made you look for the guy and his two robot friends in the bottom right corner. The leopard autopsy scene is especially hilarious, as the leopard is clearly breathing and occasionally you can see its paws twitching. On the other hand, Nastassja Kinski's natural feline grace is compelling, and she threw herself into the part. It was almost like there were two different movies going on, a serious art film and a bad B movie. Here is a non-shocker from the IMDB page: "By his own admission, director Paul Schrader says that one day he got so stoned on set that he refused to come out of his trailer. A whole day's filming was lost." I hated the ending, with its message of female sexuality is dangerous and animal and will destroy men so man must keep it caged and contained and mute. Feh. I gather the original ends differently, I wonder if it's any better.
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alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
I just realized as I walked past a mirror at work that in my skirt tied with a sash, 3/4 sleeve loose shirt, wide headband and Egyptian jewelry that I have inadvertently dressed like a pirate today.  Oh well.

I believe the upstairs neighbors have moved out already, as there was a moving truck around yesterday evening and by nightfall the truck and their car were gone, and still gone this morning.  How timely, given that I am about to embark on a two week vacation! 

Last night I watched the 1940 Egyptian movie Dananir, starring Um Kulthum as a sweet young Bedouin girl who is discovered singing in the desert by a minister of the Caliph of Baghdad.  You can tell things are not going to go well for her from the opening scenes of the film, with the minister and his men loosing their hawks and hounds upon the gazelles and hares of the desert (side note:  the Arabian horses in this movie were stunning creatures, the real thing).  It's set I suppose sometime after 800AD, since messengers from Charlemagne arrive for the Caliph at one point, vintage Arabian Nights era.  It was interesting to see how this period of historical fantasy/fantastic history was treated in a Middle Eastern film made by and for Middle Easterners.  Of course Egyptians are not Iraqis, so they were to some extent romanticizing somebody else's past, just as Hollywood does, and Dananir was representing all that is good and true about Arab culture just as much as she was representing a real woman.  But I did feel that the Arab characters were more complex in this film than they are in analogous Hollywood films, with a variety of motives and characters.  (although there were bits just as jarring in this film as in Hollywood's of that era, for example the slaves in blackface--though one of them made me laugh, because between his heavy makeup, bone structure, scowling expression and facial hair he resembled no one so much as Lt. Cmdr. Worf.)  Dananir is of course a very good girl, loyal to a fault.  In her (gorgeous, beautiful) songs, she sings very passionately about her minister, and there is an implication that they are romantically involved, but you never see any physical hint of that onscreen.  I've recently been reading a book about the history and structure of Arabic music, and the treatment of music and poetry in the Caliph's court rang true to what I had been reading.  There's a great scene where Dananir sings a song that had been taught to her by the court's master musician.  The Caliph says it was lovely and she had sung it just as she had been taught, but he wanted to hear it improvised.  She does so, and he then says now do it again, and give it everything you've got.  And so she does.  I am very glad to have seen the movie just for that scene alone.  I'm not sure I could say it's entirely a good movie, as it adheres closely to fairy tale formula in a very predictable way, but if you like to watch movies that make you think a lot about cultural issues of representation and Orientalism, about Arab political history or about Arab music, or if you just plain like to listen to Um Kulthum, I highly recommend it.  I think it was filmed rather well, too, with some shots showing a lot of sensitivity, esp. in the desert scenes.  I bought my copy from Maqam.com for pretty cheap, not sure if it's available anywhere else.

This day is draaaaaaaaggggggiiiiiiinnnnnnggggggggggg.....
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alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
Destino is a collaboration between Salvador Dali and Walt Disney Studio, begun in 1945 and never completed for release until a few years ago. I do share with Andre Breton a view of Salvador Dali as a hackneyed media whore, but the freshness of this charms me into a nicer frame of mind. The animation is beautiful and one really wishes Disney or other major studios still did this kind of collaboration, but I think today it would be considered too unsafe. Ah well.

alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
Last night after a two and a half hour journey by public transportation from Kenmore Square to Jamaica Plain back to Arlington, I sat down and did not move for two hours and forty-five minutes to watch The Yacoubian Building, an Egyptian film by director Marwan Hamed with an all-star cast including the luminous Hend Sabri.  It is not an easy movie to watch, both for its length and for some very unpleasant things that happen, but I highly recommend it.  I gather from my book on Arab popular culture, which I really shall get around to writing about someday, that this was a groundbreaking film in Egyptian cinema for daring to tackle taboo subjects, from the obvious one of homosexuality to less-obvious-to-the-non-Egyptian-viewer taboos regarding religion and politics and gender and sex.  The movie is certainly Allegory writ large, as most of the non-comedic, non-musical Egyptian films I've seen tend to be, but with a more fluid moralistic stance than most other Egyptian films I've seen.  more review )

And because I have to find something relevant to belly dance in any Egyptian film I watch, I note that I now understand the cultural context of Yasmina of Cairo's rooftop baladi performance--there are entire small villages on top of the large buildings of Cairo where the working class poor/immigrants from the countryside live, and where laundries are frequently located. 
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movies

Apr. 13th, 2009 05:00 pm
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
In amongst all the weekend ferret drama, I did watch two movies, Repo: The Genetic Opera and Bright Future.  Loved Repo--it's not like it's a good movie but it is definitely an awesome movie and I very much applaud the creators for making it happen.  All the casting was perfect.  And I loved the background detail of Victorian-style mourning behavior, with the paintings and holographs of the deceased wife everywhere, even the daughter's cameo necklace.  Bright Future was perplexing but enjoyable.  I thought watching it that perhaps it would make much more sense to me if I were Japanese, but in watching the making of featurette, it seemed that I did get all the intended messages.  It was interesting to hear the lead actor say it was a relief when filming was done and he could stop being that character, because I could never quite figure out how I felt about the character myself.  Confusing, but affecting and in a somewhat hard way enjoyable.  Beautiful jellyfish footage, too.  Also in the making of featurette the director, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, meditated a bit on the lack of real difference between making a documentary and making fiction.  I liked what he had to say; with his style of directing, which was hands-off and oblique, many things were left up to chance, and so the film did really record things that were unscripted and undirected.  I'm not expressing this as eloquently as Kurosawa did, but I found it exciting and intriguing.
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alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
This looks amazing--it's just a rough cut of some of the footage from the upcoming documentary Aziza! about the history of Middle Eastern music and dance in Boston.



Aziza! is a new documentary profiling the history of belly dance in the Boston area as it has evolved and thrived in the social scene of the Lebanese, Armenian and Greek communities that have settled here since the early 1900s.

The first Middle Eastern restaurant in the United States - Club Zahra - opened in Boston in 1952. Because of the similarities in culture, cuisine and social life, the Lebanese, Armenian, and Greeks began mingling at each other's restaurants. From the 1950s through the 1980s you could see belly dancing and hear live ethnic music seven nights a week at a number of venues throughout the Greater Boston area - a phenomenon unique in the U.S.

In the same band you might see both the Middle Eastern oud and the Greek bouzouki, while the guests danced the Lebanese dabke, Armenian line dances, and the Greek zembekiko, a male bonding/drinking dance. They threw money like rain on the entertainment. The musicians and dancers carried off their tips in dish buckets.

Aziza! offers a unique perspective on how three ethnic groups intermingled socially, and how nightlife played a vivid role in the immigrant experiences of these communities.

Can't wait for more! Donations towards the filming costs can be made here.
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
Dropped off M's laptop at the computer store/repair shop at the university where I work--it was pointed out to me via Facebook that as staff, I have access to their services, and since they are Dell certified, if it's a warranty-covered problem, Dell will be held accountable for the repairs.  I described the computer's behavior to the tech, who said it sounded like motherboard issues, and that the Inspiron 1525s are known for buggy sound problems.  Le huge sigh.  But on the positive side, if it is the motherboard, that will definitely be covered by warranty, and perhaps this whole ordeal can be resolved. 

I watched the film Perfect Creature last night--it has vampires *and* zeppelins, what more could a movie need?  Plot was a variation of your standard edgy yet principled vampire and plucky lady law enforcement officer team up to fight big conspiracy story, but it was well done with some interesting twists.  I liked that the steampunk aesthetic was handled in a background, taken for granted kind of way rather than being all in your face.   I also liked that the technology was grubby rather than slick.  Not the best film in the world, but well worth watching if you like vampires and/or steampunk.  Just don't fret too much about the "science."  Seemed a bit like it was made for television, since it had pretty blatant "insert commercial here" moments, though it was a bit too gory for US tv I would think.  I wonder if there will be a sequel, since it left the door wide, wide open for one.

Looking forward to Old, Cold & Slow tonight, though I am feeling rather old, cold and slow myself at the moment.  I think I am coming down with something.  Glad I don't have any performances scheduled this weekend or next weekend.  After that things get hectic and sick is not allowed.

Ianto was bouncy and playful this morning, which was great to see because just last night I was thinking about how I hadn't seen him bouncy and playful for a while and perhaps he was just settling down into a quiet life of quiet enjoyments.  Sissy was thrilled too.
 
There are three police cars a few doors down from my office.  Maybe somebody has a bullet!
 
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
I'd never noticed this before, but Netflix's recommendations for me in the music/musical category are somewhat humorous.  Apparently I would like the Dresden Dolls because I enjoyed The Third Man, Rashomon and Invader Zim.  I would like Manu Chao because I enjoyed When We Were Kings, Ghost Dog and Ghengis Blues.  I would like Nick Cave because I enjoyed The Passion of Joan of Arc, My Best Fiend and Burden of Dreams.  I would like Portishead because I enjoyed The City of Lost Children, Nosferatu and Yojimbo.  Apparently I have predictable taste in music if one knows that I am a Herzog and Kurosawa fan.  PJ Harvey was also recommended on the basis of films by those two directors.

Last night I watched Diary of a Lost Girl, directed by G.W. Pabst and starring Louise Brooks.  It was moving and complex--not so much in the plot itself, which was pretty potboiler, but in the work the actors did in portraying their characters silently.  Those actors were able to convey so, so much in a simple expression.  Similarly, the filmwork was beautiful and in places surprisingly modern.  Strong social commentary, again in places surprisingly modern.  I often admire silent films as works of art but I don't usually identify deeply with them--Diary of a Lost Girl was a major exception.  I dreamed about poor Thymiane last night.  Louise Brooks was so luminously tragic yet ultimately a force to be reckoned with.  Based on her wikipedia entry, I imagine this film had high personal emotional resonance for her.  Highly recommended.
 
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Nick Cave is writing a rock opera of Faust for an Icelandic theatre group.  I expect that will be extra special.

I finally caved in, ha ha, and bought a copy of Dig, Lazarus, Dig!  And I am pleasantly surprised to find that I quite like it, at least on first listen.  It's very garage, glam and no wave influenced, in a roots homage kind of way that suits me fine.  I like that the music is more freewheeling than the last few albums, while not quite as freewheeling as say Grinderman.  There's also a lot of interesting detail going on in the music that keeps a few tracks from sounding too proggy, a line they otherwise could have crossed.  But what I really like most of all is that Nick is finally embracing all aspects of his voice again.  Once he started singing lessons, he really turned his back on his former style of singing and became very constrained.  He says so himself in interviews.  On D,L,D! it sounds like he's come to realize there's a time when a lack of technique is entirely appropriate.  This album sounds far more like Nick Cave to me than anything since maybe The Boatman's Call.  Not that I haven't liked some of that material, but it's been on an "okay let's see where he's going with this" basis.  D,L,D! sounds like he knows where he's going.

Saw Coraline in 3D this weekend and loved it, apart from one subplot that made me feel like I was watching Coraline play a video game rather than doing something important towards moving the plot along, as the subplot did in the book.  I refer to the way the ghost children were handled.  But I could forgive that, given how stunning the film was overall.  According to Neil Gaiman's blog the movie will be leaving the 3D theatres in the US by Friday to accomodate a Jonas Brothers movie, so if you wanted to see it in 3D, you'd better do it soon.  And do stay until the very end, for something very pretty :-)
 
There is a rather awful oil smell permeating our office as work is being done on the heating system.  Bleargh.
 

relax

Dec. 29th, 2008 11:56 am
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
Now that the holidays and various appointments are done, I feel like I am finally on a vacation--all the crazy of last week was all stuff I *wanted* to do, but that didn't stop it from being stressful to the point of eye-twitchiness and nightly teeth-grinding.  Luckily one of the various appointments was a massage, which helped muchly.  And a hair appointment, which helped in its own way.  I tried clothes-shopping at the Back Bay Filenes Basement and Marshall's afterwards, but did not like any of the clothes I saw.  Back to H&M sometime this week, I think.

Christmas eve and day were very nice--I liked/wanted everything I got as gifts and I felt like I did good with the gifts I got for people.  M was flabbergasted by his laptop :-)  One of my best gifts was the Diana Tarkhan instructional DVD, from M.  I've just done one of the two choreographies on it, and I love it.  The one I did was called Samia and was intended as an homage to the Golden Era of Egyptian film.  It made me grin while dancing because it was so much fun.  Diana's style is light and playful and full of joy.  A good consequence of both this DVD and Randa's is that I'm getting more comfortable with taking my feet off the ground (and I suppose now I have the foot and ankle strength as well), something that I've always thought was lacking in my dancing.  No Dina DVDs for xmas, but I used some gift money to get those and the Montreal performance DVD, so they'll be arriving soon.

Darq was fun, I would definitely go again.  It's too bad they can't stay open until 2, though, 10-1 seems very short.  I guess they can't open any earlier because of the dinner crowd.  The dance floor is rather oddly central; it was reminiscent of the goth club nights at Toast, with the dance floor right up alongside the bar so that you end up with no clear border between dance floor and people standing at the bar and a lot of through traffic.  But the Thai restaurant decor actually worked rather well for a goth night, and you really can't go wrong with being able to order sushi whenever you want during the evening.  Music was a bit too EBM and industrial for my general tastes but I danced anyway and it felt good.

Last night we watched some old silent Wizard of Oz movies.  It was rather strange.  They seemed to come from a studio that L. Frank Baum owned or operated, but they took a lot of liberties with the storylines, some to the point where you wouldn't have thought it had anything to do with Oz at all until a random character popped up.  And then other plot elements repeated from film to film, so they all seemed like one basic film with variations in detail.  My favorite part in all of them was an actor named Fred Woodward who played the mule Nickodemus (not in books, if I remember correctly--definitely not in the first few books anyway) and several of the other animals.  His physical comedy was brilliant, as was his ability to make his human shape really look like the animal's form, from mule to kangaroo to crow.  Nickodemus was apparently so popular he got a few movies of his own.  If I can find them, I'll watch them.  Costuming was excellent in all of them, especially one evil witch's batwinged dress and the wardrobe of the Queen of nearby Iz.

Today I have eight million things on my to-do list, but that's okay.  The sun is out and I feel productive.  If I get three things done I'll be happy with that.
 
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (fruityoatytrio)
Last night I was randomly chosen for a bag search on the T--not a search per se, but I think they were looking for isotopes or something.  The policewoman ran a small paper strip over the straps and body of my backpack then ran it through a machine, which didn't find anything, and then I was on my way.  I suppose we must be on some kind of heightened alert, if they've been searching bags twice in the last few weeks.  I'd never seen any bag searches before now, just heard about them, despite taking the T every day of the work week since well before 9/11.

The bus I took yesterday was covered with tourism advertisements for India.  Now there's some bad timing.

Earlier this week I watched the film Sukiyaki Western Django, which was interesting but not quite as interesting as it thought it was or could have been.  It's Takashi Miike's Japanese take on Westerns based on Samurai films, more or less, a retelling of Django which is of course a retelling of Yojimbo, with a hefty dose of surrealist folklore/fakelore piled on top.  Nearly all the actors are Japanese, but all of the dialogue is in English.  I read somewhere that not all the actors actually spoke English and had to learn their lines phonetically, which sometimes meant they were unintelligible but at other times produced a fascinating delivery that affected the meaning of the words being spoken.  The one non-Japanese actor is Quentin Tarentino, who tried too obviously to chew too much scenery and ended up annoying.  Luckily he's not in it that much.  The cinematography was beautiful and creative.  The costuming was my favorite thing about the film, a crazy combination of classic Western style, samurai and other Japanese clothing and modern piercings, dyed hair, tattoos, etc.  A total feast for the eyes.  Where the film didn't work for me was that the gore and violence sometimes took over the story to the point of tedium, and some of the really interesting metaphysically surreal elements were not incorporated that well.  I know that this film was meant as an homage to earlier films, but slavishly repeating a genre's flaws as well as its strengths is a bit pointless, at least to someone who isn't obsessed with the genre(s) at hand.  I would recommend watching it, if you have high tolerance for violence and gore (and there's one or two rape scenes, which did make sense in terms of the plot/characters but were definitely more graphic than I needed to see), because the visuals are so intriguing and the costuming at least was something genuinely new.
 
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
Over the last week I watched the movie Rise, David LaChapelle's documentary about krump and clowning in Southcentral LA.  It had some flaws as a movie, but content-wise, I'm so glad I saw it.  I had no idea about the whole clowning movement, let alone its relation to krump.  The dancing was off the hook fantastic--I don't know how Lil C (prominently featured in the film) keeps a straight face when he critiques what they call krump on So You Think You Can Dance, because it really doesn't bear a lot of resemblance to what the kids were doing on the streets.  I suppose that's the nature of turning a dance into a codified form though, like the difference between Latin social dance and Latin ballroom dance.  One of the things I really liked about the film was that LaChapelle dug into what the dances mean to the people who do them, providing historical and social background for the dancers.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the popular presentation of krump seems to miss the point; it's not all about being angry and stomping around, but rather about taking your anger and frustration and dancing it out in the company of men and women who understand you.  It was a cliché scene in some ways, but a shot of the dancer Dragon (I think that was who it was) krumping on an empty beach at sunset with an amusement park off in the distance while the voiceover talked about his family problems and frustrations in life was pretty damn moving.  In a lot of ways, the krumping competitions reminded me of mosh pits and slam dancing way way back in the day.  An outsider would just see how violent it looked, without getting that the kids in the middle of the pit bouncing off each other aren't out to hurt people at all and that it was really a community bonding experience.  Watching the film, I got a real sense of dance helping people to take control of their lives and giving them a source of pride in themselves and their community.  I really recommend it, both for people who want to learn something about krump and clowning and just as a documentary about people who live in Southcentral LA.

Also watched WALL-E, which of course I enjoyed very much.

In still more entertainment news, Saturday we spontaneously decided to go to the Museum of Science and see the Mythic Creatures exhibit, along with half of the rest of Greater Boston.  The exhibit was pretty interesting and I think valid in a science museum, contrary to some popular criticism.  I was expecting more of the possible biology and physics of mythic creatures but was pleasantly surprised to find it was really more of an anthropological exhibit exploring why people believe in sea serpents, unicorns, chupacabras, etc and how those beliefs travel around the world and change in the course of cultural contact.  Not sure I learned much that I didn't already know, but it was well put together and worth a look.  We also visited the new triceratops, one of the most complete skeletons in the world, who is very cutely posed rather like a romping golden retriever.

Wish I had gotten in more dancing over the weekend.  I am feeling very sketchy about the drum solo I'd picked out for next Sunday.  It's very frustrating not having a room with doors I can shut and be alone in at home.  M stays out of my way but I can't really concentrate feeling that there's somebody moving around the house and also knowing that I am preventing that somebody from using the main lounging part of our apartment.  Hopefully I'll have some time alone this week to see what I can cobble together for this solo.  I think I'm going to have to choreograph to some extent so that I don't end up scribbling.  I can write and memorize a choreography in six days, right? :-/
 
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
Short review:  I loved it, in the way that only something very uncomfortable can be loved.  It was provocative in theme and content.  I really liked the way the movie built up your sympathies for certain characters, so that you cheer their actions on, only to suddenly stop and realize that you *want* the characters to do horrible, bad things, and what does that say about you?  The two child actors are brilliant and beautiful in a way that I don't think American child actors would ever be allowed to be, at least not without tons of controversy.  Obviously it's a bit of a stereotype in vampire films and literature to be dealing with the theme of the cusp between childhood and adulthood, but this is really something powerful on a visceral level.

more spoilery comments )

On a side note, my dislike for most Kendall Square theatre patrons was reaffirmed.  People responded to gruesome things with highly inappropriate laughter, I think because it is easier to laugh than to think about/empathize with uncomfortable things.  It makes me sad for them, though it doesn't stop me from wishing they'd gone to some other movie.

This weekend I also sealed up all the windows, which made an immediate difference in the house, dealt with an RCN phone thing, went to the vet's with Ianto, made a pizza, danced, cleaned the tub, took a bath and did one of the things on my list of dance goals for 2008, which is to put together a handful of 20 minute routines to have on tap for whenever I need one.  The one I did last night was very classic and full of music I love but hopefully not boring for a restaurant/party crowd who knows that kind of music.  Next I'll put together a more pop oriented one appropriate for any kind of audience, and then a couple more of each.  My foot injury derailed things so much for me this year, so it feels good to actually get some goals accomplished in the last months of the year.  Anyway it was a very productive weekend.

Ianto's doing well.  He has some kind of low grade infection and fever, so he's on amoxycillan for a week.  Because he's on prednisone, which is an immunosuppressant, this kind of thing can happen frequently.  Luckily he's so, so good about taking medications.  This one isn't too awful.  The vet also agreed with me, looking at his teeth, that he's probably much closer to 4 than 2.  His incisors show the kind of wear that is characteristic of a few years' worth of chewing on cage bars :-( and his canines are getting that translucent look that older ferret canines get.  But he continues to maintain very well on a low dose of prednisone and is in generally good health, so I think we'll get some good time with him.  The trip to the vet's was a good bonding experience; he was actually asking to be picked up, which is new and says he sees me as safety.  Yay little heartwarming weasel :-)
 

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