Chimera Song Mosaic
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
I don't really have anything to say, so I thought this would be a perfect time to blog my way back into the conversation. Hopefully, I won't write too much, so I can get back to my 115+ students and their 100+ essays (they don't all turn them in) I have to finish before spring break, which begins on March 5, 2004 (not, like it is supposed to, including my birthday).
I want to eat at Catherine's restaurant. As I have been low-carbing it for a while, I have a serious jones for some polenta.
Further proof that Catfu and I are leading parallel lives:
1. She just received a copy of Josh's book in the mail, and I just received a copy of his book in the mail (along with: George Oppen's Of Being Numerous (recommended by Josh); Jenny Boully's The Body; Angelina Jolie's Cambodian Journals).
2. Didn't Catherine just write that she was reading a biography of Oppen?
3. I saw a preview for the Neil Young movie while waiting to see Monster and City of God.
4. Monster was filled with very ugly clothes--almost too ugly to look at; Charlize Theron could not have looked worse if she sported a tri-color mullet. But she did a fabulous job, and I recommend the film. It was sad, of course, and disturbing--no doubt!--but it was also curiously optimistic. Did I mention that Amanda Ward, fellow Montana grad, published a novel last year called Sleep Toward Heaven, and she based one of the main characters on the story of Aileen Wuornos? Of course I mentioned this! I reviewed it months ago on this blog. City of God was also painful to watch, but in an entirely different way (so many dead bodies made it like watching a documentary on modern civil war in Africa, and it was very sobering to see that the people (characters) were accustomed to the capricious deaths, and it gave a new meaning to police brutality)--but it was also, curiously, optimistic.
5. I also just sent lots (8!) copies of my manuscript to first book contests, am now broke, and wish I didn't have a cell phone.
6. I also just wrote a crappy poem, but instead of, wisely, hiding it from sight, like Catherine did, I took it to workshop last night, then got pissy when no one liked it. I should have buried it in the sand like a cat turd.
7. I love Winnie!
Some of these are pretty tenuous, but some are hard-core, righteous evidence. Catherine doesn't even need a stalker.
List of things I did the last few times I went to Houston, which wasn't very long ago:
1. Saw The Fifth Reaction, a new film by Tahmineh Milani, as part of the 11th Annual Iranian Film Festival. This film won some non-distributed film award in NYC, so when I tried to find it to show for the Foreign Films thing, I couldn't. Duh! See, it's not distributed, for real. Anyway, the movie is a melodrama. It could have been titled My Big, Hot, Chauvinist Father-in-Law, Who Looks Like a Sean Connery-Clone. So far, most of Milani's films have been vehicles for her politics, which are women's rights, and they focus more on that than on what some might call "artistic" elements. But I still really like them. And it was really fun because many Iranians turned out for the event (I knew some were Iranian because when I offered one lady my seat, she said, "Merci," which most think is just French, but my Iranian friends say is, in fact, Thank You in Farsi. Also, it seems most Iranians like to call Iranian things "Persian," so if you are hip, so will you. I also knew lots of people in the theatre were Iranian because they laughed at places in the film when I didn't, which is a sure sign of their authenticity and my bogusness. The film was subtitled in English, of course, but some things just don't translate).
2. I saw Monster (see above)
3. I saw City of God, which is about these government projects outside of Rio De Janeiro, which are supposed to be spacious and comfortable and are built to house the city's homeless and impoverished, but in reality don't live up to specs: no running water, no electricity, no infrastructure of any kind, no commerce, and so the inhabitants create a kind of warlord government that runs the gamut from benignly tyrannical to nightmarishly negligent, molded by the warlords' drug trades, honed into hellish slaughter by the police's corruption (see above).
4. I went to the MOMA's traveling exhibit at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; it's called The Heroic Century, and although my sister kept asking, "What's so heroic about this?" I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I had to agree it was a silly title. I saw: Monet's Water lilies (3 panels); something by a Russian guy I absolutely adored, although right now his name escapes me; Dali's Persistence of Memory; Matisse's Dancing Nudes; Duchamp's Network of Stoppages (brilliant! I saw it for the first time (that I recall) on the front of Mary Jo Bang's Downstream Extremity of the Isle of Swans, but it's even better up close, predictably. First of all, the green is a luminous, throbbing background of animal and organic images, such as a deer head, a horse neck, a frog's hand, and more, and hovering on top of this is a blanched etching of what looks like an aerial of a railroad terminal. The whole thing is exquisite and suggestive of synaptic activity).
I saw more stuff, but that's all I remember right now. I do remember being struck by the size of some of these famous works. You see them all the time, but it's hard to guess their size. Like the Matisse was the size of a wall, which may be expected. The Dali is about the size of a sheet of notebook paper, which I guess if you know Dali, it's to be expected, but I was still gawking at everything. The exhibit was pretty crowded, and we didn't get enough time to look at everything. But it was still worth it, of course. I think I also saw VanGogh's Sunflowers, but I doubt they made much of an impression on me (haha) because I've seen them reproduced so many times to such garish effect. There were also some sculptures, but I generally don't like sculptures. I'm not sure if it's because the old bronzy ones don't have enough color, or the modern ones tend to be so ugly, or if it's the result of some failing on my part--like I want the artist to interpret it for me in one-dimension, rather than the multi-dimensional possibility of perspective presented by the sculptor. I do remember a group of Rodin's once that I enjoyed; I loved leering into the intimate slits of the armless, legless, headless female forms in this collection. I thought to myself, "That could be Camille Claudel's kootchie." That's how immature I can be.
5. I went to the Dessert Gallery, which sounds fancy, but in reality is a plain jane cake store. The cakes are like homemade, double layers, with rich butter cream or cream cheese or ganache frosting. Slices are served in big wedges. The plainer the better, I say, as far as cake is concerned. I rarely eat cake because it is often so disappointing. I like the brown, buttery, sticky bottom that peels away on your fingertips when it's good. So at the Dessert Gallery, they mostly have very plain cakes, like Mom's Chocolate (chocolate with chocolate), Diner Cake (yellow with chocolate), Vanilla (white on white), Strawberry Cream (that's my piece; I'm not sharing). The Dessert Gallery's cakes are so freaking good that my sister and I went back the next day and got some to go and snuck them into the movie theater, which sells cakes, but frankly if they don't want people to sneak stuff in, they should serve something other than those dry, over-sugary, Euro-psuedo-pastries.
I'm going to Houston for spring break to hang out with the fam. Everyone will be represented: Dad, Mom, Bro, Sis, my Old Man (spousal type). I'm going to the Dessert Gallery, for sure!, and also to the Museum of Natural Science because I am obsessed with the idea of Caddis Flies and need to see those exhibits of brilliant beetles wings, etc., in the insect section. I also like to chill out in the butterfly cenote and visit my favorite insect, the Orchid Mantis.
As soon as this school year ends, I'm going to NYC for a week with my mom, sister, and Lance, which means I'll be able to visit Caeli. Hooray!
What else is going on with me? I am knee deep in essays. I have to go to Uvalde next week for my little Uncle's wedding, and I have to finish Frankenstein (which is a fabulous book!). I have been sick (sore throat, allergies, cough) for a full week, and I got some trees planted in the backyard: Hong Kong Orchid; Purple Orchid; Spicy Jatropha; Wild Texas Olive; Peach; Weeping Mulberry; 3 shades of roses. I love my skinny forest. I keep waiting for the trees to grow, but today the wind is abusing them terribly. Luckily, we have them staked. I am waiting for the mail to deliver the Afghan Chobi rug I won on Ebay. Maybe it is not the manuscript contests after all, but the trees and eBay excursions that have broken me! But all in all, it proves that I exist, capitalistically.
The wind is positively whushing and whistling! I have to go check it out.