Tuesday, June 22 2004
Scarely a week goes by that doesn't feature some poor foreigner in Iraq getting his head sliced off, but these incidents have yet to influence the doodles I draw whenever I'm bored in Spanish class. If anything, I'm probably drawing fewer beheadings now than I did when I was a teenager. Not that I've completely stopped, but I've moved on to depicting other forms of death as well. A new characteristic of the death scenes I'm drawing is that they're now mostly suicides. They provide for a humorous overstatement of my desire to get out of class - or do anything - to escape the occasional spans of soul-crushing drudgery, which are usually brought on by a fellow classmate struggling through the reading aloud of a few sentences in Spanish. It's not just the lurching pace and unjustified pauses that get me; what I hate most of all is the horrible pronunciation. Spanish has to be the easiest language in the world to read, but my classmates struggle with it as if it were Czech. Mind you, it's not as if I'm always on my game when I'm reading aloud, but I don't think I'm provoking my fellow students to draw little illustrations of their demise either.
Gretchen is in complete agreement on the occasions when the class suddenly takes a turn for the boring. Sometimes when I'm drawing she has trouble containing her laughter. Today she drew a picture of someone eating spoons one after the other. This was a reference to something we'd heard on the WKZE morning show, which features a short segment called "News of the Weird." (Most "News of the Weird" stories seem to take place somewhere in eastern Scandinavia.) In today's segment, we learned about a guy who decided to commit suicide by eating spoons. He was, of course, unsuccessful.
This evening Gretchen and I were eating some sort of Thai rice dish that Gretchen had made. In the middle of one of my mouthfuls was a piece of glass about a third of an inch long and the shape of a shark tooth. Usually I don't chew very thoroughly before swallowing, although on this occasion I was lucky to have been a little more methodical.
Later on Gretchen and I watched The Station Agent, a movie about what happens when a man decides to move far out into suburban New Jersey to be left alone. He happens to be a dwarf, and the radical thing about this movie is that it doesn't focus on his dwarfism as his main issue, but instead on the emotional castle (with moat) he's built around himself. Soon after moving into his new home, our short-statured hero is inundated by people clamoring to be his friend. But his reaction is anything but enthusiastic. Why doesn't he accept the overtures of strangers? At first his reaction seems unjustifiably cold, but perhaps, we suspect, such behavior is a natural reaction to his predicament in life. By the end of the movie we are made to understand, almost as if events had been presented in reverse. It's a beautiful, quiet little film about introversion, extroversion, the minefield between them, and the imperfect world that causes such minefields to exist.
The soundtrack is by Stephen Trask, the guy who composed all the great music for Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
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