Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Movie archaeology

While living on Ravelry, which means living among Americans mostly, I became a part of the beehive mentality of the bunch I socialize with. I started referencing to Star Trek which I might not have seen at all, for example. I felt it as a major flaw in my education, not the Star Trek per se but the general popcultural (with a shift to nerdy) framework of which I was aware but without deeper knowledge. In other words, my friends talked about things I didn't udnerstand and sometimes I felt bad about that.

The other day, Sadako probably got slightly annoyed with my method of obtaining movies and music, which consisted of asking her to do it for me and taught me the basics, namely where to find stuff and where to find subtitles if they don't come with stuff. Since she lives on various cinéphile forums, I use her as a reference in case I need to find out what the movie where Antonio Banderas plays a lover to some Persian prince or that one about the Danish guys who have Mifune's ghost in the basement.
To which there's a story. When I was around ten, the revolution came, no more censorship, lots of enthusiasm and some chaos. At around the same time, my parents got a new TV set that was stationed in their bedroom. Since I didn't want to watch news or whatever they were watching then, I hid in the bedroom and watched movies. Apparently, the program department poured in whatever hadn't been allowed because there was nudity, blood, anything possibly politically offensive, stuff from the ebil Capitalist countries... and I watched whatever I found interesting. That movie about some American anti-Commie headquarters, and how things got out of control, Americans nuked Moscow by mistake and to make things even, they also nuked their very own New York. Another hint, it was black and white. It conveyed the atmosphere very well and quel surprise, those whom our propaganda depicted as the worst scum evah were actual people with actual fears. I might be 11 or 12 so I wouldn't think of it as educational. Or Fellini's Dolce Vita, which I didn't really get until much later but it was pretty. Scores of classical westerns, they had been teh ebil American things so we wouldn't get much of them. For whatever reason, I remember McKenna's Gold. Someone in the programming department must have had a weak spot for Japanese movies, too, some were lovable - colourful, quirky and with buckets of blood to add to the colours. And obviously action movies of very various quality, I think I've seen dozens. Trash of all genres. Existential it-is-not-really-porn-it-is-art stuff. Something that could well be Russ Meyer but I'd have to check.

Around two years later, things settled and the programming department either got fired or burned down but all this stopped. I needed to wait five or six years until I became aware of cultural mags where I could read about that stuff. But, it was pre-internet era (2) so that was all I could do, along with a bit of hope that one day, it will be screened at the university cinema ran by the half-crazy people from Film Studies department.

Another dose of eclectic came when I started studying. I lived at the dorms, my roommates were irritating, to put it mildly, and the National Film Archive cinema was two blocks away. If I got a sandwich and a ticket, it was cheaper than an actual dinner and I could spend two hours in the theatre covered in burgundy plush and gilded stucco watching some more Hungarian psychological dramas or whatever it might have been. At that time, I started to take notes. Not really extensive but digging in my old diaries might at least help identifying that Mexican movie whose plot I didn't get at all but visually, it was a two hour orgasm.

Somewhere on the way, I developed a deep love for (a) sarcastic movies of any sort (b) visually strong stuff (c) films where every killed person has at least 15 litres of blood. (3)

Huh. Now when I've learned to download stuff, I can search for something from which I remember one scene that struck me. (4)

(1) I'm old
(2) I've already mentioned that I'm old, haven't I.
(3) Think me cruel but after a day spent by creating another piece of academic obfuscation, nothing is as relaxing as a sarcastic and aesthetically pleasing bloodshed.
(4) I'd love to be bored someday. I keep failing.

Radio silence

I'm writing my doctoral thesis, it goes slowly and it generally sucks. I'll be back later, stay tuned.

Monday, 16 August 2010

I sense a problem

Sadako finally taught me how to download movies from teh internetz. I could think of a handful from the top of my head and then there're catalogs from film festivals where I'll be able to find out whatever I missed, would want to see again... I'm doomed.

In other news, another sign of apocalypse has been spotted. Coffee makes me nauseous. I drink impossible amounts of tea, then, and I hope it goes away somehow.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

I stand corrected

I'm no expert in mycology, until recently I had known only around 8 species by name. Those nicely coloured boletes were not two specimens of Boletus satanas but one Boletus calopus, inedible because awfully bitter (but oh so pretty. I know where they grow, I'll get a picture when the rains stop) a well slug-gnawed Boletus erythropus.
Which I found out by showing them to a botanist friend. I was also told that B. erythropus is hardly ever infected with insect larvae but that it's popular among slugs and forest mice. Also, it turns nicely blue when bruised or cut. Mental note: I should read something about the chemistry in mushrooms. I wonder whether the blue colour could be fixed somehow.

It's raining and I'm not going anywhere out until it's sunny. No more mushrooms for a few days, promise.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Too much time on my hands

That's yesterday's batch. Without the non-edible ones I plan to use for dyeing. I'm going to get some more now.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Hunter and gatherer. More of a gatherer

In the 1850's, Austrian parliament passed a law granting the right of passage, so what's not fenced is accessible. And it's also permitted to pick mushrooms, berries, herbs and other stuff, and dry sticks.
Not that gathering dry sticks would be a prevailing industry but mushrooming is a national sport and at around this time, various yummy things are rather easy to find.
To start with, I'm regularly going to the meadow behind the hotel to pick St. John's wort and tansy for dyeing, I've brought a bagful of lichens, for dyeing too, and some Matricaria... and well, mushrooms. It's warm and humid and they grow like mad.
L. had told me some time ago that she'd love to try this national sport so I invited her over. I know six edible species, umpteen poisonous ones and since it's a national sport, first graders are taught the most important thing: pick only what you know for sure. (1) L. has very overblown ideas about my knowledge, I'm able to name half of the plants in the curb but that's all. And, there're thousands of species of mushrooms growing in this general area (some are in the form of goo under rotting wood, admittedly) so if I know 20 at most... well. L. had a happy.
Mushrooms shouldn't be carried in plastic bags, they might start metabolizing themselves into something not-really-healthy (2); normal people use baskets. Since I'm not a regular mushroomer, I use a paper bag from Bravissimo lined with newspapers. Style, I don't have any.

(1) and also that although paris (Paris quadrifolia) berries look like blueberries, the whole plant is totally different and the berries are poisonous. There's lots of them growing in the nearby forest, gotta pick one for my herbary. Also, paris and blueberries are totally not similar; I wonder how many people would really think they're picking a blueberry... and whether it's not criminal stupidity.
(2) at which point I always wish I knew more chemistry
(3) old newspapers are one of the most important materials for an aspiring nature lover and gatherer of stuff. Used to press flowers, to dry stuff on... at the worst, you can even read them.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Scents of the Mediterranean

I was invited to another joint blog project. Oddly enough, just now, I'm pretty far from the Mediterranean and it even smells different here so it might get a bit fuzzy.

When Ines reached me via Helg, the first thought was Eh, I wanted to make a perfume reflecting the stuff I smelled on my way to the library. Starting with two sorts of jasmine that grew in my street, and wisteria, cypresses, elder (might be the only elder shrub in Tuscany, though, growing in the curb there), cedars and dry grass.

I'm not absolutely positive that this is Jasminum sambac but this grows two blocks to the south from my Florentine abode. I'd often pluck a branch and wear it in my hair. It greatly complemented Une Fleur de Chanel and Shiseido's Vocalise.

Apart from my love for jasmine, growing on every other fence, there were magnolias, one under my windows (like, deep under, I lived on the fifth floor) and they mixed in an odd yet pleasing way with the smell of ozone and machine or whatever the railway smells of. Which brings me to the thought that I have yet to discover what are these 'technical' smells made off. I'm a sucker for gasoline, asphalt, wood paint and this sort of stuff and apparently, blending them with flowers might yield most interesting results.

At first, I thought that I could mention two myrrh fragrances I have, both of which happen to be Italian; to me, myrrh has an aspect of sea breeze. But I lived in Florence and, more importantly, I don't like sea. It's big and fish pee in it, I like to say, which sounds like a stupid joke but it points out the two things that put me off: it's too big to see what's in there and it may be pretty messy.
Nor are there orange blossoms, roses or what else. I have an orange tree in my office back north and where I was, oranges were a thing brought from Sicily. Roses... well, as far as I noticed, the local gardens and yards featured wisterias, jasmine, magnolias, mimosas, cammelias... roses not so much. After all, I lived in a city, not in some picturesque country villa. And outside the city, it was something for which I have an exact botanic term: ugly uninteresting undergrowth. Speaking of ugly uninteresting undergrowth, it's not that ugly nor uninteresting in the light of my latest studies

Whatever point of view I take, my Florence, and thus my Italy is mostly the strange green smell of hot asphalt and jasmine. And the famous Florentine iris? Must've skipped me. I think Santa Maria Novella and I Profumi di Firenze both have an iris fragrance but I'm not that mad after iris, I got Cuoio di Spagna from the former and Cuoio di Russia from the latter. Not to remind me of the famous and Florentine leather manufacture, I just like leather fragrances, the harsher, the better. Oddly enough, real leather smells somewhat different anyway.

Aaaaand, wherever I go, it's very likely that I'll be accompanied by some hand-dyed yarn, which obviously smells of sheep and vinegar. A bit of my private universe, I guess...

This joint blog project was organized by Ines of All I am, a redhead. Check out the other participating blogs:
Scent Hive, A rose beyond the Thames, Illuminated Perfume Journal, Perfume in Progress, Katie Puckrik Smells, Ayala Smelly Blog, Notes from the Ledge, Olfactarama, Suzanne's Perfume Journal, The Non Blonde, Waft by Carol, Hortus Conclusus, Bonkers about perfume and
I Smell Therefore I am.