Tag Archives: movies

Good Things #29

Music. I discovered this band on the radio. I listen to 92.5 The River, and it always makes me think back to middle school. My best friend was cooler than me – she was more eclectic than your average kid – and she was listening to 92.5 and David Gray and other alternative bands way before any of us were. I remember teasing her because I didn’t know how great these different sounds could be. I’m always late to the party.

But here’s the band. Boy and Bear. I know absolutely nothing about them except that I love their sound.

Sherlock. It’s back. I can’t even tell you how excited I was to watch that first episode. I waited until it aired on PBS (I have amazing will-power, apparently. But really? I just wanted to watch it on the big tv…), and I was swept right back up in my love of Sherlock and Benedict and the friendship between Sherlock and Watson and everything. (For those of you who don’t know, I have a slight love affair with this.) Twitter and facebook were things to be avoided before I watched it – some people just can’t help spoiling things.

sherlock_3(That moment when he jumps through the window, flips his collar, tousles his hair, cups Molly’s face and kisses her. Man.)

Eggs. It’s been a long December (haha, Counting Crows, anyone?!) and beginning of January. The temperature has been in the teens and lower, and the girls can’t handle it. We weren’t getting a single egg for a few weeks. I let customers down. I didn’t know if the girls would recover. But this week it’s been a little better – we’re averaging about five eggs a day which, with nearly twenty hens, is quite terrible, still. One step at a time.

Pickles. This might be strange, but I LOVE pickles. Claussens – big, whole cucumbers, cold – dipped in hummus. Homemade mustard pickles for dinner with buttery potatoes and steak. Homemade bread and butter pickles with pork chops. They’re tangy and delicious and add flavor when every other food seems so utterly boring in January.

[Also, I finally watched The Artist after my friend Kate recommended it. It is better than you think it will be. Trust me. Way more thought-provoking than I expected.]

Happy Wednesday! And happy snow day to my fellow teachers!

The World by Alexandria

When I first watched The Fall it was October of 2011 and I was sitting in an upstairs apartment in the dark. My friends had recommended it highly and they sat next to me, across from me, eyes glued to the television. It was beautiful – the red sharp against the desert sand, the ocean a deep tropical blue-green, the feeling of a huge block of ice melting on your tongue.

My reaction to this movie is visceral. I’d rather not try to paraphrase it here – a string of words that means nothing if you haven’t seen it for yourself – but every time I watch the six-year-old Alexandria discover (yet again) that life is not perfect, that evil happens, and that people make the wrong choices every day, I am thrown into a pair of worn-out mary-janes and shocked by the very same things Alexandria cannot accept. The tears pouring down the rounded contours of her cheeks dampen the navy sweatshirt I’m wearing every time.

I watched The Fall again last week. I should’ve warned my friend how I react because I think it was surprising. What strikes me is that I’m not even sure the director or writer intend for me to view their film the way I do. God wasn’t in the picture for them, most likely, but that is what I see.

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As Roy tells Alexandria the fantastical story of bandits and adventure, he manipulates. He twists the story for his needs. He shakes morphine pills out of a plot line and uses a little girl’s devotion to alleviate his suffering. In the end, as he’s realizing the futility of his own life, he begins to destroy the world he’s built, and as each of the beloved characters dies, Alexandria becomes more and more outraged. Deeply angry, deeply sad, she cries out to him in both the story and real-life,

“This is my story too!”

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She weeps for her friends in this false-reality, but I think she is also weeping for herself. For Roy and his brokenness. For her dead father. For all the things that happened but shouldn’t have, and for all the things that should’ve happened but never did.

All I can think as I am re-immersed in this story is that Alexandria is not alone in her sadness, her anger. When God watches what we’ve chosen, He feels something akin to it, I think.

This is not the way the world is supposed to be. I feel this way when I watch movies like The Fall, when I hear about typhoons in the Philippines, when I read about another gunman.

I feel this when I (yet again) choose comfort and ease over helping another. When I watch students I care about spiral down a path that can only lead to more wrong choices. When I try to love and can’t. When I remember the death of a boy I knew, a boy whose grin is still bright in my mind.

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I know that this might not be what the artists had in mind when they made The Fall. That’s the beauty of art, though, the grappling and insight that comes even when you don’t expect it. I’m grateful for the beauty they created, for the suffering they show, and for the reaction of a little girl who speaks for me in ways I’m not always able.

Good Things #3

You know those days when you think: I wish this day never ended?  That’s how I feel most Sundays this spring.

But, it ended and Monday dawned bright and sunny.

Here’s how I’m starting my 5th-to-last week of school:

Music. This song is getting me. Originally sketched by Bob Dylan, the song was completed by Old Crow Medicine Show (what a great band name!). Maybe it’s the New England part, maybe it’s the harmonies. The romance doesn’t hurt, either.

Art. I went to my first art show in nearly two years, and it was like I’d forgotten part of myself for awhile. I don’t know much (or, really, anything) about the visual arts, but part of me wants to keep it that way. To just sit back and marvel at the artistry without worrying about how they did it. I can’t do that with writing or music, so I think I’ll keep visual art in that beautiful, ignorant place.

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Movies. We went to see The Great Gatsby with two friends Saturday night. We’d heard It’s all glitter and one long music video. There was glitter. And there was certainly music. But the thing is, that was the point. The book was all about the corruption and debauchery of the 1920s, and that’s what this movie showed, just in more 21st-century terms. I’m sure LOADS of my English-friends will disagree with me, saying it destroyed the book. Well, I enjoyed the destruction.

Family. Yesterday afternoon, I brought books out to the lawn and read in the grass. My brothers and sister played cribbage, and their laughter and arguments over the score drifted out to me through the garden. When I looked over, I could only see pieces of them through the white birch tree.  You know how wonderful it is to listen to people you love? And it was even better because I was a little separate, reading and reveling in the sounds.

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[That is NOT a honey bee.]

[P.S. The chicken class went well! It was kinda funny – only two older women and me, but it was great. More like a coffee date than anything, and we probably spent more time on writing and other nonsense than the down-and-dirty-facts of chicken-rearing. People are so interesting.]

[P.P.S. The morning glories are from last summer – there’s no way they’d be that big already. Soon!]

What Good Things are you enjoying? Feel free to link-up a youtube video for music or movies!

Good Things #2

This past week was unusually beautiful: I drove with the top down, drank iced coffee instead of hot coffee, enjoyed a good Mexican dinner with my brothers and cousin, and felt a hankering for country music (this hits me in the summer – very strange phenomenon). Sunday ended with an hour-long talk on the phone and a reminder that we are all changing, just some are faster than others.

Here are some Good Things that are brightening my Monday:

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Teaching. I spent Sunday afternoon compiling material for a chicken class. It all happened last fall when I was teaching an adult ESL class – somehow it got out that I have chickens and the director of the program asked if I would be interested in teaching an “Introduction to Raising Chickens” class in the spring. Well, spring is here and the class is this Saturday and I find myself making lists of the hardiest breeds, best layers, local farm stores, and all the weird things you learn when you raise chickens [Wait, you’re telling me you have to check hens for mites?! Yes, that’s what I’m telling you.]. I can’t wait to show the girls off. I hope my Barred Rock gets her act together and grows some feathers back in time!

Music. Okay, so I know I posted a song from Ivan and Alyosha last week, but I’m still listening to them. This is one of my favorites, probably because it’s so upbeat. Oh, to be easy to love! [This is a live recording because they’re cool.]

I’m also really liking this guy lately. This was sent to me by my contemporary music guru [a.k.a., my city-friend]. I don’t know much about him except that his name is Joe Purdy and that he looks pretty much how you’d imagine him to look [judging from his music]. A little more melancholy than “East to Love,” but sometimes that’s what you’re in the mood for. [This one is not live because the camera on the live version was so shaky I felt nauseous.]

Iced Coffee. I think I’ll always drink hot coffee in the morning, but iced coffee really hits the spot in the afternoon. I’m wondering if these afternoon beverages aren’t what’s affecting my sleep patterns…?

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Movies. I finally saw Silver Linings Playbook after months of hearing about it, and I loved it. Which is weird, because usually when people praise things to me, whatever those things are, they’re never as wonderful as I’d imagined. But I loved the way this was filmed, the way the dialogue was lapped over itself, and the character development, especially. Good stuff. Should be nominated for an award or something.

Books. So this isn’t a particular book, but this past Saturday I went to my library’s annual book sale. Oh my gosh, I forgot how great these are! Only $1 for a paperback, $2 for a hardcover?! I’ll take twenty. We walked down and got old fashioned doughnuts and coffee at the little cafe [there’s actually a funny story that goes along with this, but that’s another post] and then headed over to canvass the tables for interesting finds. I found an old copy of Dostoyevsky’s Idiot [I’ve been meaning to read it for awhile – gotta add to my Russian literature, you know?], Bridget Jones’s Diary, a Margaret Atwood book, and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Prodigal Summer [a guy at my small group keeps recommending her, so I figure I should give it a shot]. My friend and I bought a good stack with plans to switch in a few weeks. I was thinking of having a book-swap, because I have all these books that I’ve loved and want others to love, too. Maybe this summer!

What good things are filling your Monday?

Pride and Prejudice May Be the Answer

I’ve been teaching an ESL class on Tuesday nights. (It’s just one student – is that a class?!) We meet at the library, where no food or drink is allowed, and I think this is the first time I’ve ever tried to learn without a cup of tea or coffee in my hand.

When I first met my Hungarian student, I was scared. I had been told (via email and in the slightly unclear email-way of a harried 60+ year-old), that the student was Low Intermediate.

I had expectations.

My TEFL course did inform us that the categories were not so good. That everyone has a different idea of what it means to be a “Low Intermediate.”

My student (I’ll call her Aniko) could barely tell me why she was taking the class.

She told me her name. She told me she had come from Hungary two months earlier (although she said ‘in two months’ and it took me a while to figure it out). She told me she was in America.

And I was horrified because I thought our lessons were one hour but they were two and this Hungarian woman was staring at me with big brown eyes.

~     ~     ~

Now, seven weeks later, we have only one class left.

We’ve worked on:

  • superlatives
  • past, present, and future time expressions (This one is TOUGH. How do you explain ‘awhile ago,’ or the fact that we use ‘this morning’ to describe something in the past?)
  • letter-writing (because I love it so much…no, because it’s necessary)
  • emailing
  • coffee-ordering
  • adjectives
  • movie-watching

This last one may seem silly, but let me tell you, it is hard.

I have her watch clips from movies and then fill in the blanks to see if she can hear what they say, if she can tell what should be there.

[If actors are any clue to how we Americans usually speak, we speak way too fast, way too jumbly, and way too idiomatically.]

Last night, I had her watch clips from ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ I think I was a little ambitious; the British accents and vocabulary were extremely difficult to follow. We had to watch each one at least three times, and in the end, even after she got every question right, she put her head on the table and said,

“English is hard for me.”

I almost patted her short hair in sympathy.

Yes, English is hard.

I’m sorry.

Let’s watch a little more ‘Pride and Prejudice.’

Perhaps that is my response to too many of life’s problems.