Monday, January 29, 2007


i'm taking this spanish class, just to keep up with my language skills, and during the first class, the teacher said that she will bring in a movie each week, and we will watch it. someone asked if we could watch volver.

volver is supposed to be a great movie, and ms. cruz is getting plaudits left and right for her performance and mr. almodovar is as well. but thinking about it on my way home last night, i had to ask myself a question:

why is it that we, as english-speaking americans, call the movie volver? obviously, that's the name the filmmakers gave it, but don't we usually translate titles? cidade de deus became city of god, Wò Hǔ Cáng Lóng became crouching tiger, hidden dragon. these were popular foreign films, in foreign languages, subtitled in english, titles translated into english.

probably to draw in viewers. is pedro almodovar a big enough draw to not have to translate the film's title? is penelope cruz? i mean, she's pretty, but her films, as far as i know, have not exactly been blockbusters, and she's possibly most well known in the us for having dated tom cruise.

the only other two films that came immediately to mind with untranslated titles were amorres perros and y tu mama tambien (aside: i did not get the hype about that movie, i just did not think it was that good, and not even gael garcia bernal can change my opinion on that).

i don't think i really have an answer for this question...unless...we're all so busy being scared of arabic-speaking islamic terrorists that spanish (obviously, in carried here by illegal aliens bent on stealing our jobs) are less of a threat...

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al green, meet nas

dj swindle has made a mash up of nas and al green. he calls it almatic. i call it yay, nice. listen here. i especially like the love & happiness/made you look (remix). you can also buy the cd for $6, which i call, not bad at all.

if you're not convinced by what you hear on the myspace, check out the oochie wally/right now right now mashup. i hated oochie wally, but this mashup, i quite like.

first read about it at over at lavish.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

and the tower of...interlopers

i really loved it when alejandro gonzalez inarritu, the director of babel told mr. governator schwarzenegger (when accepting the best picture award at the golden globes) that he promised that all his papers were in order. cheeky, i thought.

i was also very glad that babel won some awards, because they put it back in the theaters, so i got to finally see it last night. the tales of several families, interwoven: a moroccan family trying to survive and looking for the best way to defend its goats (vital to life) from desert jackals buys a rifle; an american woman, marriage falling apart, on vacation in morocco with her husband gets shot; a deaf japanese school girl who can't get along with father, tries to deal with the recent death of her mother and tries to fit into a hearing world; a mexican woman working as a nanny in california takes her charges with her to her son's wedding in mexico when her employer informs her that no one will be relieving her so that she can attend.

it's this last story that strikes me most. possibly because gael garcia bernal plays her nephew who comes to pick up her and the kids and take them to mexico. and mr. garcia bernal is indeed quite striking. but i have to say, his character is the strangest interloper (perhaps a cipher?) i've seen in film for quite a while. the way his character just completely disappears is so...odd...and kind of unbelievable. i'm not trying to give too much of a spoiler here, but his role is solely to advance the plot, to get the woman and kids across the border, whereas the other characters seem to have actual lives and lifestories.

a lot of critics have decried the film for its complexity. i refuse to criticize a film for being complex. instead, i say pay better attention, watch intelligently. the events of the film are presented in strict chronological order, although the way the stories skip about may seem to suggest that they are. the film that i couldn't help but compare it to was syriana, but syriana is quite different in that (if i am not mistaken) most of the events of the film are told in chronological order. the major difference seemed to be that, in syriana, the main characters of the main stories all converge at a single point. in babel, in the end all of the characters are unseen interlopers in the lives of the other characters - and the fact that they are unseen is the key. if the world of the film continued to exist on a real plan simultaneous to our own, we'd assume that most of the characters would never ever cross paths.

for some reason, i can't help but think of jorge luis borges and his ruinas circulares, the concentric circles of existence that various worlds are organized about. the worlds of the film's characters, my world, your world, the world of all americans, the world of all north americans, and so on, and so on, and so on. and on that note, i'm gonna end this post with two pictures, one of brad pitt and one of gael garcia bernal. because i can. because our spheres of existence are concentric, but as shown by the film, these circles can be bisected. (thanks.)


the namesake

i went to go see babel last night (really liked it, though it surprised me in one key way, more on that later) and i was really excited to learn...

...that the namesake jhumpa lahiri's really beautiful novel has been turned into a film, directed by none other than mira nair. i just think that's really great. the novel is about a young man, gogol ganguli, who is caught between cultures. born the son of bengali immigrants in new england, he is simultaneously the great american hope for his family and a crucial link in upholding tradition. i think there are a lot of people, from a lot of different cultures, who can relate to that situation. i recommend the novel, and ms. lahiri's other book, the pulitzer prize-winningthe interpreter of maladies, and i'm definitely planning on seeing the movie.

o yeah, ms. lahiri received the columbia university medal for excellence at commencement the year i graduated, 2005. just wanted to throw that out there. and you will probably recognize kal pen, the guy who plays gogol, from harold and kumar go to white castle...which i so did not think was a funny as everyone else did...and everyone else thought it was so funny that there is, in fact, going to be sequel...but i'm still gonna support him in the namesake.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

how did they figure out my master plan?

so i was reading overheard in new york, and i came across this quote - note the headline of the quote. and then note where it was heard - on the c train. who was spying on me?

2008: 'Clone Your Own Aja' Kits Go on Sale for 50 Dollars

Ghetto girl: Ladies and gentlemen, sorry to bother you. I am not selling these things to raise money for my school or a basketball team. I am selling them to raise money for me. I have a half-drunk bottle of Sprite, 25 cents.
Ghetto guy: That's got your saliva in it.
Ghetto girl: I am gonna be famous some day -- it will be worth a lot of money.

--C train

Overheard by: eej

via Overheard in New York, Jan 20, 2007


Saturday, January 20, 2007

reading these days

so i've been wondering what to read. i am open to suggestions. in fact, i crave them, so if you have any, please leave them.

currently, i'm reading the latest novella by gabriel garcia marquez, memories of my melancholy whores. the coworker leticia loaned it to me. i saw it sitting on her desk, and i thought it had a beautiful cover, but i couldn't read the title or the author from where i was standing. when she told me the author and the title my first reaction was: what a magnificent title. my second thought was, when did that come out? she offered to let me borrow it, and i jumped at the chance.

the cover art reminds me a lot of the cover of edward p. jones's latest book, all aunt hagar's children. see:

and see again:

similar color schemes, the random plant leaves, only difference is that one has a naked woman on it, and the other has a house. i guess this is a trend, a bit the way that the cover font from jonathan safran foer's books pops up in the hp comercials.

anyway, memories of my melancholy whores is about an old man who wants to spend the night with a young virgin on his 90th birthday. and he finds one, but he finds that living a life of lust has made him miss out on a life of love...and now he's trying to find that life of love. and he just might be falling in love with this girl...although they've never spoken and all he's ever done is watch her sleep...despite the title, despite the sound of the initial premise, lolita this is not; it's not a tale of sexual exploitation, it's a meditation on figuring out how to spend one's days. and the small things that can change one's outlook on life. i'm about halfway done, and i'm rather enjoying it. garcia marquez is, of course, a bit of a literary genius.


Monday, January 15, 2007

another throwback: bag lady

posting videos is making me rather happy of late. this weekend, i had a distinct urge to hear a lot of erykah badu. so i decided i'd put the genius bag lady video here. the concept for the video is based on ntozake shange's seminal choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuff, which enjoyed a good long run on broadway, won lots of awards, made ms. shange famous, and continues to be put up by theater groups everywhere. enjoy this one, too.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

and another one

found this video and i just had to share it: celia cruz and patti labelle on stage. does it get any better than that? yeah it does, sheila e. is in there, too.


a throwback moment

so, i will admit that since my sympathies have been with melanie b. recently (eddie murphy really didn't have to go and cast public doubt on the paternity of her baby, geeez), i have been watching the video for "wannabe" on youtube a lot. also, it takes me back to the halcyon days of middle school. but i'm not gonna post that video here. i'm going to post the fugees, "fugee-la," which also takes me back to those halcyon days, but in much less cheesy way. enjoy.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

free music: talib kweli

becky my computer is back up and running, but my music is gone gone gone...i have a lot of it backed up, but until such time as i feel like pulling out the cd and putting on the computer, i am making myself content with the free talib kweli album i downloaded. yes. free.

mr. kweli has collaborated with madlib on an album that is available for download on his myspace page. go get it.

and i have to say, i understand that the music industry is corrupt, that they don't put a lot of money in the pockets of artists, but honestly, cd's are overpriced and one would go broke nickel by dime buying songs on most folks who don't have a ton of disposable income are trynna to get their music for free. of course, it's important to support artists as well, but when artists, like talib, toss out a gratis thank you to the supporters it means a lot. i appreciate.


a lil more brooklyn love + 1 hip hop mystery

i originally spotted this on, but over on clinton hill blog they've posted some pics of the building where biggie grew up. and as they mention on clinton hill blog, it is immediately apparent that this address is in clinton hill, not in i guess it's not that big a hip hop mystery....


Monday, January 08, 2007

...but she keeps trying

sent off the first batch of poetry submissions to magazines for 07...let's see what that does for a bunch of movies from netflix that won't play (this is my second chance tryin to see capote, grrrr...and i got the vagina monologues and nuyorican dream, still.).

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the pursuit of happyness

guess who fixed her own computer?? yes ma'am (or sir), i fixed my own computer, cuz i'm just brilliant like that, plus i figured i'd google a few tips to get the old girl back up and running while i was at work. so yay, becky (maybe i'll call the computer becky) is back in biz just in time for me to write my hundredth blogpost.

this weekend, i went to go see the the pursuit of happyness. and yes, it was inspirational, and a bit of a tearjerker, and i enjoyed the movie, but now that i have seen it i can say that the misspelling of happiness is just not justified in my eyes. sorry. in truth, it's probable someone would have to have lost their life for correctly spelling the word in order for misspelling it to be ok with me. i am not a fan of intentional misspelling. and i mean to differentiate intentional misspelling from typos (lord knows i do enough of it on this blog...but NEVER in anything i consider to be a professional bit of writing, i proofread like it's my job.) and from spellings that attempt to represent the phonetics of vernacular speech...although that can also be taken slightly overboard. but to throw in a y where there should be an i, just to point up the misspelling, it irked like nothing else.

ok, but the point is the movie is good. though if i were to criticize it (i mean, besides for the messy title) i would say that it didn't give me enough shots of him at work to make me understand why mr. gardner was so good at his job that he ended up getting hired. the movie makes it seem as though he deserved the post because he suffered so much, but we know good and well his employers didn't know that. they didn't hire him because they felt bad for him, they hired him because of all the good results his work brought. they attempt that with the pension fund manager guy at the football game...but the pension manager guy ends up turning him down...and they talk about his reasoning and work ethic...but never any results from that wonderful efficiency and ethic. by results, i mean accounts landed, that sort of thing.

also, if i may point something out that is tangentially related: in the movie hitch (which i will admit was entertaining cute date movie, and i'm not a fan of cute date movies), will smith starred opposite eva mendes not just because she's gorgeous (she is) but because the producers feared that if they put a black woman in the lead actress role, white moviegoers would go see it...and if they put a white woman in that role, moviegoers both black and white would be turned off. in the pursuit of happyness, thandie newton plays the traviata wife - but i had no idea she was even in the movie until i got to the theater. and she leaves midway through the movie. and she is sufficiently ambiguously ethnic...when she was in mission impossible, i heard folks refer to her as that latina girl (she's english and zimbabwean). so what gives with black women on film? why is film afraid of black women? on another tangent, seeing that movie made me understand why my girl sheena said thandie newton, despite her pretty face, is just too skinny.