Saturday, April 30, 2005

Highlights of the PIFF

My fifth year working the Philadelphia International Film Festival was filled with both stress and good times. Although I didn't get to chat up directors or drink beers with struggling actors and discuss the pros of different music formats (records, tapes, cds or mp3s?) like in the past, the festival was filled with some highlights...

1.) Eating David Duchovny's left overs - The dude isn't much of a nibbler I guess. He hardly touched the puffed chocolate pastries or hummus with veggies and pita in his hotel room. Lucky for us, guest services brought his leftovers to the interns and volunteers. Now whenever I watch X-files reruns I can say that I ate something that he breathed on. (Stop making that disgusted face) You N.Y. and L.A. people may think I am the lamest lame-O to sweat over a B-lister like Duchovny.... but you don't get it- actors and actresses don't come to Philly everyday.

2.) Peas at 5:30 - When I read the description in the film guide "Peas at 5:30 takes the notion of 'the blind leading the blind' and turns it inside out" it didn't really appeal to me. Sure, I have never seen a BAD movie about the blind. Scent of a woman, Ray, Black (hindi) comes to mind..... but after a while they all seem cliché. If you seen one, you've seen 'em all... snore. "I get it! He wants to be independent!" So I was surprised that Peas was sold out the night I was working the box office at Ritz at the Bourse. I had to turn dozens away. “Stupid patrons” I thought. Don't they know that the story will be overly predictable? I wanted to grab the disappointed patrons by the collar and go "Look, he's gonna lose his eyesight and become extremely frustrated... he will lose some confidence and gain some sass. In his search for independence, you (the audience) will notice times when he is being taken advantage of and will cry with him when he walks crookedly down the street for the first time as sweet violin music plays in the background." I didn’t do that of course. But I was pleasantly surprised when everyone walked out of the theater and grabbed the ushers and told them how amazing it was. Some even call Peas a German masterpiece. I would half agree. I took my mom to see it at the end of the festival and although the story line was unrealistic and cliché, the visuals were amazing (including the sexy blind protagonist.) Growing up, whenever I would watch a non-South Asian/non-PG rated movie with my parents, I would always brace for the uncomfortable, yet obligatory sex scene. The movies my parents watched hardly had KISSING scenes. The impression I had growing up was that it was ok to let boys kiss your belly button or ankle, but only SLUTS let boys kiss them on the lips. Anyways, so my mom and I get to the point in the movie where the sexual tension is built between the two blind characters and because of financial constraints they must share a room in a hotel. “Fuck, they are gonna do it….. maybe now is a good time to go to the bathroom” I thought. At the same time, I couldn’t turn away. Then came maybe the most beautiful “sex scene” I have ever seen on film. And I don’t mean “hot” but beautiful. Instead of having sex, they touched each other’s bodies as a small leak of light entered the room. I didn’t want them to ruin it by having sex. So just like the time I whispered “don’t kiss her, don’t kiss her” to Bill Murray as he laid in bed with Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation, I whispered “don’t do it, don’t have sex” to the characters in Peas. They listened. But at the end of the scene, she had to ruin it by “cupping” him. Almost a flawless movie.

3.) The Edukators – Personally, this movie opened my mind. I think it should be a must-see for all activists. Even if its in German, I think any activist (or former activist) anywhere in the world will be able to relate. Sometimes it is nice to not take yourself (or activism) so seriously. This movie will give you the chance to laugh at yourself, err…. not really.

4.) Children of the Decree – My very limited knowledge of Romania comes from 20/20 specials about over-crowded orphanages from the 90’s and Olympic gymnast Nadia. I walked into this documentary (I was ushering at International House) about Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and how he criminalized abortion and contraceptives for women under forty unless they were already raising at least four children. Women were brainwashed to think that having babies was fulfilling some patriotic duty. Although its not an entertaining movie like Peas or Edukators, I recommend it to people interested in social justice.

5.) Chased by Dreams – This Bengali movie should be seen for the drunken scenes alone. I always wondered how village men partied. There were some similarities with another Buddhadeb Dasgupta film Tale of a Naughty Girl. For example, the symbolism of animals and the broken film projector repeatedly showing the same clip. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to non-Bengalis though. The humor gets lost in subtitles.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Space Cadet endorses man dates

Fellas – Have you ever hung out with another straight guy pal for conversation and maybe to share a meal? Then you mister – have been on a “man date.” Yeah I know it sounds gay to me too, but trust me it’s a great concept. I read this article all about man dates in April 10th’s NYT with fascination. Wow, I thought, what a shame it is that most men do not do this thing that women always have – go out with a straight friend of the same gender and have intimate conversations about “everything and nothing.”

Now you may say, “hold on Space Cadet, I just went out with a buddy of mine last night for a beer – does that count as a man date? Well were you small talking about the game you were both passively watching and about how you were gonna ask your boss for a raise later in the week? If the answer is yes, then that doesn’t count as a man date. Man dates are about really talking and listening to your buddy without the social lubricants of sports, business or alcohol. Wait – I take that comment about alcohol back… wine is ok. Beer is not. Did you see the movie Sideways? As the writer in the NYT article stated, Sideways is really about one long man date.

Psychologists have long studied the patterns in male and female friendships and have found that the most important quality in female friendships is lots of talking and sharing secrets, for males it is sharing activities. Actually, that’s one thing I really like about male friendships – how guys consider it their duty to help a friend move or fix a leaky toilet (actions speak louder than words) – but I digress. Guys need to talk and share more with each other too. Just don’t stop sharing activities, that’s cool…. I think girls should do that more too.

Now you may feel apprehensive about going on your first man date, but never fear Space Cadet is here. And I realize that the man date is by no means a new thing, many of you might already be man daters (and if you are, stop reading now) because here come the man-dating FAQ’s.

1.) Question: I would like to try this man date thing out, but what if people think I am gay?

Answer: Just don’t wear your necktie around your waist and remember to scratch your balls every 30 minutes or so and you’ll be fine.

2.) Question: How do I ask someone out on a man date?

Answer: First, you can’t ask a guy out like how you ask a woman out. It has to be a guy you know, someone you are already friends with. That elusive, sexy and knowledgeable barista boy doesn’t count. Bring it up casually and remember consuming a meal together is totally optional. A man date can be a “walk and talk” in the park. But if you DO get dinner, go Dutch (split the bill in half.) Unless you are Bengali, then you must fight over the check.

3.) Question: Will my girlfriend/wife get jealous that I am hanging out with someone else?

Answer: If you are honest about what you are doing then she probably won’t. If she DOES get jealous, it just means that she is codependent and you are better off with out her. This is the ironic part, because man dates actually help people from settling into co-dependent relationships. Your main squeeze might even appreciate it that you are bitching to your buddy about your issues with your parents/boss/friend instead of her.

4.) Questions: How will going on man dates change my life?

Answer: Numerous studies have shown that men in mid-life are happier and more satisfied in marriages than women in mid-life. Scientists attribute this to the fact that marriage (for men) provides emotional support that they may not get otherwise. Women, of course, find this emotional support network elsewhere with their mothers, aunts, girlfriends and female co-workers to name a few. Man dates can possibly lead to world peace. Ok…. maybe that’s stretching it. But think about it – communicating with other men can increase negotiating skills and sensitivity. The love then spreads to those immediately surrounding them, and then the power of exponents work. Boom, world peace.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

You May Be a Bit Schizotypal ...

You May Be a Bit Schizotypal ...

A bit odd and socially isolated.

You couldn't care less of what others think.

And some of your beliefs are a little weird.

Like that time you thought you were Jesus.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Cosi conspiracy

It doesn't matter which location I go to, lately I have been noticing a peculiar trend at the Cosi sandwich/coffee shops. I have noticed that all the waitstaff at Cosi are young trendy girls or skinny gay boys. Then you look BEHIND the counter and notice that all the non-waitstaff, meaning the people making the salads and sandwiches, are all older and bigger black men with gang tattoos.

Now, I don't want to accuse Cosi of employee discrimination or anything, (like in that Seinfeld episode where Elaine was salty because she found out all the big-breasted waitresses at the diner were the owner's daughters) but what gives? Has anyone else noticed this?