Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Julio Medem: Lucía y el sexo / Sex and Lucia (2001)

Set mostly in Madrid and on the little Balearic Island of Formentera off the Mediterranean coast of Spain, Julio Medem's Lucía y el sexo / Sex and Lucia (2001) has an offbeat David Lynch vibe and a cool lead with Paz Vega playing Lucía
Because Sex and Lucia seems to revolve around not only Lucía but also her paramour Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa), a writer, it can be tricky figuring out what exactly is "real" in the plot and what is imagined -- or happening in a parallel world.  Lorenzo is working on a novel, or two novels, on a computer in Madrid, but he's also corresponding with a woman on Formentera via the same computer.  Do all of the characters even exist? It's worth noting that Pepe, Lorenzo's literary agent, is played by Javier Cámara -- the same guy who plays "the weirdo" in Pedro Almodóvar's Hable con ella / Talk to Her (2002).   

I come away from this wondering: is the island really "hollow" or "floating?" How many rock holes are there, for God's sake?

Sex and Lucia looks good -- nice work by cinematographer Kiko de la Rica. The music (by Alberto Iglesias -- another direct link to Almodóvar) fits in well, too.

Today's Rune: Signals.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pedro Almodóvar: Hable con ella / Talk to Her (2002)

Pedro Almodóvar's Hable con ella / Talk to Her (2002) gives us a vivid, offbeat tale revolving around four main characters -- a matadora, a travel writer, a ballet dancer and a male nurse. It's a strange one. Lydia González (played by Rosario Flores) is the bullfighter (reflecting reality: there have been several, for example Conchita Cintrón, 1922-2009, and Cristina Sánchez, b. 1972). Marco (Darío Grandinetti), the writer, develops a romantic relationship with her and a friendship with Benigno (Javier Cámara), the male nurse who also happens to be a sort of "weirdo" and is now caring for Alicia (Leonor Watling), who in turn had already been "that obscure object of (his) desire," as Luis Buñuel donned such fetish-making for the title of his final film in 1977.   
What I particularly like about Talk to Her is its incisive demonstration of Spanish manners and social relationships; that and a memorable visit to Córdoba, during which Almodóvar pays meticulous attention to Lydia as she suits up for her final bullfight. All in all, it's a wild journey through time and place, roaming right into a plazas de toros of not always quite predictable results. 

Today's Rune: Gateway. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

American Bison

A good day for hiking. And, for the first time since the beginning of summer, greeting the buffalo. Click for larger image -- if you wish. 
When I was hiking through the woods, a strong picture image of approaching bison came to mind, and fifteen minutes later, there they were.
A strangely flowing hybrid landscape in cloudy light. The black shadow is an idiosyncrasy of the well-seasoned camera. 

Today's Rune: Joy. 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Lee Smith: The Devil's Dream

Lee Smith's The Devil's Dream (originally published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1992) covers an Appalachian family's multi-generational arc from from the 1830s through the 1960s or thereabouts.  

The main dilemma for many of the characters is: 

Should I stay or should I go?

And, closely related: 

Should I adhere to music, or shun it?


Should I follow the belief system I was born into, discard it, or modify it as I go along?

Around the world -- then and now and most likely well into the future -- many say "Music is the Devil's work. A sin." Frown. Some will say, "gospel music -- good." All other kinds of music -- "bad." Add alcohol and whatnot into the matrix, and you hear more of the same, only in even more outlandish tones. In some places, your very head is at risk depending on what you do or believe. 

I knew a Dunker from West Virginia who said that salt was sinful, alcohol evil, but NASCAR ok. This was his interpretation of the gospel life, as guided by the Holy Ghost. 

The Devil's Dream (which is also the name of a fiddle tune going back maybe 200 years) inspires me to think of various social archetypes that address that existential quandary, "Should I stay or should I go?" It's almost comical when you think in terms of such identifiable archetypes.

In no particular order, there are:

a. Those who stay in one place and never leave.

b. Those who stay in one place but travel some, near or far (including perhaps a stint of military service or some such).

c. Those who stay in one place but annually or seasonally migrate to another place or two, such as live in the mountains but migrate to the seaside or vice versa.

d. Those who migrate from place to place, travel around and periodically visit the old places.

e. Those who leave their place of origin and never come back.

I know and have known all of these archetypes, in the guises of real people. I'm pretty much of the "d" variety. How about you? 

Another thing I want to tackle thanks to The Devil's Dream is race and ethnicity in the Appalachians -- from the Melungeons to the Black Dutch, from the Black Irish to the Cherokee Nation -- and beyond. Brace yourself.

Today's Rune: Fertility. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

In Praise of Limes and Lemons

If you were to compare lemons and limes, limes and lemons, what would you say?

Limes are lime green, lemons are lemon yellow.

Lemons have seeds, limes don't (with exceptions like the Key lime variety).

Lemons and limes can be mixed, combined together to juice up a gin and tonic, for example.

The lime (lima in Spanish, like the capital of Peru) originates from Persia (Iran) and Iraq, but is now grown in various places around the world, including Mexico and the USA.

The lemon (limone in Spanish) originates from China, India and in between, and is also now grown in various other places, including North America.

Lemons tend to be larger than limes -- though such is not the case in the ones I recently purchased (pictured above), thanks in part to drought.

If something is a dud, it's sometimes called a lemon, but not a lime. Why? I don't know and am too lazy to look it up at this juncture. Do you know?

Personally, I like lemons and limes, with a tilt to the lime for its zestier pop to the taste buds.

Sometimes on a hot night, I love to squeeze lime juice into a tall mug or glass filled with Cerveza Modelo Especial, the rather sharp, thirst-quenching Mexican lager. (A bottle's worth delivers about 145 calories, by the way).

If the limes run out, lemon juice alone or even a little lemonade can be mixed with just about any lager to make a shandy or panache, though for me, a little added lemon juice goes a long way. Limes are better. 

Today's Rune: Wholeness. 

Saturday, September 06, 2014

In Praise of Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the great joys in life, never to be taken for granted. I purchased these 500 millilitre glass bottles of Terra Delyssa Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Tunisia for $6.99 apiece.

Why Terra Delyssa? It's got everything I want in a bottle of olive oil:

It's USDA-certified organic.

It's date stamped (the olive oil in these bottles was cold-pressed on January 2, 2014, with a suggested expiry date of January 1, 2016. Lot 024).

Glass bottles and excellent design.

Tasty -- slightly peppery, spicy and fresh.      

Reasonable price (compare with one "meal" at a "fast food" joint).

Web site with lots of information and ideas <here.>

This one's a winner. Please feel free to add additional suggestions - always welcomed. Calories in olive oil - about forty per teaspoon, so consume reasonably. Can also be used as a skin and hair product. Long live olive oil!

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune. 

Friday, September 05, 2014

Diego Luna: Cesar Chavez (2014)

Diego Luna's Cesar Chavez (2014), set mostly in California in the 1960s, focuses on Chavez (aka César Chávez) and his compadres in their efforts to improve working and living conditions for migrant farm workers. Michael Peña takes the lead role -- a seemingly low-key yet tenacious and intense one -- with Rosario Dawson as Dolores Huerta.  Using a Catholic variation on the non-violent strategies and tactics of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., the farm workers movement slowly gains traction.  
In Cesar Chavez, the "villains" come in the form of owners and their allies -- the latter including California Governor Ronald Reagan and President Richard M. Nixon. Allies of the farm workers include Senator Bobby Kennedy and various religious and union supporters. John Malkovich, weird as always, plays an owner who helps manage the immediate opposition to reform. Some Anglos continue to treat migrant workers as sub-human -- hence one of the driving demands for change.   

Today's Rune: Partnership.