Friday, January 28, 2011

Baa, Ram, Ewe.

I've never been what you would refer to as a "macho" kind of guy

Don’t get me wrong: I'm pretty active, I get into sports as much as the next guy (if I care about the team), I can swear, drink beer, and fulfill all other manly man stereotypes just as well as anyone else.  By most accounts, I’d say I’m pretty normal.  My personality is pretty even keel as well.  I don’t often get angry, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, I’m not usually sad or emotional I’m a pretty uppity, positive person.

That being said, whenever I watch the 1995 box office sensation, Babe, all bets are off.  I cry.  And I cry.  And then just when you think it’s over, I cry again.  This is no misty-eyed, brave face, shed a tear and be done with it, type reaction.  We’re talking, “wipe the tears away to avoid tasting their salty sadness,” type tears.

1995 Movie Poster

I attribute this to a number of factors.  First and foremost, “overcoming tremendous obstacle” movies with animals will always have a near and dear place in my heart.  I both love and hate them.  Show me someone who wasn’t moved at the end of Homeward Bound when Shadow comes limping into the picture well after we all thought he was dead and gone down that big hole, and I’ll show you someone whose moral compass does not point north.

There’s something about animal movies that brings out the best, worst, and sappiest in all of us.  I still bear a grudge against my father for having made me watch Where the Red Fern Grows when I was six years old.  If you haven’t seen WtRFG, don’t.  You will want to throw yourself down on the ground and end it all right then and there.  It’s almost as bad as the ending of Old Yeller.  Worse, maybe.

The second factor that plays a part in my emotional upheaval is the innocent and trusting character of the pig, Babe.  Find me a truer, more valiant, and more decent character anywhere in the past 20 years of cinema.  I dare you.  You may think that statement a little far-reaching, but I assure you that I stand firm in this believe and will defend it.  Take this exchange for example.  After Babe had successfully herded the sheep without so much as a bark or a bite, his adopted mom, Fly, had to find out how he did it:

Fly: All right, how did you do it?
Babe: I asked them and they did it. I just asked them nicely.
Fly: We don't ask sheep, dear; we tell them what to do.
Babe: But I did, Mom. They were really friendly.

Gallantry indeed.

This is the classic story of the persistent, noble soul, despite the mockery, despite the tradition, and despite the obstacles, staying the course to ultimate triumph.  It’s what we all look for in an inspirational movie, as well as in our own lives.

(At this point you probably think I’m over-analyzing a children’s story, but I’m almost done.  Promise.)

The third aspect, and probably the most striking, is the relationship between Farmer Hoggett and Babe.  It’s true what the narrator says at the end of the film:

Narrator: And though every single human in the stands or in the commentary boxes was at a complete loss for words, the man who in his life had uttered fewer words than any of them knew exactly what to say.
Farmer Hoggett: That'll do, pig. That'll do.

The unspoken relationship that exists between Farmer Hoggett and Babe is truly a thing of beauty.  Obviously the two cannot directly talk to one another, yet the sentiments passed between them are significant.  When Babe is sick, for example, the farmer brings him inside the farmhouse, breaking tradition, and takes great pains to revive the pig’s body and spirit.  Using a song to speak the words he didn’t have, Farmer Hoggett sings and dances for of the little pig, passing along his love and care not only his words, but his actions as well.

“If I had words to make a day for you,
I’d sing you a morning golden and new.
I would make this day last for all time.
Give you a night deep in moonshine.”

It gets me every time.

I could go on, but for all our sakes, I think that’s enough for one night.  Hopefully you didn’t find this post too ridiculous.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cobwebs be gone!

I've once heard it referred to as "Paralyzing Writers Syndrome" (PWS).  I dare say it's happened to all of us one time or another.

PWS is that ever-increasing feeling of guilt/despair we all get when we’ve been successfully (or semi-successfully) journaling, blogging, or otherwise documenting our travelings and doings.  You miss documenting things for a week or two for the precise reason that you’ve been extremely busy traveling and doing these things you’re supposed to be writing about.  It is, if I may be so bold, one of life’s more vicious cycles.  The more you do the less you write.  Thus you rapidly accumulate experiences and stories that you need to write about.  I ask thee, “What is one to do?”

My solution?  Well, normally I just look at the date on my blog, sigh, and then move onto to or something to keep myself from thinking about it.  Thus the cycle continues.

I’m here to tell you I’m a new man.  I’m not going to let a little thing like trying to play “catch up” (whatever that is) stop me from continuing to share my life with friends and family!  Nay!  Nay I say!

This isn’t exactly a New Nears resolution.  New Years resolutions, in my opinion, are reserved for things that are going to make a significant difference/impact in your life.  Mine this year, for example, are to travel more, go out more, drink more, and eat more food.  I feel that each of these things will help to round out my experience here in sunny Spain.  So far things have been going quite swimmingly in the “fulfilling New Years resolutions department.”

Here is a quick montage of travels and friends since my last post.  Since October 22nd, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Alpujarra region of the Sierra Nevada mountains, visit friends in Jaén, Córdoba and Sevilla, visit my near and dear friend Paris, fly home for Christmas and New Years, and even visit Ronda and the dynamic and rocky strip of land known as Gibraltar.

Enjoy this brief sampling of pictures.

 Mountain towns in the Alpujarra

 The Immaculate Alhambra


 Post mountain hike

 Weekend visit from my favorite Northern Europeans

 Post-bar kebabs

Me and Dana at Notre Dame in Paris

After my birthday dinner in Paris


The ever-friendly Gibraltarians we met in a pub

The mighty Rock of Gibraltar

Christmas with the family in Williamsburg

The Albaycín in Granada

My dearest pain in the butt, Brittany

Guadix cathedral
 Also, before I leave, I would like to mention my dear friend Paula.  Almost exactly 365 days ago, Paula moved to Paris to begin a master's course at the American Graduate School of Paris.  I had the great pleasure of being able to see her when I was in Paris during my birthday weekend.  Paula and myself, along with our other wonderful friends in Paris, enjoyed an unforgettable couple of months together.  I can't wait for her to move to DC along with Libby and Kate....

Enjoy the rest of your time in Paris, Paula!  See you in the Spring!