Tuesday, 30 March 2004

About Schmidt

Screw Mock-a-Blog week. I’ve got more important things to write on. I watched About Schmidt last evening and it was alright. Definitely an old person’s movie. It was solidly put together with interesting shots but nothing fancy. Jack Nicholson made the movie. It is obvious why his performance got him nominated for so many awards. Kathy Bates was even nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance. I wasn’t stunned by her performance but I was stunned by her getting bare-ass naked for a hot tub scene. She is not an attractive woman.

Watching About Schmidt got me thinking though. I’ve got the feeling more and more films like this are going to start appearing in the wake of baby boomer retirements. I’m not and not meant to be interested in films about old age. The demographic is my parent’s. I am sort of interested in how aging and the decline of the boomers will be portrayed. This article by Michael Moses appeared in the January 2002 edition of Reason and sort of gets at some of the problems that boomer cinema might throw up.

In an interview Spielberg granted when Saving Private Ryan was released, the director summed up his view of the great conflict. “I think it is the key — the turning point of the entire century. It was as simple as this: The century either was going to produce the baby boomers or it was not going to produce the baby boomers. World War II allowed my generation to exist.” There you have it. The ultimate benefit, the highest justification and sanctification of the greatest, if not the bloodiest, war in human history: the birth of the baby boomers.

Pretty inflammatory; but what he is getting at finally shows up in his second to last sentence.

The baby boom generation, for better or worse, is the first fully committed to the view that to control the visual representation of history is to control history itself, and thereby one?s own destiny.

I find this troubling because my parent’s generation has so much clout that it can enforce cultural and ideological change to a high degree. Its the message of the 60s aged 40 years. In this way, boomers are still rebelling against their upbringing and trying to define themselves. I think I’m uncomfortable with this because I feel the same way. I think the boomers are obsolete and should stop worrying about themselves so much. I think by now they should have come up with some sense of stability. I think they should give it up and let GenXrs come into their own. I don’t want an influx of movies about being old because I want to celebrate being young. At the same time I’m interested in what boomers are going to produce in their evening years.

I suppose every generation feels this way as the previous generation ages. So I guess my tirade is nothing more than the pot calling the kettle black.

Monday, 29 March 2004

Mock-a-Blog: Five Dollar Beer

Since no one has asked me to guest blog for them, despite my own willingness to whore out my prime location- URL with a view- virtual estate by letting others sully its sanctity with their infidel paws; I am going to mock a blog each day this week. Five Dollar Beer gets the first treatment.

Last night for dinner I finally made a traditional American recipe that I have heard about but never really tried. Apparently it is a favorite of many school children for their lunch. It is called, strangely, the ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.’ I had to make several trips to the grocery because even though I have random spices like grey fennel and weird vegetables like Quorn and Clamatos in myriad quantities about my house, I didn’t have the necessaries to follow the recipe.

The first and most important ingredient in this sandwich is peanut butter. Apparently this can be easily purchased at any normal grocery store but I decided to try to make it myself. I hulled a bag of peanuts leftover from a Cleveland Indians game last year and ground them into tiny bits. Then I stirred them into some melted goat butter and put the mixture into the fridge to thicken. Next on the list was strawberry jam or strawberry jelly. I tried making jam first but that didn’t work out so well. I had heard from someone once that little strawberries get upset when they are in a jam- so I threatened them. I told them I would puree them, mix them with sugar and boil them. I figured that would be considered a pretty tough jam to a strawberry. But those were mean buggers, they stayed just the way they were. I decided to go the jelly route.

We have a big tub of petroleum jelly that I am quite fond of in the bathroom. I took it out and realized that I’d already used most of it. So I had to go back to the store and buy some more. The clerk looked at my kinda funny and mentioned that this was the third tub I’d purchased in the last three days. I’ve really got to cut back. Anyway, stealing one from my peanut butter recipe I mixed the strawberries into the petroleum jelly. It didn’t look too appetizing but who am I to judge what children will eat.

The last thing was white bread without crust. Thankfully, I have a special friend named Whitebread. He is quite crusty unfortunately. His hygienic habits mirror my own, that is, he has none. It was easy to get him naked but a bit harder to coerce him in front of the fire hose. Once I turned it on, the crust was knocked right off of him. I apologized and lured him back into my place with promises of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Apparently, he had eaten those as a child.

Once I had him securely tied to the bed as usual I came back with the thickened peanut butter and my freshly made jelly. I spread it on thick, using a putty knife. Then I cut him in half diagonally [as per the recipe] and ate my sandwich with some Tang and Cheesy Poofs. I’m going to have to make PBJ more often.

Sunday, 28 March 2004

Grandma’s 80th

This weekend was another whirlwind spently mostly in my car. I got home in Connersville at 8:30 Friday, ate dinner and then passed out. Saturday I was up at 7:30, ate breakfast, packed my car and went to Cambridge City to put some stuff in my mom’s antique booth. Then I continued on my way to Noblesville, stopping briefly to pick up some freshly baked Amish pies. I got to Noblesville [My second cousing Melissa riding with me] and unloaded. I did valet parking briefly as my grandmother’s friends arrived. A lot of old people. Grandma showed up around 3:15 and wasn’t surprised because apparently some of the people RSVPed their regrets to her instead of my aunt. Everyone visited for awhile then we ate and my uncles told some stories about grandma. Then I sat outside with the rest of the men until it was too dark and too cold to stay outside any longer. We came inside and my uncle Corbin and I laid the smack down on my grandma and Willard in two games of double-bid Euchre. It doesn’t matter if it is my grandma’s 80th or not. If we are playing cards, no holds are barred. Then I passed out again [I got to sleep in actual beds for two nights in a row!] and woke up this morning around 7:30, showered, packed up mom’s car and then went to Mass. I left to come back to Cleveland from church and got back here around 3:10. I unloaded my car and went to the store. I’ve got to do laundry tonight and then pass out before work tomorrow. I wonder how the team did at NCAAs… I should check that next. This is all one paragraph because thats how my weekend felt.

Friday, 26 March 2004

Things To Do Before 30

  • Run a marathon.
  • Spend a summer wandering through Europe.
  • Write, sing and perform an original blues piece.
  • Publish something I’ve written.
  • Buy a classic automobile.
  • Learn sign language.
  • Find the right woman and get hitched.
  • Initiate contact with my father.
  • Buy a house.
  • Direct a short film.

Thursday, 25 March 2004

NCAA Fencing 2004

Today and tomorrow many of my teammates will be passing through Cleveland on a roadtrip out to Brandeis University for the NCAA Fencing Championships which are this weekend. Twice this week I have been invited to accompany my team out there. ‘Adam, we can pick you up early Friday and drop you back off on Monday.’ or ‘Hey, man I’m coming through Cleveland tomorrow and I’ve got an extra seat.’

It frustrated me terribly to say no. I want to go root them on, I want to be there and help them fight. We didn’t qualify the full 12 this year. Men’s epee only got one in. The midwestern region is starting to get alot more competitive than in the past. I don’t know if we have a chance to win this year, it is always so very close. I wish I was going to be there with my video camera and I wish I was going to make the end of the year video for the team as I did in the past.

I miss being on a team. I miss fencing with my friends. I miss team dinners at Bruno’s and team parties and tailgates. I miss the glory. Now I’ve got a job in CubicleLand® and bills and ‘responsibility.’ I’ve also got to head to Indiana for my Grandmother’s 80th birthday this weekend. That should be a good time, seeing the family and all. At the same time I wish I was going to be at Brandeis.

Mary, Queen of Victory, pray for us. Go Irish on three. 1…2…3.

Wednesday, 24 March 2004

The 47 Ronin

I finally finished watching Genroku chushingura [The 47 Ronin]. This film is considered one of the classic films of Japanese cinema and was directed by the always impressive Kenji Mizoguchi. The film was released in 1942 and was commissioned by the Japanese government to be a nationalist rhetoric in favor of war to realize Japanese supremacy blah blah.

What Mizoguchi ended up giving them was the last thing they expected I’d bet. The film is long- 222 minutes- and moves so very slowly that I had to watch it in half hour increments and then take a break. It is very Japanese. I might have missed it, but I cannot think of one instance in the entire film where there is physical contact between two people. Bushido is a central theme and rigid obedience and politeness are always present. It was very hard for me to watch because of this. The restraint was so palpable, at times I knew the characters were holding back the urge to embrace [or would have been had they been Westerners]. Even when close friends commit hari-kiri, no one touches.

Oishi- the main character and chamberlain of the Asano castle at Ako- is the personification of bushido. He is the perfect samurai, sacrificing his entire life, his honor and even endangering himself politically in order to exact revenge for his lord. He is also so very kindhearted that the amount of willpower it must have taken him to be so stern is amazing. I’ve never seen such a masterfully and enigmatically portrayed character as Oishi. He demands respect from the audience. Although the film concerns itself almost wholly with violence, there is no violence in the film apart from one sword stroke in the first scene.

The film is absolutely beautiful to watch. It cuts rarely, most shots are long takes. I think, perhaps, that they only cut when the mag ran out of film. The blocking is also exquisite. The amount of things that can be done with traditional Japanese architecture paper doors, screens, open walls and all that let the camera move seamlessly from indoors to outdoors and allow the shot to change shape completely with out the camera moving at all. This is definitely a film worth seeing. The difficulty you might have watching it, the patience necessary; mirrors quite effectively the difficulty the ronin must have had in planning their revenge. I’m not sure if it was intentional, since this is so obviously a Japanese film, perhaps I am merely feeling this since I am a Westerner, but it works anyway.