Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seeing the forest for the Lars Von Triers

We left the kids with our neighbour-friends on Sunday morning and escaped for a glorious hour or so of reading the paper. It's a strange sensation, getting through the whole review section without small noses poking over the top of it and demanding “More!” (Lucas, and it doesn’t really matter what the “more” is – he’s always demanding more of something) or to asking to trace over the letters (Jonah. We always give him the sports section since it’s the least-read bit for us, so Jonah’s going to grow up with a vast array of vocabulary gleaned from the sports pages. Dead useful, I’m sure).

Anyway, the review section contained was an article on Lars Von Trier’s latest film, Antichrist. There's been lots of discussion as to whether the violence in the film is was integral to the art or just entirely gratuitous and a shock-factor=column-inches gambit (and let's face it; if it's the latter, it's definitely paid off).
I haven’t seen the film yet, and whilst I'm not necessarily leaping to grab my coat and go and watch female genitial mutilation, it certainly sounds intriguing enough as a whole to get me to the coat rack. But amidst the description of extreme grief, depression, and their violent manifestations, there was one detail that did startle me off the page and question whether I'd be able to sit through the film. I say this entirely tongue in cheek, and mostly because I am an oversentimental lunatic when it comes to matter of woodlands.

The review explained that we glean from an address on an envelope near the beginning of the film that it’s set somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. It went on to mention as a tangent that the film was actually shot on location in Germany, in Nordrhein-Westfalen.

I looked up from the paper, eyes wide.

“We can’t go and see it after all”

“Why’s that?”

“The trees are all wrong! It will ruin the movie”.

Setting something amongst the wrong trees? Just not possible. I know the trees of the Pacific Northwest – not as well as I know my home forest, obviously, but for four glorious years, these cedars and pines were my home trees. They were just like the US itself when we first got there – massive and unknowable and way wilder than anything we’d experienced to date. Look:

These trees, they helped me in so many ways when everything in my life was unknown. This might sound nuts to anyone who grew up in a city, but being back within easy access of the total randomness of nature that a forest provides (because really, beyond the years-ago first planting, these things are doing whatever the hell they like and creating their own mini worlds) was like coming home. And home matters to me, as we've established by now, a hell of a lot.

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary in this post, I’m not stupid, just ridiculously sentimental. I know that films are shot on location – there’s just a part of me that wishes that, just this once, those trees could be my trees. It seems a bit like getting a Christmas card from your parents and the enclosed photo being of two other random, similarly-aged people. The thought is nice but the implementation? Just weird. Although one of the best Christmas cards we ever received was from friends who did exactly that...but that's a different story, for a different day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Three conversations that prove you should never, ever hire us as trend spotters

1. early 1995, me to an old friend:

There's this new American comedy show about these twenty-somethings and they're all friends. You should look out for it - I dunno if it's going to catch on but it's good for the time being.

2. Thursday, May 3rd, 2007, Dave to me in an email:

....he says property in Dublin is very expensive and he thinks there might be a bubble.

(so that'd be before house prices started screaming downhill, then)

3. mid-2007, Dave and I in conversation:

this Twitter thing is so NOT mainstream. You just think that because we live in a tech bubble

(again with the bubbles! Who did we think we were, Michael Jackson?)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The punch line that reads like a punch line to a whole different story

When we were in France last month, we made a visit to the local farmers' market. Rather than a quaint, outdoors version of Waitrose for the Guardian-reading liberals to saunter through in their MBTs hunting for their organic, hand-rolled muesli, this was a proper market for farmers. From the kids' point of view, this was bliss. In the place of Fair Trade t-shirts with ironic slogans and "arty" photos of the view down the road, there were animals, noise, and chaos.

Everything needed to be admired. Chickens piled cereal-box high in their tiny crates, in as many varieties as a Kelloggs multipack. Tiny, weeny, terrified-looking chicks.

"Pretty bunnies" as Jonah called them; lank, sweaty, cloud-eyed lapins plumped up for the pot but, juiciness aside, looking like they'd come straight from auditions for the evil rabbits in Watership Down. Jonah stopped to stroke them all, the toothless farmer opening the cage for him with a crooked grin. Somehow the French term, "caresse", seemed deeply inappropriate for these field-pests destined for the cleaver, but a market is a market and a rabbit, it seemed, is a rabbit, when you're three years old.

We moved on. We sampled goats cheeses. Lucas, versed neither in French nor much English, let's face it, signalled his preferences by spitting out his un-favoured flavours into the face of the cheese-maker. Apparently "pah pah pah" is Toddler for "what are you trying to *do*; poison me??" .

Finally, we came to the salami stall. This was a holiday, after all, and the urge to live mostly on pork products, chocolate, and wine was not to be ignored.

Jonah decidee he'll help me to select, so we moved down the stall with the salami maker, me translating, because obviously a degree in French equipped me for salami identification (yeah, yeah, I see that gag. And that one).

"Blue cheese salami?"

"Yuck" said my resident gourmand, and I was inclined to agree - sounds a bit like an entire meal in one truncheon-sized piece of meet.

"Cepes salami? it's a kind of mushroom"

"We don't eat mushrooms, Mummy" Well, fair do's. One of us doesn't, it's true, and apparently that was enough.

There is a jolt, a stutter in our proceedings.

"Encore une fois?" I asked the stall owner. Bollocks - I'd heard right the first time. Reluctantly, I told Jonah the name of the next salami. As I'd feared, his eyes lit up.

"That one!"

"No, really - let's hear what the next one is"

"No, Mummy, I want that one"

I tried again, just in case Jonah changed his mind. Yeah, right.

"Which one, poppet?"

"That one, Mummy. I want donkey salami"

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stealth evil, or proof, yet again, that this child is ours

We’ve been gradually weaning Lucas off his beloved dodie, in the hopes that this will eventually lead to currently-unfeasible hours of blissful unconsciousness rather than endless holy-crap-it's-WHAT- o'clock? summonses to help the small child find the smaller soother in the dark hours.
Simultaneously, although presumably not related (the sodding soother isn't THAT big), he's been upping the talking, or the attempts at talking, which go something like this:

Scene: the park, Sunday afternoon. Jonah and Lucas have wrestled the family ice cream cones from us gullible parents, are sitting on the grass with vanilla drool cascading down their t-shirts. Lucas finishes his ice cream.

L: hands upturned to show emptiness, eyebrows raised, signifying astonishment at this unforeseen development: All gone!

Lucas turns to his brother, notices Jonah has been unable to match L’s consumption speed, still has some ice cream left.

points frantically at Jonah:
More! More! MORE!!

J ignores him

enlisting parental help, pointing frantically: More! MORE!!

S: explain to Jonah what you’re asking for, poppet – that might help.

L earnestly, to Jonah; pointing at Jonah’s ice cream: yumyumMORE! Babba MORE!

You get the picture. It’s quick and dirty, but his needs, they are met.

Jonah, threats to ice cream ownership notwithstanding, is delighted by this new walky-talky version of the brother who, for most of his first year, was just an irritation crawling in between him fun. Consequently, he spends much of his time teaching Lucas new words, which veer in typical 3-year-old style from the scatological “say poo, Lucas’ to the surreal “say sandwich filling, Lucas”.
Last week Jonah hit upon a new game.
“Say dodie, Lucas” he commanded.

Lucas beamed, knowing the word well.

“Doodoo” he complied.

“Doodoo” he added thoughtfully.

“Doodoo?” – enquiringly, looking around himself.

“Doodoo?Doodoo!Doodoo!! DOODOO!’ he yelled, realizing one was not forthcoming and in desperate need of a dodie now that the sacred object had been mentioned.

Cue toddler in tears and much wailing and beating of tiny fists on the floor. Jonah, by this point in the proceedings, was howling with laughter. And we, secretly proud of the streak of mischief it takes to come up with this, are definitely not winning any parenting awards by letting it continue. Ah well – isn’t this what siblings are for?