Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Poem

Here I am in New Mexico
Listening to the sound of hotel room TVs
And the ice machine down the hall
Got a flat on the way to Chaco
And the spare was flat as well
So there we were, stuck in the middle of nowhere,
No spare, rough road, in the desert
Under the hot sun.

Don't worry, Mom. Your boys are fine.
The Park Rangers saved our ass.

Didn't get to see Pueblo Bonito,
Even though it was just down the road
(Fajada Butte was kind of hard to miss)
But I can say I went to Chaco Canyon,
Even if I can't say I enjoyed it.

(More details, and pictures, when I return.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gone Camping

Busy day today. Over my morning coffee, instead of reading the paper, I wrote about Apacalypto. Then I did my laundry. ALL of my laundry. Even the towels. Then somehow I had to literally get my house in order. Then I had to pack.

When you go camping, you tend to pack pretty heavy. Firewood, tinder, tent, sleeping bag, cooler, stuff.

And I'm off.

I'll be back before you know it.

Why I Love Apacalypto

Kottke links to a list of "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die." I didn't go through the list to see how many I've seen, mostly because 1) I watch a lot of movies and 2) I've probably seen all 1001 and 3) I don't want to die yet.

At the end of the list, he makes this comment:
It's interesting to watch the churn on a list like this. With the newest movies, they're making guesses as to how they'll age and in many cases, the guesses aren't that good. Also, removing Caché for Apocalypto? No fucking way.
No fucking way?

I recently watched Apocalypto again and was struck, not for the first time, by how good it really is. It's not without its flaws, but on both a technical and aesthetic level, it's a masterpiece and with each viewing it inches ever upward on my Top 10 and might even someday make it to the pantheon of my Top 5.

The movie is much more than the sum of its parts, but here are some of the parts that I love:

1) All the male potency gags in the beginning. Unable to conceive with his wife, the character Blunted endures endless pranks from his tribesmen, including eating tapir balls and slathering his manhood with hot spices. And then it turns out he's just been doing it all wrong. How this gag plays out and the reveal at the end is genius.

2) The character of Middle Eye, the sadistic but strangely funny Mayan terrorist. He's the most despicable character in the movie, but I love everything about this guy. He adds splash to every scene he's in and practically steals everyone else's thunder.

3) That scene where Zero Wolf's son is killed. Zero Wolf sees his son fall and starts running to him, oblivious of everything else. Seeing that his son is dying, he soothes him quietly, reassuring him on his way out. And then there's that tilt shot of Zero Wolf standing, chest muscles flexed, eyes focused, one hand holding an obsidian blade ready for vengeance, another ruefully tucking his son's necklace into his belt. Chills, man. Chills.

4) Everything from the moment they hit the city up to the first execution. Cinema at its finest, if you ask me. Minimal dialogue, a flurry of costumes and sets and business, and yet you get the sense of a city and a civilization. Slaves lugging lime, merchants hocking wares, the rich lounging and gorging on fruit. There's a million stories there. Watch for the VIP being carried on a litter. Someone in the crowd wants him dead, and he knows it.

5) You'd think there wouldn't be much for a pregnant woman and a child trapped in a cenote to do, but in Apocalypto, the whole experience is an adventure. Dodging rocks, fighting monkeys, using ants as stitches, breaking ropes, rain, an underwater birth. The best thing about Jaguar Paw's family, and Jaguar Paw himself, is that they have that quality good adventure heroes have: vulnerable toughness. The "Indiana Jones" quality.

I could tick off more, and probably even a list of the quibbles I have with the movie, but suffice it to say, Apocalypto is a modern classic and deserves to be on any 1001 list, even if it's the 1001 Most Overrated Movies Ever.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What Have They Done to the Earth?

With tornadoes in the midwest, cyclones in Burma, and earthquakes in China, I feel like an ass complaining about yet another May freeze that threatens the tender plantlings in my garden.

Me and Mother Nature are going to have to sit down for a little talk. Kill thousands of people if you must, lady, but don't mess with the Ghetto Garden!

One More Day

I'm one ten-hour shift away from vacation and after this weekend, I could use the rest.

Here's Bill O'Reilly flipping out.