Sunday, December 21, 2014

The difficulty of going out, plus Advanced Style

What I get to go see, these days, is increasingly different from what I want to see. There are now so many contingencies that never used to slow me down: am I in the mood? Do I have the energy? Do I have work that I have to do? Do I need to be up early? Is it raining? Am I dressed properly? Do I have to be somewhere else? Am I in the right town? Is my girlfriend interested? Does she have the energy? Does she need to be up early? If she's not interested, where will I sleep afterwards? How long with the commute be? Will there be a bus running that late? One of the reasons I'm ambivalent about this whole having-kids idea (which my girl is really into) is that I barely get out as it is, these days. Add kids and I'll be lucky to catch one show a year.

There was a bunch of stuff I wanted to do last night. A cool friend was having a birthday party. A cool-seeming neo-doo-wop band (Shannon and the Clams) were playing at the Electric Owl. I ended up going instead to see a documentary about Antarctica and the film Advanced Style at the Vancity Theatre. Neither were high on my list. No party was attended. No concert was gone to. By 10pm, I was ready to go back home. I was asleep an hour before the concert would have ended, and I am glad for it. I have become lame.

This all serves partially to underscore just how significant the January 13th Flesh Eaters show in Seattle is to me. I have interviewed Chris D. (Yet to be published). I have secured the time off work. I have bought a ticket. I am going to research train prices/ cheap transit. I am going to go to this Seattle show. I may deliberately miss a night's sleep over it, and suffer thereafter, but I am going. Universe, try to stop me.

On the other hand, I am probably going to be at the upcoming Death Sentence show at Funkys, not because of any great passion for Death Sentence (tho' "In Flames" is pretty great) but because my girl is going away that weekend and needs someone to look in on her cat, and if I'm going to be in town that weekend anyhow...

That's my life these days! (I may go out to catch David M. tonight too but I hope David forgives me if I don't, who knows what the day yet holds).

Incidentally, it's weird to me that more Vancouverites turned out for a documentary about Antarctica than a documentary about senior females with outlandish (or at least very creative/ assertive) fashion sensibilities, you know? I'm just the opposite. You can get your fill of Antarctica on the Discovery Channel, I figure; and how many Emperor penguins does anyone need to see in life? I haven't even finished watching the Herzog documentary on Antarctica, shut it off shortly after the thing about an ape riding an antelope (one of Herzog's more eye-rolling self-indulgences of late). The film now playing, Antarctica: A Year On Ice, is not bad, and has some really beautiful images of the sky and varied atmospheric phenomena, but it isn't anything particularly unusual or impressive. A LOT of time-lapse photography is used - so much that you sometimes don't know if a given shot you're seeing is happening in real time or sped up, which interferes with appreciating what's on screen.  That aspect of the film I found rather intrusive; I would have appreciated a more James Benning-like approach, though it would have made things a lot longer, I suppose. There were a few interesting observations about what it's like to winter over there, but all were done in a kind of chatty, anecdotal way, without much in the way of hard information or deep insights. (At one point you learn in passing, for instance, that its against the rules to help out a seal that has lost its way and is obviously in distress; but you don't learn why it is against the rules. Some abiding devotion to Darwin? The filmmakers apparently wanted to assemble their film using only the voices of their interview subjects, so they don't ask questions, even when the questions would be revealing; nor do they weigh in with information not otherwise provided during the interviews*).

On the other hand, the Advanced Style ladies are really quite charming and lovely; women ranging in age from their 60's to their 90's who have appeared on the blog of one Ari Seth Cohen. Two in particular make a real impression: Ilona Royce Smithkin, who painted a portrait of Ayn Rand that we've all seen, and now makes her own false eyelashes out of her own hair (which she dyes orange); and the lovely and stylish Tziporah Salamon, who reminds me a little of Ann Magnuson (who still is a bit too young for Cohen's project, and who mostly dresses straighter than these ladies, except when she's made up as Kali). I like old ladies, particularly ones who are not shy about standing out in the crowd; most of the women in this doc pull themselves together beautifully, and some are positively punk rock. And they're all eccentric and entertaining, even in their more "Diva" moments.

But by my casual count, there were fifty+ people for the Antarctica doc, and 20- people for Advanced Style. Go figure!
*This approach may still be preferable to having Werner Herzog give his opinion about everything.

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