Sunday, November 28, 2010

Short Story

English


Walking home from the hairdresser's

Hubby: Looking good wifey :)
Nine-months-pregnant-Me: Thinner?
Hubby: Not THAT good!
Me: ...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just because sometimes nothing makes sense

English


Wednesday, October 13, 2010
A day which started like any other day.
And yet, it feels like it is never going to end.

It can't be real.
How can it be real?

The hours pass and time is absolutely still.
Everyone who loves you is standing still.
Praying.
We're not asking for miracles anymore.
But nothing else is left to fill up that day.
No more miracles.
Your fight is the last of them.
Your eagerness to live your life.

Time is still and the present is the past.
The past that stands still to become the present.
Just a little bit longer.
Because we need it.
Because we all miss you.
Miserably.
Painfully.

But you, you don't need to fight anymore.
Finally.
No more pain.
Your soul is resting in peace.

Your kindness, your courage and your love remain.
And now it us who ask for your prayers.

We love you, always.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Coucou :)

English


I've been away for a while dealing with some personal stuff. Nothing tragic (yet). I believe everything is manageable (to a certain extent) and the most ironic trait of human beings must be their ability to move on, no matter how bad things may seem. Thank God for that.

Today is April 1st.

No I will not prank you here!

I'm sure you've had enough pranks all around the web and maybe even in real life, so I'll spare you ;)

However, I will share with you may very first morning thought:
❝Prank day! Let's see... What's the most prankish prank someone can pull? Well, "I'm pregnant" comes to mind! Sure. Classic. [Pause] Aha, OK, so basically this is the kind of prank a 16 years old may tell her parents and drive them to the verge of a heart attack... But for a 31 years old woman who's had two miscarriages and family and friends just waiting to hear these three magical words again... It's just plain cruel.❞

I don't know what I was thinking!
So I moved on to the next most obvious joke... What? Didn't have much time to brainstorm! This is what I get for not waking up early! ;)

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Miracle of Life

English


A short film (or not)

Public restrooms are the worst! They're the reason why I stay imprisoned in my home all day! Why would I ever want to put myself through such anguish, seriously? One would expect the little boy’s room to be kind of a mess; but girls? Come on ladies! These are PUBLIC restrooms; people are going to be using them after you! You wouldn’t even treat your own toilet like that; so why torture others? Next to that little “No Smoking” sign, there should be a “No Showering” sign! Not once have I stepped foot in a public lavatory and didn’t find the slippery floor all disgusting and wet! Not to mention the rolls of toilet paper stuck on the floor, with footsteps all over them! Why on Earth do you have to shower in there? It’s a public place intended for rather soiling activities; how on earth do you feel comfortable enough to wash (and supposedly clean?) yourself in there?!?! Every time I have to use the restrooms, I need to fold my pants all the way up to my knees in order to avoid having them getting all wet (and so much more… yeuk!)

Note: I am NOT talking about the ablution before prayer time. Most malls have special locations for that anyway. I am talking about women who think it is OK to wash their; well let's call them "private areas" once they're done with their; err, let's call them "toilet businesses"... Yes, feel free to be disgusted now. I didn't want to go into that much detail but it was brought to my attention that what I had initially written could be misunderstood as an attack against ablution.

A short film II: The revenge

To add insult to injury, as I was washing my hands, a young, thin, pretty woman came in, stood at the basin right next to mine (although all the others were free as well) and decided to forcefully and loudly blow her nose inside the sink with her cute little fingers only, and splashing the whole thing with a little bit of water! Then she simply rinsed her hands (no soap needed) and proceeded to dry them… Need I say more?

Afraid to drink that damn coffee…
Wouldn’t want to have to go back through Hell’s Toilet again!

Ah Qu’Elles Sont Jolies Les filles De Mon Pays

Moving on from the charming toilet ladies to more “Beauty by Her”

Yes, they are beautiful les filles de mon pays; inside and out.
Not that they care much about the “inside”…


A friend recently heard the following discussion at a renowned café in Beirut:

Two 30-something women discussing their very first pregnancies:

Pregnant Lady 1 (PL1): I am so worried it’s going to be a girl and she’s going to be a little fatty like her dad! Her father was a huge baby and I don’t even want to imagine how painful it’s going to be to give birth to such a gigantic child!

Pregnant Lady 2 (PL2): What are you worried about, you can always have a C-section! I’m worried mine’s going to be a boy and he’ll turn out gay like his uncle! I hear it’s genetic!

PL1: What will you do if it’s a boy??

PL2: I’m going to have to be very careful and I’ll put him in a mixed school and pay extra attention to his behavior.

PL3: If it’s a girl and she’s fat, I’m going to be stuck taking care of her diet all her life!


Yes ladies, life’s tough.
Then again who could blame you?
Apparently obesity and homosexuality are not the only hereditary misfortunes; so is stupidity!

The future grandmothers’ don’t sound any better (which makes sense if you think about it). One of them was telling one these pregnant sweethearts: “My God, giving birth is going to be so painful and torturous and you won’t be able to sit for days” or something like that…

Nicely played mom.

First of all…

And to reassure everyone: the boy won’t carry any “gay gene”; and if he does turn out to be like his uncle, a mixed school is not what’s going to “straighten” him…

God I hate homophobia! Is there no limit to the amount of ignorance out there?!?!

I know some guys who don’t mind lesbianism, they actually find it quite exciting (and it probably turns them on but they wouldn’t say it in front of their wives); but the minute it’s two guys making love, all hell breaks loose!

Why? Because if one XY carrier could be gay, that means any XY manly man could potentially be gay; Oh the horror!

Conclusion: Homosexuality is a direct attack on their personal manliness!
(Ah, the bliss of ignorance; lovely…)

Secondly…

Who calls their unborn baby a “little fatty”???

What the hell is wrong with society?

The definition of beauty has become so shallow and dull that even a baby has to be compared to air-brushed-botoxed-surgically-enhanced-anorexic-barbie dolls? Seriously??

Finally…

Mom, come on… You’re about to be a grandma’.
Are you out of your freaking (and obviously empty) mind?

The minute I heard this story, I couldn’t but think of my own mom.

Ma petite maman chérie who left everything and everyone and came to care for me the first time I got pregnant.

She was so worried I would get the same kind of pregnancy she endured: nine months of non-stop nausea and vomiting, with her arms constantly wired to an IV bag even in the delivery room! The vomiting stopped literally only once the baby (i.e. me) got out! She had the exact same experience throughout her three pregnancies!

So understandably, she got worried.
My aunts all got worried.
And my grandma started praying.
All of them together used more candles than the Vatican would in a year!
All that just for me…

I knew the stories too. And I got kind of worried too. Especially that once the pregnancy took its toll; I found myself unable to lift my head and nauseous every minute of every day and night!

My mom was not as bright as the mother I talked about earlier though.

No, my poor mommy simply stood by me, cooked for me, held my head when I couldn’t move anymore, and told me over and over again: “All pregnancies are not the same and they are not hereditary. Your grandmother and aunts all have had different pregnancies. You are not like me and you won’t be like me. You’ll be fine. Once the first trimester is over, you’ll be back on your feet”.

Then I had my miscarriage.

And then I got pregnant again (here, here, here, here, here and here). And I couldn’t help but think of my first pregnancy; and again, mom stood there, watching over me and telling me everything will be OK and even if I was in bad shape the first time, that doesn’t mean it’ll be that bad the second time (completely contradicting her own experiences by the way; I told you she wasn’t as bright as the mother in my story above).

Then I had my second miscarriage.


And as I sit here, sipping coffee; I can’t help but think:

I would have loved to have a cute little fatty or adorable gay-baby-boy sleeping next to me at the coffee shop, in one of these cute and oh-so-modern Ferrari or McLaren trolleys.

(Oh yes, I said it! A little gay-baby-boy! Every single time one of those homophobic ignoramuses thinks he’s outsmarted everyone, he throws the final argument that will supposedly end all arguments: “What if your son comes to you one day and says ‘Mom, I am gay’, what then?”… “Euuuh What, what then? What? I kill myself? No I kill him first, then I kill myself”… And going back to the initial XY theory above, it’s only gay men that scare them because never has any one of these geniuses asked me “What if you daughter came to you and told you she was gay”… Ah the bliss of ignorance - bis)


Anyway… Moving on.


Ok, fine, I’ll end up on a positive thought about those lovely moms-to-be because let’s face it, there’s nothing more beautiful than the miracle of life:

Those bitches are going to make wonderful mothers… And they’ll also make cute little complexes-obsessed-phobic babies who in turn will make a lot of therapists very happy. And rich.

That my friends, is the circle of life.

(What? That was positive… We’ve got at the very least two very happy parties: moms & therapists… Who the hell cares about the kids??)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Michelle Keserwany on Banadoura

English


Listening right now to the girl who brought us Jagal El USEK: the one and only, the talented Michelle Keserwany interviewed on The Banadoura Podcast


And did I tell you she was nice enough to mention us and the previous post where we got to finally meet her :) Can't wait for the CD ... and her artwork! Turns out she paints and works as an illustrator too. The girl has many many talents!

Enough blabla... Go there and listen for yourself ;)
+ bonus interview with the lovely tante Isabelle :)

Merci Michelle and Toni!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Hollow Thoughts of the Day

English

  1. I would love to have a bigger rear end, something like J. Lo’s … Not Jell-O. Thought I’d be specific, God’s a funny dude and sometimes, just for kicks, He may give you what you asked for; but not necessarily what you meant for


  2. I would love to be green to the fullest (again specifying: not the color, the environment-friendly eco- conscious chick) but I just love to drink my coffee in those paper cups… I like my mugs… at home. Is it only me or does coffee really taste differently in paper? Just thought of that because I’m actually drinking mine right now in a porcelain mug, and I’m cursing every time my teeth hit the cup (ouch)


  3. While we’re on coffee shops; I’m really wondering why the hell food in those places suck so much! First of all, it’s like the unhealthiest stuff ever and yet they kind of look good; so you go ahead, break your “diet rules”, and have something. Then you just curse at how bad the thingy tastes and decide to kill time by playing: “how old is this cake?”



  4. I’ve been wanting to get a Blackberry for a while now. Just got it a few days ago. Now I’m wanting to get something else (nothing's ever enough, is it?): more BB friends for my messenger. BB is really useless if you don’t need to be connected at all times. And right now, only three of my girlfriends (and hubby + brother) own one. Which means that I am left to play with emoticons on my own… I want a BB emoticon buddy

WHAT? I’m entitled to some vanity, shallowness and stupidity every once in while!

If you want some "substance" (ahem, yes, very deep I know), just step here for a while...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sexing it up a little bit

English


Recently a friend of mine, let’s call him XY… because he’s a boy (hahaha)… OK, Sorry about this lousy joke, I am filled with stupid boring jokes today (to hubby’s despair) and I haven’t been able to shut up yet.

So, again, recently a friend of mine, let’s call him XY, was very upset because he found out that the girl of his dreams, the one he had planned to marry, the love of his life is in fact a bisexual. He discovered this by mistake when she let him read an SMS she had received from her girlfriend and he confronted her by saying he felt like there was something sexual implied and she ended up spilling it out.

Obviously he was mad about the whole thing…

He was enraged that she had the audacity to tell him she loved him and yet have sex… with women.


Dude, you got it all wrong!


You should be upset, yes.

Not because she’s a bisexual; truly, pleasure and sexual orientation are personal and people are free to do as they please.

But you should be upset because you committed to someone and that person promised to commit to you in return, and then ended up betraying that commitment. That’s all.

Whether she’s sleeping around with men, women or inflatable dolls is really not the issue here.

I am big on trust.
And I am big on faithfulness.

Cheating is lying.
I hate all sorts of lies and I loathe liars.

I know, that was pretty final but it’s because I don’t compromise on that.

Also, I am a grown up woman who understands that some people simply do not want to commit; which is fine as long as they’re honest with their partners and clearly explain they do not intend on committing to an exclusive relationship.

And suffice to say I don’t care about anyone’s sexual orientation as long as they don’t impose it on others. Adults have the right to practice whatever it is they enjoy, with other consenting adults.

(Needless to say rape, pedophilia and bestiality do not fall in that “consenting adults” category.)

But to betray someone on grounds of bisexuality is a bit offensive.
For both the party cheated on and for bisexuals (and probably also homosexuals) everywhere.

As if having sex with someone from the same gender is not really having sex; i.e. not cheating.

It is one thing to say to someone:
“Listen, I’ve been with both men and women in my life, I am a bisexual, yes, but I want to commit to you”
Or:
“I am seeing other people (whether men or women is irrelevant)” ;
And it is totally another story to say:
“I love you, you are the man of my life, the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, the one I want to have children with” and then go ahead and be with other people at the same time, and in hiding.

(The “hiding” part says it all; and clarifies that all excuses are just empty lies because honesty doesn’t require secrecy.)


So dear XY, let me tell you that I have bisexual and homosexual friends. None of them are cheaters and when they commit to their partners, they do it to the fullest. My advice to you is to go out there and find yourself someone as honest as these friends of mine, someone who will commit completely, and basically, someone will not lie to you.


And please, to those readers out there who are about to say this girl was probably afraid to come out and tell the truth because homosexuality and bisexuality are taboo in our country:

She didn’t have to come out.
Just like she didn’t have to pretend committing.
She could have simply said: “I want to see other people.”

The lying and cheating is what I’m taking issue with.
Not the sexual orientation.


That being said, I completely acknowledge we live in a harsh, violent society that in many instances forces us to lie, hide or pretend.


Hoping for Human Rights


Finally, it is important and relevant for me to conclude with the following:

Sexual freedom is a crucial right.

The freedom to be happy is undeniable and I hope that one day our country will finally understand that tolerance and respect of others’ choices, whether we agree with them or not, are so vital for a healthy society.

And hopefully, then, we’d find less of these young people forced to hide the truth about themselves, living in pretend relationships, while realizing their true person in secrecy.

I do know of a couple like that: a husband and a wife, both homosexuals, and who got married just so society (and their families) would get off their backs; and who now live their separate sexual lives freely, but not openly.

Truly sad to have to resort to drastic measures such as a phony marriage in order to live in peace, sort of.


With women getting closer to full citizenship and equal civil rights, I can’t help but hope all Lebanese citizens will one day be accepted without prejudice or narrow-mindedness.

Discrimination is unacceptable, on any grounds!
Intolerance is hatred and hatred is poison.
We need to learn to coexist in a healthy and nonviolent way.


And we need to redefine what’s “good” and “bad” because it is obvious that these notions have been distorted so much throughout history, it is becoming impossible to really understand them anymore!

The same applies to the meanings of “legal” and “criminal”…

(I just can’t get over how archaic and brutal our legal system is!
Reforms people, reforms!
Tolerant laws are not so difficult to accomplish, especially for such a religious people as the Lebanese who claim they are believers, root for God in about everything in their daily life; and yet can’t accept God’s most precious creation: mankind)

Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day

English


Today is International Women's Day and I would like to start by mentioning my favorite girls ever: my mom & my sister :) I love you & I miss you!

Also, a special mention goes to all my girlfriends, the ones I adore, the fun ones and even the ones who drive me nuts! :)

Last but not least, I can't help but mention all those strong, beautiful women everywhere who fight on a daily basis for their rights, their loved ones, or even just to survive.


AbaadBlogs is dedicating a special edition of Women-related blogs to celebrate March 8 and I couldn't help but participate in some way. So here we go... :)


Congrats to Lebanon!

It seems that finally, we've stepped a little closer to a fair society with women acquiring equal nationality rights.

Background for non-Lebanese readers: up until now, women could not give the Lebanese nationality to their children or husband.

Many excuses were often given for years, the strongest being the rights for Palestinians to reclaim their land and citizenship rights in Palestine. It sounds like a position to protect Palestinian interests whose diaspora holds a "refugee" status in Lebanon (and to be fair, most of the pro-Palestine activists genuinely have these interests at heart). These refugees do not benefit from any civil right (another fight we hope will soon end with reformed laws that would remedy the humanitarian disaster Palestinian refugees have to endure in our country) which means that they can't get employed, can't vote or benefit from any state assistance while they've spent and most probably will spend their entire life in Lebanon.

Allowing Lebanese wives to pass on nationality would possibly result in more Palestinian men marrying Lebanese women to gain full citizenship; and thus civil rights.

It should also be noted that many Lebanese women are already married to Palestinian men and the nationality law would not grant their children any civil rights either since they've been considered so far Palestinian only in the eyes of the law.

Activists have been fighting for years for women to gain full citizenship rights in Lebanon and it seems we're one step closer!

So you can see how this is is a true victory for human and women rights in our country!


Now I can't wait for more equality...


Like, I don't know, off the top of my head, maybe a secular state and laws to govern all Lebanese citizens equally...

Dreaming?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rain on me

English


Today it rained in Dubai.
Not for long. But enough to flood my balcony which I never thought would happen on the last day of February... And so it got me thinking that nothing's impossible. No, no, I'm not promoting Adidas; it's just a simple and totally non-commercial observation. Rain today also meant that we've been chewing dust (and by dust I mean sand) for two days now in Dubai in preparation of this "storm".

Nothing's impossible.
I need to remember that.

I'm very moody these days...
Just like this weather.
Must work on that because I'm really getting on my nerves.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's all very fattening; sorry I mean flaterring

English


I’ve been watching my favorite TV shows since I came back from Lebanon. And that of course includes all my favorite sitcoms; which I am not discussing here but the whole thing made me think of sitcoms in general and by association to a weird “fiction reality”.




Drop quiz for you:
What do the male protagonists have in common?

a) Frequent ass-whooping by wife for acting dumb
b) Fat Belly
c) Sexy wife
d) All of the above
e) None of the above
Of course they also have crazy in-laws but that’s another story.


What I’m wondering about right now is why on earth it is always fat guys with sexy chicks? Most of these women have kids in the series (and in real life) and yet, they keep the bodies of a 20 year-old which hardly ever happen in reality where women get stuck in their everyday life and don't enjoy the luxury of personal trainers, personalized diets and surgical quick fixes.

And not only are these women gorgeous, they’re also smart.

On the other hand, hubbies are more, how to put it… Well chubby to say the least, and to add insult to injury, a little dumb too; in one word, the anti-hero.

Even cartoons have adopted this image of the “perfect” family: The Simpsons, Family Guy, and way before them The Flintstones (Oh my God, are they all modern remakes of The Flintstones?)

I watched The Invention of Lying on the plane on the way back to Dubai. It is based on this “gene pool” rule that attractive people fit with their gorgeous peers only. Of course again, these rules were established only to be shattered and the fat guy ends up with the runway model.

Obviously, I’m not saying that beauty is everything and that these guys don’t deserve such women.

What I’m wondering is why female protagonists on TV (and films) should always look stunning while guys can be slobs and yet get away with the perfect Barbie.

Why can’t unconventionally beautiful women get the perfect Ken?

Why should there always be pressure for women to look their best, to be fit, to be sexy and thin while it’s OK for men to be fat, lazy and even dumb… As long as they’re funny and kind-hearted of course.

Why isn’t there a funny, kind-hearted, lazy and fat woman married to some hot stuff?

There was Roseanne, a show that totally rocked by the way, but her husband, the excellent John Goodman was bigger than her, hardly a Ken (he probably ate Ken for breakfast) so that doesn’t really apply (side note: love both of them; great performers).

There also was Claude in Less Than Perfect which was called as such mainly because of her looks but she ended up losing all the weight and looking kind of perfect herself which beats the purpose. Plus, I haven’t watched all seasons, but in the episodes I did see, she was coupled with weird, funny looking guys. So there goes your “Ken” in flames again).

I guess there was still Betty out there but she never ends up with Daniel-looking boys (I haven’t seen all the seasons either but from what I've seen); she’s matched with equally goofy looking guys.

On the silver screen, even Shallow Hal which tried to project the concept of “beauty within” had the male protagonist looking more like Jim (According To Jim) or Doug (King of Queens) than Brad Pitt. They could have casted a Mc Steamy or a Mc Dreamy; instead they went for Georges (and I don’t mean Clooney). As if it were unconceivable Brad Pitt could ever be caught kissing a fat Gwyneth!

All very disturbing.
And annoying.

As a woman I am offended.

As a wife I am worried for my husband’s health if he ever was to think it was OK to carry 30 kilos of fat around his waist as long as he’s cute and funny!

As a prospective mother, I can’t even begin to imagine how I would explain these things to my daughter or how I would enlighten my son on beauty, what it means, how it is perceived and why he can’t objectify women and expect them to be airbrushed-Meagan-Foxes in real life while all he sees in the media contradicts that.

Again, very disturbing.

And kind of fattening.

Not the calorie kind of fattening; the self-esteem-mutilation-fattening kind. The best kind.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

High Up In The Air...

English


This one goes to @RaniaSassine
I’m dedicating this post so she finally grabs a bite :)

Going on a hunger strike if @abouzeid does not post one of her great articles. You have 24hrs ma cocotte and I mean it!!!!!
7:22 PM Feb 18th

@abouzeid Tic Toc Tic Toc Tic....
about 11 hours ago

On a side note, and because I’m quoting Twitter; here’s an anecdote for you:
ONLY IN … MY FAMILY would we tweet, chat, email each other even if we’re sitting in the same room and could easily just… Talk. Yep, it’s happened before between hubby and I sitting alone in our living room, couch-potating, just surfing the web when suddenly he decides to send me an email to ask for a rather mundane thing like dinner or something. Yes. True story. Today, I tweeted that I had to get off Twitter and run to the supermarket because my fridge was empty as I hadn’t shopped for food since I came back from Lebanon . Well it was brought to my attention that I shared my plans with the whole Twittersphere before informing my family. My brother who was in the same room just bluntly asked: “Thank God for Twitter so we know what you’re up to. You’re going to the supermarket? Get me some hot dogs with you.” Note to self: Do not broadcast trips of any kind on the web; people will ask for favors (:P)

Well I’m not sure it’s a “great” article Rania, but a girl’s gotta eat and I’m starting to feel a little bit woozy myself just thinking of you fasting for so long! So there you go!

I watched Up In The Air. Love Georgie boy :)


The general storyline is really relevant to what’s happening today pretty much all around the globe, and the actual story is also pertinent to human nature. It’s got characters with a history and something to tell. The cast is excellent. The script is good; in many instances poignant, in others funny; but mostly real. The soundtrack is great. And best of all, it’s got a brilliant genuine ending; they didn’t Hollywood us or any shit like that.


Basically the movie makes you think about your priorities. What you want in life vs. what you need. What’s important vs. what’s valuable. Life. How you define it. How you live it. What it means to exist while knowing this existence is only so meaningful because it has an expiry date. What matters.

Success. Professional achievements. Goals.
Family.

And it got me thinking…

I really hate it when people say life is meaningless unless you get married, have children and finally get “this” purpose for being there. Existing is only valuable if you are living for your children.

And don’t get me started on the ridiculous assumption that your legacy is alive through their mere existence (ridiculous because obviously children grow up to become their own person and they don’t really care about being a legacy, they’d rather worry about accomplishing their own).

I’ve even heard flabbergasting statements (solemnly declared as “truth”) from educated people, women and men, affirming their (biological) children are their true achievement and by achievement they mean happiness. Adopting is not the same. And they almost always have the nerve to conclude with a patronizing “you’ll understand when you have your own kids”. This coming from people who obviously have never adopted anyone which of course makes them experts on the subject. Who better to judge adoption than those who have never experienced it?

I am married. I guess I’m on the “right track”.
(nauseating thoughts of conformity to be inserted here)

I am definitely not married because society says I should be in order to fulfill some happiness definition. Anyway, I think most girls get married for the wedding only and “looking so beautiful in their white dress”. I didn’t go through the whole wedding thing. Ditched the wedding, jumped right into the marriage; isn’t it what you’re getting stuck with after the party? Should have opted for the white dress though, would have made lovely photos.

Anyway, I did attend a wedding or two though and I simply can’t understand why people spend so much money on festivities that guests will most definitely criticize (they always find something to gossip about and don’t even have the decency to wait until they’re back home) and disgusting catering (even at the finest hotels/restaurants).

Why not just gather your family and close friends and celebrate your love (yes, that’s the purpose of this whole thing) with those (and only those) who truly care for you? But I digress.

So yes, I’m not big on conventionality.
Still married though (for different reasons).
Still childless too (Oh rage, Oh désespoir, my life is meaningless and my husband and I have no purpose to exist – off I go to look for a bridge and jump).

So what if I weren’t married?
What if I were to never have children?
Would it mean I’d be this miserable failure of a human being who couldn’t find her way?

I’ve got single friends.
They are outstanding individuals.
They have amazing careers.
And they’re brilliant women (and men, but I can't compare myself to single men, although they would make for a fascinating study in our region).

Their mothers still dream of marrying them (because they love them, truly) and they’re afraid their beloved daughters will grow old alone, childless and miserable. The worst.

Their fathers still worry about reputation and honor (because single women are always easy to point at).

And their friends might feel sorry for them (because it always makes you feel good when it seems others are more miserable than you).

I, for one, completely love these failures. And I admire these women for achieving so much when faced with that constant look of superiority or pity or whatever arrogance others think they have the right to display.

(I know that look all too well; I’m childless remember? After five years of marriage, needless to say I fall in the "failures" category)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not claiming loneliness doesn’t exist or even that being alone isn’t sad sometimes.

Husbands. Children.
That’s all good.

But basically it all boils down to one thing: love.

To love. And to be loved.
That’s all that matters.
Who’s doing the loving is not really an issue.

I think that’s why these women are still successful and happy and unwilling to compromise and marry the first guy who comes to “save” them from their “failed single life”. Sure, society keeps trying to guilt them and sometimes even they doubt themselves.

But at the end of the day they know who they are.
They know who loves them. And they know who they love.
And that’s why their life has meaning.
That’s why they have succeeded.
And that’s why when/if they ever choose to get married and have children, they will do so not because society says they should; but… Well, for the right reasons.

Phew!
Yes, all that because of Up In The Air! Ah, inspiration! :P
And maybe also because of the godforsaken hour at which I’m writing this (it’s 4am Dubai time)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

La « sourde et étrange colère » d'un Libanais face au film "Lebanon"

English ✮ Français


I don't like to copy & paste but this article is a must read. Unfortunately I don't have the time to translate it into English right now, but I hope my readers francophones will appreciate and hopefully I'll be able to share an English version of the text soon.



Par Walid Salem | éditeur | 04/02/2010 | 07H50

L'Israélien Samuel Maoz, 47 ans, a triomphé à la 66e Mostra de Venise avec un premier film autobiographique « écrit avec ses tripes », qui montre les horreurs de la guerre à travers le viseur d'un char [« Lebanon » sortimercredi sur les écrans français].

En septembre 2009, la nouvelle de l'AFP ajoute que le cinéaste s'est exclamé en recevant son prix des mains du président du jury, l'Américano-taïwanais Ang Lee :

« Merci pour ce bonheur. Je dédie ce prix aux milliers de personnes à travers le monde qui comme moi sont retournées de la guerre saines et sauves. Apparemment, elles vont bien, elles sont mariées, elles ont des enfants, mais à l'intérieur elles ont dû apprendre à vivre avec leur douleur ».


A quelques jours de sa sortie, Rue89 en fait la réclame depuis lundi et une bannière vue sur son site, posée en haut à droite, annonce le film avec des extraits d'éloges dithyrambiques… [Rue89 est partenaire de la sortie du film en France, ndlr].


La guerre vue par un soldat de vingt ans


Ce film autobiographique fait vivre le début de la première guerre du Liban en 1982, à travers la meurtrière avancée d'un tank israélien. Traumatisé par des combats où, jeune soldat de vingt ans, ce natif de Tel Aviv fut tireur dans un blindé, Maoz a mis 25 ans à en tirer ce film « puissant, » à « rebours de tout héroïsme », qui « montre la guerre avec une radicale nouveauté » nourrie des douloureux souvenirs de son réalisateur,

Ainsi, un nouvel hommage est rendu au cinéma israélien, après Valse avec Bachir, un autre film israélien qui a obtenu de nombreux prix dans le monde, dont le Golden Globe Award du meilleur film étranger et le César du meilleur film étranger en 2009, et était en compétition pour la Palme d'Or 2008 et l'Oscar du meilleur film en langue étrangère en 2009.

Un critique français avait rapporté que la salle, le public et le jury de Cannes, étaient fortement impressionnés par ce film où le jeune soldat et futur réalisateur du film, Ari Folman, fait son service militaire dans l'armée de son pays et vit le reste de sa vie avec une culpabilité freudienne sans se souvenir de rien. Plus aucun souvenir, alors qu'il était là, à quelques centaines de mètres des camps palestiniens, au moment des massacres de Sabra et Chatila.


Des Libanais ébahis


Du succès rencontré par le premier film à celui annoncé pour le deuxième, je me retrouve étrangement envahi de sentiments confus. Je ne pense pas être le seul, et beaucoup d'autres Libanais doivent en être tout aussi ébahis. Ce qui m'anime est difficile à décrire, en prenant soin d'éviter l'étalage des haines ordinaires et sans intérêt, j'ai une sourde et étrange colère face à ce que je ressens comme tribulations dans les valeurs culturelles.

Beaucoup plus tôt, il y a pratiquement 25 ans, un journaliste britannique « de renommée internationale, spécialiste du Proche-Orient » (RSF), Robert Fisk, dénoncait les massacres de Sabra et Chatila. Pour ses positions, il a été l'objet de nombreuses critiques et menaces dans le monde anglo-saxon, pour les critiques qu'il a exprimées à l'égard des politiques israélienne et américaine dans la région. Il disait pourtant que « le Moyen-Orient n'est pas un jeu de photos, c'est une tragédie, c'est du sang. » Il le prouve merveilleusement dans son ouvrage « Liban, nation martyr ».

Bernard Wallet, éditeur emblématique des éditions Verticales, en poste à Beyrouth pour les éditions Gallimard dans les années 1970-1980, évoque « ses amis [qui] préfèrent dédaigner les événements irréfragables dont il a été témoin effaré, plutôt que de renoncer à l'idée qu'ils s'en font » dans son livre « Paysage avec palmiers »… et depuis rien !


La parole au bourreau


Qu'est ce qui vaut alors que les uns soient écoutés et les autres à peine ? Qu'est ce qui donne au bourreau plus reconnaissance dans la reconstitution de l'histoire ? Qu'est ce qui fait que l'on soit admiratif devant un cinéaste qui « écrit avec les tripes » et que l'on ferme les yeux devant les victimes qui font son film quand elles ont les tripes à l'air ? Qui est ce qui donne à ceux qui produisent les carnages le droit à la poésie et l'admiration de la critique ? Est-ce la logique des choses que de perpétuer les massacres et d'en faire des films « impressionnants » ?

L'armée israélienne envahit le Liban plusieurs fois, en 1978, en 1982, provoquant à chaque fois plusieurs massacres. Elle lance deux offensives sanglantes en 1996 et en 2006. Elle occupe une bande frontalière au Sud Liban pendant plus de vingt ans, elle va jusqu'à placer des antennes du Ministère de l'intérieur israélien à Nabatiyé et Saïda, ainsi que de nombreux centres de détentions et d'interrogatoires, comme à Bent-Jbeil, le camp d'Ansar ou à la prison de Khiam.

En plus de la logistique fournie lors de massacre de Sabra et Chatila, elle participe directement à deux massacres autour de Beiteddine, et un dans les faubourgs de Hazmieh.

Le 18 avril 1996, au cours d'un bombardement, l'artillerie israélienne bombarde un camp de réfugiés des Nations Unies à Qana, prétextant une erreur de tir. Le bilan de ce massacre du camp est dramatique : 104 civils désarmés sont tués et plusieurs dizaines de blessés sont comptabilisés. Les casques bleus comptent aussi parmi les victimes.

Un film amateur tourné durant l'attaque par un soldat de l'ONU confirme que l'attaque israélienne semble délibérée et ne constitue en rien une « erreur de tir » comme le déclare alors le gouvernement israélien. Cette vidéo n'a pas été prise en compte dans l'enquête qui s'en suit. Interrogé sur l'effet du largage de la bombe sur Qana, le pilote répond avoir ressenti une petite secousse au niveau de l'appareil. A quand son film qui nous en dira plus !


Une thérapie de déculpabilisation


L'histoire et les souffrances de mon pays se racontent par ses agresseurs, pire encore, elles font office de thérapie de déculpabilisation. Le jour de la remise du Lion d'or, le film primé est dédié à tous ceux qui sont revenus sains et saufs, il ne rend aucunement hommage à ceux massacrés et tués sur place pendant les excursions sanglantes et barbares.

Le film semble « émouvant » pour ceux qui ne manifestaient, en leurs temps, que de l'indifférence aux faits réels qui en font l'histoire. Une consécration pour ceux qui ont semé des bombes à fragmentation, au phosphore et au napalm, et qui récoltent aujourd'hui de très hautes distinctions culturelles… en or.

Je n'ai pas vu ce film. Sans doute, je le verrai un jour. Je suis certain que je ne pourrai pas le voir avec les yeux du cinéphile que je suis, mes yeux ont vu beaucoup trop de choses dont il est justement question, je ne les ai pas oubliées et rien ne pourra venir les couvrir d'aucun voile, aussi culturel soit-il.

Je ne serai pas le bon spectateur car je porterai la mémoire des horreurs vécues et je ne verrai ces images autrement qu'en ramassis de cynisme. Le pardon par le cinéma, s'il en est, ne suffira jamais. Le cinéma retrouverait mieux ses lettres de noblesse en allant proposer ses moyens d'expression, au moins en alternative, aux milieux éternellement déshérités des victimes de ses guerres, mais comment faire ?

Valse avec Bachir avait annoncé la couleur de ce cynisme avec les dernières images réelles tournées par une équipe anglaise où le film s'arrête sur le cri de désespoir d'une femme palestinienne lancé à la caméra : Wayn el arab ? (Où sont les Arabes ? ). A cet instant, le doute même sur l'existence réelle des « Arabes » nous envahit et une partie de notre identité s'est subitement envolée dans une œuvre israélienne.

L'autre partie vient de s'ébranler dans cette deuxième œuvre de la même nationalité, sur le même sujet, comme un arrogant coupable qui revient sur le lieu du crime. Comble de la dépossession, elle s'intitule Lebanon.

2007-2010 © RUE89

Thursday, February 11, 2010

DICO PERSO: When it rains, it pours

English


Last week was total hell. It started with a few lumps on my right underarm which I assumed were a reaction to my new deodorant. Over the next few days, they multiplied, got bigger and so painful it was impossible for me to move my entire arm anymore. I couldn’t lift it or even wave it left or right! The existing swelling got bigger and redder and the new ones were expanding all around my underarm. I got so tired I couldn’t get out of bed and every time I would stand up, I’d get dizzy. I quickly realized I got some sort of flu virus, and the swelling was nothing more than fever outbreaks. Thankfully, they lasted about three days at their worst and then they started to disappear gradually. Now, I only have a couple of lumps remaining and the pain is almost gone.

Tuesday night was one of those nights… First there was another big bang on our street at around 1 in the morning. We called, as usual, and they said that the power had to be cut on purpose to repair something. (Please keep that response in mind; it will be useful later on). So we thought, fine. We’ll wait and see. At around 2am, we decided to go to bed because it looked like the repairs were going to take ages.

At around 3, our neighbor runs screaming and knocking at our door. We could only hear her scream “M. is gone! M. is gone!”

M. is her oldest son who’s only 25 years old. It looked like he had fallen off his bunkbed’s top level and he was not responding! His younger brother tried to make him walk, even slapped him violently, but M. just wouldn’t wake up! We didn’t know if he had lost consciousness after the fall or before; all we knew was that once on the floor all his nerves relaxed completely and he wet himself, unresponsive. His father was speechless, sitting on the side and his little sister was just in shock. My mom immediately ran to check his vitals as I called the Red Cross.

These young men are just outstanding! It took them only a few minutes to reach our street from Spears (obviously, and thank God, the roads were empty at that hour). The RC crew climbed the 8th floor in no time and immediately attended to M.’s needs, in the dark, with a flashlight… They were amazing!

In the meantime, we called Électricité du Liban again to ask them if the repairs would take much longer since we have an emergency and the Red Cross may need to transport an unconscious person on a stretcher. Their answer: “tell them to take the stairs”. I kid you not. They had the vicious audacity to answer that. Never mind the fact that the stairway’s too narrow to fit a stretcher horizontally.

Didn’t I tell you that when it rains, it pours?

Turned out that, as usual, they hadn’t sent any crew to assess the situation, let alone repair anything. And as usual, their very first answer (which if you remember was that the power cut was intentional) was indeed one of their many lies.

These employees are so arrogant they speak in a condescending tone and very quickly your frustration turns to plain anger. I gave the whole “you work for the people; we pay your salaries” speech; I mentioned that this is the third time such damages happen so obviously the smart experts at Électricité du Liban should maybe change the faulty pieces; I certified that the issue is not an overnight thing (from experience) and that last time it took them 15 minutes so why make us wait until the morning; and finally that the repair team is lying in their feedback, claiming the damages are too “big” (whatever that means) so they avoid doing their job and leave it to the day shift (as usual).

More arrogance and condescendence thrown my way (of course).

At this point, I am too upset to remain calm and tell the idiot on the line that if he doesn’t like his job, he can find something else to do and leave his position to someone who would actually deserve his salary. I reminded him that the number I called is for Customer Service (yeah right) and that there are rules of decency when answering such help lines (yeah right) and that I was glad everything was recorded because this time I would actually place a complaint. I made sure to let him know that yes, we’ve threatened before, and yes, because we’re silly unselfish people, we wouldn’t pursue our complaint and carry the weight of taking away someone’s job but that this time, they did not deserve any mercy because they showed no compassion; yes, their reply to our emergency (i.e. The Red Cross should take the unconscious patient on a stretcher down the narrow stairs) was unacceptable and that this would be the main argument in my complaint just to show the kind of vulgarity we were forced to deal with, in addition to the power cuts. Finally I tried explaining to him that we’re all people living in that country, facing the same shit every day, and if we cannot have the humanity to be compassionate towards each other or at least decent; then we deserve all the shit we live in. Every time employees, no matter how low or high on their company’s hierarchy, get some authority, even in the tinniest of tasks, they turn to savages who take all their inferiority complexes out on others and turn into psychotic sadists.

An hour later, the power was back.

All this hostility is unbelievable. People are so self-centered it’s freaking scary! When our neighbor was shouting through the rooftops, begging for help, none of our building’s residents even checked on them! It so happens that there are politicians living on our street and that they have security guards at all hours. They did hear the screams and tried localizing where they were coming from but couldn’t because all the buildings were dark and they couldn’t see where the incident was happening. Finally, when they saw the ambulance in front of our building, and M.’s mother on her balcony with a flashlight trying to point the Red Cross in the right direction; one of the guards immediately followed the RC, with his own flashlight and running up those 8 floors. A perfect stranger. We didn’t even know. Climbed all this way to check on us. While our neighbors with whom we share a building for the past 20+ years have not even called to ask, let alone climb any stairs. Not even the next day.

That’s the kind of world we live in.

Last week, one of our neighbors on the floor right under us was pounding at his door so hard he almost broke it. My mom and I ran to him in panic, thinking someone was maybe after him or he was in need of medical assistance or something. Two young university students live in that apartment with their grandmother and on that day she was in the mountains and they were all alone. Turned out the younger had locked his brother out and he didn’t have any spare key. He assumed his brother was still sleeping; apparently when he’s one of those heavy sleepers which explains why he was pounding on the door so hard. So we told him to come up to our home and use the phone because he had left his at home. He tried calling both the house and the mobile, in vain. So we started to worry. This boy couldn’t have been so deaf. Maybe he had fallen while taking his bath; maybe he had fainted; who knew. So we ran back to his door, and while pounding like crazy, called the super to get someone to either pick the lock or just break the damn thing down! The super’s answer: “These boys are crazy. They’re always shouting”. We literally begged for help (which never came by the way) as we were trying to pick the lock ourselves. Experiment’s findings: we would make terrible thieves! Finally the boy had to go back to class, he had a mid-term and he told us he’d pass by his brother’s friends’ to check if they knew anything. He indeed found his brother there, without his mobile. Thank God, nobody was hurt. But seriously, the pounding was resounding throughout our building and no one, not a single soul, came to check on that boy! What if he was in distress? He was very grateful for our help anyway, and he came by in person to reassure us after class which was very nice of him (he could have just called) and thank us for everything… And for feeding him! LOL! (well he was lucky to have passed by after my birthday and there was cake leftovers!! LOL)


But I have to wonder. What is this society we live in? Seriously now. And I don’t mean it in a grandmother’s way. I am genuinely wondering what kind of world we live in where nobody cares to check on a neighbor in distress…

Note: I’ll be heading back to Dubai soon. I’m kind of worried I’ll have nothing to blog about over there! No power cuts. Fast internet connection at all times. It’s going to be touch finding inspiration :P


Note (bis): Watched New York, I Love You. Beautiful character-driven film. Go, watch, enjoy. And please, don’t do like the stupid 15-something little girls and boys who were giggling in the row right in front of us; they apparently were waiting for Shia LaBeouf to do his thing; and once he appeared and they realized he wasn’t going to pull a Transformers’ sexy stunt, just left in the middle of the movie (!) while giggling and taking their sweet time, obstructing our view. God, I had forgotten how bad it was to watch movies in the weekend, before midnight! Stupid kids. Take the time to also check Paris, Je T'Aime.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

As I go through my favorite videos...

English ✮ Français


... I can't help but share this one:



It's an old one of my favorites on YouTube and I just stumbled upon it again by chance a few minutes ago... Totally love it! :)


Alors que je fouille dans mon placard à vidéos, je ne peux pas m'empêcher de partager celle-là:



C'est une de mes anciennes vidéos favorites sur YouTube et je viens de retomber dessus il y a quelques minutes... J'adore! :)

Blogging Marathon Chapter 3

English


Globalization

Truck driving ethics are kind of a global disease. How is it possible for so many different people to grow up so far away from each other, experience culturally divergent lives and yet acquire the same values?!

I spent one week in a Qatar recently and a truck nearly killed us. It was also at night, there was construction everywhere and the side of the road looked like one huge excavation. The pick-up driver behind us decided to glue his truck to our behind so closely had the car in front of us braked suddenly, there would have been no way for him to avoid crashing us! Once in position, he started flickering his lights on and off for a good minute indicating that he wanted us to move to the side which was basically impossible for us at that moment. He kept his little game until we finally could move aside (and hubby was completely blind) and then just kept on driving to our left and pushing us to move further to right, where the excavation was! Hubby managed to slow down and get rid of him and when the psycho overtook us; his passenger flicked a lit cigarette on our windshield! Like I said: ethics.

Dubai truck drivers are not better, far from it. I was driving on a highway near a residential area in Barsha. A crazy construction truck behind me kept honking for me to move aside on a road still under development. It was narrow, bumpy and twisted like Metn’s mountain streets (although Dubai is flatter than flat) and basically, very difficult for me to move aside for this gigantic monster to have enough space to overtake me. At the intersection, the road becomes wider and then merges with a huge highway on the left and a massive ramp on the right which is where I needed to go. Finally, there was enough space for the truck to overtake me. The monster carefully positioned himself in front of me, blocking my view and obstructing me from taking my lane. I couldn’t go further to the right and get away from him since other cars were driving really fast on their way to the ramp. I couldn't go to the left because it was not the direction I needed to take; I had to go up on the ramp and he was still driving slowly and blocking my view and my way. When he finally moved and took the left road at the very last second, I realized he was trying to force me into an accident by pushing me to crash in the ramp border! I was a few centimeters away from a huge accident! All I could think about was what if I had children with me in the car? I could have easily collided and God knows what would have happened.

Every day in Dubai we hear of bus drivers speeding and crashing and killing the passengers with them. Every day in Dubai we fear for our lives and those with us in the car as we try to control our actions and predict others’ irresponsible behavior. Every single day.

These people have absolutely no value for human life. They don’t care if they drive you into an excavation or crash you on a highway ramp. They are probably just so bored and tired of driving all day and night that they take their anger out on innocent people for no valid reason. Never mind sending someone to a hospital or even the morgue!

Seriously, I don’t care about these people’s backgrounds (education, financial status, etc.) because I know that money doesn’t make ethics. Either you have it or you don’t. You don’t need a good job to value human life. You don’t need to make millions to act responsibly and think of innocent lives and innocent children.

These public dangers on wheels are just criminals; they’re evidently psychopaths who need to be locked up and if needed, institutionalized and treated.

Blogging Marathon Chapter 1
Blogging Marathon Chapter 2


Finally, a review of my fav’ categories ;)

& Don’t forget to check the visual posts ;)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blogging Marathon Chapter 2

English


Lebanese Math

Bad lighting and mad overtaking are just two of the many idiocies that make the “Lebanese way” a uniquely insane way.

We have the infamous “four lanes for two lanes” rule. What the hell is she talking about you ask?! Simple, take any small one-way street designed for two lanes of cars, and you’ll find drivers squeezing themselves until finally; there are four lanes of cars in critical positions and ready to hit each other at any given moment. I have to admit, you need special talents to drive like that. I can appreciate talent, yes.


There’s also the can’t-make-up-my-mind guy who’s always in the middle of the road during traffic; continuously wondering which side to take in between two lanes. It’s the “just in case” technique which is basically to wait in the middle of the street and see which lane is faster. But since it’s traffic, no particular lane is more interesting than the other so our smart outstanding citizen ends up driving in the middle of the road, eating up two lanes, the entire time.



Craziness everywhere!


The other day, I was visiting my grand’ma who lives at the top of a little hill, so basically, we have to drive up until we reach her building’s level and then take a hard turn to the right to enter her neighborhood all the time being very careful because we can’t see if anyone is driving out of the area at the same time (it’s one of those annoying blind spots).

We were nicely parked on the side and all of sudden a gigantic brand new white Mercedes jumps out of nowhere and nearly runs me over as I walk away from our car! It was a silly 18 year-old driver with her silly girlfriend on their way to pick up a third silly buddy. The area is known to be filled with children and pedestrians, which is why drivers are always careful and enter the street slowly and cautiously. Apparently, little miss sunshine doesn’t know how to control the big fancy car her daddy probably got her the day she turned 18 after having taught her how to drive around the house a few times; all nicely wrapped with a driver’s license she proudly got test-less.


Sexy Sandwich


Crazy people in little cars are nothing compared to psychos in big trucks! Not so long ago, I twitted about an incident on one of Lebanon’s major roads:

We were driving on a mountain road at night, and of course, the lanterns were off, as expected. We were in total darkness and there was one slow truck in front of us, one eager truck behind us; and to complete the sandwich, a third truck overtook the three of us! While honking!?! For a good half minute there, we were surrounded by trucks from the back, front and sides and had nowhere to go! Did I mention that all this happened while we were taking a turn? On a mountain road? In the dark?

Twitter transcript:

So was on the road almost all day today. What the f*** is wrong with truck drivers? Are they all insane? 9:35 PM Jan 11th

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for people having opportunities to work & make a living. But why kill us in the process? 9:37 PM Jan 11th

& It's not only in #Lebanon... #TruckDrivers everywhere seem to be insane. I'm sure driving for hours & hours can't be a joy but still!! 9:39 PM Jan 11th

Got stuck b/w 1truck in front of us, 1behind us & 1trying to overpass us + truck in front of us at once & HE HONKED! 9:43 PM Jan 11th

Seriously, we almost died like 16 to 17 times!! So many trucks & all completely insane! Overpassing! Honking! Speeding! 9:44 PM Jan 11th

THANK GOD I wasn't the one driving! But in Dubai we face the same shit on the road (..) 10:06 PM Jan 11th

Excellent! RT @w43L: @abouzeid دعوة مفتوحة من نقابة سائقي الشاحنات العمومية http://is.gd/64ScM by @HummusNation - 9:53 PM Jan 11th



Law-Abiding Citizen

The other day, we were driving from Charles Helou station towards Downtown and the traffic lights at the intersection were orange and flickering; which in light-language means: check all sides of the road and move if all is clear.

The roads at both sides were empty but the truck in front of us refused to move despite everyone’s honking! We couldn’t move either, not so much because he was blocking our way, but simply because we were laughing so hard we were cramping and had tears in our eyes. An overly law-abiding truck driver!! Unbelievable!

A nice guy in a BMW moved around the truck, honked at him, and got his hand out the window, flickering his fingers to mimic the orange flashing light and telling the truck driver that it was OK to move.

Nothing! The guy was just glued to the road!

After a few minutes, to the sound of (honk)music, he finally realized the light was not going to turn green, at all!

So he took his turn, and of course, stopped at the next traffic light. Except this one was red.

I swear to God, the guy couldn’t stop fidgeting! From the moment he reached the traffic light and until it turned green, he kept on restlessly moving a few centimeters ahead until he had literally gone past the traffic light and almost blocked the intersection!

So basically, he invents new regulations and stops when it’s not needed, causes congestions; and then when it’s completely unsafe to move, he can’t possibly hold for a few seconds and has to slowly but surely break the law, ignore a red light and cause more congestions!

Tune in for Blogging Marathon Chapter 3 tomorrow
Blogging Marathon Chapter 1


Finally, a review of my fav’ categories ;)

& Don’t forget to check the visual posts ;)

Nine in 9

English



A quick review of Nine in nine bullet points.
This is definitely not a full critique of the film, far from it; but I’ll try to give the gist ;)

1) The cast: It should be forbidden for common mortals to be that beautiful! Nine managed to get some of the most handsome actors of their generation: Daniel Day-Lewis, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard and Kate Hudson; and of course the legendary Sophia Loren. All of them have perfect bodies… And all of them can dance!

2) The accents: the film is in English, but the characters are supposed to be Italian and some French. Daniel Day-Lewis’ Italian accent was OK, but it breaks my heart to say that Judi Dench was a terrible Parisian! Her French accent was absolutely not convincing and I wished they would have allowed her to speak proper English (or would have casted a French native as they did with Marion Cotillard who incidentally happens to speak English quite well).

3) The script: I did not like some of the lyrics but overall, there was a clear storyline which is not that intricate but makes for a useful thread to attach the choreographed musical sections around it. The “Maestro”, an acclaimed Italian filmmaker whose last films have flopped is attempting a final redemption by creating a new masterpiece named “Italia”. Instead of achieving his goal, he ends up ruining his entire life as a man, and by extension a filmmaker. Daniel Day-Lewis gives an excellent performance of this lost man whose hunger for women is insatiable to the extent of selfishness; he simply bites them, chews them, and spits them out when they’re all empty. Finally, after crushing and draining those who offered all their love and life to him, he ends up all alone and empty too.


4) Carla: Nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role and an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Penélope Cruz has been honored by her peers with these two nominations. I am not really a fan of Cruz in Hollywood, I prefer her in her native Spanish movies. But she did deserve every recognition she got for Nine. Her very first appearance in her choreographed musical bit is really impressive. She manages to give a physically highly demanding performance while projecting genuine emotions through her acting/dancing and with the way she controlled her voice while singing. Truly brilliant.

5) Luisa: Marion Cotillard is definitely my second favorite female in the cast. She delivered a beautiful and touching performance and both her musical bits were outstanding. The first one, a docile wife wiping herself out for her husband, supportive and elegant at the same time was delivered in very low, respectable tone, and most of the emotions were projected in her eyes which was truly poignant. The second bit is when she revolts against all the humiliation she finally refuses to endure and gives a Cabaret performance filled with passion and drama. I was already in awe of her performance in La Môme, and she did not disappoint this time either. (I’m really loving what French actresses are achieving in Hollywood).

6) Lilli: Judi Dench needs no introduction, and her performances are always stunning, as was this one. She did it in a very subtle, natural way and that is why she is one of the great performers of her generation on screen today. I did mention her French accent was not believable though but this only transpired in her musical bit which was based on her character’s history, centered on the very Parisian Folies Bergères.

7) Mamma: Sophia Loren did not get the opportunity to showcase her acting abilities at all; her screen time was very limited and unfortunately, her presence was very stiff and disappointing from a legend of her stature. I think she was chosen as a representation of the prominent Italian women (blend of femininity and motherhood) which we’re used to from cult filmmakers in Italy. She is after all the ultimate Italian woman in our collective subconscious. However the overall outcome was very poor in my humble opinion.

8) Claudia, Stephanie & Saraghina: Meg Ryan, sorry I mean Nicole Kidman* and Kate Hudson gave excellent performances in their musical bits. The non-musical parts were fine; Kidman and Hudson didn’t get a lot of screen time anyway. Hudson’s dancing is noteworthy and I liked the hidden messages in her choreography based on the Hollywoodization of artists, turning them into manufactured stereotypes of “beauty”, “success”, “celebrity”, “glittery” and presenting filmmakers (and I guess, by extension, other artists) in this artificial, plastic image that we see in fashion magazines. As for Fergie, it seems she gained a lot of weight for the part of the prostitute who initiates young boys (this character seems to be recurrent in classic Italian films). Her acting was average but of course, she sang brilliantly; I was expecting more from her choreography though but that is probably not something she was responsible for so I cannot really judge her on that. Her character kind of reminded me of the tobacconist in Fellini’s Amarcord probably because of her big bust always in the way!
* Come on, it is becoming really creepy how much Nicole Kidman is starting to look like Meg Ryan’s clone! And in Nine, she kind of looked like a wax statue; but still, can’t deny that she looked beautiful (in a plastic kind of way).

9) Overall: The film was quite entertaining; a little like Chicago meets Evita with the blend of biography and Broadway show. In terms of art direction, I still think Moulin Rouge was the best. I'm kind of happy musicals are becoming increasingly more popular in mainstream filmmaking. I love the theater, and anything drama-like is definitely of value to me. Plus, it's great to see our new millennium's actors finally focusing on multiple skills; not only acting but also singing and dancing. Going back to roots of what made cinema wildly imaginative and an escape of everyday's boring routine :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blogging Marathon Chapter 1

English


ONLY IN LEBANON…

Visual acuity is not a must while driving in Lebanon. Even by night.

At least according to hubby who’s definitely far away from a 20/20 with his Keratoconus (curious minds, redirect here) and a reference on bad eyesight.

Indeed, most of the times, bad vision can come in handy:

Drivers in Lebanon, if you wish to keep your sanity, turn a blind eye. Or eyes. You know what, don’t even look at all. Close your eyes if you must!

Drastic? I beg to differ considering the amount of stress-induced illnesses you’re bound to develop should keep your eyes on the road! I will dare to venture in the serious world of probabilities and assert that statistically, the risks of developing a heart condition and die due to the insanity you see on the roads are way higher than those of crashing and dying while driving with your eyes closed.

It seems the government and I see eye to eye (pun intended) on this matter: ONLY IN LEBANON, is it absolutely not necessary to maintain proper lighting at night on our very well-designed and already extremely safe roads (dear innocent non-Lebanese reader, I’m being sarcastic).

Road lanterns are for decorative purposes all year long; and once every four years, they serve as stands for our delightful politicians to stick their elections campaign posters. Various artists of the oh-so-very-entertaining entertainment industry do benefit from the space in between elections, true.

Considering his driving conditions, it is understandable hubby developed back and neck pains. No, his car is fine. The seat is very comfortable. It’s just that his head is out the window 90% of the times, cursing at other drivers, so does it really matter everything in the car is up to international standards of safety and comfort?

DICO PERSO : The Lebanese Way


What lacks any standard whatsoever however, are the driving skills of apparently everyone on the road!

And very quickly, even the most law-abiding visitors promptly acquire the survival skills of “Lebanese driving ways”, hubby included (he’s such a great driver abroad; he just goes mad when we’re back home)!

This unique style is based on the Lebanese “truth” that being smart means getting away with as much illegal activities (what others would call “crimes”) as possible.

Breaking the law is basically OK as long as you don’t get caught. Once you get caught, people will mock and scorn you, as they should you might say. Yes, except that they will not sneer at your law-breaking endeavors; instead they will ridicule your lack of what they’d call street-smartness.

Bottom line: Be smart and show off your intelligence by breaking the law without getting caught.

By the way, following laws will also get you ridiculed and labeled as stupid because if you choose to abide by the rules it simply means you’re too dumb to find a way around them (!)

And this logic applies on the road.
Never-mind safety.
Drive like a crazy rally pilot on crack and you’ll be crowned King of the Wheel.

“This is how we drive here”

Hubby is from Elissar, a small town in Metn which is basically made of a collection of little towns connected by internal twisted mountain streets, and with a large main road cutting through the whole area. Every time we decide to visit his parents, we end up fighting on the way.

No people, don’t be quick to judge. We don’t fight because I don’t enjoy spending time with my in-laws; far from it. They’re a wonderful and very kind family.

We fight simply because I can’t seem to get used to the Metn driving style.

In theory, the main road is designed in such a way as to safely and comfortably fit two lanes, one in each direction (i.e. up and down the mountain). The road is not a straight line, obviously, and somehow, drivers find it OK to overtake each other even if they can’t properly see the cars coming the other way. Moreover, drivers find it OK to overtake each other even if another car is already overtaking the car in front of them!

Get it?
No?

Allow me to demonstrate:
(People with actual Adobe skills, please forgive me!)


It’s OK and very natural for two cars to overtake the same car, at once:
  • Car 1 is on its track
  • While Car 2 is overtaking it
  • And suddenly Car 3 decides to overtake both of them at once because waiting a few seconds is just not an option
  • In other words, three lanes of cars going in one direction, and no space at all for Car 4 coming the other way

It’s a wonder we don’t see a hundred accidents on the roads every day!

Hubby has been driving up and down this road for about 17 years so he knows it by heart. Believe me when I say that’s an understatement; he could literally go through it with his eyes closed. He knows every single turn, every single bump and every single hole!
(This goes to show how well maintained our infrastructures are)

So when I go nuts every time cars around us do crazy stuff, hubby just answers with his favorite motto: “this is how we drive here”.


Tune in for Blogging Marathon Chapter 2 tomorrow


Finally, a review of my fav’ categories ;)

& Don’t forget to check the visual posts ;)