Sunday, August 14, 2005

Bachelor pad

The four Holly women drove off for Colorado last Saturday morning -- Lovely Wife; her sister; their mother; and our daughter -- leaving behind us two men (me and Only Son, age 14). They did a nice job of picking up after themselves and their packing before leaving, so there's a decent base-line of orderlieness that we should be able to at least maintain if not improve upon before their return in a couple of weeks.

It is very strange to have no feminine energy in the house, though. I can't describe exactly what that means, but it has something to do with the habits we've acquired in terms of who does what around the house. Like meal preparation. I prepare meals, but not regularly enough to have internalized the habit of thinking ahead about menus & necessary ingredients etc. So now I have to actually think about what we're going to eat next week and how to acquire it. Which, because it is not a habit, is an effort requiring attention, and I'm batting under .300 on the quality-of-meals index. (But I am proud of the bread pudding I made for the first time.)

But there's something more subtle about their absence -- some sense of complimentarieness that is disturbed, an open arc of the circle that is missing. Not painful, just a missing. (It was the same when Only Son was off to his 15-day canoe trip to the Boundary Waters earlier this month; we missed his part of the Family Circle, too, but enjoyed relating to each other in a new way in his absence.)

In the past, when everyone went off to Colorado during a summer and I had to stay behind to work, I told friends that I enjoyed being able to sit out on the front porch in my boxer shorts, eat tuna out of the can, drink beer, and listen to the Twins game. And I did. But now that there's two of us here, I wanted to make it a little more intentional and affirmative, but alas, his nocturnal life (awake from early afternoon to early morning) and my more-or-less diurnal one (awake from 6 to midnight) only have some overlap, but our energy levels are different and what we've mainly done together is watch movies.


And pretty good ones, too. The best was the amazing City of God, a Brazilian film about the hoodlums who live -- and kill, and die -- in the City of God slum outside of Rio de Janeiro. It is an amazing harsh yet beautiful film that still has me shaking. I just learned that most of the actors live in the slum itself and this gave it even more authenticity. The irony (oh, what a weak word -- blasphemy is probably a better one) for the name of the slum permeates the entire film. Not a movie that inspires hope, unless you can call shaking one up from middle-class complacency hopeful. But not one you'll soon forget. Not recommended for those of tender years.

A second one we watched and liked was Maria Full of Grace. It, too, tells the story of people on the margins of polite society, about a young woman from Columbia who agrees to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. (One review says it's heroin, but I don't think so.) It was gripping, and incredibly sad, but respectful of the characters. I was especially impressed with the portrayal of the two customs officers who suspect the truth; a typical movie would have demonized them as oafs or thugs, but these two were neither. The glimpse into the immigrant's life in America was enlightening. I thought the ending was a bit of a letdown, but I was relieved that it wasn't a brutal or violent one.

Finally, we've had a lot of fun watching the DVDs of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2004. I heard from a friend a couple of years ago that the Daily Show was the best news program on TV. I hadn't actually seen it, though, except for a couple of times when staying in a hotel or with a friend who has cable, and when I did, I knew what he was talking about.

These DVDs are the Daily Show's eight half-hour programs broadcast during the 2004 Democratic & Republican conventions. These shows are smart, sharp, irreverent, and funny as hell. They hit the mark about 75% of the time. But I like that there's occasionally lame pieces; it shows that the creators are shmoes like the rest of us, working hard without any super-human talent, and doing their best under tight deadlines, and do it pretty well most of the time.

Furthermore, the show has a point of view. (Gerry Trudeau once said that the reason Doonesbury has stayed funny and relevant is that it has a point of view, the lack of which doomed the anarachic Saturday Night Live despite its brilliant start and talent.) But the point of view isn't essentialy a partisian one. It's a point of view that relentlessly points out the vacuity of most political discourse aimed at the masses in this country. As Stewart said to the idiots on Crossfire last summer, "Pleeeese, stop. You're hurting America."

Anyway, these DVDs are a hoot and give me some hope that there is someone awake in this country.

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