Monday, December 29, 2008

Man on wire

What would you do for art? How about doing a high wire walk between the Twin Towers? That's what Philippe Petit did in 1974 and it makes for one of the most fascinating documentaries I have seen in my life. Petit, a high wire artist had become famous for walking across the Notre Dame Cathedral and on a bridge near the Australia Opera House. But he became obsessed with the idea of doing a performance in the soon to be inaugurated World Trade Center.

This would not only mean doing the improbable act, but also breaking in the towers, avoiding security and throwing a line from one tower to the other using (get this) a bow and arrow. Well, how he and some friends did it is recreated in this movie and it has more suspense than any heist movie you have seen. And against all odds and quite frankly, common sense, they did it.

And then there's the footage of his high wire walk. One is in awe of someone like that. One feels he is a genius, an artist, a madman. It is a quite a sight.

And then there is a curious thing. There is never any mention of the destruction of the towers in the movie. And I'm happy that there is none. Because for 90 minutes the towers are there, as real as anything in the world. Perhaps this movie is the real work of art that people will will remember about them. And it is so damn beautiful.


A person in another blog did this year end exercise and I thought it would be a good idea to do it too.

First, I realized that I really needed a change in terms of job. In the end the only thing keeping me there was the camaraderie there and the fact that it was close to my house. Working somewhere just because of short commute is not quite right.

I also learned that I could travel alone again. I had a great time during my time in France and in New England. The fact that I took a guided tour always kept me busy and entertained. I simply enjoyed the scenery, met some interesting people and took some nice photos. Not once did I feel uncomfortable about traveling alone. That is quite an achievement for me.

Which takes me to the fact that I realized I am a pretty good photographer. My friend Erika gave me some insights into composition that I needed to learn and off I went into the world.

I learned that I will probably be a good retiree. My months away from work were really interesting. I was able to write, travel, read,take photos, watch old movies. I established a routine that kept me busy, interested and content.

I got over my self pity about the injury. My knee eventually got better. Sometimes I feel a slight discomfort, but I do a short exercise and it feels better. Time heals all wounds. And I learned to be patient with things that life throws at you.

I did a small thing that maybe is not so small at all. I learned to face my fears little by little. Fear of loneliness by meeting people. Fear of traveling alone by doing it in a grand scale. Seems it works when you do it like that.

I went back to my blog. I had stopped writing because I was tired of doing so much ad writing at work. I found the time and the energy to do it. I realized there's pleasure in writing. And that this blog is a little work of art I am creating (maybe).

Well, that's it for now. Maybe I will think of other things.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

No thank you, I am waiting for the Joseph Stalin one.

For the revolutionary in your household who needs to keep his or her appointments, a Che calendar. Available at Borders.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I hate this ad

I just saw the creepiest ad in my life. It is a TV ad for One Laptop Per Child in which John Lennon is brought from the dead to endorse this program. First you hear a voice similar to Lennon's talking about the idea behind One Laptop Per Child and then we see old Lennon footage talking to camera. what's worse the lip synching is not even that good.
It is a strange concept for a commercial. Maybe it will work since it will certainly get people talking. But still, the fake Lennon voice is really, really creepy.
Type "Lennon laptop ad on You Tube"

Trash I like

When I was studying communications at Grad School, the professor asked the students if anyone enjoyed watching trashy movies or tv. And it being a snotty school, nobody raised their hands. Except me. The professor and the other students looked at me as if I was a lunatic. The professor then asked me what trash I enjoyed watching. And I said "Good trash". And he replied, "And what is good trash?". My answer was "Trash that I like". Everyone laughed, some with me, others at me. But at least I had been honest.

Well, here's trash I like. Goofy 1960's movies. I love them. And last week I saw two of them. First up, "Casino Royale", a so called James Bond parody that is completely unfunny but is a truly watchable mess. Bad jokes, outlandish sets, gorgeous women. The movie had five directors, actors leaving in mid production and all kinds of complications. Actually, the "making of" featurette in the DVD is better than the movie.
"Casino Royale" is also one of the first movies I remember seeing as a kid. Seeing Ursula Andress and Barbara Bouchet posters in the theater lobby made me realize I liked women. So there's nostalgia involved in it too.

"Battle Beneath the Earth" is about a Chinese plot to invade the USA....from underneath the earth. Through tunnels where a Fu Manchu type villian plans to attack America with atom bombs.. It is also completely politically incorrect (Chinese portrayed by British actors), but the movie is so outlandish that one just laughs at the whole thing. This is one movie I wish I had seen as a kid. But watching it made me feel like a six year old again.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I have been scanning old photographs to place them in a digital phot frame that I will give my parents for Christmas. Maybe it's the season and the fact that I'm listening to a cable music channel that plays Christmas music, but I can't help but be moved by all the old photographs. First, when I look at the people who are no longer here. But here they are in these pictures, most of them taken on Sundays when all the family would get together and have lunch. Here they are dressed literally in their Sunday best. They are all there, smiling, going about their life. Facing their days like I am now.

Then there are the people who are still alive, but here they are so young. Probably younger than I am now. Smiling, wearing the latest fashions.

And hitting me on the face was the passage of time. And how fast it goes by. All the people in those photos were probably thinking so too. But there were place to go, gatherings to enjoy. Because against time, it's all we can do.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


With my new job comes a sudden realization: the trip that I wanted to take next year will have to wait. Which is a shame since I wanted to visit Europe again, maybe visit Germany and some Eastern European countries. I guess I will try to get a couple of days off and maybe go to New York City to visit a friend or maybe go to Miami. It's funny, but I got so used to not having to worry about things like that when I was freelancing. But the reality is that the freelancing world is dead here. I am lucky to get a job.
So Prague can wait.

two movies

I have 3 weeks until I begin my full time job so I have been basically taking it easy. I have been reading a lot and watching a lot of movies on DVD. And the other day I enjoyed quite a double feature. First I watched a movie called "Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days", a critically acclaimed movie that deserves all the accolades. Its set in 1987 in Romania and it deals with the relationship between two friends when one of them has to get an illegal abortion. It is a truly amazing movie, with great acting a a ten minute sequence so full of suspense, fear and dread that I found myself closing my eyes. I am not kidding. Very few movies have touched me the way this movie did. It won the big prize at Cannes and I hope it gets the Oscar. This is such a great movie.

While still on this mood I watched an Ingmar Bergman movie called "The Silence". I recall seeing this movie on PBS when I was kid basically because it dealt with sex and had some nude scenes. Since the world of sex was still a mystery to me, I was enthralled by this movie. Now many years later, I realize that it is an interesting, somewhat cold movie about the relationship between two women(sisters). There are some undertones of lesbianism and incest, which must have been pretty weird back in the early 1960's. Well, the idea would be unthinkable in a movie today, but that's another story. The acting is amazing, the camerawork is excellent ( I am sure Kubrick saw this movie before shooting "The Shining"). But like all Bergman films it leaves one kind of cold and pessimistic about life. Still I liked it.

I must admit this was quite an interesting double bill. But I made a note to myself to watch a lighter movie next. And I did. I watched "Snoopy, Come Home" which turned out to be not so light at all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Gregory's Girl" : loving movies and life

Yesterday I saw two movies on tv, first I saw "Wanted" a typical new action movie with a million gimmick shots and CGI sequences. It was fun and ok. And then I happened to run across "Gregory's Girl" on cable. And I realized why I love movies.

"Gregory's Girl" was movie written and directed by Bill Forsyth, a Scottish director, who made some of the 1980's most wonderful movies. "Local Hero", 'Comfort and Joy" and "Housekeeping", before disappearing from the phase of the earth. His movies were about the small things in life, about the little moments. His movies contained no great, bombastic scenes to try to capture you. They had small scenes that added up and charmed you.

My favorite Forsyth movie is "Local Hero", but I love "Gregory's Girl', a movie about teenagers that is not about getting laid, but about finding someone that likes you and maybe love you. Gregory, an awkward kid, develops a crush on a girl...but she has other (wonderful) plans for him. There are so many priceless moments here: Gregory realizing that the girl has actually accepted his invitation for a date. His scenes with his younger sisters are truly great as she gives him advice on what girls like. These moments are sweet and touching. And I love the two guys that realizing that girls do not like them, make plans to travel to Caracas, where the women to men ratio is 8:1 (or so they think).

"Gregory's Girl" is kind of technically clumsy, which works brilliantly in a movie about the most awkward and clumsiest time in anyone's life. I love this movie. It reminds me of my teenage years and, most important, of the fact that life is about the small things. It's not about the bombast, but about the whispers.

Catch it on FLIX this month.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I am becoming an NCSI fan. My father recommended this show and now I am completely hooked. I know these CSI shows are kind of routine, but I think this one is better. Great, quirky cast, interesting mysteries. I guess this is the kind of show you either love or hate. Well, I guess I love it.

on movies

The other day I was watching a movie from a few years ago ("Carried Away") and an interesting thing happened. There was this nude scene featuring a middle age Amy Irving and a late middle age Dennis Hopper. There was no sex involved. They just happened to be naked. And I realized that there are very few scenes like that in American movies, especially mainstream ones. You can see it in European movies, but not in American films.

Strange, isn't it? A common thing like walking around nude in the house is off limits to movies. Movies can show you violence. gore, guts hanging out...but let a breast or a penis hang out and it's the end of the world.Try explaining that to a creature from another world. Yes, we have people getting killed in all sorts of ways in our everyday pop culture, but our naked body is off limits. It is taboo. It is dirty.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

what might have been

28 years ago tomorrow, the dream of a renewal of a Lennon-McCartney writing partnership ended. Some jerk with easy access to a gun, ended that possibility. I've always figured they would have eventually collaborated, maybe not as The Beatles, but as two old friends doing some music just for the fun of it. The old grudges would have been put away. Time would have healed the wounds and the two of them would have given us some new songs. I am sure that would have happened at some point.

But it never did. Damn.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


One of the people who taught me to love movies (and taught me to read English and understand puns), passed away. R.I.P. Forrest Ackerman.


When asked why his books never had a love story, Ken Vonnegut said that because once you put a love story in a novel, it overshadows everything else in it. You can have the most amazing plot, but once you put the element of love, the love becomes the most important thing. I thought about this while watching Sam Peckinpah's "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" the other day. The movie is about revenge, money, the hipocrisy of religion. It also touches on the end of the Old West. But then there's the love angle, on the relationship between Hogue (Jason Robards) and Hellie (Stella Stevens) and everything else becomes secondary.
Love conquers everything, especially in art.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

old movies I saw again

When I was a kid, the Music Hall theater in San Juan used to show Disney movies all thetime. They would show the recent ones and also re-releases of all the classics. I, of course, went to see every one. I loved all of them, except two, "Fantasia" and "The Three Caballeros". Although I remember sitting still throughout "Fantasia" (which I think was hown at the Metro theater), I recall being completely restless and out of control during "Three Caballeros".

Well, I decided to see these two movies again. First up, "The Three Caballeros" and surprisingly I really liked this movie. It lacks the slickness of most Disney movies. In fact, the whole thing seemed completely improvised. And it may have been, since it was an effort between Disney and the U.S. government to create some goodwill between the United States and Latin America during World War II.

So it is an interesting movie for historic reasons. But it is much more. It is a fun, weird movie featuring some psychedelic visuals 25 years before "Yellow Submarine." And Donald Duck acts really strange. He acts like the horniest cartoon character ever, lusting after all the Latin senoritas. And I mean, Donald behaves like a drunk, spring break student in a "Girls Gone Wild" video. Truly bizarre. And I also noticed various instances in which inanimate objects became erect at the sight of some Latinas.

All in all, this is a really interesting movie to see. And the DVD comes with a behind the scenes documentary on how Disney helped the U.S. reach out to Latin America. The short film "Saludos Amigos" is also included.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I just wrote a person in another blog about how life can change things from day to day. And I feel like expanding on that today. A week ago I was pretty much set on the idea that my present career was pretty much over. Well, not over. But the idea of being freelance was already ingrained in my mind. I would work sporadically, in small places here and there because I figured the big, important ones would not want me anymore. Well, the other day I got a phone call that may change all that. It's from a good agency and the work situation sounds interesting since it will be in a specialized field. I see it as a way of being inside an agency, but not in a regular agency. And I see it as a place where I can end my days as a copywriter. Then again, I am assuming they will offer me a job. There are quite a few unemployed copywriters out there that could be interested in that same position.

But the thing is, suddenly all plans were changed. And maybe a I won't get the call, and all I'm planning now will come to nothing. Believe it or not, I'm finding a kind of beauty in this. I have never been a person who loves unpredictability, but I'm realizing that I better start loving it because that's what life is all about.