Saturday, February 20, 2010


t seems I've identified my newest BFF, a certain Jacques Tati.  My friend Tiana recently told me about him and mentioned that the Gene Siskel Film Center was hosting a series of his films and that we should go see the 1958 gem, Mon Oncle.  So after arming ourselves with chocolates in our pockets, we made our way to the GSFC on Wednesday for the 6:00 showing.

   Unfortunately, I was seated next to a rather large man who was not only spilling over into my seat, but had stolen the arm rest and was coughing and making a stream of snort-y sounds throughout the whole film.  If he'd been a stank-stank stinker, I'd have willed myself to move to a different seat, but even though he was mighty distracting, I wasn't willing to give up my prime center seat in the second level for a poopy cougher.  

   Despite my inability to ignore my neighbor, I was completely enchanted by the film.  It was simply marvelous.  My friend Jeni often wishes aloud that she lived in the giant Richard Scarry's Busy Town book my family owns (it's a three feet tall, chipboard masterpiece), and I think this may have been the closest thing to a movie version of that possibility.  Dozens of bizarre gadgets were invented for the film and the sets and costumes are fabulous.  The illustration of both a traditional fifties French aesthetic paired with a strange modern sensibility is what makes this film completely beautiful.  And the comedy is simply and seemingly effortless.  Like Chaplin's work, it exudes that level of subtle brilliance with which so few are blessed and able to communicate.  I won't give a description of the plot, because I went in knowing nothing, and it made the experience that much better.  Just know that if you decide to watch this film, you are in for a highly nuanced treat filled with countless instances of consideration and love.  That's what his work seems to be about–his love for the imagination and the art of storytelling.

   Get acquainted with Tati, you'll be a happier, more inspired person.

Monday, February 1, 2010


   This Saturday, I attended my first poetry reading with two poetry-minded, SAIC Writing Program pals, Caitlin and Jeni.  Since Caitlin's thesis is going to focus on the architecture of Berlin, her professor recommended that she go to this particular reading, a kind of release party for the latest issue of The Chicago Review ("55:1"), which contains work by poets from Berlin.  Two of the featured German poets were there and read from the publication in addition to a few other sources.  The reading was hosted by bookstore/cat sanctuary (okay, they only have one kit-cat, I just like the idea of a cat sanctuary), Myopic and it was as stereotypical as can be.  The sound was no good, the chairs were mismatched and uncomfortable, one of the readers' reading style was similar to William Shatner's speaking style and nearly everyone in attendance was wearing an article of black clothing.  That being said, I enjoyed the two German poets' work and the general atmosphere was nice–everyone was supportive and encouraging and the bookstore is very cozy but happenin' sort of place.  

   After the reading, we went to Sultan's Market for falafel sandwiches, one of the best inventions since the Q-Tip.  Although I must admit I prefer Oasis' ware, Sultan's Market makes a mean pocket o' love, and we ate quickly and happily while being lulled into an almost meditative state by the restaurant's music selection (one of our faves took us back to '96: The Fugee's Killing Me Softly).