Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: September 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

Seen at the Cinema

The Last Kiss

Another vehicle for Zach Braff to lay around looking pitiful? Or a fly-on-the-wall perspective of modern relationships? A bit of both. The obvious comparisons are going to be made to the amazing Indie film--Garden State--which Zach directed. The soundtrack is equally compelling and the perspective a bit more mature. We see several generations of relationship--from the 30-year marriage of the parents, to the young couple with a new baby, to the honeymooners. We get to witness all the neuroses--of both men and women--of feeling trapped; feeling abandoned--unseen; feeling used; feeling abused; boredom; all of it. And we get to see Zach in various postures of malaise, desperation, and consignment. Here's a guy who basically blows it. He freaks out because everything is too perfect. (I've often cautioned my brother for the very same reason: You have everything--don't screw it up.) So he plays with the idea of what's still out there? Maybe there's something more? This is a man's greatest weakness. So, he plays with fire in the form of a little brunette, a last kiss. (This character was too painfully close to my life before 3HO. Frightening. "They always say it's not me, but then they never call me back.")

Meanwhile we see Blythe Danner playing the neurotic, ignored, wife in a 3o-year-marriage, who can't contain her rage at not being acknowledged or even noticed by her faithful, but dismissive husband. So she acts out for attention. The character of the husband/therapist in this marraige remains a mystery to me, somewhat. I'll let y0u know if I get more insights upon reflection.

Along the way we get to witness man's second greatest misjudgement: "I thought a child would bring us together" and all the commiseration that comes with that blunder. Casey Affleck plays the defeated new dad and he's wonderful. Maybe he'll redeem the family name! There are two more characters in the mix that show the extremes of desparation (the stalker) and debauchery (the playboy). Meanwhile, Zach's character goes a little too far and we get to witness what he's willing to do to come back home.

Overall a charming, well-acted film that identifies all of our neuroses but also calls on all of our hopes and how far we'll go to have love and to keep it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dance Dance Dance, part two

Well, I went to my second modern dance class on Tuesday. It's now Friday and I can barely walk. Maybe I am too old to try something this new? I'm going to continue with it though because I feel soooo good while I'm doing it--and immediately after. What a life of pain in exchange for that feeling? Better than being numb, which is my usual state of being.

I'm a Leo and a sucker for compliments so the instructor is either yanking my chain, needs the money, or sincerely thinks I'm a natural. She said to me the other night, I think you missed your calling. And I got to reply, No, I'm just getting a late start.

It feels like the first time I sat down with my new guitar (a gift from my parents) at my first lesson and then went home to write my first song from the three chords I learned. Ahhhh. The thrill and the freedom of the beginner. I'm only sorry to say that 15 years later, I still know only those three chords (well, okay, I've learned a few more, but not many!).

But here I am beginning again.


Translations are always interesting. I used to purchase multiple versions of my favorite poets (in translation) and do a comparative reading. There were those translations that are focused on precision, exacting and skilled in their approach. Then there are translations that somehow just don't speak to me--too dry--they may be translating the words but not the spirit. Well I tried my hand at a translation the other day and I think it turned out well.

Third Pauri of Anand Sahib (The Song of Bliss)

Lord Master,
What do you not hold
in your heart?

Whatever I receive
is your gift.

As I ever enjoy your gifts,
this entire creation,
my mind is stilled
and I am filled
with your Spirit
and the dance of your
celestial sounds
resound in my heart.

Says Nanak,
Oh, True One,
What doesn't abide
in your home?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

dance dance dance

Since coming to this little strip of dirt in N. New Mexico (I should say for the record that the valley is quite beautiful this summer--verdant even), I've become more and more sedentary. I was pretty sedentary back in Seattle, but at least I walked around more--walk to the movies, walk to coffee, walk to meet friends, etc. Here, I walk maybe 15 feet--from my car to the front door and back. So this week I turned a new leaf. Lately--over the past few months-I've been playing around with performance art, still in the writing phase, but I wanted to explore movement as well. So-I took my first modern dance class in probably 15 years, and even then I only took a handful. It felt great! It's as if I had in some way renounced a connection to my physical self since coming here. As a result, I don't even recognize myself in the mirror lately. You can imagine then--standing in front of full-length mirrors--moving this foreign 'body' around. My knee hurts, but heart feels wide open!

Who knows? Maybe I'll become a professional dancer--in my 40s!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Seen at the Cinema

Two flicks--no flames

Crank: Aptly named. You feel like you're on speed the entire time you're in the movie. The draw of course was Jason Statham, my favorite action movie star (besides the Rock--go ahead and mock, but the Rock rocks!) these days, that is, until they give Clive Owen a go at the genre. It opens with some woozy film effects and then the movie just speeds up from there. It has the most outrageous scene of any movie I've seen in years. I'll spare you the details, but it involves the international district in LA, tourists and s--. Not three things you typically associate with one another. I can't say I'd recommend it because it's soooo graphic and over-the-top (and yes I do mean it in the literal sense--if you peek over you may get hit) but I can't say I hated it. Definately NOT for children, NOT for my family, ACTUALLY, not for most people I know with a grain of conscience.

The Illusionist: Again, the effects of this movie were a bit much. The lighting too dim. The fades in and out a bit much. But overall, a very charming movie and the first for Edward Norton in what feels like years but maybe I was just asleep for his other summer hits? Norton has a stare that is very compelling and he gets ample opportunities to use it in this feature film. Giamotti (sp?) is also really good in this film. But when isn't he? The actor playing Leopold is quite compelling as well (a Rufus something), he doesn't overplay what could have easily become almost a cartoon, or charicature, of the crowned prince and son of one of the most "evil" empires that ever existed. (See King Leopold's Ghost) Right up there with contemporary evil empires--like the Bush empire. (that's for all you fans of the blog in Texasville--please take it with the humor it's intended and a generous grain of salt--in fact, just throw a good old-fashioned salt like from the ranch on there!) Go see it? Sure, why not.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics--A Book Report

Well, I will try to not allow my review to be tainted by my "duly-noted" yet unable to drop envy of a woman in her twenties able to write such a tome (over 450 pages my friends) and not be mired in the typical narcisim and self-congratulatory tone of most under 30 authors (and over 30 if you read Michiko's recent review of Franzen's new memoir); much to my delight, this first novel is entertaining.

I spent my holiday weekend on the couch reading the new book by Marisha Pessl. For a first novel, I found it entertaining, compelling and often hard to put down (hence finishing over the course of 3 days). Of note are the often (over) used metaphors--the most charming of which I found to be: her head hung like a squirt of toothpaste; there are many, many other examples to the point that you begin to skip over them looking only for nouns and verbs. Other interesting techniques are the cites found throughout the book--as though it were a research paper of sorts. They range from charming references that you catch just from the title to overly academic, and most likely, fabricated titles to suit her purposes. However, there was some charm in describing someone's expression by referencing a certain scene in a movie, or a point of argument by a quote from Napoleon. But like the metaphor, it grew a bit straining (and strained) by the end of the novel.

Now one would think for such an adventurous novelist as far as technique and style, Pessl would have explored the boundaries of narrative a bit more, but it seems that her first crush is with language more than story. I found it a bit hard to believe--the ending, that is. It's all a bit too forced and too tidy. That Blue walks off into the horizon (at least it's not sunny) with the charming but "unchallening" lad she had all but humilitated from earlier in the book is a stretch--as is the ending re: the father. I don't want to give too much away, because despite it's flaws (it's over-eager to impress style), it's a page turner and you won't be disappointed to have found a new author to look forward to. But, let me say, for the record, that her comparisons to Donna Tartt are premature.

six children died this weekend--a poem

Six children died today
In an apartment fire
Cause cited by the fire department: misuse of a candle
True cause: poverty.

The neighbors noted that the power
Had been out for over a month
But there was nothing romantic
About the dim lights and the sweltering heat

There is no poetry
In this kind of poverty
The only thing to trickle down
In this tenement was the sweat on a mother’s brow

Six children, now ghosts
Promises made and broken
The war on poverty
Nothing but a token

To cover up time and money
Spent killing children
In other countries
In the name of security

& for the sake of power
false stakes are claimed
lies and conceit--games
played for patronage and prestige

While a mother lives
For the remainder of her days
With ghosts and shadows
The flicker of candles