A Thursday 13 of more worthwhile movies, as best I can recall. (Some I ranked very highly and have no recollection left of.) They are high in location and framing. Often beautiful cineamatagraphy, often low on plot yank, high on yack. Most are typical: symbolic female exists and talks only to lead male if they get a speaking role or screen time.
- The Trip (2010) foodie + landscape cinematography + conversation movie + funny + poetry – Bechdel Test fail
- My Dinner with Andre (1981) Substance + thought provoking + conversation – Bechdel Test fail
- 10 Items or Less (2006) roadtrip + quirky + conversation + Bechdel Test (barely)
- The Meaning of Life (1983) boat trip + way random offbeat + funny + anti-foodie – Bechdel Test fail
- Roman Holiday (1953) tender + light-hearted + Bechdel Test (by a hair in male-dominated world)
- Before Sunset (2004) foodie? + conversation + Shakespeare & Co – Bechdel Test fail
- Pranzo di ferragosto/Mid-August Lunch (2008) location + foodie + community + conversation + Bechdel Test (but male protagonist/pov movie)
- Up (2009) sky trip + connection + animation – Bechdel Test fail
- Ratatouille (2007) sewer-trip + foodie + connection Bechdel Test fail
- Sita Sings the Blues (2008) headtrip + animation + 1 strong female but -Bechdel Test fail
- Before Sunrise (1995) conversation + location – Bechdel Test fail
- Once (2006) city trip + music + slow paced – Bechdel Test fail
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) star trip + funny + whales + Bechdel Test
So yeah, there’s that. Now, back to the poetry and writing…and Hallowe’en. What a strange occasion where the Canadian mardi gras means doing wild and crazy things like adding fake cobwebs to pretend you don’t clean. But making them look fake so it’s obvious you do. Or more disturbingly hanging comic figures from trees as a “safe” satire of lynching. Or dig up a plot on your front lawn with a plastic headstone and part of a skeleton coming out. I’ll be glad for November 1st. Even if it does mean the start of the 2 months of Christmas Day.
Ask for what you want. And other golden fleeces.
Reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book of Outliers he relates that pattern of class where kids who achieve get taught to stand up and receive, to act entitled to not expect to be reproached, to meet eyes, ask questions, question authority and for that be taken as appropriate rather than lip. (So much cowering is internalized still.)
How do people collect money? I was never good at it. Oh, that word “never” and its garbage can hat and matching scarf of “always”. Life is not pre-destined but so much runs unexamined.
In poverty class, no one would ask for something unless there’s no one who needs it more. If someone shames themselves enough to ask for something, they must need it really bad because you don’t ask for something lightly. It’s losing face to ask for help. You risk being dismissed or called on it and shut out and hammered for it for decades if you don’t really need it. You must be self-relient not community minded in dialogue and cooperation. The model is scarcity not prospering together.
Over in the story of George Whitman’s communist/community philosophy of “give what you can, take what you need” it opens the idea that the system is self-correcting. George remarked that people who are takers may not need what they take but that doesn’t means they don’t need. They are soothing a deeper need or trying to. We must be gentle with those people too because they have such a deep well and need for getting. There’s room for that. (Wish I could find the quote again. He said it much much succinctly.)
Where does this meet raising funds?
Kids are often put on the streets asking to develop a social conscience to raise money for the poor by selling cookies or pizza dough orders or by jumping rope. The lesson is: Work for free and give the money to someone far away because you’re told to. To learn the value of migrating other people’s money into your pocket to give it away and keep nothing for yourself. Funny lesson for kids, isn’t it?
They are asked to raise money for a class trip by getting some mostly symbolic job to learn the connection between work and reward, how work and reward aren’t proportional but one may lead to the other. It amounts to charity not training in something useful.
I vividly remember MS Read-a-Thons in primary school. Did your area do those? You’d get a pledge form and collect per how many books read and get prizes. Oh my, they’re still running. Since 1977.
Even with the overhanging idea that you were collecting money for charity, it was partly to promote reading. That was what the payoff for the school was to be. Better motivation for reading, thus better scores for kids, better proof of good teaching, by the kids doing things outside the classroom but still it should reflect on the funding model that the schools are doing their job because kids are doing better.
I was eager to read. I could read before I entered kindergarden. It took until grade 2 to convince teacher I could because I was so painfully shy that I didn’t make a sound or visibly move my lips when I was asked to read so I was put in the turtle group and stayed there until I got a teacher who didn’t seem to hate me. Then oddly enough I bloomed to most improved student.
By grade 3 I was reading on the senior end of the library school of all the non-fiction, working my way through the dewey decimal system. The librarian kept chastising me to stay in age-appropriate picture books. That cursed worm in the top hat and its nonsense when I could be reading books on minerals?
As the end of the readathon drew near I still feel a tickle of burn to see Pam’s list of read books and how she counted ones that were thin and below her reading level. Ones she read to her little brother.
I read more books than anyone, but got few pledges for small amounts. I read 128 books in 4 weeks one time. Some were easier, hardy boy quick reads but fairly-enough time consuming.
At the front of the cold gymnasium, the tall echoing ceiling, squeaky floor and strangers in suits, a dark room of full audience, a display table of prizes. I remember the line of my cousins and I feeling awkward and singled out. She read half the number I did but she with her hydro-worker-rich family won the top prize. And we with our thanks for coming consolation prizes, tiny cheap pins like you won when you failed at the carnival, the rip-off sort of keychain things.
Me, grouped with the ones who didn’t even try to read. The poor kids mostly. The 10th place ribbon crew who teachers never asked any questions of. The ones with messed up homes who teachers harassed and picked on while the rich kids got chatty about families they knew in common and called the teachers by first names after work even in grade 4 and 5.
128 books, for which I got a plastic lapel pin with a goofy-dog cartoon with a magnifying glass. I can’t even remember what Pam got but it was big and the handshake most praiseworthy. We shrugged and skulked back to our seats where parents glowed at us for being in the lineup.
I didn’t feel anything much at the time except fear of being under spotlight, fear and excitement that I might have to speak. A vague bump up in the always present shame and let down when it was over.
Finally I’m sharply jealous. Finally I can see the sloped playing field and cash, that great unacknowledged class evil. That which bonded the kids of each economic level into an unwilling alliance. Like the class trips for bonding where the poor kids would watch the rich kids board busses with their ski tags already bragging their count of ski hills. While the poor kids who couldn’t afford the “option” were herded into the auditorium to watch a movie, or taken on a later-running bus like a crew of inmates to go roller skating where you could buy lunch for fun. Or sit on the bench of shame because you couldn’t afford the hotdog and pop option and packed your usual sandwich while the others sat in the café. It widened the world a little. There were pinball machines in the lobby which I’d never seen and the poorest kids fed all their lunch money into.
Every person is said to move up and down a class a time or two over their lifetime which muddles the connection between attitudes and cash flow, between people you know and money made. Classes aren’t so rigid and there is no change of class bell to tell you when to move. But still, it’s there.
Economic reach is still palpable as an adult. Maybe in 20 years I will feel keenly the burn of now after a delay. Not that I am poor now. It takes years to find articulacy sometimes. Maybe I’m getting faster, more aware in real time. The lesson seems to be whatever happens, you feel something. It may not permitted to feel at the time, but the reaction still exists. When it’s safe, you can feel it. It may route thru other systems, be blunted or misdirected. You may not be able to speak but the body reacts as a dreamer at least. When you’re permitted to wake, you can process and shake clear of it. If you are kept sedate or sedated something is blocked that will block other things. What is reasonable to ask? To listen? To not torchlight every small microfacial expression into silence? To not belittle? The body if belittled of its natural dignity doesn’t crumple. It keeps insisting on its equal dignity as a root in the ground waits for growth and sun. It may twist but it doesn’t perish.
What is reasonable to ask anyone for? “The worst that could happen is that someone says no,” I’m told but I know that that isn’t always true. If someone asks, they are saying my need is so great, it trumps your need.
Each cash expenditure displaces some other purchase. That’s the problem with charities and their every 6 weeks a higher request strategy. Give $20 and they send a form, would you like to give $20, $40 or $60 or $10 a month. Give $40 and they send a form asking would you like to give $40, $60 or $100, or only $20 a month.
The constant up-selling makes them look like they are abusers of both the system and not thankful for what they were given. They always want more. That strategy among my aunts and uncles causes a bitterness of not being appreciated so they cut off charities that play those head games.
The charities think they are only looking out for those that are in their charge. “The worst that can happen is that someone will say no” but under pressure, a person doesn’t say no. They say “yes” and then hate the one who asks who doesn’t respect the same social contract.
It’s based on a model of economic upward spiral, that progress is based on making more money than before. To thrive is to improve your state and build bigger dreams and is perhaps necessitated on some losing.
Poverty is based on a model that is stable, perhaps without ursary. If you’re lucky, you don’t spend more than you take in. The rich out there will keep getting richer by benefitting from lending money to those who don’t plan for a rainy day and borrow instead, getting charged interest, or who run into a longer string of bad luck than usual. It all evens out if you survive.
Page taken from a post at Matilda Magtree. Did the categories, being careful not to scroll to see the legend until I was done.
My Ideal Dwelling:
22-29 degrees. Dry air. Clear dark night skies. Mix of exposed rock, scrub grass, pockets of wetland and good open soil. Mixed forest. Some pine, large, cedar, ironwood, sumac, pin oak and various deciduous. Mushrooms and slime mould. Birdsong. Visiting reptiles and amphibians. A few rooms without windows as a little cave with walls for many bookshelves. An open area with big windows for sun. Iridescent green curtains that can pull. Thick walls. Exposed wood. Beams would be nice. Sauna. Shower and tub. Wifi. Near enough to friends. One room painted green, one blue, one yellow. Big kitchen with long counters.
From urban streets, gadding at window displays, picking up some apples to take with me, walking with company until we hit the river and walk along its spray-edge where we see birds and turtles.
Out along the edge of the long grass, there’s movement. It’s hard to tell scale. Did the grass move or the dark part inside it? Could be a Newfoundland dog. Or a boulder. A funny shadow. Sense of another presence, life energy. Standing motionless, almost breathless with the gift of being granted the gift of another life nearby. Feeling the sun and wind more keenly.
At the edge where the stone caught in the groove it makes a kettlestone deeper for itself, the flood not enough to lift it out of its years. The stone darker where my wet foot stepped. The kayak lifted to shore but I pause to relaunch and go back for more poking around the shoreline, seeing what more I can see.
The glass smooth to palm, jewel colours thrown across my hand faster than the heat. I can’t tell you with the words covered what they read but if I saw the same cup elsewhere, and I did, I’d know it was the twin. I won it by random spin of the wheel at a fair. When I went to pick it up, I perhaps had heat stroke. I fainted between one step and the next at the nurse’s desk as she went to pass me my prize. I came to even as I was crushing through the empty cardboard boxes in front of her desk, leapt back to my feet. It still somehow feels lucky, the blue glass, larger than any drink I need. Half full is enough.
I used to collect keys, rings of them like other useless bits like cans of pencils too short to be of any use, or erasers too pretty to use. A skeleton key tarnished silver, black in its creases seemed cut out of the Hardy Boys. I never found a lock the universal key would fit. All the old holes have changed shape.
Perennially open. Even it forgets it has hinges. It’s the symbolism of the thing. Like a no that is never exercised. I may as well hang the door beside its opening and paint it with acrylics and googly eyes.
Carin did hers “in Susan Musgrave’s workshop at the Kingston Lit Festival last month.” What?! We were at the same conference and saw the same person and didn’t know we passed the same harbour.
House = how we see ourselves
The Walk = direction in life
The Bear = how you react to trouble
The River = sex
The Cup = love
The Key = knowledge
The Door = death
Now that’s easily the most amusing thing today.
How alert and present is conscionable before you’re just paining yourself to no one’s benefit? Does emotional investment make any difference? Is it the action or how you feel about it? What’s regurgitation vs. risk? How to be competent, purposeful but not habitual scripted or knee-jerk non-scripted? How to be useful without making role identity and oversimplified mandate?
What is the gap between creative life and life-life? Heather Havrilesky’s How to Contact the Author how far does the continuum go?
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There is no upper limit to connection. How much knowledge of another is enough?
What is “authentic”? What proportion of imagination and projection is reasonable before it becomes deluded? What is? What isn’t? What’s fair fodder? Who and what to prioritize? Or does too much planning displace spontaneous opportunities? What is worthwhile in a very short ephemeral life?
How accurately can we map who we think we are to who we are? In the last bit of Mark Goldstein’s Tree reading he had a series of poems from Ocean Road,
Whoever can push past the angles
of the street can sit with me
at the edge of the world [...]
I say I practice as I go astray.
In private I eat meat and fish.
I public I chant ma-om.
If this is how I cultivate my practice
how will I deal with death?
It cross-ties in big questions of what is solitude, death, self versus others in My Dinner with Andre (1981) which is on best movie lists of movies about writers and movies about food. (Spoiler: Apart from being in a restaurant, it’s not about food but is about the writing life in part.)
How do we balance the levity and beauty and satisfying lack of significances, our own human nature’s attempt to assign symbolism against the body’s conflicting desires for excitement and comfort?
How does one balance art which is a compressed version of life with the distortion of compressing and slower real time life? How to keep accuracy of perception and of representation when your narration makes a mandala of a world which must omit some things in time and space?
In the movie Andre says,
“Bertolt Brecht, he somehow created a theatre in which people could observe that was vastly entertaining and exciting but in which the excitement didn’t overwhelm you. He somehow allowed you the distance between the play that two humans need in order to live together. the question is whether the theatre now can do for an audience what Brecht tried to do.
[…] People today are so deeply asleep that unless you’re putting on superficial plays that helps them sleep more comfortably it is very hard to know what to do in the theatre[…] [With serious plays] you may only be helping to deaden the audience in a different way[…] How does it affect an audience?[…] terror and violence does that wake up the audience?[...]
The picture of the world you are showing them in a play like that is exactly the picture of the world they have already.[…] they end up feeling passive and impotent”
People blithely accept. What counts as a trigger is relative. A history of literature where women are only referenced at incidental, hags, plot devices of murders or abstract loves is triger-offensive.
That 31% of all speaking parts in film worldwide go to women. [source] That “Only 10% of politicians in films worldwide are portrayed by women.” [Source] Is life propelling art or art propelling life?
Is art to propose new solutions, criticize what exists, find pleasantries among what exists or report like an anthro[a]pologist?
We live in very strange times. Perhaps every time is peculiar but when exactly did saying pollution is bad become partisan? Everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon of war, claiming respect for veterans and history as the war machine gears up. Those with anyone in the lineage—and with conscription of past wars, that’s many people—claims a cause to remember a loved one with idea of war. As the novel put it, “The frightening thing is that everyone has their reasons.” But whose chess game is being played?
Any amusing story of look a room left untouched since WWI is itself but also thoughtlessly promoting the narration of soldier honour.
Is it futile to oppose the zeitgeist of one’s time? Always there are countertides, pockets of parallel lives largely untouched by the large movements just as there are swathes of people unaware that segregation by “race” and gender largely stopped some decades ago locally. One lives one’s immediate life, one’s contiguous life, not continuous with all that occurs.
What elements of our lives are built on the premise that we must make more money than those we get goods from? That some must sell labour cheaply, for example, that the only possible way is for the rich to get richer, for kids to get less innocent, for males to lose power, for people to average out to one mid-brown tone, for us to use standard money to give to people who sell it by lending at a profit to “blue chip”. So many embedded and conflicted assumptions. We can’t challenge everything every minute, can we?
The proposal of Andre is that to be in comfort is an unnatural insulated state, isolated away from truth which is nature its seasons and viruses. It is a logic that toys along the same lines as human zoos, the colonial practice of othering people and keeping them in their natural state of dress, or to presume that the poor and rich are a result of character and birth instead of all the factors. Or to presume people of certain kinds of intelligence should not be educated and should be sterilized. To put any human-raised primates in “wild” zones, even if used to tvs and clothes, they should be put in zoos to learn to socialize with their species. There are all kinds of slippery slops and muddy slopes there.
At the same time he’s right in that a lack of sun and moon and nature sounds make for poorer health. And that people can confine themselves in habit instead of deciding to choose optimal actions. But how to determine that?
It’s uncanny the overlaps between it and Jacob Wren’s Polyamorous Love Song in themes of the real film-making being real life performance and people’s search in theatre for affecting drama. From the novel,
[The visual artist said] “Before they kidnapped me, I had wanted to come here, to meet them, to become part of all this,”[...] Being here has simplified thigs. I am chained down. I am brought food. I am unchained to wash and exercise. It has simplified my thoughts”
[...]I was fascinated. With no knowledge of the new filmmaking, that artist chained to the radiator was in the moment, everything he experienced more precarious, more vital. His struggle never paused, white our knowledge of each activity as being ‘only’ new filmmaking somehow dampened our understanding of it. With the Centre for Productive Compromise I had always felt if we got bore, we could stop at any moment, but if the Mascaots stopped they would be rounded up and killed.”
Back to the movie,
Andre: Things don’t affect people the way they used to. I mean it may very well be that 10 years from now people will pay $10,000 in cash to be castrated just in order to be affected by *something*.
It’s a satisfying complexity of things to synthesize. Most movies, novels and poems leave you with nothing to contemplate, or discuss.
What does it take for people to look up from one life to all lives, to move from satisfied to Satyagraha? What would right action look like?
I know there’ve been an awful lot of people to keep track of but still, whole lifetimes unheard of often astounds. Such a variety of lives. Such as the playwright mentioned in the movie, Bertolt Brecht who also wrote Mack the Knife. Huh.
Complex life and intersections. From 4 directions reference within a couple weeks Mrs Firth’s Tavern of 1830s Bytown.
Then the idea of performance vs. living from two disparate directions.