Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dumping time

All right, it's been a while. There's lots to discuss, but no time to do so. So, I am offering incomplete, unpublished entries at a discount, today, 2 for 1, or in Marvel parlance, 2-in-1.

I figure they're better off online incomplete than sitting waiting for me to find the time to complete them. Remember that they were written some time ago, and my mindset could be radically different now. If you have any questions, just ask!

Spielberg's year of evil opposites, from 2/07/06

I got to see WAR OF THE WORLDS and MUNICH over the course of the Christmas, 2005 weekend: and events in both movies mirror the events in the current headlines so much that a blog entry couldn't have been avoided. Since this past weekend, I have been pondering Spielburg's work, and what it has meant to me personally, and the world.

The reason I have spent a good part of my adult life pursuing dreams of becoming a filmmaker is because of Steven Spielberg. I saw JAWS about 10 times from 1975 to 1980: it made me want to make movies!

Me, and every third schlub you see walking around Hollywood scrutinizing daylight. No, not a terribly original idea, 'JAWS made me want to make movies.' But JAWS would lead me into a much greater love of cinema, so as a result I tried to see everything I could, and also take in as much about movies as I was able to. I was lucky to be exposed to ERASERHEAD at the age of 16, it too is a film that made me not only want to make movies, but make them is such a way as to challenge the viewer...heady thoughts at 16, and I wouldn't even be able to articulate them until I was in my thirties.

So, 2005 was Spielberg's year of evil opposites. He has always treated extraterrestrial charaters as peaceful or benign: WAR OF THE WORLDS gives us trying aliens as malicious. His heart didn't seem in it, and as a result, it's one of my least favorite Spielberg movies.

2005 brought us WAR OF THE WORLDS and MUNICH in the same way 1993 brought us the popcorn entertainment of JURASSIC PARK, and the end of the year would bring Spielberg's best movie to that date: SCHINDLER'S LIST, about a list that meant continued life if your name was on it, as the movie itself famously states, "The list is life." SCHINDLER'S LIST brought Spielberg the Oscar that COLOR PURPLE really should have earned him. MUNICH, concerning a list of people that are to be assassinated for their role in the murders of the Israeli atheletes at the Munich olympic games, is his best movie since JAWS. I also think that it's the best movie of 2005, despite how much I loved BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

{editorial interruption: I love MUNICH, but I end up loving BROKEBACK even more.}

Spielberg has become our director of conscience. I am certainly not the first to say this.

{sorry, that's it. Remember, you receive this at a discount}

This one is meatier, and I am so sorry that I couldn't finish it. From 2/9/06, although I started it in November of '05, and worked on it through February.

Frying My Bacon In the Canadian Hot Seat

I'm sorry, the post you are about to read has been building since late October. A lot of it was written in mid-November. I had a writing set-back (odd how those become writing fodder), but here it is, I hope you enjoy it.

Hello, remember me? I probably don't deserve it...

But my latest romance-induced hiatus is at an end...2005 was a year of incredible, unique experiences...some have hurt, but I am grateful for them all...if I could change anything...I wouldn't. I'll provide you with a little more insight soon...but my former republican-love muffin figures into the post, due to some of the conversation...

{editorial note: you've already gotten most of that insight, in a previous post}

My most recent daliance suggested that I have mixed up too much of my personal info with the political content that I cannot help but be compelled to write, here in this blog. Well, hold onto your hats, 'cause here comes a very strange souffle of those exact ingredients. I won't turn this into a weight loss journal, but that's part of this story. I am poorly grafting a weight loss memoir onto a treatise on international politics, mixed with a thick green marbling of travel journal. Prepare yourself for Suck Souffle, and the strange ingredients will be the poorer for the odd juxtapositions.

From October 14 - 16, 2005, I was in Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. My hosts were kind enough to join in a birthday tribute to me, Renard and Eric, the Evil Trio, back in January, when Alex and Natasha flew from there to join us here, in LA's South Bay. (It's Alex and 'Tasha in the pic from January of 2005) We had dinner at Outlaws Steakhouse, and in pictures of me, it is obvious that I weighed more than I ever have. (Here's where the personal info comes in, duh. No, no one said anything to me, I could see it in the pictures, and on the scale, which read 330 lbs.) More on that later. I had the tri-tip. Alex and 'Tasha stayed a couple of days, and I got to join them and Renard and Loren in a little siteseeing, taking in the new Disney concert hall and the new Catholic cathedral.

Months pass, and I remember that Alex's birthday is in October, so over the summer I begin preliminary talks with Alex and Renard about going out to British Columbia to return Alex's favor. Despite warning Renard that he is amazingly lucky, and despite that the insight proved sage, I was the only one that got to go to British Columbia.

Alex picked me up in Victoria, B.C. Victoria is charming, has a great little personality, and seemed to be constructing itself anew every other block. Alex and I ate at a place that was fairly bustling with a wait staff who's friendliness bordered on cheeky. We then headed to the Canadian equivalent of a combination Home Depot/Pep Boys, and despite the size of this place, it felt friendlier than even the smallest of its American corporate counterparts.

We headed for the ferry that would take us to Salt Spring Island. What a wonderful sense of isolation, getting on a boat to go to an island. You've seen the pictures from the ferry. The city Alex lives and works in is very small, and I may be wrong, but I don't think that I saw a single American corporation doing business on the island. It is a warm, quaint place to my sensibilites. I loved it there, and would love to spend more time there.

Alex's home was designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright protogee, and again, in the pictures you see some of the odd touches associated with Wright. GREAT pad! At one point, Alex put on a CD celebrating great Canadian songwriters, eventually coming to "A Case of You," a beautiful version by kd lang. The album made me realize (I don't know why) that some of the critics that are most on point about America are Canadian..."Rockin' in the Free World" by Neal Young and Leonard Cohen's later works come to mind...

On Saturday night, I got to take part in a birthday party for Alex. In so doing, my mission was complete. I hopped the first ferry...

Yuk yuk yuk

Alex and 'Tasha have a very interesting array of friends, all of whom were very friendly. In certain occasions, the veneer of friendship would be exposed as a little thin before the evening was over, but it never wore through. It was great to talk at length again to Christine Arnet, Alex's sister, whom I hadn't seen since April of 1987. Moments like that make me glad for my long memory. I cannot possibly recall every name from that night, but I greatly enjoyed their company. It reminded me of my visit to Toronto back in 1987, which was one of the more memorable experiences of my life. I had a sense best described by the concept of the little bee girl in the "No Rain" video by Blind Melon: I had found a concentration of people like me.

Memory has failed me in terms of exactly how many people were there. But everyone had a great time. After dinner, tobacco smokers congregated on the patio/balcony. I hung inside, mainly because I am not so crazy about smoke...tobacco smoke...

But I headed out to the patio that I might produce some smoke with my lungs. It felt like as soon as I sat down, everyone left at the party jumped on me because I was the only citizen of the world's worst country. I distictly remember at least five people looking in my direction, and talking, heatedly, about what the USA does that pisses them off. I know it sounds unfriendly, but I totally understand their perspective. It makes me wish that the people that are setting the terrible policies could have been there with us. After all, I am almost completely sympathetic to what everyone was complaining about. The person who really needed to hear it was my then-girlfriend, the unthinking supporter of the uncaring administration...

They complained like you would expect someone to complain at the end of a long customer service line. They had no way to vent these ideas in a way that they thought would have any impact; and then they had an opportunity to tell a citizen of the USA what they thought, especially how our economic policies are hurting Canada. I'd probably do the same thing in their position. Except, unfortunately for them, they were preaching to the choir.

I remember Katrina coming up, then less than 7 weeks in the past, and I remember distinctly a question: "Aren't you ashamed?" Of course I am ashamed of the reaction. But I am not ashamed of my own reaction, because I know I did everything I could to kick Bush back to Crawford...

A lovely woman named Memry was keen to ply me with her opinions on the US's lawmaking, and I was eager to hear her issues. It turned out that she didn't have the firmest grasp of American lawmaking. She was angry about how 'easy' it is to make laws in this country.

I must say that I was very touched when the conversation shifted to the greatness of America. Everyone agreed that the greatest thing about America is its ethnic diversity; not only that we have significant ethnic diversity, but that in a world where people live side by side prepared to kill each other over disagreements in a shared religion, America's ethnicities dwell side by side in a comparitively shocking peace. I agree with that assessment, but I see a day in the not too distant future where the entire world loses that, because too many immigrants to America failed to assimilate more completely. We can only live in and enjoy such peace if we all see ourselves as Americans...but what happens when we can't even talk to each other?

{the end}

Hope you like! Actually, I did a pretty good job on the Canadian visit. Just left out some opinions expressed by Memry's boyfriend...anyone that can fill in any blanks on that night are very welcome to! Hint, hint...


Anonymous Alex said...

That was a fine night and we were all glad you made the trip. It was pretty interesting for me to watch my friends vent, as if you were temporary Ambassador for your country. Most of the people there were fairly politically astute,and all of them are opinionated, but certainly Mem's boyfriend Dietmar is the most set in his ways. Still clinging to his punk attitudes.

There is a very strong feeling in Canada of being both attached to America and repulsed by many of the Bush Administration's actions. We feel that we have the right to point fingers and say "Well you elected him," even though we know that most of you didn't. In fact, many US tourists have anti-Bush bumper stickers when they come here, and most of them look brand new, as if to say, "Hey, we're not one of THEM.". Salt Spring Island has become a bit of a second home to many wealthy Americans, and I have met a few who are Bush refugees, fed up with what has come of the land they grew up in. At the end of the day we're brothers and sisters, but I would have to say, aside from Iraq and Afghanistan, no one is more aware of the follies of US policies than us up here in Canada. Hope to see you at the next birthday bash. More of my thoughts on Canada?US here:

2:39 PM  
Blogger TRS said...

Thanks Alex, I am always greatful for your insight and perspective!

2:45 PM  

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