30 January 2007

Dreams from Movieland

Ok-- Doug and I are on a movie role. In the past week we saw Notes on a Scandal and Babel. Before commentary on those, let me just say, I was so ridiculously sad and moved by the euthenization of Barbaro the horse. What a crazy story that this horse became a celebrity and there was this outpouring of love, well wishes and sympathy from the public on the level of Princess Di or JFK Jr. Well, maybe not quite to that level but yeah sorta.... this morning on CNN there was a 5 minute montage of Barbaro including all the cards and drawings people put up outside the animal hospital where he was treated. If only the people in Darfur or religious sects in Iraq treated each other with that kind of humanity and compassion-- the world might be in a better place than it is right now. I heard Tom Friedman in an interview the other day on Onpoint on NPR and among his interesting statements, the one that struck me the most was when he talked about how there is no MLK Jr., or Ghandi figure in all the violence-- There is no voice of non-violent reasoning with enough political clout, visibility, and resonating voice to rise up above the masses and create a ripple effect. Sometimes, I feel like the world is careening out of control and accelerating at a rate that is so fast- we are just going to implode. I have always been interested in being more "green" and doing my share to be environmentally friendly. In our society though, it is NOT easy. Of late, it seems more imperative to try to be more eco-conscious especially because I honestly don't see how the Earth can support all the people in the world if we continue using its resources thoughtlessly and greedily. I'm worried people, I AM WORRIED. In other news, why is it that the Italian fashion industry instituted health measures to be taken for anorexic models and then I read that Brazilian models are becoming more and more thin and anorexic when earlier standards of Brazilian bombshell beauty included a voluptuous figure and shapely bottom.....and then today I hear about how there is this big uproar that Tyra Banks gained some weight......huh? what? Oy
Anyway, all this ranting is making me hungry.
So, Babel-- after all the hype, we were expecting to walk out of the theatre totally depressed and nearly comatose, but we just weren' t that moved. I found the film trying to make a statement about crossing borders and understanding each other, living in a globalized world yet having no interconnection, but I felt like the movie was lacking a clear moral, political, ethical power punch. Plus the fact that all the story lines were wrapped up with a neat little bow at the end, and in essence everybody was going to be ok.....Hollywood ending. bada bing bada boom. It definitely wasn't a feel good movie- I just wasn't sure what the movie makers wanted me to feel. Also, D made a really good point about how the movie should have had fewer story lines and more character development. The most unique filmic moment happened when Chieko was in the nightclub and we saw an exterior view of flashing lights, pounding music, and everyone dancing, interspersed with Chieko's internal experience of no sound and understanding her surroundings. This movie left me with a lot of unanswered questions both about the characters, (what were Brad and Cate doing in Morrocco- besides the mysterious death of their kid, why was their marriage so strained?, what was Chieko's deal? did she kill her mother? or was she just so traumatized by her mother's death that she was in a deep depression and looking for love in all the wrong places?.....what happened to Mike and Debbie and the asshole, Santiago?
Overall-- I was disappointed.
Ok-- now I really have to go eat lunch-- back later!

24 January 2007

keeping busy on a cold winter's day

Here are pictures I took around my neighborhood in Buffalo. I've been trying to do more photographing of late, whether it's on a fieldtrip or setting something up at home.

I guess every person whose life is creative in nature has a struggle with his or her art, some more than others. Sometimes, I have a lot of fun doing what I do and other times, I really start to doubt myself usually thinking that a. I have no technique, or b. that what I'm working on is stupid. Often, I really wish I had a mentor that could lend a guiding, reinforcing hand. I also wish I had a wealthy patron to float me financially so that I don't have to work at a day job. But, these are the dreams of all artists, right. Two nights ago, Douglas and I watched a DVD about the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. It was really a wonderful, inspiring film. All the dancers who are still alive gave interviews and were incredibly good looking and glamorous well into their eighties! The film documented the ups and downs, travels, and dancers of the company throughout the years. I highly recommend!

Meanwhile, I have been busy with art projects, knitting a dress, and yesterday I had a delightful afternoon cooking. I made vegetable soup. For dinner, I made tilapia in a butter, olive oil, garlic and ginger sauce with a sweet potato and green beans on the side. Who knew, there is a little domestic goddess a la Nigella Lawson in me.
I like this picture of Chapin Park during the ice storm. Each tree is encapsulated in a layer of ice and it just looked so symmetrical and beautiful even though it was a gray day. The trees looked topped off by the October storm we had. The weight of all the snow snapped the branches like toothpicks. It is snowing in Pittsburgh right now, Douglas is practicing on the piano. and I'm trying to stay warm by laying my palms on the laptop which is nice and toasty.

I have some good news.
I will be participating in Music is Art Live for the second time, on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007. I'm very excited about that. Also in the works, an exhibit at the arts council in May.

22 January 2007

So Gorgeous!

Hola! I am in Pittsburgh for 2 weeks and last night, we celebrated Douglas's birthday with Greek food and VOLVER! I really enjoyed it although I felt the pace was a bit slow towards the end. Before I start talking about plot and theme and such. Can I just say Penelope Cruz was gorgeous-- what a bod! She looked fantastic as a frazzled, hard working wife and mother with her hair always bed-headedly disheveled, sleeping in her kohl-ringed eyes (bedroom eyes) with the big gold hoop earrings. She wears these strange patterned outfits that don't quite go together but somehow totally work. She made me think of Italian movie stars in the 60s like Sophia Loren with the pencil skirts and the cleavage skimming little sweaters. Muy Caliente! I loved the whole look! Incredibly sexy!

Anyways, on a more serious, intellectual note.

The story line is really about relationships between mothers and daughters, and secrets..... as kept by Penelope Cruz and her Mother. The film feels like it can't quite decide between being heavy and sad or light yet suspenseful or some combination thereof. Some scenes were poignant in portraying women taking care of each other through illness, old age and adventure. I really thought all the actresses were great but I couldn't take my eyes off Penelope- she was luminous and in her native Spanish, so much more comfortable on screen than in American films she's been in. The end credits consisted of floral and linear patterns (like what you see in the poster above) animated and moving geometrically across the screen. I really liked the patterns- but it didn't seem to fit with the end of the film somehow-- it made me think of Marimekko patterns- and I'm not really sure how that fits in with the film?

The other film I saw, with another gorgeous woman in the opposite extreme, was The Curse of the Golden Flower starring Gong Li and Chow Yun Fat. Now, this movie was AMAZING for its opulence alone-- the costumes, the sets, the jewelery. It was a feast for the eyes!
Again, Gong Li is just so beautiful and in this film she is decked out in crazy jewels, head pieces, costumes, nail guards, shoes, and makeup-- gold and copper eye shadow and tangerine lipstick with gold. Supposedly, the film is set during the Tang Dynasty, a time that can be comparable to the the decadence of Versaille and French Aristocracy. Everything was over the top. All the women wear bust binding, cleavage revealing gowns. The entire palace courtyard is filled with pots of the cursed golden flower-- the Chrysanthemum.
Other films by this same director include Hero, and House of the Flying Daggers. I loved Hero for its color palette and beautiful cinematography. House of the Flying Daggers was a martial arts amazement. I don't think this film is exemplary of either of those things. Although there are several story lines bound together here-- the most memorable part of the film is the visual.
Again, I question the choice of end song which played during the credits. This music sounded contemporary and totally transported me out of the film setting and into the present...a bummer at the end of the movie.

Ok that's it for now!

10 January 2007

strengths and weaknesses

I know I didn't finish that last post. I got bored with my own list of what I did on my New Year's get away. who cares after a while?
Today I am thinking about why I feel the necessity to make things ok with people close to me in times of disagreement. It is so hard for me to just let things rest and take a break when there's a discomfort in the air. I feel like I am resonsible for being the peacekeeper and especially absolving someone in a disagreement. I guess this could be seen as a strength in some situations and a weakness in others. Old habits die hard no matter how much you try and change. I am forcing myself to just sit with it and remember that~ it is lighter than you think.~ Something, I think I read on a list written by John Cage, that makes me feel better when I get bogged down by life's uncertainties and unfairness. If there's one thing I can't stand-- and one thing that keeps knocking me sqare in the face-- it's the idea of accepting reality, plain and simple, and moving forward even when it hurts like hell, even when it's so unfair. Another of my favorites, when your heart and mind don't match in their messages to you. Today, I am thinking about those qualities and characteristics that are my own strengths and weaknesses. How they serve and hinder me and how to deal with the clarity of seeing them in others. If it is true that the world is shaped by your inner outlook and attitude (which I believe in) and we all manifest our own destinies. How do turn self-sabotage around, or inside out, or make it work for you instead of against you? It is so hard for people to accept the reality/truth that is in their heart of hearts. It's taken me a LONG time to learn how to first, cut through my own bullshit and then, to see what my inner most feeling is, and finally to accept it for what it is....
Man, that is a hard lesson to learn.

06 January 2007


Isn't it nice to start a new year?! I used to dislike the New Year's celebrations because I saw it
as a loss of the old-- instead of focusing on the clean slate of the new. This year for New Year's eve- Douglas and I watched Audra McDonald sing on PBS and drank a bottle of Champagne, in Pittsburgh, after a long weekend of fun in NYC and a wedding in New Jersey.
Anyway, for the new year I decided I would like to reinvent myself-- a la Madonna. I bought 2 new lipsticks and Douglas surprised me with a fantastic pair of new spectacles-- which I really don't need- but they are a very fun accessory. I feel very intellectual and chic in them. THe lipsticks are in colors I
am not used to wearing-- one is a tangerine color with gold flecks while the other is a bright Bold pink. I still can't decide if I like it or it's a little too Barbie doll gone bad- but it's fun and exciting to try something new for a change. Let me tell you about the wedding of my cousin Sandy and her new husband, Pierre. They are both foodies! He is a chef and she is a pastry/chocolate chef. The ceremony was held at a restaurant in NJ and the food was something! Here's the menu:
A delicate Lobster Soup, Duck Confit-that is shredded duck on top of some type of chip laying in a squash sauce, Braised Ribs
with sweet potato puree and string beans, and for dessert, a luscious Lemon tart that I could only eat half of due to its tarty sweetness- and then yummy chocholatey truffles with booze and assorted cookies . It was a fun evening and Congratulations to the happy couple. Douglas and I stayed in a hotel that night and early the next morning- we took a bus into Manhattan. We checked in at the Ramada East and went straight to the MoMA. There is just too much to see at MoMA, the art, the people, the building, its very easy to get saturated/ information overload- so of course, our first stop was the cafe where we shared a portobella panini. Then we started from the 6th floor and worked our way down. There were a few things that really stood out in my mind and one thing in particular I can't stop thinking about. A Cezanne still-life. The web image doesn't compare-- this painting was so gorgeous and luscious in the use of reds, oranges. I wanted to pluck the apple from the table and bite into it because it would have been just the right combination of crunchy and sweet. WOW-- it is a magnificent painting!
Other highlights include a video installation by Jane and Louise Wilson-- two adjacent screens in opposing corners of a darkened room. The films show objects and a woman levitating and/or moving very strangley through a space. This scene alternates with the view from the floor of a lift elevator where you can see out beyond the guard gate into the hall as you move up and down. It was very eerie and atmospheric.

Last but not least New Photography by Barbara Probst. This was very clever work! Probst uses multiple cameras set up from different angles and focused on the same subject. The cameras are synched to take a picture simultaneously. In one image a girl is seen jumping in a Swiss Alps setting. In the next image, we are looking down on a NY rooftop with a view of the city. At closer inspection, we see that two people are holding a large print of the swiss alps- and the girl is jumping in front of it.

Later that night, we ate a scrumptious meal at the Orchard-- recommended by Honey! and it was delish! We ate the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare, Sliced Lamb Tenderloin, and the best--Butternut Squash Agnolotti. WOW- it was good! It just melted in your mouth, and in combination with the lamb, Magnifique!

Saturday, Douglas and I first went to visit his Aunt and Uncle who live in this gorgeous penthouse apartment across the street from the planetarium. Douglas's beautiful Aunt works at the Guggenheim and has a spectacular art collection- when I first walked in the door- there was a large James Casebere photograph in the hallway! I was knocked on my socks! It wasn't this image below- but here's an example. Anyway, this apartment was beautiful with plenty of a
rt to boot. We also went to visit with my Aunt and Uncle for a nice 2:30 tea break!
We had 8 o'clock tickets to see the Drowsy Chaperone
and it was super!
(more later!)