Monday, March 28, 2005

"Erotic Fun for All Ages"

is the caption on the DVD container, a snippet of a review from the San Francisco Examiner. I'd been throwing out captions to my ever-loving wife for ages about this movie, but not so much ending up with the word "erotic" within my comments than more of words like "modern comedy of manners", "Depardieu", & "ingenious plot". For whatever reason, she's never been able to see this film, a personal favorite of mine. The "Erotic Fun for All Ages" was not the best thing to be highlighted on the DVD, as it required explanation even before I had a chance to slip the DVD into the player.
I thought a "Je n'est ca pas" would do.
Ha! Ignorance of that film blurb's meaning, and even better, said Ignorance expressed in French. Unfortunately, my wife is possessed with the adversarial prosecutorial skills that would have all of the "Law & Order" defense lawyers pleading for settlement. Her raining down of questions and answers left me no choice but to press "Play" and crank up the sound.
While the film held me in its grip just as it has in all my previous viewings, the searing eyes I felt on the right side of my head let me know there was going to be a difference of opinion from the other viewer. I'll give her credit for sticking it through, although the complete viewing may have only provided her with more ammunition.

Bertrand Blier, the director, has a unique view of the human condition. It's his combination of Misery and Humor that always draws me in. A big plus is that his partner-in-crime, in many cases, is Gerard Depardieu, a lug who's simultaneously loathable & lovable.
(From an review of another of Blier's movies, "Too Beautiful for You") In the films of Bertrand Blier, love is a virus that sends its victims on a feverish fling of impulsive passion before leaving them abandoned and alone.
How the San Francisco Examiner concocted "Erotic Fun for All Ages" is beyond me. The only explanation that I come up with is that the initial review, which would have been written in English, was mis-translated into English and then re-translated back to English by the film company. So, what may have been "Erotic Fun not for all Ages" or "Erotic Fun for the Ages" was described as a family movie for fun of the erotic kind. Sort of like "Disney Does Dallas". This is most definitely not a film for anyone under 15; as an adult you'd have a lot of explaining to your kiddies during the film and talking would ruin the film experience for you.

At the conclusion of the film, my ever-loving wife, arms crossed, just stared at me for a while.
"So, this is THE movie that you've been talking up so much, since we first met?"

(Denial not being a feasible option here, due to her prodigious memory), I mumbled, "Oui, c'est ca." (hoping French would bail me out).

"Well, let's see.....2 guys become buddies. They sleep with the same woman, one of the guy's wife. Then a teenaged boy gets involved... This is nothing more than a male fantasy, actually two male fantasies! One would be the grown-up (well, as grown-up as a man can get) fantasy. The other would be a teenager's fantasy of the "Older Woman" variety".

"That is one way of looking at it. But how about the whole "human condition" thing. The whole husband-trying-to-make-his-wife-happy angle. The humour of the dilemna. The servitude of man toward woman..."

I was getting nowhere. Even discussion of the cinematography, of the places in France that were beautifully shown, or of the realistically captured scenes of kids in their cusp-of-manhood stage got me nowhere.

A last thrust. ".....But wasn't it at least fun? In an erotic way?"
.... Flipped at you from a distance of a few feet, those DVD containers can really leave a nice dent in the side of your head. Especially if you get hit with one of the corners.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Aching shoulders
In high school and college, my language electives were always French. I'd convinced myself it was a good fit. I didn't smoke while I was an educational establishment resident, but I did tend toward mumbling, speaking with one eye closed, walking around with bread of the longish variety, imbibing of the red wine, philosophizing (of the teenage variety), exhaling in long deep breaths, and long-winded postulating of the romantic kind. Learning French was a painful experience for me. A gift for language was never found under my Christmas tree; both the written and the spoken foreign sentence were difficult for me and, even moreso, difficult for the recepient of my communication. When I was younger, my forays into Francaise were received with a laugh and the kindness usually extended to someone trying a new trick or task. Older now, but none the better in formulating and mouthing words in French, my attempts at speaking are now met with sad shakes of the head. My awe-inspriring daughter, as talented in French as I am not, stares at me, wondering if this is what dementia looks like.
I'm not sure why I persisted. Aside from the obvious lack of connection between ear, brain, & mouth, French was physically a difficult language for me. Even when I was in mate-finding shape, speaking in French was exhausting.
Italians seem to be instructing planes how to land on aircraft carriers when they're speaking.
Americans seem to be perpetually hammering their words onto a plank when they are droning on.
The French? They are unburdening themselves. Perpetually. It's a shoulder language. All that shrugging, that sagging, that pulling back of the shoulder blades. My upper body just was not in shape to speak French.

But I love seeing it spoken. Correctly. With full shoulder action.
This weekend bodes well for some of that type of watching. Netflix is mailing Bertrand Blier's 1978"Préparez vos Mouchoirs" (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs).

A film aside here: (Bertrand Blier's unconventional, sophisticated French comedy follows two men -- Raoul (Gerard Depardieu) and Stephane (Patrick Dewaere) -- who try everything to make the insatiable Solange (Carole Laure) happy. But their efforts fail when they lose her to a precocious 13-year-old boy. Winner of the 1979 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.)

This movie is one of my all-time favorites. Depardieu is his usual rambunctious physical self. His partnership with Dewaere is an underappreciated gem. Laure, a French-Canadian, offers her own dialect of French along with a childlike earthiness that has me blushing each time I see this film. Blier caused quite a stir with this movie due to the story line. The first 20 minutes are especially strong. The only shame is that the sub-titles are merely adequate; I'm hoping my French hearing skills have not totally deteriorated. Although with Depardieu, I would listen to him reading the Paris phone book and enjoy it.

I'll be Ben-Gaying my shoulders in preparation; perhaps I'll buy a pack of Galloises to place next to my bottle of wine.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Having a Look-See
Just a little nudge to visit some of the new blogs linked off to the right there.
Great Concert Pix and CD Reviews
Tongue in Cheek, but always in Kindness
If nothing else (and there's plenty), go for the original drawings
An alt view of the Iraq Situation

My personal daily must-reads (No particular order). Thoughts, views, & snippets of sanity to get you through:

Whisky Prajer - One Side
Whisky Prajer - Another Side
Outer Life - All Sides
Lileks - Humorous Obsessions
Always an interesting view (& humor to boot)
What's Happening, Right Now

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Here's an excerpt from Friday's James Lilek's Bleats (Whew!, lots of "s" ending words there, hope you didn't spit on your keyboard as you were mouthing the last part of that sentence)

" Today. Oy. Today we cleaned out the toy closet, a difficult task. The toys that stay go here; the toys to be repurposed go here. “What’s reporupused?”(sp) It means they will go downstairs, where you will forget about them; I will sift through the bag in a few months, extract the items that speak to a particular era, like the toy you had in the home movie made on 9/11, and give the rest to the thrift store. The key is to absent the child from the process, because they don’t want to part with anything. Toys that have been ignored for months are suddenly items of intense interest – wax lips, dry pens, fragments of Happy Meal promotions. Faced with the parting eternal, everything becomes precious. It’s a metaphor for life itself. For that matter, everything in life is a metaphor for life. Except life. Life is probably a metaphor for metaphor. If you know what I mean, he said, half a glass of wine away from going face down on the keyboard." (emphasis added)

The copyrighted definition of "repurposed" is:

"re·pur·pose (rē-pûr'pəs), -posed, -pos·ing, -pos·es.
To use or convert for use in another format or product:
Ex.; "They repurposed the book as a compact disk."

This past week, I've been busy repurposing most of my personal possessions. CD cases have made great beverage coasters. Books, if carefully piled up, offer total darkness opportunities when placed in front of windows. Favorite t-shirts with minimum hole-age are quite artsy when placed within each other, as long as the holes don't match up. Snow sleds, beat up by ever heavier sledders, are great burglar detectors down in the basement (just have to check my coverage to make sure that severed head intruders cannot sue me for lobotmoies or sew-ons). The one component of the current living arrangement that I am woefully without that would increase my repurposing capabilities is a garage. A three car would be fabulous. With that space, I see myself as the da Vinci of Repurposing.
Or so I've maintained in my campaign on the ever-loving (& life's detrtitus discarding) wife.

Just an aside here: To those folks who regularly peruse Bleats, is it just me or do you sometimes shudder when you read of whom he's writing about? As a person (and a Slavic person,at that), I tend toward suspicion of my fellow human being, to begin with. As a parent, I register way over to the right on the Paranoiameter. In some of his pieces, Mr. Lileks (IMHO) provides too much access in the information department. Specifically, when it comes to talking about his daughter, Gnat, who he is so openly crazy about. I actually thought that she was a figment of his very fertile imagination. Well, I had hoped she was, for his own piece of mind. Then, last week this headline. Man charged in plot to kidnap Letterman's son. Mr. Lileks must have a huge amount of faith in his fellow man/blog reader. I admire and I cringe simultaneously.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A place that you don't want your name mentioned would include this list from the Bitter Waitress. In an ongoing monologue, here's hoping you are not included as a character in waiter rant.
A friend of mine actually says, when going to a restaurant that he knows he'll be dropping at $60 in, to the waitress/waiter, "Your tip will be 22%, and will go down if you don't meet my standard. If it gets down to 10%, I'll be tlaking to your manager/owner." He's always received great service and the wait staff, with 1 or 2 exceptions, got at least 20%. In one case, he gave a waitress 40% after she'd completed a Heimlich on one of his kids.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Summer Kidz
(from Arthur de Pins' online portfolio
It's blindingly bright outside. The last snow/ice/frozen rain weather concoction has passed through last week. Spring, that season of bundled up nerves and anticipation, is 4 days from today. And summer, the kids' season, is just around the distant corner. The raison d’être of childhood. Sons & daughters are detailing their plans of doing nothing and holding assiduously to those plans. Misery will soon be losing its company.

Follow-up: I would be remiss not to give a nod to this Canadian site, Drawn. I've had it as a blog link for visitors to go to for a while, but I haven't POINTED IT OUT IN LARGE LETTERS. This is the site where I first found out about Arthur de Pins. Click on over. You will not be disappointed and you'll probably do the same thing I've done. Namely, bookmark it for easier visits.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

In the Museum of Harmony & Golden Section site, there are quite a few cubby holes to wander into and get lost. This Russian site generally deals with matehematics, harmony, & proportion. While combing through various entries, the section titled Periods of Man's Life sucked me in.
In this section, it was noted that "for a long time man's life (does not) flow uniformly. It is tracked in it a periodicity of different processes, an availability of the turning and crisis moments, qualitative jumps. Thus the periodicity of life process can not be reduced to a circling when we come back to the initial point and most likely resembles the spiral motion when as though there is also returning but each time at the new level." (Clunky writing may be due to Russian to English translation on the site).

The piece goes on. "The interesting information about periods of man's life, connected with Fibonacci and Lucas numbers are given by Nikolay Vasutinsky in his book "The Golden Proportion" (1990) and by Eduard Soroko in his book "Structural harmony of systems" (1984). The essence of their conclusions is the following. Critical man's ages correspond to the following years: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, and all man's life can be divided into 7 periods: about one year corresponds to infancy, 1-8 years to childhood, 8-13 to adolescence, 13-21 to youth, 21-34 years to second youth, 34-55 years to maturity, 55-89 years to old age."

Interestingly, "In Vasutinsky's opinion, life periodicity of woman is subjected to Lucas number: 1, 3, 4, 7, 11, 18, 29, 47, 76, 123. Shift of age intervals for women is explained more by girl's forwardness."

Describing some of the age brackets, the author lists:
"The youth period (21-34):Corresponds to upsurge of physical and intellectual capabilities of the man. The main achievements of the outstanding scientists and artists happen just for this life period.
The mature age (34-55): Is a heyday of forces, there comes overwork as a result of perennial activity, depression and apathy, the nervous failures (occur) frequently, (and one has a loss of) business grip.
The age of 55-89 years: Is a time of philosophical understanding of life, summarizing, a time of revaluation of values, waiving of excesses, looking up of the "eternal truths" and the "eternal values"."

As with most summaries, there are exceptions to the rules set out. But the emphasis is that the general time-line rules age's progression. So, if you (as I) are in the 34-55 bracket, specifically in the upper half, it may be time to take Cosmo Kramer's advice and "Giddy-up". The piece was written based on books published in the late 1980's and early 1990's, so the authors may not have taken into account the new magic medications/applications introduced in the last 15 years (Viagra, Risotto w/ Porcini Mushrooms, iPods) that may widen the age brackets.

But to be sure, I'll have to cut my sleeping time from 8 hrs to 6 hrs to fit in all that has to be finished. The ever-loving wife is already suggesting I'm into the philosophical understanding of life stage. Well, at least in regards to the clearing out the basement project.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Long Days & No Cable TV
Combine Iceland and surfing (not the web kind) and you get someone like
Mike Loomis. 24 hours of sunshine, confinement at the Keflavik US Navy Station, and a sense of adventure and you have
Surf Iceland. Talk about an interesting way to promote a job search. Hopefully, he's gotten someone's attention by now; per the site, Mr. Loomis was to leave Iceland in September 2004. Remember that night you were out walking on the beach at Christmas time in Maine? Perhaps you thought you saw a piece of driftwood semmingly catching a way in to shore? Well, it just may have been Mike Loomis; the man just couldn't get the cold out of his blood.
Other sites involving Surfing and Iceland and Other Insanities:
Evan's Reef
Chad Campbell

Iceland Park Project

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Aging...quite well, indeed
On Saturday, Feb. 26th, I had a chance to see the Holmes Brothers. Some excellent pictures of the concert are here, Artists' Photos. I'm hoping to write up a little review/story of the Holmes Bros. a bit later. If you want to latch on to some reviews of some other cd's, slide shows of some concerts in the Philly area, and a chance to sign up as a review writer yourself, check out the Studio M Live site yourself.. If the Virginia based group ever happens to be within driving distance, do not hesitate to jump in your car that day and start moving.

Did he jump or was he pushed?
(This photo, supposedly untouched, comes from archinect, via City Comforts)For decision-making purposes, I'm a "Two" kind of guy. Yes, most things in life are grey, not black 'n white. Yes, most things in life are complicated and geometric instead of simple and linear. But, for decision-making purposes, for computer machine language purposes, and for efficiency's purposes, "Two" is the way to go. Yes-No. On-Off. White-Black. You get the idea, speed over accuracy sometimes is the optimal way to go. "Two-fer"s rushed you to the next decision. And the next...
Bing. Bing. Bing.
In a young boy's passage, a "Two-fer" that came up early was "Jump-Stay". Playing around creek beds or tenament roofs, it became quickly obvious to the kid gangs jostling, grabbing, knocking each other around if you were a jumper or you were not. The "not" were also called wussies or some other finely honed barb to a kid's spirit. With some kids, this needling would act as the impetus to stray from unsure to airborne. With other kids, the sheer fear combined with being off the ground was enough to run, stop, and...float. I was one of the latter, usually being among the first few more than happy to leap over water or open space between buildings. I am not talking about bravery here; at that age stupidity was often mistaken for bravery.
Besides, we were all convinced that if we did leap and we did not make it, heaven was waiting for us. Cloud jumping sure looked tempting.
No one in my little group ever got seriously hurt, even when roof-jumping. A scrape here, a bruised knee or elbow there, a soaked pair of Con's on occassion. Since no one suffered injury, I never put any heavy emphasis on this part of my childhood or its long term effects on growing up until I was in college and doing the backpacking Europe thing that was de rigeur (in my time, at least). At two different times, I happened to be on some cliffs, once in Corfu and another time in Dubrovnik. What brought these memories back was this picture. At least according to the two sites listed, this photo is not touched up. It is 2 guys playing tennis on a helipad on the top of the Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai.
Suddenly, I was back on those cliffs and the desire to jump that I felt when there came back. Looking at the picture, I couldn't understand how those 2 players did not have the same urge. Stand by the edge, look down, and jump into the void. What a release to leap.

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