Friday, March 27, 2009

How Swede it is

Sunday, I actually saw 2 Swedish movies on the same day. What are the odds? Both completely by chance.

The first was at a film club that a friend gave me a free pass to. You never know what film will pop up, though sometimes, if you read the New York and LA film reviews like I do, you can make a good guess. After the movie, there’s a discussion hosted by a local expert (film critic and/or professor). I haven’t stayed for many of those, because rather than discussion of movies, they seem to degenerate into talking to hear myself talk-fests.

I actually did one of those little happy/excited clapping my hands things (oh, yeah!), when I heard them say the name of the movie – Everlasting Moments. I’d seen the reviews and it sounded wonderful. And it truly was. It’s one of those deeply romantic, tragic/triumphant family stories. It takes place in the early 1900s, and follows a woman who marries a charming rascal. As charming rascals tend to do, he cheats, drinks and beats her and the kids. Through it all, she finds comfort in the photographs she takes with a camera she won before they married, and the friendship of the man who owns the photographic studio who encourages her. As a movie about photography should be, it’s achingly gorgeous, and the hopes each character has that are fulfilled, or not, or only partially, pull at your heart. It has all of that old-fashioned longing that you almost never see at the movies any more. And frankly, I left before the discussion started because I thought to myself “damned if I will let you people ruin this wonderful movie for me.”

The second one was one that another friend picked up on DVD. It was Let the Right One In, a vampire flick. Unfortunately, unlike Everlasting Moments, it was dubbed rather than subtitled. Strangely, I find that I can acclimate myself better to reading dialogue than I can to listening to dubbed voices. Especially in this one, where the bad kid’s voice sounded like it was dubbed by the same person that did all the bad guy voices on the Kung Fu Action Theater movies I watched as a kid. Yuck.

And even overlooking the bad voice work, I’m not sure how I feel about this movie. It was definitely a different take on the vampire film than you usually see. It wasn’t the overblown romance or action flick take you mostly see these days. It was more about the practicalities of how do you live if you look like a 12-year old girl and need to live, in the modern world, on blood. Like what do you do with the bodies? And all those details are covered in very realistic fashion. Like dragging a body through the snow (it is Sweden) on a child’s sled. And if you are a vampire, and you want to make friends, who can accept you for the blood drinking killer you are?

Some of the images are absolutely stunning. But for some reason this film never grabbed me. Not that I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re into vampire stuff, it’s an interesting take, and well worth a rental. While it didn’t float my boat, it does take the genre in a new direction, and that’s always good when you’re dealing with a genre that can often be cliché, just because the path is so well worn.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ah. Good times.

My family was one of those "nerdy families" that went camping back in the day. We had the whole setup. 3-room tent. Coleman lanterns and stove. Cots. Army surplus sleeping bags. Blue & white speckled coffee percolator. To this day I have a fondness for toast made over an open flame.

I have good memories of camping and bad. Good like getting to ramble all day in the woods. Bad like swimming underwater in a lake and getting the life scared out of me because I thought I saw an alligator (algae covered log). Good like being under no obligation to bathe. Bad like a 5-day camping trip in which it rained 4 days, and by the last day when the sun finally came out, every pieced of clothing I owned was soaking wet except for a pair of tube socks and I had to wear my mom's t-shirt and wrap shorts (actually the wrap shorts were cool, so that story is only half bad). Good like coming home, and a few weeks later finding a shirt that hadn't been washed that still smelled like camp fire. Bad like watching my parents fight for the fiftydozenth time about how the tent goes together. Obviously my spooky ability to put things together is a recessive genetic trait. Good like rainbow colored Jiffy Pop over the campfire. And nothing bad can really ever happen if you have Jiffy Pop.

Actually, all those years of camping were good training for life. Be prepared. If your perfectly toasted marshmallow falls off, you can always make another. Always pack extra socks. Never open your eyes underwater in a lake. Kids can be amused indefinitely by a good pair of walkie talkies and a supply of batteries. And good always tastes better around a campfire.

Tough Love

You know, in all the scramble to pull the country's collective nuts out of the fire, I constantly hear this chatter about how Wall Street is responding. How did Wall St. react? Did they rebound? What's the temperature on Street? Like we're doing everything possible to get these poor delicate flowers back on their trembling stems.

Bull. They're not petite flowers. They're gamblers. They gamble for a living. Some gamblers blow 10 bucks on scratcher tickets. And some would sell their granny to put $1000 on the nose of Run Forrest Run in the 8th. And the people who got us into this financial mess are the second kind. They're no better than some guy in a leisure suit raining flop sweat all over a craps table in Reno.

And they've all got a system. They've all got a sure thing. And if you give them your life's savings, they're going to quadruple it for you. It's a dead cert. But it's not a certainty. If it's guranteed, it's not gambling. Or the stock market.

And if there's one thing that I've learned after obsessive viewing of Intervention on A&E, it's never trust a junky. Whether it's pills, ponies or penny stocks, junky behavior is junky behavior. And eventually you're gonna catch them with their hands in your purse.

And what's going on right now? Oh, yeah. Wall St. has its hand in my purse.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Miracle fruit" turns sour things sweet?

I've heard of this. But I thought miracle fruit turned things sour. And it was smell, not taste.

Oh, wait. That's the magical fruit. Nevermind.

Actually, if they had a fruit that could magically change that smell, it really would be a miracle. Scientists, man your bunsen burners.

That's just me

Have you ever noticed that whenever somebody says they are "just being me" or are "keeping it real" or "not acting fake" it's never because they did something good?

Like, "I just sent some flowers to a nursing home, but I'm just being myself." "I try to eath a healthy lunch, with lots of fruit and vegetables, cause I want to keep it real." Or "I thought I'd dress appropriately for the theater and not draw negative attention to myself, cause I don't like to act fake." Or, "I told my friend straight up, 'listen, dude, I don't mean to get in your business, but you did an awesome job and I'm proud to know you.' But that's just how a I role."

Spring in my step

On my Monday off, I went to the Dallas Arboretum's Dallas Blooms! (exclamation point there's, not mine). Though I guess the exuberant punctuation is warranted. The floral presentation is definitely something to see. I believe the number of flowers quoted by the helpful volunteer was 148,000 (with a cheeky suggestion that we should count for ourselves).
Tulips, pansies, azaleas, snapdragons, oh my. And much, much more. After awhile, my eyes just got a little blurred at so much gorgeousness, and I was kind of happy to get to the quietly pretty fern walk.
The Dallas Arboretum definitely puts on the dog for spring.

TIME: Quotes of the Day