Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spirited Away

Just wanted to recommend this movie to anyone out there who's looking for an entertaining and magical way to spend a couple of hours. Kilian and Tricia told me how good it was a year ago, and I just recently got around to watching it. Actually, I happened upon it on cable (Turner Classic Movie channel) and couldn't finish it due to Zoey's demands that I play with her. I was so mad at myself for not recording it then and there, that I joined netflix just to get a hold of the movie (besides, two weeks free trial). I got it in the mail yesterday, and couldn't wait for Zoey to go to sleep so I could watch it.

It's about a 10-year-old girl named Chihiro (Japanese, of course, it's anime), a spoiled, whiny, lazy little thing, who's parent's take a detour and mindlessly (stupidly) wander through a long, dark tunnel to see what's on the other side. Once there, they explore, thinking it's an abandoned theme park. Then they smell food, a smell so delicious they just can't resist, and find an open, unattended restaurant full of goodies they can't help but dig into. The whole time, Chihiro is frightened of the place and refuses to eat. She wanders away from the restaurant and comes upon a grand bathhouse, where she runs into a young man/boy named Haku, who tells her she needs to leave, now, before night falls. Too late, the lanterns are lit and the spirits come out. Chihiro runs back to her parents, only to find they've been turned into pigs. The world is no abandoned theme park, but a fantastical other world run by a crazy, big-headed witch. The bath house is for spirits.

I'll stop with the play-by-play, because the story needs to unfold upon you itself. But just let me say that this is an incredible journey for Chihiro, as she is forced to dig deep within her self to learn to survive in this world, and hopefully save her parents from becoming bacon (mmmm...bacon). It's a beautiful film, full of frightening and funny creatures, but even more amazing is the story itself, and the characters that inhabit this world. Especially Chihiro.

This is the kind of movie I would have adored as a little girl, who read a lot of fantasy and science fiction novels, even at 10-years-old, imaging incredible worlds where I could have real adventures. And yes, I was probably a little lazy and spoiled as well. The movie tugged at my heart for this reason, but I wonder how much it affected me emotionally having a daughter. Chihiro reminded me of Zoey (after all, Z looks a little like an anime character herself), and because of that connection I really wanted things to turn out well for her, for her to grow up and learn that she's strong and capable and smart. It still kind of gets to me just thinking about it now.

Of course, if you don't have a little girl, you should still see the movie. Seriously. Ask Kilian and Tricia.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Z and I went to Houston for a couple of days so I could take her to her doctor. She's basically had a chronic ear and sinus infection all winter, and the doc was concerned about a build up of icky, puss-y fluid in her ear. She needed to see if the fluid was still there, and if so, was going to send us to a specialist. The very good news was that the fluid was gone. But the poor kid has been through so many rounds of antibiotics. She's mostly pretty good about taking the medicine, though, and only sometimes runs away and lies down prone on the floor, face down, to hide her mouth from me. Sometimes she would just cover her mouth with her hands. Poor kid, but you know, I'm bigger and stronger than she is. It's not fun manhandling your child to force medicine down their throat.

The other fun thing I did was go see the last installment of Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre and Two Star Symphony's collaboration, Danse Macabre III. I've been lucky to see all three shows, just managing to come into town for the last two. They've all been amazing, but this last one was the best. Joel kept the puppetry to a minimum, allowing the music to be the anchor for the show. And the music was wonderfully, creepily melodic. Two Star is doing some amazing things.

The story was sparse: a man gets buried alive on the same night his grave neighbors rise up from their plots to tell their stories. The man tells his story in a series of occasional monologues, switching between the actor standing in an upright casket and a puppet in the background (also in a casket). The music would be accompanied by video, some of which incorporated ideas and imagery from the two previous shows. The dead told their stories, some of them funny, some of them sad, some of them just plain sick, in a series of disembodied voices, with the occasional dancer sneaking onstage to act out a particular death. As the music lead up to the last piece, Camille Saint-Saens symphonic piece "Danse Macabre," the dead finally get to do their dance. It's a powerful performance.

I enjoyed all the different media and art elements incorporated. Far, far more than just a puppet show, it was performance art. At first, I kept thinking, "where are the puppets?" But as the piece progressed, I forgot about it and just enjoyed the atmospheric music and the visuals, and let the whole of the experience take over. I'm really glad I got into town on the right night.

Oh, and here's the obligatory Texas kid bluebonnet picture, taken with my camera phone:

Thursday, March 16, 2006

a night out

I finally got to see my first ever sxsw show last night--thought even more phenomenally, I finally got to actually go out for the first time since moving to Austin. Luckily, I won free tickets to the Matador's SXSW showcase. Unfortunately, it meant I had to get there at 6:30 and wait and wait and wait until I got to see the bands I liked (New Pornagraphers and Belle and Sebastian). My new friend Steph went with me, and we sat around for three and a half hours, just talking to each other. I don't think I've had that much adult conversation for that long in three years. It was great! So were the two bands I waited to see, even though we basically watched NP through a tree. It was so effing crowded at the showcase, so many people wearing badges and talking on Cell phones ("where are you? I'm on the steps over here (arm wave)" "who do you want to go see next?" "do you know this band" "dude, I'm already so wasted"). Even funnier were the scores of people walking out of the portapotties on their phones ("dude, I'm totally taking a sh*t right now"). On the one hand, I scoff at those people. On the other hand, I totally almost did it myself because, well, you can hear in there. Oh, and I had a Stubbs bbq sandwich. It was good, or maybe I was hungry. No, it was pretty good. I was hungry, though.

I was surprised by B&S, the sound was terrific and they're such cute, pastie-white scottish boys. Sure, all their songs sound terribly similar, but it's such pretty music. Some short Danish guy next to me helpfully explained that they have a rep of sloppy shows, but that last night's show was really really tight, so I was lucky. And really, chances are pretty good I'll never go see them again. I mean, I don't have any of their albums, and only recognized one song. But it was the end of a long night and Steph and I were cracking each other up and having a blast. We left before Mogwai, though, cuz it had been such a long night and we were done drinking.

After leaving Stubbs, we wandered down sixth street to check out the circus. It was pretty crowded, people were pretty wasted, but steph informed me that on a normal weekend night the crowd is usually mostly drunk coed types stumbling down the street, whereas this crowd was seriously male dominated. And not particularly young, either. But yes, still they were drunk.

I don't know if I'll make any other SXSW events, though I'm real tempted to try and go to the Spoon/Echo and the Bunnymen free show tonight. I probably won't go, though, cuz I don't want to deal with parking and taking a potty-training Zoey. I can only imagine what kind of reaction her first glimpse of the inside of a public portapotty would elicit. I'm thinking horror, horror, and then wetness all over my clothes. Hmmm.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hi ho!

You Are Kermit
Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

Thanks to Bethany for the link.