Friday, March 25, 2011

!FREE films FREE!

Where does my love of movies come from?

My father would take us to the movies. Often.

I remember seeing Disney's Fantasia and the Ten Commandments as a child, as well as the re-release of Gone with the Wind.

But Dad also took us to Japanese-language films - historical costume dramas like Chushingura, or the 47 Loyal Ronin. And a very young Toshiro Mifune in a non-costume drama, Stray Dog

We would often see films on the University of Hawaii campus, in the very odd atmosphere of the lecture hall in Bilger, the chemistry building! These included the original Hunchback of Notre Dame with Lon Chaney is one, De Sica's Bicycle Thief - the Italian classic, and Satyajit Ray's The World of Apu, as well as the other two great films of that trilogy - Aparajito and The World of Apu.

Fast forward, and I remember being able to see foreign films on campus up until the early years of our marriage, and these were preceded or followed by ethnic food dinners of French food at the original Le Guignol on Kalakaua Avenue or Portuguese at Lisboa.

Do you love movies as much as I do, especially foreign films with those pesky subtitles? How about FREE foreign films? Online!

If you do, check out the 24 Iranian films available FREE through April 6th, courtesy of Here's an intro, trailer and summary about one that looks good for the entire familyAnd another that is more suited to my noir-leaning sensibilities. I missed this when it screened at the Doris Duke theater.

Even with the availability of FREE movies, I prefer to see them IRL. Where might you find me this weekend? I'll be seeing either Limitless (unbelievable premise, and Bradley Cooper is kinda cute, though I read that De Niro phoned in his performance) or the Lincoln Lawyer. No, I don't care for Matthew McConaughey, though reviews say he is good in this. I do love Marisa Tomei and William H. Macy.

Not sure dad would be up for either of these films; he'd probably rather see the Met performances of either Il Trovatore or Lucia di Lammermoor.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Already gone to the dogs

You've already met Otis and Rosie, even the doggie doorbell, but there are other neighborhood dogs we see almost every night. For lack of knowing their actual names, we have given them nicknames.

There are Mutt and Jeff, so-called because of their size disparity. They are both poi dogs - of indeterminate breeds. Mutt is tan, lanky and loping, and Jeff  may be a sixth of Mutt's size, tiny and white, his legs moving like a cartoon character's, trying to keep up. Some nights, I can't even see Jeff, as he's hidden behind Mutt and their owner!

Then there are Naughty and Nice, two golden retrievers who are more beige than golden. That said, their names give away their natures. Naughty is always muzzled, and Nice is not, but also very curious.Some nights, we call them the Good, the Bad and the... erm.

There is Unwrinkled, or you might call him Permanent Press. When I first saw him, I didn't realize he is a Sharpei, as he has very few wrinkles left. The DH tells me this happens as they age.

The cute beagle is walked by the almost-as-cute owner. Boy, was he spooked by last year's Halloween display in a nearby apartment lobby. He would NOT walk past this building! I mean the BEAGLE! If the next seasonal display features bunnies for Easter, that may cheer him up!

The new dog in the neighborhood is a black and white pit bull. But, lady, who was leading who? You have to show him just who is the Alpha Dog!

I have actually seen one CAT on a leash in my neighborhood. Not lately, so she just may have escaped!

Then, too, there is the cat lady, a story for another time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A summary of Japan's recovery efforts and information, and a Honolulu connection


I was looking for something else among my own bookmarks, when I found this link. It will take you to the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance. The Center is mandated by Congress and reports directly to the "US Pacific Command (USPACOM), which oversees US military forces and (the) US Department of Defense.

This is their mission: "Educate, train, conduct research and assist in international disaster preparedness, disaster mitigation, disaster management, disaster response, health security, humanitarian assistance and societal resiliency."

To that end, they also gather information and research situations.

Take a look.


Make that a Honolulu Magazine connection. It's been just ten days since the earthquake and tsunami. Major media is now focused on the US and allies' bombing of Libya, and Japan has been relegated to page 2. Hawaii has very long ties with Japan. My grandparents came here at the turn of the century to work on sugar plantations on the Big Island, Hawaii. They stayed, and had children (my parents) who benefited from the GI bill, got an education, went into business and helped educate us, their children. Others came to Hawaii later, whether for school or work, and stayed.

This woman is in Sendai now, taking care of her ailing mother, but she usually lives and works in Hawaii. Her husband is the publisher of the magazine, and this blog is part of that online presence. It documents the family's experiences and concerns, all the way from Sendai to Hawaii. Start at the end to read chronologically.

We are such a huge world in some ways, and so small in others. And so connected.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My hearing is like a dog's?

It never fails to surprise me that there is so much variation in perception among human beings.

The DH and I were out for a walk, and I said, "What IS that annoying beeping noise?" It sounded to me like an alarm clock going off, except it periodically stopped. The DH could not hear a thing!

As we walked, the noise grew louder. We passed several apartment buildings, then the sound grew fainter. We were more than a block away from the point where I first heard it, and it sounded like a smoke detector in a kitchen with too much frying going on. "Wow, good hearing!" said the DH.

For Hawaii, the tsunami alert meant warning sirens going off Thursday night approximately every hour starting at 10 pm. This is a wailing sound higher than a police or fire horn, and it is continuous for at least 20 or 30 seconds. The DH slept through all of them. Some time after the third one, I went to take a shower. The siren sounded, and the DH was pounding on the door. I told him to stop that, come in and please close the door. So, he finally heard the last one! I told him I'd printed out some news and emergency warning updates, so he went to read them. By the time I was out of the shower, he'd gone back to sleep.

In Hawaii, unless you live on a boat, at the beach or across from one, you are generally safe from the threat of tsunami affecting you. So those warning sirens are mostly for residents of those affected areas, and evacuation zones are clearly marked on online maps, and in our phone books.

The rest of us still hear the sirens, though. Since we live equidistant from a city park and a public high school, we get to hear sirens from both areas. The rational me says: "DH and I are fine. No worries."

The paranoid me has other ideas. At the start of this week, with the tsunami and its sad results in the recent past, I came home from a long, hot morning of errands, drank some cold water and changed into cooler clothes, but still felt exhausted. I slipped into bed for a nap, but woke with a start, as I thought I heard sirens! I went back to sleep, but woke again when I heard it again.

I now realize I was hearing someone's car engine (please fix it!) but also that there is a definite dichotomy between the logical, rational me and the actually quite paranoid me. I am in no way comparing my mental or actual state with those of the people of Japan, who are so stressed out just trying to survive. I am just saying my unconscious plays around with some wacky ways of thinking.

Homo sapiens - our perceptions and acceptance of the world vary so widely. The senses and the way we live with them and use them is so different.

I suggested that DH have his hearing tested. Or perhaps my own hearing on the higher range is more on par with a dog's!?

Wednesday, 3/23/2011 update: perhaps I need to invest in noise-blocking headphones?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tsunami news you may not have heard

Sorry if you are already experiencing overload. I have distant relatives in Okinawa, which I quickly learned was minimally affected by the tsunami. However, in searching for that info online, I found these:

First, via the NY Times, some unbelievable satellite photos showing before and after of several stricken areas in NE Japan. Also, the NY Times seems to have the best coverage of the earthquake and tsunami among US media sources.

Second, here is the major Japanese online news source (in English). They have breaking news and some stories are more in-depth. From this site, it appears there will be over 10,000 souls lost in the tsunami area alone. And there is the continuing threat of meltdown at several nuclear reactors. This link was passed on from a commenter to a post about the tsunami from Just Hungry - this blog's author is from Japan, so she has relatives there.

Finally, I belong to an email listserv (this one disperses information on reference services provided via email and chat to its members). Via this listserv, I read that a Japanese librarian is asking QuestionPoint, a US (paid) service that is used by many academic and public libraries, if Japanese librarians can use QP free as a means for transmittal of basic information for the duration of the emergency, as well as help his library and the one other QP user in Japan, via librarians in the US if necessary.

Yes, libraries usually provide information for people wanting their reference questions answered, but it's obvious that in Japan, they need to know the answers to more basic questions at the moment - who in their own larger communities need help, and the scope of that.

They have a website documenting libraries in the affected areas - and I admit libraries don't come to my mind immediately when a disaster occurs, even though I've been personally involved in this type of recovery. The website has been Google-translated from Japanese into English, so it's a bit wonky. This site documents what's working - or not, damage and what needs to be done at libraries in the region. What's heartbreaking is if you click on "Miyagi", the hardest hit region - much of that is unknown, including "Damage to user personnel: Unknown"

There is this Google Crisis Response website, but QP utilizes chat interaction, which could provide communication with more information possible than tweets, as well as faster than email. So, this librarian's rationale for asking QP to help is that power supply is intermittent in Japan now, and Twitter - presently the only means of communication - is insufficient. If you've ever experienced rolling blackouts - and Hawaii has when the monopoly power company here was trying to restore service after an earthquake - you might have an idea of what this librarian, his colleagues and countrymen are going through. If this can be done, what spirit of cooperation this would show!

I am continuing to hold the victims and survivors of the Sendai earthquake and tsunami in my thoughts and hopes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Not Beautiful


The film showed me things I never expected to see:

- A Barcelona with so many Chinese & African immigrants
- Javier Bardem wearing Depends
- His haircut is only a skosh better than the one he wore in "No Country for Old Men"

But was this a film worth seeing? I thought so. We are still talking about it a day later. What is it about? The DH asked me this before the film started. I said: "Sex, money, violence, you know - life. And it's ironic."

It is about all those things, plus honesty, survival, hope, trust, trying to do the right thing, and death.

Bardem plays the main character, Uxbal, who first appears to us as a shady go-between who deals with a Chinese sweatshop owner, African immigrant hawkers and pays off the police. But we learn he is also dealing with cancer, and being paid for relaying to survivors the words of their loved ones. Yes, he sees dead people. He is also trying raising his children.

Some of the film is excruciatingly slow, as the camera lingers on Bardem's nostril, or the ceiling in his bedroom. There's only one "action" scene, and it's over quickly and with a bad result for Uxbal.

See the film if you're:
- A Javier Bardem fan or
- An admirer of director Alejandro González Iñárritu. The other film of his that I've seen is "Babel" - very un-Hollywood and thought-provoking. Iñárritu is one of the triad of very talented Mexican directors. The other two are Alfonso Cuarón, director of Children of Men, and Guillermo del Toro, of the amazing and creative, Pan's Labyrinth. Or if you're
- A lover of un-Hollywood films - you know, the Hollywood ones are usually fluffy, predictable, all the characters have perfect hair and makeup, and all they need is a laugh track. So, un-Hollywood means people who look real, possibly like you and me, and the ending may not be a happy one.

Or beautiful, or Biutiful.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I like the way they sound

I like words. The whole family does. We have a recording of The Son about age 2, asking DH, "Daddy, pwease dwaw dubba-you!" (W). I think he may just have wanted to SAY (W), too. He likes words so much, we shipped 400 of his books to Minnesota, where he's going to school!

I recall having dinner with the DH - I think we weren't married yet, and it was in a restaurant that was a train car. I had to look up the name - it was Victoria Station - it went bankrupt in 1986. Back on topic, the gist of the entire evening's conversation was thinking up words for "derriere"! (Now you're making your own list, right?)

DH loves to do crossword puzzles and is very proud of figuring out a recent NYT crossword with 3 or more palindromes (words that are spelled the same forward and backward). The word "kayak" is a palindrome.

But he will never live down the word jumble where he wrote in "snewy". I'll tease him about that now and again.

We were talking about which cigar a friend likes best - the stogie-smoking regulars could not remember. I said, "Illusione!" They asked, "How DID you remember that?" I just like the way it SOUNDS!