Thursday, September 27, 2007


Packing for a kamikaze trip for the opening night and weekend of the New York Film Festival. One of my very favorite rituals. Should I pack that black V-neck? Or that one? What about that one? Hmmmm.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Persepolis - Highly Recommended

I caught Persepolis in a sneak at the Fantastic Fest. It's astounding! Truly masterful and totally innovative at the same time. It combines a brilliant simple visual aesthetic with cultural and historical insight, told via economic elegant storytelling. I was truly knocked out. Don't miss.

Get a taste here.

Quirky or problematic? a parent's dilemma

Even with all my hemming and hawing about the misplaced glorification and romanticism in the doc Billy the Kid, I really appreciated this article in Newseek on Quirky Kids. Check out this savvy quote from the All Kinds of Minds institute below. I've been a fan of their leader Mel Levine's work for years:

..But Mary-Dean Barringer, of the nonprofit learning institute All Kinds of Minds, says we put too much emphasis on the labels that others assign to our kids. "We're absolutely appalled by this diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome," says Barringer. (Asperger's is a high-functioning form of autism, marked by obsessive interests and impaired social interaction.) "These are very highly specialized minds, and to put a syndrome on it and treat it as an aberration does damage to kids and families. There are still challenges there on how to manage it, but why not call it a highly specialized mind phenomenon rather than a disorder? That label alone shapes public perception about uniqueness and quirkiness."

And I can't stop thinking about this kid and what her sensitivities portend:

.....But the disproportionate meltdowns at home or awkward public scenes that come with these kids are almost always balanced by equally extreme moments of wonder. Lily, who always wears her clothes inside out because the seams "are just too hurty," swears she can hear spiders walking on the wall two rooms away. Funny thing is, the 9-year-old is often right.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

bizarre bugs and movies, always more movies

It seems fitting to be reading this Yahoo news headline, Bizarre Gender Bending Bugs Baffle Scientists, while immersed in the Fantastic Fest, annual brainchild of Austin exhibition genius Tim League and friends. I particularly like this detail:
"Sex among bat bugs (as with bed bugs) is violent. During copulation, males of these species pierce the abdomens of their mates with their genitals and ejaculate directly into their blood."
Sounds like a perfect Fantastic Fest film concept - not that I would really know. I love the vibe, the setting, the fun, but carefully have to weed through the choices. I'm way too freaked out every single day of my life to be able to enjoy horror films. I see no difference between the possibilities and my reality. And I don't get the thing about enjoying torture either. Or total immersion in martial arts. I was happy enough to see George Romero's latest, Diary of the Dead, with his meta commentary on how we now live only behind video cameras. And also just enjoyed an anime, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

I just started watching anime this year . I've no idea why it's gained its immense popularity and cult status, but I'm finding that I quite like it too. Something about the simplicity mixed in with magic and aesthetic pleasure. And hell, I've been something of a Japanese language fetishist for decades. It's one of my favorite soundtracks.

While I'm mentioning some movies screened over the last couple of days, I can't leave out the wonder of Into The Wild. On the simplest level, eye balm. A sad tale certainly, a kid running into a dead end. I'm not a nature romanticist. I'll always take relationships over the outdoors, I'm a city girl through and through. But the film was provocative and gorgeous. Magnificent landscapes and yes, even some deep human connection.

And the night before? Steven Okazaki's searing White Light, Black Rain which is currently on HBO. We were privileged t o see it on a theatrical screen with the filmmaker in for a serious and thoughtful Q&A. The film is devastating and so, so current. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Hottest State

Earlier in the day (life has been busy, busy, busy and FUN, all weepy blog posts to the contrary), caught the press screening for The Hottest State since I'll be at the AFS Doc Tour for Steven Okazaki's White Light Black Night during the Paramount premiere.

I enjoyed it. I know Hawke's getting slaughtered in the press (37 on Rotten Tomatoes, oiy). Too much. Too narcissistic. Ok, it's not a movie classic for the ages, but there was still plenty for me to enjoy. And in my own self indulgent way, I'm always interested in what makes a movie interesting to me, regardless of the critical acclaim or not.

In The Hottest State, I found myself amused by Hawke's recreation of his physical self via another actor. I found myself enamored of his NYC. A gritty, arty, barren landscape of yesteryear - not the gentrified Disneyland version that dominates now. His bars were dark and laden with Christmas lights. It was a New York, cold and grey, that I recognized and loved. And now that I'm a Texan, the Texas subtext amusing.

But what really made the whole film for me was the brief appearance of Laura Linney as his mom. Oh, she must be my favorite actress these days anyhow. She's always brilliant and amazing. But in this quick appearance, deep into the film, she just cuts through it all. The character is sharp and tough and self involved. Not an easy Mom for anyone but wonderful to see for those very reasons. Can't imagine any sentimentalizing going on there.

Tickets are still available for the AFS premiere with Ethan in attendance. Norah Jones will be joining Jesse Harris at the after party as well.

The dating certainties

Last night John and I got a kick out of going to a book reading at Book People for Eric Schaeffer's new, "I can't believe I'm still single." As Eric explained to those gathered, "these are the people that made My Life's In Turnaround." Yes, in what feels like a long time ago. We've stayed close with Donny, not so with Eric. Keeping that mainly to watching his films and the occasional run in at sxsw. He's a controversial figure - for good reason.

Last night he totally cracked us up. His readings from the new book were hilarious.

Eric asked the crowd, "Who here has experience with Internet dating?" One person raised their hand, then another, eventually everyone but us. He continued, "Except of course those two who are the model, -- what together since high school like 35 years ago?!" Well not exactly - it was work, not high school, and 25 not 35 years but yeah, sure, in the ballpark. The audience had a lot of questions about dating, in addition to Eric's film, tv and acting career. He kept repeating how certain he was of what he was looking for, and how quickly he could figure that out. No drugs or alcohol, childbearing age and inclination, not too young. Later, while walking him to his car I reminded him, "It was not love at first sight for us. It really took awhile." Then John added an element I'd totally forgotten, "And the whole question of how ready someone is to have kids or not, you never know. When Janet and I first got together, even got married, it was very unclear whether she would ever have children. At that time, she really thought she might not."

True. But something I always forget in the repeated telling of the tale. I didn't want to have kids. I couldn't imagine it. I found the whole concept somewhat repulsive. It was only through the love with John that that door opened. And we walked through.

What it feels like

Close to tears several times today. Which is rare. As a pre-teen I couldn't cry at all. It separated me from my peers. It wasn't until that Zefferelli Romeo and Juliet that I joined the crowd. "It made me cry. It made me cry" I remember joyfully sharing. As a pre-teen that is. Now of course I cry during TV commercials. Anything with kids singing, or competing, or during award shows, or those musical set pieces during Grey's Anatomy. It's ridiculous.

But today was different. It was about emotional resonance. Not sadness in my own life, but in acknowledgment of passing. Life passing, time passing, love passing. For a once-close friend now moving on, now cold; for a once beloved man whose divorce will take him out of my life, although he's gone anyway, and how sad that is; for a daughter (or two or three) coping with a sick mother; for a new friend as I express my love as life throws her a curve. Just repeatedly today there was a sudden reminder of things mattering. Of things changing. Of loss.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bet on Good People Doing Good Things - Jeff Skoll at Ted

John and I constantly debate whether films can affect change. I really loved this talk by Jeff Skoll at the recent Ted Conference. (An event I've always been interested in but never yet attended.)

Thanks to Agnes Varnum at Doc It Out for the lead

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Resistance and delight

Wendy, my beloved pilates trainer, was off for a couple of months continuing her training. She left me in the excellent hands of one of her students, M. I'd been M's very first client the first day she started the training program. Now it was many eons later. We had a great time working together in the interim. But it wasn't the same as Wendy. Somehow my assignments fell by the wayside. I discontinued the daily swan on the ball that had taken months to take root - and which I knew had enormous benefits. I stopped typing up the session notes, previously emailed in for continuity and understanding. I hated doing it yet I knew how effective it was. Not only did it help me remember and see the bigger picture, it helped my trainers get a sense of where I was at. And it was helping work through my natural resistance, which is a constant burden.

Friday was my first appointment back with Wendy. Thursday night late, exhausted, I transcribed the previous four sessions and composed an email. It was covered in guilt.
It's late Thursday evening and I'm actually exhausted. Looking forward to seeing you in the morning. Guilty for not having transcribed these notes earlier for myself, Mandie or you :) I had a great time working with her. Felt we worked hard, covered a lot. Still too many things confusing for me, and needing the same concepts repeated over and over but still - good, strong and useful.
I missed last week because I got really sick w/ a cold. And the week before that felt injured. (Turns out I had kind of wrenched myself off kilter white water rafting. Had fun at the time!) My feet have been particularly painful, increasingly so during this interim.

Not only did I not add the bridge as a daily practice, I stopped doing swan on the wall. Have no idea why, and know I'll feel the repercussions in my body and weekly appointment. Missed several of my mat classes too, but when I did go, the work was good. In fact at one point the teacher was like, What happened to you? Your work is much better."

Friday morning I enter the studio. Wendy gives me a big smile and a hug - studies me closely for a minute . I begin, "You see my whiny email?"

"I started it," Wendy said, pausing.

"It was hilarious."

And with that, we went to work.

And that's why she's so great. Because not only does she understand movement and how the body works so profoundly, she gets me. She knows how to be patient and persistent even when I'm resistant. She knows how much to tell me to keep the confusion down and to keep me working. But she also manages it with delight. I feel neither her frustration or irritation. And for that, I'm very grateful.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Current and connected

Just mulling how my constant themes seem to be "friends" and "time". I write them about over and over again. Contemplating this because I'm thinking about how I can become more efficient. My email inbox littered with "let's get together." I almost always say yes. For the first time anyway, and regularly over time with the mainstays, and what's suffering because of that? It's essential to say yes if I'm to stay current and connected - which really, defacto, are my priorites. But it's hard to keep up.

There's a shift coming, provoked by economics, that'll affect this balance. Mulling the essentials. What can I tweak? A little panicked about it. Because while friends are my medium, "Time" and I don't necessarily speak the same language.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My last Back to School Night. Ever.

Tonight my last Back to School night ever. John chose not to come. "I ran into my best student ever on the street and asked him, do you think I should go to the Back to School Night for a senior?' And he said, no, he didn't." So I went without him. As Kevin Smith once said to me, -- actually, one of my very favorite things that Kevin has ever said to me, "Don't let him harsh your buzz."

For me it's a trip. Seeing where my son spends his days. Hearing and seeing the teachers, many of whom are babies themselves. Seeing how very into it they are. And happy about that. Meeting some of the parents of the kids who are his pals. Robert, one of the better parent friends from Lacrosse says, you have to meet the ___s" And I'm like, hi, whose your child? until I realize they're the parents of my son's new girlfriend, that I've only vaguely, kinda heard about. All I know is she's is adorable, hardworking, and has a big role in the football spectacle. We have a great time chatting. Earlier I sit next to the one kid in the room, one of the few kids whose quite at home in our house. A great kid. I'm feeling familiar, egging her on to take the floor, comfortable chatting. When she gets up to address the parents I ask the woman who's been next to her who she is? "I'm her mom." Ohhhhh. Of course. The kid hadn't introduced us and it hadn't occurred to me from their rapport or looks. And she hadn't mentioned it herself though she knows my son. Funny. Fun. I've been here long enough now to see some familiar faces even just passing in the hall. We smile and stammer phrases as we hoof it to the next ten minute period. I like moving through the throngs as we change periods. These Austin public school parents feel familiar. Look familiar. More my peer group aesthetically than the group I left behind. I feel a lot of gratitude. The teachers for the most part, love our guy. As they have since Kindergarten. He's a teacher's dream - smart, funny, eager to learn, conscientious, but a real kid, not a toady.

It's a wistful fall as it's delicious. The last one in High School. The AP English teacher who my son thinks I'll love, and who I do, says, "I wish it was as easy for them to get into college as it was for us -- but it's not! I'll do what I can to help them and you, through the process.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Just installed a new battery in the little ipod mini a friend so generously passed on to me. I love doing stuff like this! No interest in building from scratch, but I do love computer tinkering.

Used the kit from ipodjuice. Nice clear instructions although their special plastic pryer didn't really do the job. I had to pry the ends with the tiny screwdriver after all. But the instructions were clear as a bell. Super photos. Fun!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mad Hot and Soulja Boy Crank

I spent the morning watching Mad Hot Ballroom. What a great movie! Somehow I'd missed it when it came out, hoopla and all. I figured I'd love it - couldn't miss with kids, dancing, and NYC but still, just never got around to it. Watched it this morning on Showtime On Demand - and what a great time! And of course all the more because of my own experience with ballroom dancing these days. Yes, that's exactly the merengue we do. So moving to see these kids take to it so beautifully. So important to consider what this means in their lives. And it reminds me that arts in the schools is not just a PC liberal platform extravagance. It's essential that kids are exposed to the broad spectrum. You never know which chord will be struck to help others feel the best, feel really alive, feel inspired and motivated. (And oh too, the NYC in the film? What a great overview of the city itself, and what it means to be a kid growing up there. They did a fantastic job so economically.)

To continue the theme, John sent me this link -for this Soulja Boy Crank That song/music video/instructional dance video that totally cracked me up. Doesn't it look like fun! Reminds me of every single morning in 6th grade, lined up at the door, when a bunch of us would leap up and do the Tighten Up before the bell rang. Talk about a good time.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Starting our 4th Year Here, H.S. Football Begins, A Dramatic Night Sky

Rituals are rituals. They ground us, they help us keep track of time. So here it is, our 4th new school year in Austin. High School Football at House Park. Our youngest now a Senior. The Texas sky as much a player as the team, the band, the Blue Brigade girls, the fans.

Fantastic to watch the dark storm clouds roll in with the night sky.

The girls in white are part of the Blue Brigade. I love these girls -not personally, I don't know them. I love the spectacle and formality. Charmed to see their rain gear.

Here the band is leaving the stands. Amazing watching the band leaders assess the darkening sky, the 200 odd marching band as orderly as can be, packing up their instruments and making their way down below to cover.

That's the famous Frost bldg leftish, Texas and US flags waving on either side. I never much noticed waving flags before. Here in Texas I find myself loving them. I'm not kidding. They're grand and majestic, standouts in this sky.

After a delay, the game continues. While the rain pours.

first camera phone image. Random, i know

Not exactly an early adopter though I love technology and cameras. I just upgraded my basic cell phone to a current basic. No smartphone though I covet one. Didn't think I cared about the camera function but wow, surprised at the quality of this image I surreptitiously snapped (hiding out the rain underneath the football bleachers at House Park, Austin). Fun, but drives home all the more the lack of privacy everywhere, for everyone. Not that I'm sure even how I feel about that. Watching kids snap photo after photo of themselves, thinking about how very few photos exist of me at all. And virtually none from my college years.

But I've always loved photos. While seriously studying photography at the SFAI in the mid70s I pretty quickly switched to the snapshot aesthetic rather than the precious critical high art path. I love snapshots. My old NYC tenement walls were covered, every single inch, with 4x6 photos. Certainly no big deal now in our digital age. Just feeling the difference.