Thursday, April 27, 2006

'I can't, my foot hurts...'

Yesterday, I woke up and discovered that I was unable to walk properly because my right foot was hurting. A lot.

I brushed it off as possible residue of 'The Fall'.

Oh, yes, I am very much aware that The Fall happened on Friday night and yesterday was Wednesday, but you can't really blame me. I do not function well in the mornings.

It was most definitely not a good day to discover a mysterious injury that hindered basic motor skills. But by now, I'm used to things happening at bad times. In fifth grade, I got chicken pox a week before school photos were taken. I missed those, and a hugely entertaining trip to a dinosaur park. I'm still not over it. [They were plastic dinosaurs. But this was after Jurassic Park. The dinosaur fever was still very much on.]

Thankfully, I didn't miss anything important yesterday, but I did have to go to school to do some last minute history revision before IB exams start. So I limped all the way to the tram stop with my mother and when I got to school (late), I limped all the way up to the library, all the while noticing that my dear foot was getting progressively worse.

By the time the first part of the practise history paper our teacher had us doing was over, my right foot was twice the size of my left foot (OK, well, I'm exaggerating, but just a little) and it became painfully clear that the unidentified foot injury would not 'just go away', or at any rate not as fast as I would have wanted it to. Vicky, whom I thought until very recently was not acquainted with basic social skills, was surprisingly nice. She helped me up and down stairs and along numerous corridors. I think she too is a victim of the dreaded end-of-school fever that makes everyone nicer. We should give some of that to [insert name of desired politician/back-stabbing ex-best friend/horrid in-law].

I decided that I needed to go to hospital.

I took a taxi home (and felt rather pampered). Limping rather dramatically (but entirely justifiedly), I greeted my mother and brother, a pained expression marring my otherwise stunning and friendly features.

'Mother, I think I need the hospital,' I announced with a flourish. OK, more of a grimace (and, um, no, I don't really call her 'mother').

They had the good grace to look apprehensive.

'Is it your foot?' mum asked, coming over to give me a consolatory kiss.

'Yes,' I sighed, and sat down.

She went back to the computer.

Sensing that everyone's attention was no longer on me as it should have been, I staggered upright and spoke again:

'So, um, hospital?'

'Oh, yes, dear, but your brother and I have an appointment at five, I'll take you when we get back.'

If my foot hadn't been so terribly injured, I would have thrown a tantrum. Unfortunately, stamping my feet was out of the question, so I couldn't. I resorted to whining, and a healthy does of outraged sputtering.

'B-But... Mother! I am injured! My foot is broken! Surely you will not make me wait?'

My brother gave me a pat on the head. My mother laughed and called me 'nazli', a five-letter word that translates to something like 'awwww, endearingly spoilt little brat!'. Under normal circumstances, this is a cute little word that makes me pretend to be even more spoilt and five-year-old. However, these were not normal circumstances. I was in terrible pain, and nobody cared!

I called Pan to bitch to her about how unloved I was, et cetera. My mum gave me a cup of tea and laughed at the death-glare I shot her, so I resorted to annoying Pan further and watching Gilmore Girls reruns, as well as eating industrial amounts of Pan di Stelle. I even took a shower, fully expecting my whole leg to be put in a cast very soon and thus wanting my leg to be clean before having to be stuck in unbreakable material for a month. Of course, I didn't stop to think that, given the precarious state of my poor foot, I could have fallen and broken something else. Hey, teenagers are supposed to not think of consequences.

Eventually, my mum got back home and my brother took us to the hospital. Having dislocated several fingers and even broken one on occasion, I'd been to this particular hospital several times and was therefore fully aware of the wait before me. Which was made even worse by the prospect of missing a crucial football match: Barcelona-AC Milan, the second leg of the Champions League semifinal. I think you can guess what team I support.

I was in pain and my mother was having one of those days where she particularly enjoys mocking my pain and laughing at me (not with me, I assure you) when things got even worse. A girl about my age hopped in with her father and sat right next to me.

The dreaded waiting room conversation began.

I could tell without even looking at her that she was one of those ditzy italians that I... dislike. She began talking and all my suspicions were confirmed.

A few snippets of our interactions, presented here purely for your enjoyment:

Her: So, what language were you speaking earlier?
Me: Turkish.
Me: Um, because I'm Turkish.
Her: But you don't look Turkish. And neither does your mum.
Me: Actually, she looks quite Turkish [she really does. The girl was expecting us to look Arabic]. As for me... well, my dad's blond.
Her: Oh! Cool!

Her: So, Turkish, huh?
Me: Yep.
Her: I've been to Morocco.
Me: Really?

Her: Um, do you know a certain A. F.?
Me: Yes, I do. Wait, describe her, there might be someone else with the same name.
Her: Oh, you know, quite pretty, long bushy hair, average height...
Me: Yeah, I know her.
Her: Isn't she such a bitch?

It was really a pity that my name was called and I had to be torn away from the riveting conversation.

As usual, the doctor attempted to guess my nationality instead of trying to diagnose the nature of my injury. He thought I was Dutch. Then he thought I was Norwegian, and finally Swedish. At that point, my mother decided to end the pain and tell him that we're Turkish.

Doctor: Turkish? Oh, really? I've been to Istanbul!

I don't give a flying fuck where you've been, imbecile, just look at my foot!

But noooo, of course that's too much to ask, isn't it?

Doctor: I went to Turkey in 1980, blah blah blah. It was really beautiful, we went to the Black Sea, blah blah blah.
Mum [deciding to become an instrument of the Devil]: Well, next time you should try the Mediterranean coast!
Doctor: Oh, yes, Antalya, right?
Mum: Yes, it's very beautiful.

I zoned out, concentrating on my inner ear and listening to the rather painful pulsations of my foot.

Another fifteen minutes later, I got called back for an X-ray. It was uneventful, except for the sheet of lead they placed on my tummy to keep my uterus safe. Even though the lead they use is too thin to block even half of the rays emitted. Sometimes, I wish I hadn't taken physics. OK, I wish every day that I hadn't taken physics.

It got so late that the football match started. There was a TV in the waiting room perched very high up. I went blind trying to follow the game and my mum ignored me in favour of reading Jude the Obscure, which I made her read, by the way. She's at the part where Little Father Time does that unpleasant thing that he does (I'm really trying to avoid those pesky spoilers, you see) and she was so engrossed in her reading that she didn't even hear when they called my name. Being the responsible person that I am, I was of course paying full attention to the announcement, and limped all the way to the doctor's room.

The verdict?

There is nothing wrong with my foot. It's just a bad 'contusione', i.e. I got hit very hard, but nothing's broken.

Me: Could it be something muscular? Could I have pulled a... foot muscle?
Doctor [sporting a supercilious look]: No, there is nothing wrong with your foot. Go home and put ice on it.

Well thank you, Mr. I-know-better-than-you-because-I-actually-have-a-degree-and-I've-been-to-Turkey-so-that-automatically-makes-me-culturally-aware.

I went home to watch the second half of the football match, feeling very much let down about the anticlimactic end to three hours in hospital and an unhealthy amount of overdramatized complaining.

My foot was better this morning, though still far from healed. And guess what happens at midday? My dear brother asks me to cook, but it's okay if you don't, really, you can say no if your foot's not well, really, I'm serious, I can cook if you're not feeling up to it, I'm just asking because I like asking random things to my only sibling.

HA! The nerve!

So I cooked.

I am so not washing the dishes tonight.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Out and About again

As Pan has so aptly put it, this academic year has been the year of the party.

In other words, it's been the year where we've all pretended to care about people we don't care about, doing our best not to buy the cheapest presents we can (because these people are turning eighteen after all, and surely a pair of Accessorize earrings aren't all that appropriate?) and generally keeping up appearances and wearing skirts all for the sake of a little dancing and a lot of alcohol.

OK, not that much alcohol.

As usual, the gift-buying part of the pre-party preparations was assigned to me. Pan seems to be harboring the delusion that I am a pushover and she's awfully keen to order me around and find excuses not to come along to look for decent presents even though we're sharing them, so the whole point should be sharing the buying process too, shouldn't it? Because buying presents for people you don't like and/or care much about is one of the hardest things in the world, right? But nooo, I have to go around and be all decisive, and get tempted by random T-shirts at Zara, all because someone is too lazy to get her ass off the couch and help, for a change.

End of rant.

I bought bags. When in doubt, buy bags. Women love bags. I even bought myself a bag in the process. It's beautiful. A weird greyish sort of colour with a weird pattern on it that some would call gran-like but which I call sophisticated.

But I digest.

Pan and I ended up walking to the party. It was just a twenty-minute walk, which is not a big deal if you're wearing normal shoes, but we clearly weren't wearing normal shoes. It was rather painful. My feet were already hurting before I even got to the dancefloor, and that's never a good sign.

Eventually, we made it to the battlefield. Smiles and ostentation of good feeling abounded. We gave our gifts to the birthday girls (both rather vapid and shallow creatures) and began socializing as we waited for the disco to open. Once again, I willingly interacted with Mole, that bitch, and actually ended up having fun. Somewhere, a pig has learned to fly.

I'm buying myself a T-shirt that says: 'Hipocrysy sucks, and I hate spelling mistakes.'

The party was weird. Most people seemed to be hovering between listening to crappy music inside the club with a drink, and milling about outside the club without a drink. I myself was rather torn between the two alternatives, which is a clear indication that the music must have been beyond bad.

Seriously, I'm not that much of a drinker. I'm just trying to sound cool. Really.

I asked the bartender to add alcohol to my mojito. Then, I asked her to make my sex on the beach strong. Sex on the beach is supposed to be fruity, not strong. She gave me a look. I looked back.

I got tipsy.

I told Mike and Jude that they were looking sexy. I had yet more friendly interactions with Mole. I stopped caring about upcoming examinations that will decide my future. I complimented someone's sister on her exceedingly skimpy outfit without managing to mask my giggling. I learned that L, one of the birthday girls, paid 'only' 40 Euros for the skirt she'd bought from Zara and decided to compensate by buying and wearing a 150 Euro Burberry shirt. I watched and cheered as Micky flirted shamelessly with her longtime crush. I had the following conversation with an alarming number of people (and multiple times with Mags, whom by now you know as 'drug addict extraordinaire'):

'Hai studiato economics?'
[Did you study economics?]


Manic laughter.
[Manic laughter.]

And, last but not least, I fell.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I fell. I tripped. I made a fool of myself in a semi-drunken haze.

Except that I didn't fall because I was drunk. If that had been the case, I would have mercifully forgotten about the whole incident, but alas, I was merely tipsy, hence the rather embarrassing memories.

I was going out with Micky and Pan for a walk and for some random reason, I decided to dance as I walked out. Somebody called my name. I turned around, grinned and then danced some more.

What exactly happened next remains a mystery, but this is what I have managed to surmise up to now. I took a step back, tripped on a white leather couch and fell flat on my face.

Well, almost. I did manage to break the fall. My face made no contact whatsoever with floor (I mean, ewww!). I was not in any way injured. I sprang right back up. I resumed the dancing. I skipped all the way up the stairs and out the club.

I was amused. Now I'm just embarrassed. No, that's a lie, I'm still amused.

I got home at three, took ages to fall asleep (because I am, among other things, an insomniac) and woke up at seven. I fell back asleep and woke up at one, which was definitely a more decent time. I am now sore in all sorts of places, including but not limited to: my neck, a few vertebrae, my jaw (?), my left wrist, my ankles and achille's tendons, my disjointed ribs (I have disjointed ribs. More on that some other time) and my right hipbone which, incidentally, was the only part of my body that made contact with the floor during 'The Fall'.

Sigh. I had fun. This is two outings in a row now that I actually have fun. What is wrong with the world?


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mr. Squirrel in 'Dude, where's my tree?'

I like football. I like squirrels. I love football and squirrels together.

You're thinking: 'She's insane.' Or perhaps, 'I need to pee,' in which case go pee, please.

But I am not insane. There I was yesterday evening, pretending to study the Russian revolution, but actually watching a Champions League semifinal when an adorable little thing trots onto the football pitch.

Now being as I am blessed with not one, but two X chromosomes (and I will never thank Mother Nature enough for that), I too succumb to the mushy female stereotype and absolutely adore anything that's small and fluffy.

Squirrels are leaders in that category.

So I spent a good five minutes 'aaawww'ing and squealing uncharacteristically until the little bundle of fluff left the pitch.

Some time later, he came back and I got, if possible, even mushier.

There are some lessons to be learned from this episode:
1) Squirrels are more interesting than sweaty football players (except for a select few; Shevchenko comes to mind)
2) Never try to study the Russian revolution whilst watching a football match
3) A squirrel on a football pitch is cuter than a squirrel on a tree

Now I could add an extra paragraph on how number three is true because it's unusual to see a squirrel on a football pitch, and we are attracted to what's unusual, etc. But I can't. I need to go study the Russian revolution.

*The photograph is shamelessly ripped from this article. One day, I will post photos of 'Al, the Amazing Albino Squirrel', photos I took in the US but which I'm too lazy to look for at this time. Hey, I told you I'm a procrastinator.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Hours

I finished reading The Hours the other day instead of some much-needed studying. I didn't like it.

The movie adaptation of the novel is one of my all-time favourite films. I've seen it four or five times, which is a lot considering that The Hours is neither Mean Girls nor Ghostbusters, meaning that it's hardly the material for amusement. So yes, I really loved the movie, which is why I decided to read the book. Besides, I thought, it won the Pulitzer; it must be good, right? Right?


If I'm picking up a book that won a prize, I'm expecting something other than a good plot and deep philosophical reflection, thank you very much. The movie had all that in anyway. What I'm expecting from the book is style, well-crafted language, interesting parallels, inventive metaphors and imagery. I'm not necessarily looking for avant-garde literary experimentation (which I happen to dislike), but a semblance of competence would go a long way.

And what do I get? 226 pages of present tense. I mean, seriously, Mr. Cunningham, there's a reason if 99% of the world's novels are written using some form of the past tense! There's a whole bloody tense invented solely for use in storytelling (well, there is in French and Italian)! USE IT!

But noooo, you have to do your best to irritate me in all possible ways, just because the present tense is effective.

Newsflash, berk, it's only effective for ONE PAGE. Or two, if you really must.

Oh, and since the only way to win prizes is to do something unusual, you go and make every single character gay, or at the very least bisexual. Which is perfectly fine when Virginia Woolf does it, because guess what? SHE CAN WRITE.

And of course, your pressing need to be cool and original, because that's what the in crowd does nowadays, comes to the fore in some rather interesting decriptive passages which do nothing for the reader (me) but incense her further. Because you thought it might be amusing to write stuff that DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

Example: 'Laura is at once comforted and unnerved.'

Now, I understand that you desperately want to win the Pulitzer, but there's something called common sense. You simply cannot be both comforted and unnerved at the same time. The two terms are, by definition, mutually exclusive. It's not like being happy and sad at the same time, or, taking non-literal meanings into account, clean and dirty. No, this is like suggesting that it might be possible to be calm and nervous, or lost and found, all at the same time.


I don't know, were you going for effect? It just made me laugh. And the worst part is, the rest of the novel is that kind of thing over and over and over again. In the present tense.

You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to write a one-paragraph 'novel' and get it published and win the Pulitzer. You, my dearest readers, are getting a sneak preview. You have no idea how lucky you are to be given this once-in-a-lifetime opportuniy. Here goes:

TPF walks out of her trendy loft in New York City [because all cool novels are set in New York, didn't you know? You try setting one in Stratford-Upon-Avon, see how many Pulitzers that gets you!] and goes to buy flowers just like Mrs. Dalloway did in that old book, and it's a great idea to have three parallel stories going on like that, I like the idea. Suddenly, TPF notices a beautiful Golden Retriever walking ahead and feels an immediate attraction towards it because if she wants to win the Pulitzer, she must be attracted to dogs as well as men, women, children and priests. So TPF follows the dog and thinks of her life, here in NYC, and decides that it's definitely worth living. She decides to buy a hot dog, because dogs are HOT. She bites it and realizes that it's both hot and cold (don't ask, she has weird nerve endings). She walks back home briskly, yet at the same time slowly, and decides that she loves life. But she hates it, too.

Well, I'm not quite happy with that first draft, I'll have to tweak it a bit, but what do you think? Do I have a chance?

OK, I'll stop being mean now. With that spirit, I shall conclude this post by being nice about Veronica Mars, that weird TV show they've started airing in Italy with the main character who is anything but conventional. I mean, she got drugged and raped at a party! It's risky. I like it.

PS: More about Mr. Cunningham? Read this interview. It's quite interesting, actually.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

(Dawning of A) New Era

School is over and I'm not sure how I feel.

Tuesday was the last day. Pan, Marry and I went to the supermarket in the middle of the day (and you can tell it's the last day of school when no-one even stops you to ask you where the hell you think you're going) and bought two bottles of quality wine, one red and one white, just to make sure everybody would get something they liked. How nice of us, don't you think? You still owe me three Euros, Pan.

We got back and very inconspicuously went looking for a bottle opener whilst dodging already tipsy classmates. Eventually, I decided to steal the staff bottle opener. Well, 'steal' is not the appropriate word as it implies stealth. All I did was walk into the staff room and ask them if they had a bottle opener we could borrow. The business teacher pointed me in the right direction whilst my history teacher gave me a suspicious look and asked me what I was up to. I gave her my best innocent and dazzling smile and said: 'Nothing!' She rolled her eyes and pretended she hadn't seen me.

Ah, the joys of being a nerd!

We started drinking. Pan and I got quite tipsy and decided to donate the remaining wine to the boys so as to remove the temptation. I think that's the best decision we took that day. As you have already heard before, a drunk Pan is a spectacle to witness (or not, depending on your point of view).

All this went on while our mature boys tied skinny freshmen to the basketball hoop or to the net of the goal. The most disturbing part was when one of the victims said: 'Do you want me to sit up a little?' I mean, seriously, was he trying to make it easier for them to tie him up? Because that's just weird.

Eventually, the tipsiness wore off and I started randomly crying. The thing is, I rarely cry for serious things. I cry for movies and very rarely for books (OK, that only happened twice), and I always cry in cemetaries, but I don't cry when people die. When other people cry, that usually makes me get all teary-eyed too, but it never turns into a fully-fledged weep-a-thon. However, once I do start crying, I can't stop.

So there I was, crying intermittently for an hour, and I don't exactly know why.

The thing is, I really hate my school and I hate the people in it. Well, some of the people in it. But in this last week or so, all the hate has been removed to be replaced with this strange tenderness that is so unlike me. It's like all of a sudden, all the bad memories have disappeared and I suddenly love everybody, even Mole, that bitch. Seriously, I found myself randomly hugging Mole, and my hatred for Mole is legendary. Yet, all I can think of is that deep down, she's a nice person, and so are Queen Slut, hAirhead, Alternative Junkie etc. I love them all and I'm never going to see them again, if I can help it.

My mum says it's because everybody's feeling sad and consequently, they're all being nicer, which ends up making it much easier for me to like them. I think that's probably true, and I just wish they could have been nice for all this time rather than just for the last week of school. Oh well, you can't have everything in life, can you?

Eventually, I stopped crying and went home.

That night, we went out to this very popular pub-like place near the centre. I met up with Pan and was late as usual (I'm still feeling horrible about that, Pan). We took the tram and got there to find that the atmosphere was not pleasant at all. And the idiots were sitting outside even though it was freezing cold! Pan, Marry, Harry, Micky, Vintage-Girl, Stick Insect, Alt. Junkie, Bad Hair Year and I all sat inside to be later joined by Mole, of all people. The night looked like it was going to be awfully dull, so a group of us decided to go for a walk. When we got back, the place couldn't have been more different. Everyone was talking to everyone else, laughing, drinking, flirting with random Irish guys met that night, reminiscing about old times and hilarious school trips... Pan and I even shared a cigarette (and we don't smoke. No, we weren't trying to be cool. We don't have to try, you know. We were born cool)!

Mags, drug addict extraordinaire, was strangely emotional. Or perhaps she was just high. Either way, she looked like she was about to cry, but she never did. Meanwhile, Mel, Mole and Vicky sat with the Irish guys and got themselved numerous free drinks. Pan and I took advantage of the opportunity ourselves and ended up drinking free beer. We also dared Vintage Girl to make out with the cutest of the Irish guys. She did. We owe her 10 Euros.

Eventually, I-I-N, our outrageously young economics teacher, arrived. We all flirted shamelessly with him and told him that when he first arrived (he's a new teacher) we all thought he was really hot. We ended up giving him a group hug and I even kissed him on the cheek and then proceeded to rub it in Vicky's face (Vicky's notoriously in love with I-I-N). Contrarily to what you might think, this did not result in death glares, but in more laughter and more unexpected love and tender feelings.

And then, just like that, it was time to go home. So we went home. In my thirteen years at this school, I don't think I ever had this much fun on a night out. And if it doesn't sound fun from my post, that's because it's just so hard to explain how it was to people who weren't there. Or perhaps it was only fun because it was the last day of school and everything was positively swimming in a sea of nostalgia and goodwill.

Yes, that must be it.

I'm sad. I haven't even started studying yet and exams are in three weeks. I just feel so weird. Thank God I don't actually like this school, otherwise I'd be awfully depressed right now.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

The sad tale of Silvio Berlusconi, the man who just wouldn't lose

You might be aware that elections have been taking place in Italy for the last two days. Since Italy has become little more than a boot shaped blot on the world map these days, you probably don't know much about its political life. Here's a quick recap.

There are two major coalitions, centre-left and centre-right. The right has been in power for the last five years. It contains a pseudo-fascist party and a separatist party that wishes for Northern Italy to become independent. It is led my media magnate Silvio Berlusconi. The left, containing everything from pro-church parties to communists is led by a professor of something or other, Romano Prodi. Up to a few weeks before voting began, surveys showed the left as being way ahead. Then, the right began its slow climb back up the ladder until the two sides seemed to be more or less equally balanced.

The last votes are being counted right now, and it appears that it's a draw, for senate and the 'Camera dei Deputati' (corresponding more or less equally to the two houses of Congress in the US).

I am not very happy about this. Correction. I am kinda furious.

And not just because the left didn't win, but because of how this last week and a half has been. Berlusconi obviously realised that should he lose, he'd go straight to prison (the man must be the only Prime Minister in the world who owns half the country's main televisions and still goes around complaining that the media is against him. Aw, poor baby! Moreover, he has clearly passed far too many laws to benefit himself and his best mates. Ah, the joys of moral corruption!).

Uncomfortable with the prospect of abandoning a life of luxury to end up behind bars, and perhaps having nostalgia trips over the good ole' times, Mr. Berlusconi indulged in a little McCarthyism right here in Italy. The extremely funny and equally pathetic culmination of this was when he declared that in Mao's time, the Chinese Communists boiled babies to use them as fertilizer.

How can this person be taken seriously?

Other little gem, a couple of days before voting began. Some minister goes on TV and declares that some planned terrorist attacks in Milan have recently been thwarted.

Hmm. I wonder if the timing of this declaration has anything to do with elections...

Finally: Berlusconi takes the stage at some talk show and solemnly declares that all those who will vote for the left are 'coglioni'. 'Coglione' means testicle. It is a rather strong insult (need I remind you that this man is the Prime Minister?).

People who are scared vote for the right. Especially if the right has spent the last few weeks drumming into their heads that the left coalition, containing two communist parties, is in fact the spawn of the devil and, should it win, anti-globalisationists, anarchists, socialists, communists and other similarly evil people will come together to destroy Italy, subjugating the indivudual to the crushing power of the state.


Somebody should tell these people that the Cold War is over.

Well, it turns out Berlusconi outsmarted us all. However outrageous his antics might be, he's made it. The right has not lost. In fact, it's almost winning. And all because a couple million idiots have been shaken into voting by Italy's very own red scare.

Every cloud has a silver lining. This whole thing is making me mad enough not to be too preoccupied with the fact that tomorrow is my very last day of school. Berlusconi should win more often. It would make all our troubles seem petty in comparison to Italy spending another five years governed by creeps and criminals.

To think I was planning to gloat over a crushing victory! Alas, my dreams have been shattered. And you, Harry, can stop celebrating. You didn't technically win, you know. You just didn't lose so bad.


PS: This post is not in any way intended to generate discussion on the evils of communism. Should you think of entertaining us all with a comment on how lucky Italy is that the evil reds have not won, please think again and don't comment. Thank you. [Yes, I'm very touchy about this issue. What can I say, I'm a bad loser. And no, I don't tolerate other people's opinions, unless they're the same as mine, of course.]

[EDIT: The left won. Hurrah!]


Friday, April 07, 2006

'I can find only three words to describe the female sex. None of which are worth expressing.'

I saw Orlando yesterday and absolutely loved it.

Orlando is one of my favourite books of all time. I seriously adore that book, it's so much fun but so deep at the same time. So many issues explored with such light-hearted flair! (Please use your imagination to insert other words of praise here.)

Alas, movie adaptations often go wrong. The House of the Spirits, anyone? Not that the book was a literary masterpiece, but it sure could've made an excellent movie.

It didn't.

The movie version of The House of the Spirits is crap. Don't watch it. Please, trust me. It's really really bad.

But on to more interesting matters.

Somehow, they (and by they I mean all those random people involved in making movies) managed not to mess Orlando up at all. I mean, seriously, the going wrong potential was immense! First off, who were they going to cast for the lead role? It's not an easy pick, considering that Orlando changes sex in the middle of the novel (and therefore, of the movie). Also, how were they going to handle the seriousness of the gender issues without glossing over them? And what about the period setting? And how would they adapt a novel with such an intrusive narrator to the screen where the narrative voice device is often cumbersome and results in an interfering annoyance?

First things first. They cast Tilda Swinton as Orlando. What can I say? She's amazing. Slightly androgynous, a great actress, and the final scene of the movie (which I don't remember happening in the book, but hey, artistic license) is beautiful. She's leaning against a tree, watching her daughter run around, and she cries a little. Wow.

Her falling in love with Princess Sasha is perfectly believable. Mind you, they cast Sasha perfectly too. I almost fell in love with her myself.

The play on gender roles was handled surprisingly well, and not shoved aside in favour of sentimental drivel (making a man play Queen Elizabeth was a magnificent touch). Of course, a lot of the content must be credited to Virginia Woolf, but that doesn't mean that the filmmakers shouldn't be praised. The 'waking up as a female' on-screen obviously has a much greater impact on the audience than the on-paper version has on the reader. That's mostly because cinema has a visual impact rather than a simply imaginary one, so it's bound to be effective, but again, it could have been hugely messed up.

Overall, the movie does a great job of conveying the message that essentially, men and women are the same people... just a different sex.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus my ass!

The costume people were just as good as the casting people (mind you, it's not like I've ever seen Elizabethan clothing first hand, but I have a vague idea of how it's supposed to look). One of Orlando's dresses plunged me into temporary daydream mode where I imagined myself wearing it and gliding around like a princess. Then came a hilarious scene where Orlando, wearing her huge, overly wide dress, had to make her way through a room filled with sheet-covered furniture. She had to turn sideways and make impossible maneuvres and I'm sure there was some symbolic significance to that (women have it much harder than men?) but I was too busy thanking the god of fabrics for inventing jeans.

And finally, the narrator. Well, there were some occasional voice-overs that came over as witty and interesting, rather than irritating. Also, Orlando occasionally looked straight at the camera and shared a private aside with the audience, an intelligent method to get the themes and messages across.

In short, I loved this movie. But you can probably tell that, can't you?

I leave you with some quotes. Read them, they're funny.

PS: I think you'd love this movie, frankengirl.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

An excuse to show off a beautiful photograph

Inspired by Pooper's recent 'essay', I decided to do my very own childhood post. Expect it to be rather biased. Oh, and it might gloss over some unpleasant details, but that's probably because of selective memory removal rather than voluntary omission.

When I was a young thing, I was a tomboy. I dressed like a little boy. I played football (meaning soccer) with the boys, and I was a very good goalkeeper, I'll have you know. The only Barbie doll I ever owned was a birthday present from someone who obviously didn't know me very well. To this day, that Barbie remains gathering dust somewhere, still inside the box she came with.

I was an avid
Power Rangers fan until the day my brother told me it was sad. I stopped watching the show immediately (peer pressure much?).

I found out that Father Christmas was a myth at age two. In first grade, I told my whole schoolbus (or anyone who would listen) that he didn't exist. I think somebody cried. I was very sorry about that but felt that everybody had a right to know the truth.

My parents sent me to an italian kidergarten to make sure I learned the language. I lasted a week. Then, I refused to go to school for three months because in fact I didn't know the language and nobody would speak to me. After three months of effectively missing kindergarten for no reason, my mother schemed and strategised and found a way to trick me into going back.

I was obsessed with the anime version of
Sailor Moon, so obsessed that one night, when there was supposed to be a very important episode, I refused to go out for pizza with my parents. It was so worth it.

My second grade teacher used to make us all read individually. One day, I was reading and she was listening and I came across a word that was slightly harder than all the other words in the book. I'd heard the word before because I used to read a lot, but somehow, I thought I wasn't supposed to know it. So I pretended to struggle (and I think I actually stuttered for effect) so she wouldn't think I was trying to show off.

I was Frosty the Snowman in a winter show.

Once, my numerous cousins and I were visiting Istanbul. At the end of the day, we got home to my aunt's house only to discover that we'd forgotten the keys and my aunt wasn't home yet. This would have been all well and good were it not for my desperate need to pee. I ended up peeing in the park in front of the house and my cousin, that asshat, took a photograph. I still have it and it's embarrassing, so no, I'm not posting it.

My favourite book when I was little was Watership Down, by Richard Adams. I remember borrowing it from the school library and loving every bit of it. However, I was at the time unaware that the word 'down' meant 'hill' as well as the opposite of 'up'. That's why I spent the whole book wondering how rabbits could go up Watership Down.

I'll be going to university in six months' time and I can hardly believe I was ever even a child.

The kid in the photo with the striped hat is me. I look nothing like that now. For starters, now you can actually tell I'm female. Anyways, I think it's the cutest photo ever, so go ahead and tell me how cute it is. Thank you.