Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pop Culture Class: Better Than Politics, Not As Good As Actually Watching A Whole Movie

This morning, I dragged my tuchus out of bed to get to my Pop Culture & Cultural Studies class. This wasn't really that difficult, to be honest. Promise me a Swedish film and I'll be there. And I got even more than one film--I got five. Well, parts of five.  I present their chronology, written under the guise of "notes":

  • We begin with The Emigrants. Or, på svenska, Utvandrarna. Based on Vilhelm Moberg's book that I am probably too excited to begin reading. 
  • Man and woman are eating bread. Cut to ox. Back to people. They're moving a big rock. This is not a good plan. 
  • Yep. Man gets pinned under rock. Told you it wasn't a good plan.
  • Someone else is chopping wood. 
  • Interior dialogue. Most likely exposition. However, it's in Swedish, so who knows.
  • Blonde lawn nymph is swinging. I deduce she is Kristina, our heroine. 
  • Kristina ages. Or something. 
  • Pigs get fed. Cows get milked. Kristina makes a big deal of adjusting her skirt before getting off another swing to assist in the chores. I assume this is a subtle sign that she is pregnant. 
  • Somewhere else, a blond man I'll call John-Boy is holding a cat. Cat is angry. Cat knows he's a warlock and must alert the Charmed Ones...whoops, wrong genre. And decade. And country.
  • Soon after, the cat gets thrown into the river in a sack. WTF, John-Boy? To his credit, he is very upset. But so's the cat, so no one wins. 
  • Kristina and John-Boy discuss something important. EVERYBODY BE QUIET, I CAN'T HEAR THE DIALOGUE. 
  • "Now we jump forward to the end," says our professor. WHAT? Don't do this to me. Fast-forwarding movies is something I take great displeasure in witnessing. 
  • Dialogue is explained. John-Boy and Kristina are going to America.
  • Swedes worry about seasickness. Guys, you're going to a whole new country with a language you do not speak. Seasickness should be the least of your worries. 
  • The America-bound Swedes miss the boat. BUT WAIT! It's going to turn around for them! 
  • Yep. There's an establishing shot of something that's supposed to be the hull of a ship. 
  • Swedes attempt English. I think they're trying to say werewolf. 
  • More fast-forwarding. We are FLYING through this. 
  • Someone died.
  • Boat is moored. Hello, New York! Kristina is unimpressed. 
  • "Now they are on a train." STOP FAST-FORWARDING. 
  • "And they go to California." WHAT HAPPENED TO MINNESOTA? 
  • End of film, apparently.
  • Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander just walked by outside.
  • Start of next film, As It Is In Heaven (Swedish Så som i himmelen). Good! I have wanted to see this. Plus, it has subtitles. And Helen Sjöholm.
  • However, the subtitles cannot be selected on this DVD player. 
  • We take a break so the technology can be arranged. I eat a cough drop for fun.
  • Begin film. 
  • This is good. However, we started at the middle of the beginning and I don't know what Michael Douglas's problem is. (He's not Michael Douglas. But he could be.) 
  • This is like a depressing Sister Act. I should share this observation.
  • No I shouldn't.
  • If you fast-forward through the choir parts, I will KILL YOU.
  • Yep, things just happened.
  • "And they have a party; you understand." KNOCK IT OFF. 
  • I am buying this movie on DVD so I can watch it how I want. 
  • But good news, we got to listen to all of Helen's song. Twice.
  • Next up: Docking the Boat (Swedish:  Att angöra en brygg). Our subtitle options are Svenska and Norsk. I don't think we'll be indulging.
  • "They didn't talk so much" actually is a valid reasoning for not using subtitles. 
  • HA, I just answered a question like a champ! 
  • Okay, there's a black and white part that will be important for a part we probably won't watch. Then there's glorious sixties color! 
  • This film is about people trying to dock a boat. And other stuff. But mainly the docking...or lack thereof.
  • Next film: The Seventh Seal.  
  • "Here we can read that I do not have the right to show you this picture in the classroom."
  • The DVD is skipping. Uh-oh.
  • Middle Ages. Beach. Angel of Death and guy from The Emigrants (John-Boy?) chat and play chess. 
  • That's all we get of that, apparently.
  • Next: A Swedish Love Story (Swedish:  En kärlekshistoria). According to the credits, someone's last name  is Engkvist. This is how people have spelled my last name here. Okay. Makes sense.
  • Flowers, park. It's Eva's birthday. A doberman can't handle all the excitement.
  • The children are smoking. BAMFs.
Soon after that, we adjourned. Let me tell you, it was a rich full day of culture. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Not-So-Secret Shame

I can't believe I haven't spewed this all over here yet, so here we go.

Titanic is being re-released in 3D on April 4th to (nearly) coincide with the 100th anniversary of the ship sinking.  Everybody remember that film?  The one that was the highest-grossing movie of all time 'til Avatar? Yeah. It's coming back.

And I am having multiple heart attacks.

 I didn't get to see Titanic in the theater when it came out the first time. (I don't know why. I've asked my mother, and she has no explanation. I haven't asked my father, because I'm sure he was oblivious to nineties pop culture, save for Seinfeld and country music. I think the best explanation is that I showed no desire to do so, something I deeply regret now.) However, when I finally saw it on video, I fell in love.  This love was for everything: the drama of history as imagined by James Cameron, the music, the clothes, and Kate Winslet. This is why I permed my hair and dyed it red in junior high--I wanted to be Rose DeWitt Bukater. This is also why I own three versions of it (VHS, DVD, and special edition DVD--with bonus features!), yet whenever it's on TBS (Very Funny?) or AMC or anywhere, I watch the whole darn thing, much to the chagrin of Jeffie. ("Haven't you seen this eighty times?" Yes. Now stop talking. I can't hear the dialogue I've had memorized since I was seven.)

Yet, with all this, my decade-spanning dream in life has been to see it in the theater.

And now, fourteen years later, I am going to finally live that dream--in 3D and in Sweden, no less! From what I understand, there will be English audio with Swedish subtitles, so it could even be a learning experience. (It won't be. But it could be.)

The thing comes out in one week. I'm living in a state of perpetual anticipation. In one week from right now, I will be one hour away from three hours of emotion.

I leave you with this:

Seven days and counting. I can do it. I have no choice.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What I Did This Week

Bought a plant.  Named it Audrey IV.  Audrey III currently lives in a faraway music room...

Took a final about politics.  And that went well, let me tell you.  (And that was a lie. There's a re-take date in April that I'm sure I will be taking advantage of.)

Ate an entire jar of Nutella. This was not purposeful gluttony. It just happened.

Got really thrown off by the time change. Last night, I looked at the clock and it was 1:54 A.M. Seven minutes later, it was 3:01. Then I was incredibly confused 'til I Googled what was going on.

Wandered around the lake. Spring is happening here, and it's gorgeous.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poland Ponderings & Picture Post

I got back from Poland on Monday, and wow.  That was a huge experience.  Poland is a place I never thought about going.  I mean, I didn't not want to go there, but in imagining my European adventures, I never pictured myself busing through it to get to Krakow and Auschwitz.  Yet that is exactly what happened.

Just to get to our destination, we had to drive through Sweden to the port at Ystad (two and a half hours), ferry overnight across the Baltic Sea (seven-ish hours), and then drive southeasterly through pretty much all of Poland (eleven hours).  I spent a lot of time staring out the windows.  The Polish countryside is fascinating.  It's a little like looking through a time machine, because if you were just dropped there, you'd have no way of knowing what year you were in,

The main purpose of the trip was to go to the Auschwitz concentration camps.  There's no way to possibly explain them.  Seventy years ago, they were populated.  And seventy years is not a big gap in time.  

They were difficult places to go, and they're difficult places to write about.  There was a uniquely chilling energy in the air there.  That, along with the pictures, is the best description I've got.  

Thankfully, Krakow is a great city filled with Jewish culture, and after spending two mornings in the wreckage of the attempted destruction of said culture, it was good to spend the rest of the day around it. 

That was Poland.  I am so glad that I went...and that is not sarcasm. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vlog Six: Last Week's Events (Feat. Austin Seaborn)

This is much longer than I remember it being. Also, it's kind of a blast from the past. Hence, black and white. 

So, happy Vlog Day! Next week's vlog will be all about the Poland. It might even be posted sooner than next week. Stay tuned to find out...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fast Updates!

I have an internet cord! And I have very little time before invading Poland (credit: Cassie Bray), so off I go!

Next week: this week's vlog.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

No Vlog, Just Words

Hey, kids!

Tuesday is normally vlog day.  Or Vlog Day.  I´m not sure if it´s capitalized or not.  And this week´s vlog is done.  It features Germany´s very own Austin Seaborn, who came to visit me this weekend. But I´m not uploading it because my computer´s charging cord fried itself for heaven knows what reason.  It has very little battery power remaining, so I´m just going to leave it alone until I get a new power cord.  According to the guy at the tech center, if I go back tomorrow, one can be ordered and in my clutches within 3 days.  This is especially convenient, because I´ll be in Poland for the rest of the week anyway, so I have no need for my technology.

Yet, this seems too easy. 

Anyhow, POLAND.  It´s less than 24 hours away!  Well, the beginning of the trip is less than 24 hours away.  We ferry across the Baltic Sea and then drive through the country to Krakow, where we´ll be staying.  This is going to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of experiences.  I´m so excited.

So when this week´s vlog is hopefully published next week, it´ll be all outdated.  Like a time capsule. ´

Also, a super-special shout-out to my father, who is another year older today!  Way to age, buddy boy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to Be An Ugly American

Tonight, some woman got annoyed with me when I mixed my coffees together in the cafeteria.  This prompted me to wonder what other things I do to inadvertently bother the people here.  After a little reflection, I came up with this by all means non-all-inclusive list:

  • I enthusiastically say "Hej hej!" to baristas and the like, then quickly switch to English when they logically attempt to converse with me in Swedish. 
  • The way to authorize my credit card for international transactions changes daily (not really, but I never remember how), so I end up telling cashiers to do the wrong thing when I want to buy a train ticket or something.
  • Whenever I have coffee, I accidentally dribble it out of my cup and onto the table. Even though I sop it up in a semi-timely manner, it leaves stains because Swedish coffee is made with black bleach.* 
  • Sometimes, I babble a weird mix of Swedish, German, and Spanish and get irrationally annoyed when no one understands.
  • Being loud.  It's not intentional.  It just happens. 
Disclaimer: I'm sure these things bother more than just Scandinavians. 

*That's not true. But it's strong stuff. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Copenhagen, Part the First

Houses and seagulls. 

This is my London coat with the fur attached. And thank God I did have the fur, because Copenhagen is a chilly place!
(I look dazed because it was very sunny.) 

These posters were EVERYWHERE. (What's that orange glow in the bottom left, you ask? No idea. Another ghost, probably.) 

The view from our hostel window. Fourteenth floor!

I put my purse next to a candle in a restaurant. 
Naturally, my purse caught on fire. 
I ended up cutting off the charred part and going on my merry way.

Houses by the harbor.

And boats. 

Boat tour! 

Princess Mary of Ireland tried to go swimming. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Vlog Five: Wow, This Is Unexpectedly Loud (And Demented)

Warning: turn your volume down, unless you want to be aurally accosted by me, Sondheim, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. (Though there could be worse fates.) 

The musical theatre underscore is because I saw no shows, so they had to be represented somehow. 

Seriously, Self.

This editing of babble is going well. However, it may not be published until Sunday.  We'll just see how it goes.

...hey, I should pack for Copenhagen, considering I'm leaving in ten hours.

Shut Up, Self.

See this? This means I have 23 minutes of me talking to condense into a vlog that cannot be that long.  

...this is the length of a TV show!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time To Go Home."

(Title credit: the late, great Erma Bombeck.)

Worry not, written-word-o-phobes,  a London vlog is forthcoming.  But it'll be a hefty one, so I figured I'd post a teaser here first.

Buckingham Palace: the center of the royalty I love so much.

Shows: I didn't see them. 

The Tower of London: see the rainbow? Until someone tells me otherwise, I'm assuming it's Catherine Howard's ghost.  (Or Anne Boleyn's.  Or someone's.) 

The sights: I can't believe I actually saw everything I saw.  It's still unreal.

The Globe Theatre: I would happily work there someday.  Tour guide, performer, whatever.

The city in general: a mix of old and new. 

I cannot wait to tell you about it all. However, that's not happening right now, because I am spent, in the best possible way.