Friday, April 29, 2005

How I Spent My Chol Hamoed Vacation

Chol Hamoed!

My father took my youngest brother mountain biking upstate and my mother decided that she wanted to see waterfalls. So I hopped on the internet to find a waterfalls place nearby and stumble upon this place on Route 202--about 15 minutes from my house!
My mother, younger brother, and I popped over to hike to waterfalls. They weren't the nicest, biggest, most beautiful waterfalls I'd ever seen, but they were nice and refreshing. And practically in my backyard! And I took some nice pictures:

We walked a little further and found that this was a park for all people...even those obvious-impaired:

And bears:

Unfazed, we continued on:

Yes, that's right, I just kept taking pictures...

Fine--it's an addiction!

At night, I went over to a friend to watch a movie.

My father took my two brothers bright and early and descended upon Virginia with the digital camera. Don't ask.
I was supposed to meet Randy, Doni, Moshe, Aaron, Tova, Deborah, Nukes, Eliana, Eliana's cousin, and Ian to go hiking (at the waterfalls). Only Randy, Doni, Moishele, and Aaron ended up coming. Wonderful.
Aaron and I walked across this dead tree and founded Wetbutt Island (which I named Wetbutt Island later).

We saw that up ahead there was a narrow way from the island onto the mainland (where the wussy guys were) so we walked up the island. Only, our perception was off because we were too far away to see. There was actually a very big gap between our land and other land. We found some dead trees and built an underwater bridge, so that we could step on something steady instead of slippery rocks.
We hiked on--sopping wet shoes and all--until we got to the waterfalls. The waterfalls were even more beautiful on Wednesday because it had been raining all night and morning. Plus, because we were just a bunch of stupid kids, we practically went into the waterfalls (this is when the inspiration for "Wetbutt Island" hit me).
Then, since the guys left their food in the car, we had a picnic near the lake instead of at the waterfall.
My mom and I went to see The Interpreter at night. 'Twas bleh but there were a couple of stunning shots of the city.

I slept late!
Now, The Raging Bull, one of my Betas, has bulimia. It's really sad, because I think it's involuntary. He'll just put a pellet into his mouth, crunch for a minute or so, and then--ploop--it comes right back out of his mouth! And he's clearly still hungry because he'll try to eat it again. And again. And again! The Raging Bull is not my first Beta and even he's been good for months, so I drove over to the fish store to ask them what to do. The pet store man told me that even when that happens, they get some of the food into their mouths, and showed me a different kind of Beta food I could try. This one was flakes. Then I heard chirping.
I went further back in the store and saw these adorable birds. Totally, shmotally adorable. Needless to say, I fell in love with the sprightliest one of the parakeet bunch.
I left the store with the new fish food, a cage, seeds and gravel, and a Parakeet!
His name's Babaganoush and in a past life he was a Turkish sultan. Do they have sultans? Regardless, he's a total hottie!
Then later, a friend went with me (which was really nice cause he totally didn't want to come) up to Peekskill to see Raging Bull, the Scorsese film, at this old and beautiful theater called The Paramount. I've been wanting to go back to the theater for a while, and Raging Bull was a film I'd wanted to see for months now. There were so many close-ups it was a little dizzying at times, but I really enjoyed the film. N
Recently, I've been thinking about how films are really like a wine. If you just gulp down wine it's like nothing, but if you let it sit in your mouth for a second or two, if you inhale while drinking, if you let the taste of it sit in your mouth a bit before speaking again, you can get the full flavor. Likewise, there are films that you leave the theater saying, "wow! That was amazing!" But you know what? That usually passes in a few hours and then you're left with nothing. Other films take a while to sink in. But you remember them. There are shots that were so powerful, you still remember how they were and how you felt about them. That's why I made a new policy for myself. I don't discuss films right after seeing them.
Anyway, then I came home and tried writing a bit because I tend to think in write now. I heard crickets the other day and my first thought wasn't, "crickets!" it was, "crickets never sing to an empty auditorium. They wait until the weather thaws and people start spending time outside to sound their noise." Yeah.

I woke up with a headache after a really strange dream, and went downstairs to bake more cookies. First, when I was whisking the egg whites, I didn't notice that I made it too fast for that many eggs and it started splattering all around the tiny Pesach kitchen. Then I realized that I separated the eggs--egg whites into the mixer, yolks into the regular batter part. Only, the recipe only called for the egg whites. And it was all downhill from there.

NMy experience at the second film I went to see was markedly different than my first. Wanting to see a film closer to where I live than in the city, I drove up to Peekskill in Bear Mountains to the Paramount Theatre. The highway I took to get up there, route 9, curved around the mountains right on the Hudson. At mid-afternoon, the view was stunning. After missing my exit, getting back on the highway in the same direction I had been going, finding an exit to turn around at again, and nearly running out of gas, I would have to say that getting to the theatre was far more an adventure than the film itself.
Before even seeing the theatre itself, I noticed a beautiful mural painted on the side of the building (I parked around the corner from the entrance) portraying the Paramount gloriously. The Paramount, I would find out after entering, is an old and beautifully restored theatre. As the setting for the film I was about to see, “Bu Jian Bu San” or “Goodbye Dragon Inn,” the place could not be any more perfect.
“Goodbye Dragon Inn” is a Taiwanese film by Tsai Ming Laing. The film is about the last showing of a film at a closing movie theater in Japan. Between the freezing theatre, there not being any coffee at the popcorn counter, and the slow pacing of the film, it is amazing I stayed up through the whole film. The film’s title comes from the film that was being shown at the theater throughout the film.
Using drab colors in every scene, pouring rain in every exterior shot and slow flooding inside, no sudden movements (but once), and barely any camera movement, the film achieved total stillness. The lives of those in the film seemed still. Almost every action looked arduous and pointless. This idea of nothing moving was done by what looked like one camera set-up per scene. The end result was that we would watch an empty, wet hallway on screen. Then we would see someone walk by and stop. Eventually, the person would move on--but the camera would wait in the same spot before the next scene for a number of minutes.
Everything came together for me in the first dialogue of the film, which occurred near the end. One character put his cigarette out for a light. While lighting the cigarette, the second character asks, “did you know that this theater is haunted?” The other character does not respond. “The theater’s haunted,” he repeats. The other character does not respond again. “Ghosts!” he exclaims to emphasis his point before walking away. As the first character watches the second one retreat, he shouts after him, “I’m Japanese!”
The next dialogue in the film comes at the very end of the film. There are two patrons of the theater having a discussion in the front lobby about how no one goes to the theaters anymore. One man had been the other’s teacher at some point and the student, I am not sure because I cannot remember the name since it was Taiwanese, was the creator of the film, “Goodbye Dragon Inn,” that had just been playing.
Aside from the four characters who spoke (and the little boy holding “the teacher’s” hand) were a few other characters. The ticket lady’s limp and hunger pains were too sharp for me to believe it was intended for her to be a ghost. The other characters, who sat scattered throughout the audience at the theater, were definitely not real. I felt left out during the film because I am not familiar with Taiwanese culture. I am still unsure as to whether the food the ticket lady was eating was a cooked vegetable or a snack. I also did not understand what the first man’s only outcry--“I’m Japanese”--had to do with ghosts and figured it was something cultural I would not understand. Regardless of my understanding all the nuances, the film “Goodbye Dragon Inn” is such a cinematic beauty that while the narrative seemed arduous at times, some of the frames still haunt me.
-From my essay, "The First Three Real Films of a Cinephile-in-Training" for my film class last semester.

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