Image of the Day: 10/31/07

"Your Space Embracer" 2004
by Olafur Eliasson
Brändström & Stene, Stockholm, 2004

Latrodectus Hesperus

My little sister caught one of these on our front porch and is keeping it in a jar as a pet. I think she named it "Sheila".
Sheila seriously creeps me out. Her venom is fifteen times deadlier than a rattlesnake's, and if she got out, I'd never even hear her coming. She could easily hide in one of my shoes, behind the faucet handle in the bathroom, or underneath my pillow-- just waiting for me to slide my hand under before I go to sleep.
Sheila is ruthless. She eats other spiders that Lizzie puts in her jar. She spins sticky, messy webs and patiently dangles upside down in the middle of her bell jar lair, anxious for her next victim. Her bright red hourglass stares back at me when I venture a peek through the top, reminding me that whether it's Sheila, or a car accident, or cancer that gets me in the end, my time is running out.
What's worse is that Sheila's time probably isn't running out anytime soon. A healthy Black Widow female can potentially live for up to five years.
It's official. I really need to move out.

...Like the Plague

There are certain things in life that should be consistently avoided. Things like poison ivy, shark infested waters, angry hornets, and flat coke. Even limited exposure to these things can cause mild to extreme discomfort and even death.
Tonight I was suckered into watching a movie that should be avoided by certain people--people with allergies to bad movies.
But if you like Hallmark movies and after-school specials, read no further. This warning does not apply to you. In fact you might actually want to go out of your way to see this film: It's called "The Ultimate Gift" and it's probably the warm-fuzziest feel-goodiest movie of the century.
It's about the jaded grandson of a recently deceased oil tycoon. Grandpa left Jason a few billion dollars that he is eager to get his angsty little paws on, but there's a catch: In order to get the money, Jason has to complete a series of tasks that will in the end, not only build his character but teach him about what's REALLY important in life. Jason is sent to begrudgingly work on a ranch in Texas with an old cowboy named Gus who teaches him the true meaning of work. Next Jason has to give up everything he owns for a month so he can see who his REAL friends are. His girlfriend bursts into tears and runs out on him when he can't pay the bill at Cafe D'Swank. (This scene was amazing, some of the BEST acting and most honest dialoge EVER!) But that's okay, because then Jason meets a cute single mom with a little girl who's dying of cancer that just couldn't be more adorable. And of course he falls in love--but then he has to go volunteer in a remote ecuadorian village in the middle of the jungle where he gets kidnapped by druglords.
And in the end, Jason really does learn what the "Ultimate Gift" is. I'll bet you can't guess! It's Love! Can you believe it? And then they kiss and a butterfly flys in front of the camera and floats on into the sky.
So if you're in the mood for a shot of Schmaltze on the rocks, cuddled not stirred, check out "The Ultimate Gift". You'll love it.

Day 2 or The Weekend in Review

Well, I made it back! (...just in time I might add) A lot happened this weekend:

Touch the Sound
This was one of the best made documentaries I've ever seen. Granted it was not terribly fast paced, and didn't contain any sort of cohesive storyline, but I think if you were looking for those things in this piece then you were barking up the wrong tree.
What made this film so absorbing for me was the way Director Thomas Riedelsheimer showed us the unique world of deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Riedelsheimer's attention to detail was incredible--so many beautiful examples of everyday sounds that often escape our conscious attention were brought to the forefront in shot after shot. Sounds like the repetitive clicking of a train car on it's iron tracks, the way a sheet of metal warbles in the wind, and the symphonious cacauphony of people on the street became new and fresh and exciting from Glennie's point of view.
I also really enjoyed the many percussion performances by Glennie throughout the film, especially her improvisational sessions with experimental musician Fred Frith.
Riedelsheimer does a great job pairing Glennie's uniquely expressive music with beautifully crafted visuals that are both thought provoking and aesthetically pleasing. The combination created for me as near as I can imagine a true synesthetic experience to be.
If you liked the film "Baraka", I would not hesitate to recommend this rich audio-visual experience.

Daedelus and Bus Driver in Concert at In the Venue 10/26/07
So the instrument you can see Alfred Darlington AKA "Daedelus" playing on the right is called a "Monome" and this man is a magician at using it. It has, I think, about two hundred and fifty little back-lit buttons that correspond to different sound loops on the attached Macbook. It was pretty impressive to watch the man work his magic--his fingers flying, punching and prodding the defenseless box at lightning speed, conjuring sonic spells and mystifying the crowd. It is not unusual, I am told, to see this wizard dressed in nineteenth-century british attire for his shows. And he was super nice coming down after the show to chat with his fans. Thanks, Alfred!

Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana

After the Daedelus show, we are all super hungry. Lisa wisely suggested this pizza place that none of us had ever been to: Settebello. And although I had never been there before, I will certainly not be staying away for long. The pizza was AMAZING!!! Totally authentic Italian-style thin crust pizza. Half the pies on the menu don't even come with tomato sauce, and all of them are cooked in a wood-burning brick oven. We got the "Del Cafone", which had fresh mozarella, grilled onions and peppers, authentic italian sausage, artichoke hearts, and pine nuts. It was, to say the least, blissful. We also ordered the "Caprece", which is an appetizer consisting of fresh tomato slices paired with fresh mozarella slices drizzled with olive oil. I can't wait to go back. Check it out if you're in the neighborhood: 260 S. 200 W. in Salt Lake.

Mazza Cafe Middle-Eastern Cuisine

Flash forward. Saturday afternoon Lisa and I head back up to Salt Lake to catch the opening of The Darjeeling Limited at The Broadway. And, not surprisingly, Lisa has another delicious restaurant for me to try. This time it's a quaint little Lebanese cafe up on the east side of town.

We ordered:

Cubes of potatoes skillet-fried in garlic, pepper, cilantro, olive oil and spices.
Fresh cooked garbanzo beans blended with lemon juice, garlic, tahini and olive oil. Served with pita bread.
Thin slices of beef and lamb marinated and seasoned with our blend of spices, stacked on a standing grill and broiled to perfection. Shaved into a pita with tahini, fresh veggies and turnip pickles.
The quintessential Mediterranean sandwich. Thick slices of eggplant baked in olive oil, stuffed into a pita pocket and garnished with garlic tahini sauce, fresh greens and Armenian pickles.
Homemade limeade with fresh-squeezed limes, flavored with orange blossom water.

Once again, Lisa hit the mark dead on. We got the combos, which include the sandwich, appetizer, and beverage--highly recommended.

The Darjeeling Limited
There's really not a lot I can say about this film that you probably won't already know about it if you're familiar with Wes Anderson's work. Gorgeous cinematography that is acutely sensitive to hue and color saturation, quirky characters in rapidly decaying situations, severely witty deadpan humor, and meticulous attention to detail (especially in wardrobe and set design), all presented with an immaculate soundtrack. Darjeeling made good on all of Wes Anderson's promises of consistent trademark quality in his signature style.
Even though the film was, in my opinion, very, very good, it was far from perfect. While Darjeeling did have some very funny moments, I didn't think it was quite as clever or packed with memorable laugh out loud moments as Wes's other films have had. But this did not stop me from liking it any less. I thought the acting was spot-on and the characters portrayed entirely endearing. There were just so many great moments and stand-out scenes, aesthetically scintillating shots, and meaningful silences to keep me interested.
I did like the ending, BUT I was a little less than satisfied with the way it played out. I don't know if it was the pacing, or the scene order, or the events themselves, but something left me wanting more. ....and in the final estimation, I guess that's not a bad thing at all--to leave the audience wanting more. And I do want more. Please Mr. Anderson, give us another soon?

Lisa Ruefenacht's Talk at church on Sunday 10/28/07

One Word: Awesome.


Why is it that I always feel most ambitious in the middle of the night? --Always at the time when I am least able to accomplish ambitious things?
Tonight I am feeling ambitious and empowered. I am resolving right now to write something here every day. I think this will help me accomplish a few things:
-I will have a consistent creative outlet, which I really need...
-I will hopefully improve my writing skills and become more articulate.
-I will have a record of thoughts, impressions, memories, ideas, events, etc. to draw from, and keep a healthy perspective.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about what I want out of life. Not just in the here and now from day to day, but long term. I've been trying to weigh out what's most important to me and what brings me the greatest and longest lasting satisfaction in life, and I think I've come to a few conclusions:

a) I love people. I love meeting new people and getting to know them. I love seeing old friends and accquaintances. I love my co-workers, fellow students and peers. I love being a part of a community and contributing to the lives of those around me. People are really an integral part of my hapiness and satisfaction in life--I don't think anything gives me greater satisfaction than my relationships and associations.

b) I have a driving need to creatively express myself on a regular basis. I don't feel complete when I go for any period of time without producing something. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I am able to express myself in a unique and skillful way.

c) The Gospel is and always will be at the heart of my understanding and outlook on life. I can't imagine living without it.

That's all for now. Let's see if I can make good on this goal and make another post tomorrow...if you don't hear back from me in twenty-four hours, call the cops.