Movie Review: The Band's Visit

An Egyptian Police Orchestra travels to Israel for a performance at an Arab cultural concert. When their ride doesn't show, they find themselves stranded in the desert. Forced to follow their stoic, tight-lipped and (only seemingly) hard-hearted leader with suitcases and instruments in tow, they make the best they can of it, especially when they find a hospitable, witty, incredibly sexy single woman in a nearly deserted little town who takes them in for the night.

I was full-on in the hatrix when I watched this movie, and it brought me back around to the more tender places in myself and made me remember that I actually really like people and their crazy demons and foibles and all. There's just something so real about this movie, with just enough really awkward moments, funny moments, poignant moments showcasing little nuggets of fundamental human truths... And while you'd expect politics, there is a surprising and refreshing lack throughout the film. Early on, the stodgy old leader of the group keeps saying things like, "Be careful," and is obviously nervous about being Arabs who stick out like sore thumbs in their matching blue uniforms in this Jewish country. And then nothing happens at all save for the unyielding kindness of strangers set to a fantastic sountrack. I only wish the band had played a little more often, or a little longer. Because they were incredible.

The New York Times says it all better than I, complete with clips and pics.


My Neighbor is a Douchebag (v.1: The Ego Speaks)

Yes readers, get ready - this is the first installment in what I anticipate will be the highly-entertaining, oft-recurring segment here on saltychelle entitled My Neighbor is a Douchebag. Perhaps we'll throw an adjective in there from time to time (i.e., My Neighbor is a GIANT Douchebag) when the situation mandates.

By way of introduction to this new and exciting addition, I offer the following, culled from http://www.topdouchebag.com/ (worth a look-see when you're dying to waste a few moments):

what's a douchebag? A person almost completely lacking in social awareness, yet believes they are Casanova defined. Extreme inflated sense of self worth. Commonly seen with popped collars, pink dress shirts or overly tight jeans. [EMPHASIS ADDED]

Now, just because this is the first post in the My Neighbor is a Douchebag segment, by no means is it the first instance of his douchebaggery. It is, however, a lovely representation, and fits quite perfectly with the definition above.


So the neighbor - let's call him Dick (perfect in so many ways), and his common-law wife Jane, live in the other large unit in our 4-plex. It was originally one of those old double-homes, basically a main house (mine), with a townhome attached (theirs) that share a vertical wall. These days both of our basements have been renovated into little garden apartments, making the whole building a 4-plex. Anyway, background really at this point - though the set-up comes into play into many of the other myriad tales I could spin in here. But we'll stick to last Friday.

I'm standing outside, and notice Dick walking down the street with his laptop and some books and papers. (They are both PhD English professors at the University here.) I've noticed him doing this regularly as of late, and supposed he was going to a coffee shop or something. Until I walked down the street myself recently and saw him working on his laptop in the nearby church parking lot. Sitting on the asphalt. No blanket or chair. Just sitting there working away. Curious. So Friday he's walking toward the church and I ask if he goes down there for wireless or something.

"Oh no," he says. "It's just so LOUD in our apartment during rush hour that I can't get any work done."

Now, I would like to point out that while we do live less than a mile from the capitol and downtown, this is a quiet, residential neighborhood. In Salt Lake City. Not the most bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis you've ever visited, by far. And Dick and Jane keep their windows shut and the swamp cooler pumping 24/7, even on the nicest days. So I'm not really sure how the minuscule amount of traffic on 3rd Ave. during "rush hour" can keep his well-oiled PhD brain machine from concentrating. But apparently it is an issue for Dick. (One of many.)

Whatever. That's not even the best part.

I ask how he's faring without his lady around, as Jane is in Chicago for a few weeks working on her book.

"Oh, alright I guess. The cat's depressed. I'm just not enough for him, he misses Jane, and he makes that pretty clear to me."

"Well, at least school's starting up next week," I offer. "What do you teach again?"

Melodramatic groan from Dick. "Renaissance Lit. Shakespeare."

"You're not looking forward to going back?"

"God no."

"Oh. You don't enjoy teaching?" I ask. I love Renaissance lit, I nearly offer. But don't.

(I continue conversation with a proven douchebag because I am an idiot. But that's a whole other segment.)

"You know," he begins, in his most whiny, lamenting, let-me-attempt-to-explain-something-to-you-pleb tone, and then trails off, formulating either his thoughts or a dumbed-down way to explain said thoughts to me, his degree-less single-mother of a neighbor.


He begins again. Incredibly thoughtful. "You know, it's a lot like being an astrophysicist. You get three months out of the year to work on your groundbreaking theories on the time-space continuum or an analysis of string theory, and then the rest of the year you have to go back to teaching kindergartners how to tell time."

Exactly what "groundbreaking theories" on Renaissance literature he's been working on this summer I didn't dare ask. Because I was sure that if I opened my mouth I'd laugh in his eerily ass-resembling face.


Sunflowers on Steroids

Driving home from the dog park last night and nearly wrecked my car when I saw these sunflowers. Hard to tell in the picture without a point of reference for comparison, but these are the most ginormous sunflowers I've ever seen. I would've held my hand up to it so you could see just how enormous they were (see previous post - I love freakishly large or small anything!), except they were about 11 feet tall! The flower was at least 12" in diameter, if not more. (Notice the roof of the house in the bottom left of the photo).

I thought, "Oh, perfect, I'll stop and get a picture and put it on my blog!" So I stop, and it turns out there are people on the porch - a middle-aged couple and what I assume were their two grandchildren. So I ask if I can take a picture of their flowers, and just as they say "Sure," my dog jumps out of the car window and into their front lawn, tearing across their yard, hopping the wrought-iron fence into the neighbors yard, knocking all manner of crap over and generally causing the most enormous ruckus ever. As I run over the side yard to try and corrall him in, he slips past me and back onto their front porch and into their house! Luckily they were exceedingly chill and laughing the entire time, and the grandkids thought it was the coolest thing ever.

But this is what happens when he sees a cat. Or a skateboarder (see previous post). Otherwise he is such a great dog, but oh my god I want to smack his face so hard when he does shit like this. Except then I look at his face and am filled with love for this insanely goofy hairy beast that makes my life a big old floppy dirty crazy adventure. Sigh.

Oh, and check out the flowers - H Street somewhere between 4th & 7th Ave, on the West side of the street. You can't miss 'em.


Sometimes its just the simplest thing...

...that can make you feel alright again. I'm a lover of the little things, life's easy pleasures. A slyly-human-looking peanut that I can make dance around on the table and give a little voice to. The wind blowing my pajama pants just so against my legs. The first time it smells like the next season. Really, really enormous (or tiny) versions of anything at all.

But sometimes you just have a total SHIT day and no amount of tiny humanesque peanuts will erase it. Like mine, this past Friday. It all began Thursday evening, with an uber-rude text from the ex-boyfriend and a bunch of uber-annoying texts from stereo-stalker (more on this, below). Though it didn't dampen my cheery mood as Thursday night was girls-dinner at my place. ALWAYS good for the soul. --- So, Friday. I get to work and pen an email to the ex asking (as I've asked at least a thousand times over the past four months) for some space and privacy and for him to respect me enough to leave me alone. Receive a nasty email in response, prompting me to, like a dumbass, engage with yet another email in return. What exactly these nasty emails were about, I'm not even sure. I can't bring myself to go back and read them because they're hurtful and awful and I don't want any of that in my life. I do know that I was so upset and confused and pissed off and freaked out that I ended up sending him an email telling him I hated him, and listing off a good fifty or so reasons why, complete with examples of his poor treatment of me throughout the course of our relationship. I think I thought it would make me feel better. But it didn't. It made me feel all of the pain I used to feel when those things happened, and then have to go hide in the bathroom at work and cry and throw up my lunch.

Also, Friday, I was being bombarded with texts from stereo-stalker - this ridiculous guy that I bought a stereo from on Craigslist who I owe $18.00 to. Yes, you read that right: eighteen dollars. And he is HOUNDING me. "I really need that money, can you leave it on your porch?" Um, sorry, you really need eighteen dollars? Dude drives a brand new Audi, just moved to California and lived with his parents for a few months, decided to move back, owns a clothing company (local, sure, but still)... I mean, he's an artist, but I seriously don't think he's a starving artist. Just a STALKER. I told him I thought his fervent attempts to get his money were just a ruse to try and see me again (which he has been attempting since I bought the stereo from him in JUNE). And then he sends a nasty text saying he never wants to see me again but he wants his money, can he come over in an hour? Sorry asshole, it's girls night and no, I'm not making a special trip to the ATM for your fucking $18.00. I responded that he needed to send me his address and I would mail him his money, and after I ignored his next 10 texts about coming over, he finally sent the address. As of today, he hasn't contacted me since. So maybe I finally have one guy that I don't want to talk to who will actually leave me alone.

A smattering of other crap that happened Friday: Secretary at work is leaving, Friday is her last day. I've been assigned one of her attorneys to support in her absence. So I'm thinking Friday I will get my own desk clean and organized and ready to begin working for this attorney on Monday. But apparently she decided that I would report for duty on Friday, because she hadn't done much of anything to prepare for her departure. So I did ALL of his work on Friday, and had all of her disorganized crap dumped on my desk, plus all of my own work. So I'm swamped and trying not to cry all day and was here until 6:30. On a Friday.

So I get home and decide to take the dog for a relaxing walk over to Memory Grove/City Creek. All is well until we're way up in the canyon/creek and Rascal hears some skateboarders on the paved road above us. He tears off up the bank and onto the road to chase them, and I hear them all shouting "Oh, shit! Whoa! Get away dog!" And I'm yelling "STOP!" but they can't hear me and aren't stopping. The bank is too steep for me scramble up, so I have to run all the way back down the creek trail until I can cut over to the road, nearly knock some woman who is meditating off a bridge and into the creek, get up onto the road and these guys still haven't stopped, and are all the way down at the end near where the road goes into the neighborhood (and there is traffic). So I'm screaming for them to stop, lose a flip flop and keep running, and tear the hell out of the bottom of my foot. Finally, they stop and my dog just comes right on back, smiling at me when he gets there, like "Hey, look what I did! I chased those scary rolling men away!"

So at this point I just sit down on the grass and cry.

And then my friend Richy calls and asks if I want to go get dinner. I'm not sure I'm in much of the mood for anything, but knew what I really wanted was a hug, and I wasn't going to get that sitting around my house alone feeling sorry for myself. So we decide on Charlie Chow's, which I did not have high hopes for at all. And it was AWESOME. You get to make your own chinese food! And then they cook it and bring it to your table! And then you get to do it AGAIN! And so we did that a few times, watched the Olympics while we ate and got to see Phelps win his 7th medal. All of which was very exciting for me because I don't have TV and so haven't seen one ounce of the Olympics. And I had a nice big glass of wine and Richy made me laugh and suddenly I realized I felt a hell of a lot better.

And then we took his motorcycle up into the foothills, and some sort of magical mystery mix of wind-in-my-hair and arms around Richy and amazingly gorgeous evening with fall breezes blowing in just sort of cleansed me. We parked and hiked around through the tall grasses under the nearly full moon and saw all of the lights of the city and the outline of the Wasatch and everything was all blue and shimmery and perfect for however long we were up there. At one point he jumped out from behind a tree and scared the living hell out of me and I jumped and screamed and suddenly we were laughing so hard we nearly fell on the ground. And with that, it was a new day. Even at the end of a shit one.

The lights of our fair city, from the foothills above the Aves:

Richy under a full moon.

Watching the clouds roll by...


Mother & Child Reunion

Oh yes, my little (not-so-little anymore) Moo-Moo comes back tonight after nearly 10 weeks of being away in Denver and St. Louis! I cleaned the entire house yesterday in preparation, which at some point I realized was fully ridiculous because once Elise explodes onto the scene, all cleanliness goes to hell. But I'll take a messy house with my kiddo right now over the alternative (clean & quiet, but too lonely a lot of the time). I've certainly enjoyed this summer, but am for sure ready to merge back into my normal life, sticky-counters and dirty-clothes-on-the-bathroom-floor and all.


Quickie Pic

Most of my bookclub, at Emily's wedding this past Friday. How fantastic is that dress??? I only wish you could see her HOT AS HELL fire-engine-red patent leather stillettos.



Today. In the Salty Lake. Jeebus. I went outside at lunch and just wanted to start running to somewhere, anywhere, far far away from the Gallivan courtyard, and leap and skip and smell flowers and never stop. And now I'm back in the fluorescent box, trapped smack in the middle of a zillion floors of stacked fluorescent boxes. Why are there never windows that open? What the hell is wrong with designers and architects? Do they really think it is healthy for all of us to spend 40 hours every single week in a box with NO FRESH AIR? At what point did we as a society decide that fresh air was not important, or not conducive to productivity? And at what point did we decide that our good old American work ethic meant spending eight (for those of us who are lucky enough to ONLY have to work 8) hours of, say, 16 waking hours, working? In closed up boxes? Breathing recycled air and everyone else's germs? And I work in a pretty swank spot with fantastic views and lovely blond woodwork and the like. But the windows still don't open. And that really is the one major ingredient in my always-simmering stew of feeling trapped.

But that's not really what I came here to write at all, actually. Although I'm not sure what I came to write exactly. I have so many stories from my wedding weekend in St. Louis, and my following wedding weekend in Salt Lake. Three weddings in one week - a record for moi. Has made me a bit glum, actually, as I reflect on the fact that of all the boyfriends I've had, serious and not-so-serious, I have never once come close to feeling like I could marry a one of them. Never. Felt that way for a bit with the most-recent-ex, but upon moving in together quickly realized the trainwreck a marriage would be and thus gave up on the idea entirely. I'm not terrified of being a lonely spinster or any such nonsense they tend to pound into young women's brains in the Utah environs (Don't worry Michelle, you're still young and cute. You don't even look your age. Still young enough to have more children too. - this is the bullshit some co-workers & neighbors said to me after leaving the boyfriend, in an attempt, I suppose, to assuage my sadness. Thanks assholes. But no thanks.), but the whole idea of being that in love with someone, of it being that right, just seems about a thousand light years away. At all three of the weddings I went to, I saw how wildly full of love the grooms were for their brides, how proud to be committing to a life together, how amazingly, soul-wrenchingly happy they were.

And that makes me happy. Happy for these friends of mine, happy that there is more love being made in the world, being poured out into the energetic fabric of our time. As war rages on in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Georgia, god knows we need it. So I'm not quite sure from where my personal ennui springs... maybe just that I'd like someone to look at me like that someday.

Correction: I'd like someone that I am crazy about to look at me like that someday, and return his loving gaze in equal measure. Because for christssakes I don't need any more unrequited crazies gazing longingly in my direction, or any more mullet-crowned men's unsolicited advances, or any more weird stalkers. I'm sorry, but just because I made out with you once does not mean I want to talk to you again. I'm not quite sure in this 21st century where all of the confusion lies. I do know that I receive a lot of attention that I do not want. And very little attention that I do.

So perhaps the crazy-cat-lady life awaits me after all. At least I'll get to sit on park benches and poke people with my cane.


Meet Me in St. Louie Louie!

Quickie post from the Lou as I procrastinate typing out my speech for this evening. I'm ridiculously nervous. And I keep telling myself that it doesn't matter, I've been best friends with Kelcey for 15 years, that I know her well enough to just give a speech off the cuff if I had to. But nothing seems to calm the beast that churns in my belly. It's not really about what I will say though, it's about the fact that I have to stand in front of all of those people and say anything at all. Blargh.

I did get some really great advice from Mr. Stinky, the Delta pilot who at the very last moment (after the flight attendants had begun their oxygen mask demonstration) bumbles onto the plane and declares "I'm next to that young lady right there." Great. I was so thrilled to be in the exit row and not have a seatmate (which I went online and switched myself into about 2 hours before the flight, to make sure I had a nice spot), until Sweaty McTootsalot needs a last minute ride to St. Louis. He is immediately spilling over onto my seat, commandeers the armrest as his own (why do large men do this? I'm sorry you're large, but why do you just assume you get the armrest??), and immediately begins chatting. "Doing a little writing eh?" In a voice and demeanor that is barely polite enough to get across the message that I have no desire to talk to this fellow, I say I'm writing a toast for my best friend's wedding. "Oh, really? I LOVE weddings! Just tell him to always leave the seat down and they'll be just fine! Heh heh heh!!!" Yeah, suuuuper classy dude, thanks so much. Oh my god, this guy was the closest I've come to loathing someone in a really long time. The minute they announced I could use my approved electronic devices, I shoved the ipod speakers into my ears and turned the volume all the way up. Which, of course, was not enough of a deterrent to keep him from occassionally poking me to ask how it was coming, or to ask if I wanted the light on, or if I'd like the air vent on, or to see if there was some other way he might annoy me further thank you very much. After I had shunned all of his advances, he finally fell asleep. Oh thank fucking God. I was delighted by this. Until it became very clear that he is a sleep-tooter. At which point I seriously considered calling the attendant and saying that I no longer felt comfortable with the responsibilities of the exit row and might I be moved somewhere else. Except there was nowhere else to go. Because if I moved away from Grody Gus, I would inevitably be in the midst of a thousand children, who occupied most of the rest of the seats on the flight.

Which brings me to my most recent idea - LDS Airways! Yes? Yes! The LDS church has enough members flying back and forth from missions, and enough members traveling around period, to support such a venture. They could offer discounted rates to their patrons, eliminate the coffees, teas, and alcohol (cost saving!), and it would be the kid-friendliest, and probably friendliest-period, airline ever! I really think they should get it going. Because on my last two flights out of Salt Lake there have been what should probably be an illegal number of chilren on board. I mean, if you want to have 9 children, do your thang. But when you're going somewhere for a visit, stick them in an Econo-van and drive! One woman and her mother-in-law cannot successfully deal with 9 children ages 3 mos. to 13 years on a 3 hour flight. And when you have multiple large families with oodles of tiny children on a SkyWest puddle jumper, it just makes for a miserable experience for everyone. So, someone with more clout than I should approach the LDS leadership with this idea - I'm pretty sure it's a win-win for everyone.

Ah, but flying always sucks so I should stop complaining. I had mani-pedi's with my best girlfriends in the world on Wednesday, and got to see my entire fam that night at my brother's house. The best part of the night: when my 8-year-0ld niece, Caroline, comes down into the kitchen in her too-short old cable-knit tights (whereby the crotch is halfway down her thighs), hot-pink soccer socks pulled up to her knees (over the tights), High School Musical t-shirt tucked into the tights, jumps into the room, flashes a peace sign and says "Yo!"