Seven things I can't do:
Seven things that attract me to Europe (really? Does it have to be Europe, or can it be any place that fascinates one? Oh well, going with the flow)
Seven excellent books:
Seven good movies:
Seven people on whom to inflict this!
We walk into "TrainWreck" - a restaurant / pub / nightclub, and things begin to get happy. Copious amounts of beer and vodka are consumed, happy people at the next table join us, and we all get up and dance (around the tables, thankfully, and not on them), and exchange phone numbers. S calls from Delhi, and I speak to him for half an hour, but have no idea what we spoke about the next day - I only have a vague memory of using the F word fairly often.
R wants to drink on the way back, so I drive back part of the way on Sunday. Open roads, miles of nothing all around, wonderful driving. R plays DJ, inserting CDs and going ga-ga over some song before losing patience and skipping to the next one, till we are at the end of our tether. (It is annoying, when singing along loudly and tunelessly with Billy Joel, to suddenly find oneself singing loudly and tunelessly on one's own while the CD searches for the next track.)
Chicago is big, and R doesn't know his way around yet. But we manage to find our way to a comedy club, where there are some decent performances, then onto downtown Chicago. As we drive around, R, who can barely see straight by this point, shrieks at us desparately to keep our eyes open. "Quick, what's that road? what's that road? Is it Michigan?" "We're on Michigan already, aren't we?", I ask, poking my head out of the window to check. "Shit. OK, so is it Congress Parkway?" And so we navigate on.
And so, if you visit Chicago, let me recommend that you see (based on my somewhat unconventional tour, which comprised coming across things more by accident than design, and my even more unconventional and somewhat pickled tour guide who made up for his lack of information with liberal doses of scorn, alternating with careless inventiveness) the Millennium Park (which we saw from a distance, and which, as per R, "has some structures and shit"), the famous Chicago theatre (which is "famous for some shit") and the Magnificent Mile (a mile of road on Michigan avenue, famous for shopping, but with some old architecture that is interesting). The Millennium Park, R says, letting go of the steering wheel and gesturing grandly with his arms to the near-detriment of the car in front of us, is the biggest park in the US. P and I both look suspiciously at him. "Bigger than Central Park?" "Oh, Shentral Park!" says our guide, "yeah, that might be bigger. OK, sho it'sh the shecond largesht." Moments later, he tells us that Chicago's Hard Rock Cafe is the second oldest in the US. A moment of thought, while we just look at him suspiciously. "I jusht made that up", he tells us proudly. "Do you even know this city?", I ask him. "Not really", he says in rare moment of honesty, following it up immediately with another whopper. But to do him credit, he does find his way to the House of Blues (where we missed B B King playing the previous night), entirely by the hit-or-miss method of "that looksh short of familiar, let'sh go that way", and eventually does manage to find his way back home.
I sleep through the ride to the airport the next morning, and all the way back on the flight. So we missed the Mardi Gras parade, and so we didn't end up doing anything we couldn't have done in New York or Chicago... but it was a fun trip anyway. And it's fun to have strangers become friends.
Pictures are here
Further update: cross-posted here
Brokeback Mountain, based on a book by Pullitzer prize winning author Annie Proulx, is one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time. It's not that the story's so unusual - after all, it's a love story, and what could be more common? OK, so it's a love story involving two people of the same sex, but that's not unusual either.
It's just that the evolution of their connection, from spark to romance to tenderness to angst and resentment, all the while growing stronger, is shown so beautifully. And the starkness of the story against the starkness of the landscape - a land where men are men, not "queer"s - gets under your skin and nestles there, refusing to leave. One viewing will not be enough. (I'm headed back to the theatre this weekend.)
Powerful performances by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall. I know nothing about direction, but if the Director's job is to get the movie to pull you in and get under your skin, Ang Lee has worked wonders.
This is not a movie review. It's just that I can't stop myself from writing about this movie. Even though I can't seem to find the right words to describe it. So go watch.