Wednesday, May 06, 2009

go hard or go home

my vote: go home.

life is INSANELY busy right now. work is teh crazez0rz. then i come home and more often than not i'm getting the screws put on me by my realtor to check out houses. monday night i almost gave myself a migraine trying to figure out the meal plans for my family's disney trip. my usual obsessive meal planning was attenuated by the fact that for large groups (and almost everyone, really) dining at disney you have to make reservations NINETY days in advance. disney has also implemented this meal plan thing where you can pay a flat fee for 1 quick snack, 1 quick service meal, and 1 table service meal for each day that you're there. sounds great, right? but once you factor in the meal plan, the restaurants offering the meal plan, the fact that there are 4 different theme parks and countless hotels, that some meals require the redemption of more than 1 voucher at a time - it's a logistical nightmare. i normally wouldn't even CARE where we ate at disney...but the reservations thing ramps it all up. plus the fact that trying to get consensus out of my family on anything is impossible. my family has never met an event/gathering/meeting that they couldn't turn into a GIANT s**tshow through a combination of poor communication, lack of planning, and last-minute changes. so yeah, it was a three hour long session. last night we had a documentary. tonight i'm going to help my friend H paint her new place, which is a 10 minute walk from my house! i'm so happy to have good friends in the neighbourhood.

last night i made us a chicken heart salad based on something i had at paul kahan's "publican" in chicago (that one had duck hearts.) i sautéed up finely diced onion and garlic in a pan of butter and olive oil, then cranked the heat and added the chicken hearts. when they were just done but still tender(ish) i pulled it off the heat, stirred in baby spinach and a good shot of vinegar, seasoned it up, and finished with a final sprinkle of fleur de sel. i served it with boiled eggs cut into quarters on top of my sourdough sandwich bread, which i cut thin, buttered, then grilled on the panini press.

it was pretty good, but it wasn't the dotytron's favorite. he's not so into hearts and gizzards as i am. he thinks it gets a little too "temple of doom" to be eating 14 chickens' worth of hearts. i think he's making arbitrary distinctions. the next time, i'm going to sear the chicken hearts individually, as dumping them all in the pan didn't allow for as much caramelization as i would have liked.

okay, so hot docs this year has been mostly miss. we've seen 4 so far, and i've basically take a 30 at each one.

friday night we saw "art and copy" which combines clips of iconic ads with interviews with the giants in the field - people who helped redefine the nature of advertising. some of the people were interesting, but the documentary fell flat - there wasn't enough substance. it meandered and lacked any kind of cohesion. you have really interesting, engaging, brilliant people who are reduced to quippy soundbites that don't really lend you a sense of well...anything. it seemed like the director was too enamoured with the genre of advertising to come up with any indepth analysis or critique. because he distributes attention amongst a number of people, you don't get any cohesive sense of any one of them - it becomes a survey of the field and a somewhat sycophantic look at the medium and its' stars.

on sunday we saw "let's make money" this was THE WORST. it actually made me want to punch the air, the screen, and everyone around me who was sitting there not stewing in rage (in that order.) it was SO BANAL. it starts off showing a montage of gold being mined and then turned into bars...from the description in the hot docs catalogue i thought it was going to track the route that money follows. this is the hot docs synopsis: "What do banks do with our money? The intricate web of the world's financial system is surveyed in pursuit of the answer to this timely question, all leading to a harsh take on the consequences of greed." sounds pretty decent, right? WRONG! this was SO SO SO TERRIBLE. stupid interviews with people who had no authority or context (most egregious was this spanish cartographer commenting about the "concrete tsunami" - aka the building of giant foreign-owned luxury developments on the spanish coast.) most of the interviews consisting of long, rambling, directionless commentary delivered by some teutonic random talking over his shoulder as he drove on the autobahn - seriously, how intelligent or composed can you expect someone to be in those circumstances? there were stupid, pithy introductions to each segment that were peripherally related - stuff like, "how do we save ourselves from the rich?" SO DUMB. it was so insulting and high-level. basically we found out that power and money are concentrated in the hands of the few and that africa is hella po'. WE KNOW THAT ALREADY! the problem with the doc is that it doesn't properly tell you why. or HOW the IMF and world bank screw over africa. why agricultural subsidies are bad, etc.

i could understand if the documentary assumes that everyone has such a deep understanding of the issues that it doesn't want to re-tread remedial ground...but the overall documentary is one giant gloss. it just doesn't make sense to perform a surface analysis of such complex issues. TERRIBLE.

on sunday night we also saw the newest featured from the director of one of my favorite docs from 2007, "helvetica." "helvetica" used the font as a launching pad for an examination of trends in typography and on a larger level, aesthetics. it was a fascinating cultural studies look at a cultural product that is once ubiquitous and invisible - and how it's rise and fall from favour says specific things about cultural and aesthetic values.

the new documentary from this dude is called "objectified." it's a look at industrial design - the thought processes that go into the design of the everyday objects we use. i thought there was a bit of a disconnect between the idea of industrial design and how it was depicted in the doc. he chose to talk to the superstars of the industrial design world, the people who AREN'T really designing everyday objects. they're designing stuff for the MOMA store. also, it became another meandering survey piece through a lack of focus on the part of the director. this was very well shot though - the static images were beautiful, but empty, like the movie. they briefly touch on the sustainability, but not in any in-depth, considered turns out to be more like industrial design porn. i'm as susceptible to that stuff as the next person (one need only look at my rapidly multiplying backlog in my google reader for evidence) but at the same time, industrial design is a persuasive, consumer-driven art form that is at odds with the precepts of sustainability. there wasn't any talk of that or of how people's desires and what we consider to be "intuitive" design is constructed. maybe i'm inserting too much of what **i** would have liked to see, but overall, i thought the film suffered from a lack of focus and inability to really get at the meat of the matter.

last night we saw "the jazz baroness" which follows the strange life of a wealthy white baroness (baroness pannonica "nica" de koenigswarter, born kathleen annie pannonica rothschild) who fell in love with thelonious monk and supported bebop at its' height. charlie parker died in her arms. this was a potentially interesting story bludgeoned to death by the too-heavy hand of the director/filmmaker (the baroness' grand-niece, hannah rothschild, writer for vogue and vanity fair.) the symbolism and editing were atrociously heavy-handed. helen mirren lends her considerable patrician talent as the voice of the baroness, in voiceovers. there's a lot of great interviews with jazzy heavies like sonny rollins and other people i'm only peripherally aware of through the long-suffering, dedicated (and oft-wasted) tutelage of one dotytron, esquire. it was interesting enough, but not great. apparently the baroness and monk never consummated their mutual love. even though he lived with her, wrote songs for her, and she worked tirelessly to get him gigs, even serving as chauffeur and putting herself in considerable danger - a white woman consorting with assorted black musicians and smack addicts. it's worth seeing if you have a passing interest in jazz (or share a life with someone who does) but if you're outside of that select sub-section of society, it's not very good and not worth going out of your way for.

tonight for dinner i just got us a quickie chinese bbq and rice takeout from a chinese bbq place in chinatown east. i was on the run. to paint!


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