Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Old School Ode #6 - Riding the Window

This is for the 35 and over crowd...

I've been watching Mad Men Season 2 on DVD, ramping up for the upcoming Season 3, and every time there is a shot of someone in a car, I can't help but think of the backseat window. Remember being allowed to crawl up into that tent-like space of glass and upholstery and bake in the sun? It wasn't even taboo or rebellious, it was simply a fact of riding in the family car.

The first family car I can remember was a chocolate brown 1971 Plymouth Fury. As if that couldn't be beat in size, my Dad then traded that in for a emerald green 1974 Cadaliac Coupe DeVille. The thing was a living room on wheels. The biggest thrill was when my brother became, literally, too big to fit himself in the window. Then it became all mine. The only problem became the inevitable fight when my dad would have to hit the breaks, sending me flying through the air and on top of my brother. Not my fault.

Obviously, I can understand the neccessity for change (and the very moment someone chimes in with a story of a friend of the family who was gravely injured this way, the bliss will be gone forever.) Still. The memory of something so common and yet so dangerous and now atiquated.

Riding in the hatchback of the Chevette was simply not the same.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vicky Christina Barcelona

So I rented the Woody Allen movie before I went on my trip, so that I would have some idea of the landscape. But then I stopped it half-way through because I was irritated by the dialogue (after forty years of filmmaking, Allen still insists on characters who speak in the neurotic, superior, brain tumble, only now it comes out the of the mouths of gorgeous twenty-somethings... but that's for another post...)

Anyway, once I got home, I found myself curious as to how certain places that I visited might have been portrayed in the film. So I put it in my Netflix queue. It showed up in my mailbox the other day. It was pretty interesting to realize how many things shifted into context. There really is a sort of "tourist-y" element to the film that appeals to me. It doesn't pretend to be authentic to Catalonian daily life. Instead it is told through the perspective of two Americans traveling abroad. They even did "tourist-y" things like Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, and La Padrera. It occurred to me that this was kind of like setting a movie in New York and having the characters be enthralled with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

But, again, I found this an interesting, authentic even, way of portraying the way we (including the filmmaker, I assume) discover new places and then burrow down into them once the basic landscape is covered.

Still. I did find myself fast-forwarding through a lot of the dialogue. Geez.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Well, it's finally here... CAPA Summer Movie Series!


And last night, Tom and I went to see the 1951 Sci-Fi classic. Okay, so I'll admit I didn't know much about the film except the fact that it starred Michael Rennie (and I only knew that because of the opening song from the Rocky Horror Picture Show that goes Michael Rennie was there the day the earth stood still, and told us where we stand...) and that it had a giant robot.

But I didn't care. I was just glad to be in the "air-conditioned splendor of the mighty pleasure-dome" that is the Ohio Theatre. What was super-cool was being able to play "host" to a first-timer, telling the tale of how I sat under the giant chandler in 1980 watching Gone With the Wind with my mother and watching it shake, only to find out later that Columbus had experienced an earthquake that no one felt except those in high places.

So one down. Oh, and if you go, the best seats are the front section in the balcony. You've gotta get there early because they fill up fast. People actually get there and camp out with a book. But the organist starts playing half an hour before show time.

Totally worth it.

Next up, Rebecca on Wed Aug 5th. I've already got one taker....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tapas, Tapas, Tapas.

In Barcelona, the big meal of the day is "Siesta", which takes place between 2 and 4 in the afternoon. Businesses close down and waiters are in no hurry to take your order (also, they are paid a livable wage and do not depend on tips to make up for their salary, which means they don't "have" to like you either.) Being on a trip made these outings very lingering and pleasurable.

Because they eat so late in the day, "dinner" is a lighter meal, between 8 and 10 at night. And the name of the game is tapas, small dishes that can be ordered and shared. This is what we did most nights. What made it nice for me is that I've not had a lot of exposure to authentic Spanish food, so it was good that everyone threw out a few choices from the menu and we shared them.

Among my favorites were bombas (little deep-fried potato-y things), Spanish omlette (overcooked version of a regular omlette that can be sliced like a pizza), Spanish almonds (softer than ours, almost square), and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but baby squid were pretty delicious.

I have always had a very midwestern pallate, so I'm pretty proud of myself for being "experimental" (especially with the baby squid advertised "in its own ink.")

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Home from Barcelona!

Hello Folks.

For those of you who didn't know about my trip, I traveled to Barcelona, Spain for twelve days with the MFA program at Spalding University during their "residency abroad" program. As a student, I attended the Paris trip two years ago and had a life-changing experience. This time, I went as a PGRA (post graduate resident assistant.) Hard as it is to admit, this experience was even better. I just got in last night after traveling all day and am still in the process of acclimating to being home. I suspect it will take some time to organize my thoughts and pictures, but am looking forward to sharing my experience.

My first impressions were how very large and metropolitan the city is. Also, it is located right on the coast of the Mediterranean, which gives it an added appeal. Can't wait to write in more detail.

In the meantime, I am glad to be home.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Another Cheater Post...

So I'm headed out of town (I realize I'm probably not supposed to publicly announce that, so I'll disclaimer it by saying I have someone staying at my house and my neighbor once tackled a guy who was stealing another neighbor's mower in the middle of the night and sat on him until the police came....)

Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to post from the road with some interesting stories.

If not, I'll check in when I get home!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

A remembrance.

When I was a kid, our family would go to my Nan and Pap's, along with my aunt and uncle and cousin. They lived at the top of this hill and owned a decent chunk of the surrounding property. After cooking out (in the attached garage to avoid the heat), we would drag our lawn chairs out into the gravel driveway and wait for it to get dark.

My dad and uncle would go about setting up the fireworks while my brother, cousin, and I dug out the "snakes" (those black disk-like things that expanded into ropey smears on the sidewalk.) At dusk, everyone was in place. There were always a decent mix of cheap and more elaborate fireworks. Most worked the way they were advertised. Only one time did I feel at ill-at-ease, when a flying saucer device came shooting into the garage just over our ducked heads and smashed against the wall.

I should re-phrase that. It was the only time I felt ill-at-ease that night around my dad and uncle. My Pap was another story. He liked setting off the pinky-sized firecrackers that came braided together in packs of like fifty. Someone decided to give him a pack and a candle, a lopsided Christmas tree candle. He sat there throughout the night, lighting one after another, tossing them wherever he please.

Wherever he pleased.

Now, he never directly threw any fireworks at any of us, but he would routinely toss them into the gravel in front of your chair, at my Nan's feet as she brought out a tray of red, white, and blue cupcakes, and or into the smoldering remains of the grill. While I'm sure my mom considered taking away his candle, I think secretly we were all more than a little amused.

As long as one didn't end up in your lap.

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I'm so proud, Comfest

For you out-of-towners, Comfest (short for the Community Festival) is a Hippy-meets-Hipster gathering held in a small park in the Short North District of Columbus. In a nutshell, it is back-to-back bands, tents with political activism next to skirt-and-jewelry tents, food, and a Big-Gulp-sized beer in a souvenir mug displaying the Comfest logo winner (which always seems to resemble the last year's design, but not exactly...)

Good times, indeed.

According to their website, the festival has been in existence since 1972. But everyone I know started going in the early nineties. You could count on Mary Adam 12 being the headliner and you could easily meet up with people by saying "we'll be near that one tree by the road near the mainstage." In 2000, I was able to play Frisbee with some friends.

Not any more. And while my aging, curmudgeonly side finds this problematic (parking nightmares, long food lines, and a growing intolerance for drunken unpredictability), the young-at-heart optimist in me is thrilled (more bands, more food, growing mix of people co-existing peacefully.)

Every year it has gotten more and more populated, the festival literally bursting its borders and into downtown Columbus. But when I saw that the formerly modest "I Wish You Jazz" tent had been upgraded to a full-fledged stage at the corner of Goodale and Park, and the crowd ahead was officially a sea of heads, I thought how cool it was to be witnessing something grow, instead of lamenting a decline.

I did manage to find my friends, but not without significant cell-phone navigation. If you are interested in seeing photos of the bands, my friend Eric is posting his at (and managed to serve on the 12-2 AM clean-up crew... his energy and enthusiasm is unmatched, especially since he turned 40 last year and my turning 40 this year was my excuse for leaving at 8:30 one night...)

I do regret not getting a Comfest mug. Eric had just exited the line when I met up with him and I didn't want to wait. So if someone's got an extra they're willing to part with, I'd be willing to buy someone a Northstar chicken basil burrito in exchange.