Intrepid Girl Reporter


Sunday, 18 October: the heart wants to feel and the heart wants to hold
October 19, 2009, 12:08 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, IGR Recommends, media, movies, reading

Nothing like fall for groundless melancholy. It’s been cold and wet here for the past five days; by this past Friday, my kids hadn’t had recess for three days straight, so for our Fun Friday we held a “Rainy Day Dance!” during which some of them literally just jumped up and down in place, presumably to burn the energy the monkey bars normally might have received. I let the teachers DJ, and the music seemed a little loud to me, but bear in mind whom we’re discussing: I hated school dances because I hate crowds and loud music, so all music in that sort of scenario is going to be too loud for me. I am not a good barometer. Then the principal called me over and told me that she had received parent complaints about the noise level, and that we had to be mindful of our noise because of our, quote, “changing population.” I think what this means is that she thinks white people are scared of loud music, but I’m not positive.

IGRB and I went to see “Where the Wild Things Are” this morning, and I loved it. He gave it 2.5-3 out of 5 stars, but to quote him, it’s okay to think wrong things sometimes. It’s very much a movie for my demographic and generation though, and maybe that sounds selfish, maybe I am too narrow-minded and the movie can be appreciated by all ages and backgrounds, but let’s be realistic here: it’s directed by Spike Jonze from a screenplay by Dave Eggers. I own a Spike Jonze music video retrospective. Come on now. Anyway, we were discussing this and being able to identify with the main characters – because I didn’t really appreciate the book until I was grown, being more of a Chicken Soup with Rice fan myself, and I definitely occupied more of the older-sister position in my household. But the thing is: I work with Max. I see him every day. There’s a kid named Marcus at my school, a kindergartener, who has to wait for his older brother to come downstairs so they can walk home, and during the beginning of this arrangement he cried for three days in a row because he was convinced that he might not come back. Now when he sees me, he tells me: “Not gonna cry today!” (Incidentally, I also have a three-year-old who says things like, “Ms. IGR, I’m not going to scratch anyone today.” Does he want a cookie?) It’s funny that in many respects, I wasn’t very good at being a kid. In some ways I think I’m better equipped for childhood now than I was back then.



Sunday, 10/12: what we talk about when we talk about love

I have a lot that I want to cover here, but none of it (well, very little) directly relates to anything interesting about me. Sorry for those who know me personally. Also, I would swear that I’ve covered a few of the themes herein before (and referenced similar sources), but either I haven’t or WordPress’s search engine is failing me.

To be addressed in this post:

  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  • The Westing Game
  • the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays
  • Ben Sollee
  • Christopher Walken’s best skit ever
  • marching band competitions

Okay, let’s go.

1. Someone (a real someone) once told me that when people talk about music, especially people of a certain demographic and generation, they’re not actually talking about music at all. (This is one of the things I feel like I’ve covered before, so if I have, apologies.) That idea was the only thing of any use that this someone left for me, but it’s a pretty succinct summation of what I’ve sort of always known, the way we use music (etc.) as a sort of cultural shorthand.*

Which is why I was unsure, going in, about seeing N&N. Everything from the soundtrack to the promotional fonts used suggested that the film’s creators were trying to create a Touchstone, a Cultural Reference Point rather than an authentic story. Another Garden State, if you will, something that guys on dates and girls looking to make friends could reference within the first five minutes of a conversation to assure the other party that they spoke the same language. (Of course, I am guilty of this too, and part of my feelings on the matter stem from my desire to prove that I’m not hopping on any sort of bandwagon. After all, I did sit through the first half of this movie thinking, “I’ve had Bishop Allen on my iPod for TWO YEARS!” and then cursing myself because in those two years, I’ve only listened to them maybe three times, thus making me just as Johnny-come-lately as anyone else. Sorry, end digression.)

Obviously I could go on for a long time about how our tastes should be freed from others’ judgment and yet never are, but what I wanted to talk about was the movie, which is actually very good. I think what made this film for me was the fact that this specific way of life is *not* particularly familiar to me – I was way overprotected and antisocial in the uncool way in high school, and I would never have been allowed to spend a night in NYC in that manner – and yet it felt familiar. The movie really captures the essence of those bizarre endless nights; in fact, it reminded me of nights at My College, which is saying something, because believe me, it is difficult to be further removed from New York than the town where MC resides. But the reason it does is because the movie gets at those feelings of absurdity and exhilaration and being young that exist no matter where you are. Also, Drunk Friend Caroline is amazing and dead-on. Also also, I’m not a huge Michael Cera fan exactly, but I do like that he looks real – when you see guys who are dorky like Zach Braff or (natch) John Krasinski, guys who sort of play into this trend of awkward, you (i.e. I) go, you are not actually awkward, sir, you are just trying to prove you are real. Whereas Michael Cera is NOT good looking (no offense if you read this, sir), and he’s legitimately almost squirmy. (That might be why I’m not a huge fan.) Watching someone like Zach Braff vs. watching Michael Cera is like watching Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed vs. watching Heather Matarazzo in Welcome to the Dollhouse. **

And yes, as much as I hate to admit it, the soundtrack is excellent.

2. This is for you, Brendan and Marie.

3. It’s a pretty well established fact that I’m not from anywhere in particular. That having been said, I still feel a particular affinity with the Floridian mindset and circumstance. Case in point: the Rays making it this far in the baseball season. No one in my family has ever liked, played, or even really watched baseball. Nonetheless, as I read Mr. Marchman’s article, I found myself nodding along in agreement, because I understood everything he was talking about. I remember when the Rays came, how excited everyone was, how willing we all were to overlook the fact that, as the author so kindly points out, they were all wearing “teal jerseys festooned with fish.” We weren’t even overlooking them; it seemed almost logical that if we in the old-people-infested swamplands of America were to be blessed with a real live sports team, we would have to wear something bizarre. Anything else would have seemed like a pose, a half-assed attempt to ape our brethren with deciduous forests.

There is a unique sort of surreal fatalism present on the Gulf Coast and further south. Elmore Leonard and “Maximum Bob” and their ilk are not, to be honest, all that far off; living there I grew accustomed, like everyone else around me, to my lot of extreme weather, ancient foreign intruders and alligators in the drains. Which is probably why I retain a great deal of affection for a place I haven’t lived in in nine years and would never live again, why I commend Slate for recognizing the unique position of the team fighting the underdog, and why I’m rooting for the Rays, even though they dropped the Devil from their name. My city’s still breathing.

(Side note: did you know that the so-called “devil ray” is actually harmless? Yes, our team was named after a powerless animal. Which means we appear to have outwussed even the Minnesota Twins. At least there are two of them.)

4. I just downloaded because he is my age and from Kentucky. I am excited, and I’m trying to figure out where in Lexington he went to high school, because we surely have some mutual friends. Again, I can’t shake off all these places I’ve lived, no matter how much I sometimes wish I could.

5. While the following skit is criminally underrecognized – it beats Cowbell by a mile – one of the underrecognized things WITHIN this underrecognized skit is the way it addresses Florida’s separate mentality. I’m not sure if it was on purpose or not, but “Don’t push your politics on me, buddy” almost feels like a shoutout. Also I wish Tim Meadows would get more credit for his abilities as a straight man.

The video leaves out the last line of the skit, which is a wild shriek, followed by Walken’s frustrated exclamation: “Again? But we just did it an hour ago!”

6. I went to see a marching band competition yesterday. This was my first marching band competition, and quite frankly, I don’t think I have the words to describe the pageantry of these sorts of events. Instead, I’ll leave you with a few photos from Bob Waters Stadium, Western Carolina University (home of the Pride of the Mountains).*** After watching, my mother and I were forced to conclude that when you’re a band director, inspiration is everywhere.

theme: “Taking Flight”/if you look closely, there’s a girl carrying a giant bird on a stick

theme: “War and Peace”/tragedies on display: atom bomb, dead soldiers

graveyard

dueling flutes. This show would obviously take really well to the “On Ice!” treatment.

This show was called “Make Sense.” Which was ironic because it didn’t. (How could it?) I do have to say, though, that I didn’t expect quite this level of abstract installation art from Bourbon County, KY. Note the progression of the lights in the head.

giant flower, natch.

majorettes with eyes on their chests, natch. What are they trying to tell us? WHAT IS THE CODE?

Parents with purple glitter cowboy hats. Natch. Maybe my old Kentucky and old Florida homes aren’t so far apart after all.

*I have swapped iPods with guys as a courting ritual on multiple occasions. More on this later maybe. One guy actually said, half-seriously, “You realize that this is the moment of truth.”

**Of course, I would still rather date Zach Braff, which speaks to the aspirational tendencies in all of us.

***Given the fact that UT’s band, with whom La Sister cheers, is known as The Pride of the Southland, I suggested having a Pride-Off where all the bands who claim to be the pride of their respective areas battle it out for title of Proudest, or alternately, Pride of America. No one else seemed to like this suggestion.



Monday, 6/16: threeve

It’s no great insight to note that the music of Elliott Smith is better suited for rainy bus rides and other rain-based activities than anything else. Getting to listen to him again was the only boon of today’s miserable and uncertain weather, which, like the past few days, has been ideal mopey folk weather and not ideal for anything else.

I’ve been listening to “From A Basement On A Hill” more in the past two days than I have since my sophomore year of college. Perversely, this is a sign of good mental health; when I’m actually sad, I want to listen to something that has no emotion to it whatsoever. The cold comfort of the inbetween, indeed. Which is a phrase that could just as easily apply to my imminent departure and my persistent lack of job offers.

Saturday the weather was the same, and I went with HM and her posse of Man Friends to 추자도, which is halfway between here and Jeollanam-do. It was lovely in a Wales-ish sort of way, as our affection for it was necessarily masked by the freezing mist that continually surrounded us. A list of things that Omma forgot to tell me to bring: $20 for the ferry, closed-toed shoes, a jacket, my passport, anti-nausea medicine for the second-worst ferry ride of my life. I discovered this when we got to the ferry terminal and three different Man Friends came up to me and said, “Why are you wearing slippers?” and, when I told them that I had worn them with HM’s blessing, turned to her and said, “Why did you let her wear slippers?”

Yesterday was better, with yogurt eaten in a park with Oregon and Arkansas. And today would have been fine, except that the Konglish Jeopardy lesson leaves me with the feeling I thought I’d shaken, that of being a beleaguered Will Ferrell trying constantly to keep up with Sean Connery’s moronic antics. Unfortunately, the test used to split the first graders into levels was too easy, and as a result, there are maybe five to ten advanced kids in each low-level class, and some really, really slow kids in the high classes. Nonetheless, my low-levels are pretty reliably slow, and on more than one occasion I found myself intoning into the microphone, “Do you understand? Does anyone understand? …Anyone?”

My day improved, however, with the viewing of “Forever the Moment,” a totally inspiring movie about the Korean Olympic women’s handball team. Are you still listening? Good. This movie combines the best of the inspirational sports-movie genre with uniquely Korean issues.

A few examples:

TEAM OFFICIAL, FIRING FEMALE COACH Why didn’t you tell us…that you were DIVORCED?

 

YOUNGER MAN TO OLDER MAN: Shut up!

OLDER MAN: How can you be so insolent!

 

Interestingly enough, whenever I ask ACT about a problem kid’s family, she looks around and goes, “Well, you know, his parents are divorced,” like that explains everything.* Bear in mind that ACT is no Puritan. As previously mentioned, I’m pretty sure she’s a registered Socialist. I always have to look really serious and nod and resist the urge to point out that in America, that’s usually only the beginning.  

 

*A little bit of context: Because divorce is so stigmatized here, I suppose it’s possible that usually when people get divorced here, it means that things are REALLY bad. I’m not sure how that applies on Jeju, however, where the divorce rate is well above the national average.



Sunday, 6/1: teach them well, let them lead the way

Would you believe me if I told you that I’m so excited about the prospect of MSYDP that I actually can’t sleep? How on Earth could it be possible to love something that has apparently sucked all of the life force out of my limp, exhausted body? Would you buy that I’m almost delirious thinking about it?

Well, BELIEVE IT, suckers.

I’m not even joking about this. This program – which at times I have believed to actually be sucking the blood out of my body – is coming up in two days and we are on a roll. Except for Scooter, who is convinced that his kids have no idea what’s going on. The rest of us have seen the future, and its name is MSYDP. Hallim met with her team today and apparently they solved Japan’s energy problems. I love this.*

Other noteworthy things that have happened this week:

  1. Started emailing with three of my favorite girls, all of whom are friends and in the same class. They’re wildly enthusiastic about everything and super funny. I almost feel this sense of relief, too, because I’ve been wanting to have contact with my kids all year, but most of them haven’t seemed comfortable talking to me outside of class until now. Which makes me sad, obviously, because The Other Kids In The Program get lots of outside time, and I’m not sure why my kids are only comfortable with me now, but I’ll take what I can get.
  2. One of those girls actually likes Jeff Buckley. She also actively blogs and likes Korean punk music. I think she might be the only one in this school of 1500 that falls under these categories. I feel like I did when I was teaching at Summerbridge and I met Amara, the only camper who wasn’t a Rihanna fan. (This is also “Besame Mucho”/sloth girl.)
  3. I wish I could write in more detail about my students, for writing purposes, but this blog is supposed to be anonymous and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance detail and anonymity.
  4. Went to a festival with Soccer and two Book Club girls. (Note: Also found out that one of my favorite boy students is widely perceived to be arrogant and unkind. Whatever. I still like him. Also, he has never behaved that way towards me, which is more than I can say for a lot of my other students.)
  5. Saw some B-Boys and like ten more of my students at aforementioned festival.
  6. Saw “Iron Man” again with HB and HBBFF and another HB Friend.
  7. Someone told me the desks had been changed in one of my classrooms and Monkey started singing “Changes” by David Bowie.
  8. Rediscovered the Pretenders and “Back on the Chain Gang.”
  9. During “Would You Rather” lesson, offered Korea winning World Cup vs. Japan giving up Dokdo. CTF was like, “But that’s not a valid question, because Dokdo belongs to Korea.” I responded that I agreed, but that Japan continued to claim Dokdo. To which he told me, “Well, that’s kind of like China and Tibet. Maybe soon an earthquake will hit Japan, just like it hit China.” Open Response Question of the Day: readers, how would you have responded?

*So when I was at this festival on Saturday, as I mentioned, I was with one of my girls from Book Club who goes to My School and who is incredibly smart and pretty and sweet and also really shy and doesn’t have that many friends. The girls I ran into are good students for me – participatory, skilled at English – but also widely perceived to be running with The Wrong Crowd, i.e. the crowd that wears too much eyeliner and dates older boys. That crowd. At the time, I was torn between hanging out with my book club student, whom I wanted to know was respected and valued despite her lack of social success in the middle school arena, and these other girls, whom I wanted to sort of watch over and encourage to at least keep studying. Which is sort of the dilemma I face with my intense joy re: the MSYDP kids. They’re brilliant. I love working with them. I see them doing incredible things. But then I’m like, these kids don’t need me. And my elation at working with these kids is definitely equaled by the excitement I get when I actually engage some kid’s attention who doesn’t usually care. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish I had more time in the day to hang out with all of my kids.



Monday, 4/14: two stones in my pocket
April 14, 2008, 2:27 pm
Filed under: blogz, host mom, IGR Recommends, life on Jeju, movies, okay seriously Korea, television

Ordering t-shirts in Korea is a nightmare. You can get them in student (miniscule) or adult (too big for most people who would fit into a small, but still not big enough for those who would need an extra-large). Bless her heart, ACT came with me to the underground mall in Jungangro, which is more like some sort of hamster maze than an actual mall, and translated all my unreasonable demands, like having navy shirts (nope) and scaling the picture for different size shirts (also nope). Um, I really hope they come out.

The good news is that the shirt sale has raised around $100 for the book club, which we will use for expenses like paying for books for students who can’t afford them, having some sort of end-of-year party, etc. – i.e. stuff that either we or the students (probably us) would end up paying for out of pocket. So a giant thank you to all the Program kids who are supporting both us and Quagmire in his run for mayor of Scranton, PA, in 2013. I think I speak for both parties when I say: You won’t regret this decision.

We had our regular book club meeting on Saturday, of course, and I’m quickly realizing that the only regret I have about this club is that we can’t fit anyone else. I can think of a number of kids off the top of my head who would be amazing and who really need it, but I didn’t realize it in time to invite them instead of the kids we already have. I’m a little bummed. But we did have a great discussion as always, touching on racism (black people are more widely accepted in Korea now thanks to Beyonce and Ne-Yo, according to the kids), corporal punishment, and karma. We also had the palindrome contest; our students had been asked the week before to think of as many palindromes as they could, and SDY came back with twelve. I could not have been prouder.

This weekend also featured viewing of two movies: “The Two Faces of My Girlfriend,” a Korean film, and “Definitely Maybe,” which I saw with two girls from 2D. Unlike everyone else in Korea, I absolutely HATED “My Sassy Girl,” largely because I felt that the Sassy Girl in question had basically no redeeming qualities. Also, that movie is one million hours long. “The Two Faces of My Girlfriend,” which featured a girl with two personalities – a nice one and a mean one – was way ahead of “My Sassy Girl” in my personal rankings for the first, oh, hour and fifteen or so, until –

*SPOILER ALERT*

it is revealed that the reason she has two personalities (actually, it turns out to be three) is because her ex-boyfriend died rescuing her on an Antarctic expedition. It’s the classic romantic comedy formula – boy meets girl with two to three personalities, boy falls in love with one of those personalities while fighting off one of the other ones, boy discovers that those personalities were invented to help girl cope with tragedy of losing ex-boyfriend in polar accident. Anyway. I liked it a lot less after that.

“Definitely Maybe,” on the other hand, was one of the better romantic comedies I’ve seen in a long time. It fell under what I consider this sort of classic romantic comedy genre, in that there was a certain sense of escapism – unlike, for example, “Knocked Up,” where the characters are grotesquely and grossly real, the characters in the movie weren’t perfect, but they certainly didn’t face the same sorts of consequences or deal with the same sorts of body odor. There was a sort of gloss over New York City, that made you want to inhabit it, and I guess you could say that the characters had the same gloss. And of that genre, it wasn’t quite as good as, say, “Love Actually.” But it was good. It was funny, and endearing, and what I think I liked the most about the whole thing was how it showed a variety of different relationships and why they worked and didn’t work and changed. So in that sense, I felt like it was pretty realistic. Also, Ryan Reynolds is very attractive. (And he also cameoed in “Harold and Kumar,” like all true stars.)

I’ve also been catching up on American TV, namely “Top Chef,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” and “The Office.” Not going to lie: last week’s episode was not top-notch. But it wasn’t too bad, and I have high hopes for the rest of the season.

Lest my readers think I do nothing but stare at various types of boob tubes, other things I did this weekend: hit up Artspace C in SinJeju for an opening by this artist Mario Uribe (which, excitingly, featured both saucisson and hallabong), bought Korea Unmasked at BookTown, went out to dinner with The Teacher Formerly Known as Visiting Co-Teacher, who is now Hallim’s official co-teacher. She lives in a two story house. This is the Korean equivalent of, I don’t know, having your own private movie theater. Host Mom also took Hallim and I out to Hamdeok Beach, where we played on the rocks and ate some killer haemul kalguksu, which is a seafood soup with homemade noodles. Poor Hallim.

Tonight on the way to the screenprint shop ACT’s daughter (fourth grade) gave me some rocks she had collected in a river and then painted. She wanted to give me all six, but I told her they were lucky stones and so she had to keep some of them. Therefore:

Neil Halstead – Two Stones in my Pocket

My other recommendation for today is the blog of the divine Mindy Kaling, aka Kelly Kapoor on my favorite show.

Things I’ve Bought That I Love

“[The sandwich] is totally expensive…[But then] you will think, If this is highway robbery, let me always travel at night, and let me always get burgled.” Have truer words ever been spoken?



Thursday, 4/10: NEIL PATRICK HARRIS
April 10, 2008, 3:56 pm
Filed under: IGR Recommends, movies, music, skool, students, teaching, television

THURSDAY, 10 APRIL 2008

2A – How Nice of You

  • not v. participatory
  • do they not want to shower me with compliments? investigate

1K – Break it Up

  • absolutely awful (why? testing/rain?)
  • better attitude from the kid in the Carlton sweater today
  • struggled with vowels
  • did NOT get to Sudoku wksht

I’m doing a lot of side projects right now, including applying for jobs (does that count as a side project?), so I’m a little stressed. Therefore, today’s entry is going to consist entirely of recommendations.

1. Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. My only real dream in life is to be a contestant on this show. Living in Korea, this is my primary source of news (I am not joking). And while no week is ever a bad week to start listening, I highly recommend this week’s podcast, which features none other than – you guessed it – Neil Patrick Harris, along with Mo Rocca as a panelist and a story about our very own Quagmire’s much-beloved hometown, Scranton, Pennsylvania. (The story involves cat litter.) My primary reasons for loving NPH were his roles in Doogie Howser and Harold and Kumar (please see below), but it turns out that he’s also really funny, and he starred in Cabaret on Broadway. Miley Cyrus, I hope you’re paying attention. (Note: the best shows feature any of the following panelists: Mo Rocca, Roy Blount Jr., PJ O’Rourke. Actually, anyone who’s not Paula Poundstone.)

2. Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. I am only on song #6, but I am already wondering how I have never listened to this album before. Fun fact: Stevie Wonder’s real name is Steveland.

3. Changing Cleveland, Ohio’s name to Steveland, Ohio.

4. Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. Widely perceived to be a dumb stoner movie, H&KGTWC is actually rife with absurdist humor and sharp racial commentary, while at the same time presenting two ethnic characters as real people from real (okay slightly exaggerated) backgrounds. It also has a lot of dumb stoner moments. AND a sublime bit part by NPH. Sequel coming soon.

5. The Office. I cannot believe I am not back in America to watch this.



why does my apartment smell like burnt toast?
December 2, 2007, 11:32 am
Filed under: IGR Recommends, movies, poetry

So I have this picture of you, under the tree, leaves everywhere, drinking from one of my parents’ mugs. I guess we used to bring the mugs into the car and then return them at the end of the day. I guess we were alive, and I am alive, and the person in the photograph is you.

Jennifer Michael Hecht, “Notes for ‘September,'” The Best American Poetry 1999 (fuller text here)

As we sat through the first few minutes of August Rush, I told Oregon that I was never listening to the recommendation of a Korean movie-theater employee again. She suggested that maybe we just ask them if they enjoyed My Sassy Girl, and if so, to do the exact opposite of whatever they offer. It was that sort of opening.

But now, hours later, I can’t make up my mind. August Rush feels like a really good movie and a really strange movie fighting to get out of a really, really bad movie. It’s also only the third time in maybe four years that I’ve gone to see a film without any idea of what it was about (and the other two movies I saw under those conditions were Cry Wolf and Marci X*, so a little background research might not be a bad idea). I was a little conflicted from the beginning, looking at the poster: Jonathan Rhys Meyers? Good! Keri Russell? Bad. Robin Williams? Really bad. Reminds me of the poster for Once? Well, that’s tricky, now, isn’t it.

The main problem that most critics seem to have with the movie, now that I’m actually bothering to do my research, is that it’s totally, ludicrously unbelievable and sentimental. Well, um, yes. Earlier today, Oregon and I were talking about how orphanages in movies and books are these sort of Instant Pity Kits. (See: the Boxcar Children, the Samantha [“American Girl”] series, anything by Frances Hodgson Burnett.) And then we got there and the kid was not only in an orphanage, but also looked like the producers had maybe starved him for a couple of weeks beforehand. And the realism of the plot? Of course the kid is a musical prodigy! (I’m not giving anything away by saying any of this.) Of course Russell and Rhys Meyers start looking for each other at almost exactly the same time eleven years after their botched affair! Et cetera.

But here’s the thing: we say that events are “like something out of the movies” for a reason. Yes, everything that happens seems highly (like, 90%) unlikely. But strange, joyous things do happen to real people, and their lack of believability doesn’t make them any less real. The Hecht quote above (which refers to one of my favorite poems in high school) sort of alludes to that idea, a little bit; even when we think these things can’t happen, there’s no getting around the fact that they do. And while the meet-cute was a bit much, I didn’t think it was that implausible, and honestly, I found it (and a lot of the other plot twists) rather inventive. So help me, I thought it was…well, cute. Besides, how many times have you had some friend describe a ridiculously perfect evening that later went awry?

My major problem with the movie was its incredibly awkward and cliched explication of various sentiments that totally did not need to be said. There’s a lot of fluff floating around the movie about how music is everywhere and you just need to listen and blah blah blah, which the basic plotline – with that skinny kid picking up music so quickly and all – makes readily apparent. Also: while Freddie Highmore (aka Charlie Bucket from the Johnny Depp Wonka) is appealingly waifish, his lines all make him sound like a moron. I think they were going for some sort of “too distracted by art to pay attention to life” kind of star-child, but what I actually kept wondering was, “Is he supposed to be an idiot savant or not?”

There are a few moments of marvelous strangeness, though, that I wish had been allowed to come through more clearly. The Wizard’s lair is an incredible, creepy wonderland, and the Wizard himself has his creepiness spoiled only by repeated declarations of really stupid things. Robin Williams is incredibly creepy, but I suspect that he could have been very much creepier. The movie wants to be a sort of modern fairy tale, and I think that if they’d played more with elements like this one, they could have come closer.

There are elements of In America here – no surprise, as the director is Jim Sheridan’s daughter, although it’s nowhere close to that movie – and Rent, and even We’re Back: A Dinosaur’s Tale. (No. Really. The whole kids-joining-the-circus thing?) And that, too, is part of the problem – the movie cribs from a really, really wide range of movies, not all of which are even necessarily good, and it doesn’t really pull it off. There are times – like the ending, which, although sappy, does not feature a tearful reunion, more credit to the filmmakers – where you can sort of sense what the movie could have been, and others where you sit there and just go Stop talking. I don’t know if I can recommend it, exactly, but I probably wouldn’t change the channel if it was on, either.

Today IGR Recommends a number of things, including:

  1. Fuji Apple Mentos. Apparently there is a whole world of Mentos flavors out there about which I know nothing. Too bad you can’t get these in America, Americans.
  2. GS25 Marts, the obvious underdog of the Korean convenience store market, where it consistently loses to Family Mart, despite its having a much better selection of obscure candy and soda. GS25s are also consistently dirtier and harder to find.
  3. “September.” Plugged in previous blogs (although no posts in this one.)

Tonight there must be people who are geting what they want.
I let my oars fall into the water.
Good for them Good for them, getting what they want.

The night is so still that I forget to breathe.
The dark air is getting colder. Birds are leaving.

Tonight there are people getting just what they need.

The air is so still that it seems to stop my heart.
I remember you in a black and white photograph
taken this time of some year. You were leaning against
a half-shed tree, standing in the leaves the tree had lost.

When I fianlly exhale it takes forever to be over.

Tonight, there are people who are so happy,
that they have forgotten to worry about tomorrow.

Somewhere, people have entirely forgotten about tomorrow.
My hand trails in the water.
I should not have dropped those oars. Such a soft wind.

This poem was also, apparently, turned into a song by a Norwegian acid-jazz/electronica group. Given my past history with poems I like being turned into songs, I’m not inclined to listen to it, although I am a little intrigued.

*This is a ridiculously bad movie with the exception of the fork fundraiser scene, which is so good that it almost makes the rest of the film worth it.