Friday, August 31, 2012

agIsh: Kansas

What happened to this place? It used to bustle with life! There used to be a buzz! The halls used to echo with laughter! It's now all dusty, smells rank, lifeless. It never had too much traffic but those who passed through left smiling - That's what I miss most. It's a good reflection of our lives right now, sadly. nv

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

bg/ish: Life in the holler ain't changed much...

It's been oh, about a year and a half since I last contributed anything to this site. What can I say, we get a lot of vacation time around here. (see ag circa 2009)

I'm only mentioning my lengthy absence because well, it's been a fucking year and a half. It'd be a little odd if I just threw up some random "watch this clip" post and acted like I'd been here all along.

I was talking to a friend about writing yesterday and I started thinking about all the years that your boy ag and I have been writing shit to make each other laugh and I thought, well if I don't start writing for bg/ag pub at the very least, I'll never start writing again. So here I am.

* * * * *


The Pub was briefly reunited a few months back to attend WonderCon 2011, where we quickly discovered that we just didn't have the heart for the Con scene anymore. Fortunately, we were able to get a call for help out to one of the interns before being completely overwhelmed by the twisted maze of the Con's main hall. Eventually we were rescued as all I remember is waking up under a sunny sky at Dolores Park. As, always though, it was a much needed lift seeing ag and chair, as I tend to miss them both terribly.

ag got his Masters, and took a trip to his motherland. (Vietnam, not Missouri.) I couldn't be more proud of him, although I think we need to have a talk about the new 12 year old Vietnamese intern.

chair has her own blog now, and may have last been spotted in Tokyo.

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Alright, enough of this "recap" nonsense. I'm feeling a bit rusty on the keyboard, so I'm going to work on something new and exciting like revisiting an old column...

...wait...

eh.

As usual, bg loves you and hates you just the same.
Movies... Fuck 'Em - A Look Back at A Look Back

In January of last year I revived the (very) old movie column I used to write, Movies So Bad, They're Effin' Rad with the re-imagined and quaintly titled, Movies... Fuck 'Em column. In my review of the year 2009 in movies, I promised to revisit the column with an update on the movies from that year I had still planned to watch. So, in an effort to dust off the ol' blogging cobwebs, I'm gonna go ahead and rehash that old shit. What? Like you care...

* * * * *


My film watching habits have continued to evolve. I have a go-to cinema again, and have rediscovered the joy and nostalgia of going to see a film. It's funny, even now, looking back at that top 10 list from 2009 and knowing that if I wrote that same article now, at least 6 of those films would have been left on the editing room floor, proverbially speaking. World's Greatest Dad would easily be near the top of that list now as well.

So what about the films I'd wanted to see but hadn't? What impression, (if any) did they leave on me, and in some cases, just what the fuck was I thinking to begin with?

Fantastic Mr. Fox

As I've said previously, Wes Anderson is my favorite filmmaker currently working. I remember seeing Rushmore in the theater with ag and walking out knowing that in some way our lives had been changed. Much like the other films in Wes Anderson's repertoire, Mr. Fox has become a favorite of mine, and my appreciation for it grows with each viewing.

Where the Wild Things Are

I saw this on an airplane so I can't give a fair critique of it's visual impact, but it was an interesting film and seemed to have outstanding costume and set design. I won't be in any hurry to see it again, but wouldn't be opposed to it either.

Knowing

Hah. I mean, come on. What the fuck was I thinking? If you've seen this film then you are probably shaking your head in bitter amusement right now, and if you haven't, well, you're better off than those that have. I can't knock it completely however, as there is one scene that's worth a fuck. Fortunately you can see it on youtube and don't have to subject yourself to 90+ minutes of Nicolas Cage smearing his warm, sticky, Nicolas Cageness all over your face.

The Wrestler

Never saw it. So, moving on...

Zombieland

Surprising balance of humor, action and gore. Worth every penny of a free download. I'm not knocking it, I mean, it's no Shaun of the Dead, but it's no Zombie Strippers either. I'm not sure what that makes it...

In The Loop

I wanted to like this film. I'm typically a big fan of British humor. In the end though, I didn't find it particularly funny or engaging. It's still on my PS3 though, so, who knows, maybe some day I'll get the urge to hear the word cunt said proper.

(Nobody says "cunt" like the Brits. Seriously. When I was in Barcelona this summer I saw a scuffle at a bar with some British tourists and some local drunks. After grabbing a knife from a table place setting the Englishman went on a scathing rant against one "fucking cunt" in particular. Nary a fuck was given that night...)

Up In The Air

George Clooney stars as.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

agIsh: Me, Here

An article I wrote for the PVNF newsletter:

The plane has lifted off, gears retracted; I write this with Vietnam's geography hours behind me but its impact fresh in my mind. It's difficult to get a true sense of Vietnam when your perspective is forced by hotel walls, the glare off a bus window, or the endless waves of desperate patients. Despite the number of clinics we endured, I never really understood until Saigon.

Our accommodations in Bến Tre were wonderful by any standard: electronic keys opened the doors to nicely furnished rooms where we'd sleep comfortably on our beds or be entertained by shows on an LCD TV. We'd occasionally share our day over drinks in a bar on the fourth floor, which provided relief from the confines of our rooms. Vietnam seems to be experiencing some of the luxuries we've come to expect as the standard in America. This is not the Vietnam I'd heard stories about.

Most days started with a bus ride that made us more tired than we already were. Some chose to continue their sleep in spite of the frequent honks and NASCAR-style driving. Others settled into a trance with eyes that seemed to look out at nothing and everything at the same time; I fell into this group. I'm sure we all noticed the long stretches of dense jungle that occasionally gave way to a hut or shack, the people swinging in cots seemingly with little worry of the day’s events, for good or for bad, or the piles of bricks that lined the roads of a country that was trying to decide whether it was in a state of growth or decay. Was the entire country like this? This Vietnam seemed familiar to me.

Our shared mission of providing healthcare to those in need realized the physical and emotional challenges we were warned of. As the heat reached its peak hundreds poured into the clinics seeking some level of comfort, often waiting hours just to receive vitamins. Our collective stories painted what seemed like an endless picture of extreme poverty and desperation: tears run down a child's cheek as he clutches onto his stuffed animal, a consolation prize for having four teeth pulled; doctors stuff a handful of gauze into a deep and incurable bed sore of a paralyzed man; an elderly woman holds little hope for more medication once her prescription runs out. Whatever we thought we were missing in our lives at home pales in comparison. Where was the support of their government? Was our camp making a difference at all? I'd been told stories of this Vietnam all my life.

But a painting can never be appreciated when your nose is that close to the canvas. You have to step back to be able to make any sense of it. Saigon was the contrast I needed to understand where I was.

Saigon can easily be mistaken for Los Angeles if it were not for the frenzy of motorcycles and mopeds. I expected the poverty and desperation here too but was welcomed instead with a beautiful airport, clean streets, and impressive architecture. In this modern-age Vietnam I oddly felt cheated. Not that I disapprove of a flourishing Saigon but I was struck by the grossly unequal distribution of wealth. My one day in Saigon was in stark contrast to my previous two weeks in the rural provinces of Bến Tre and Kiên Giang and seeing these two sides was a bit like learning a dirty little secret. I found myself feeling anger, sadness, and confusion, all at the same time, about a country that existed to me only in stories. The contrast helped me understand that Vietnam’s government should not be its defining quality but instead should be the people we came to serve who don’t remain downtrodden but find ways to endure in spite of the oppression and neglect.

I was born and raised in the U.S. and have virtually no family in Vietnam. There was no reason for me to look anywhere else. However, I felt a strange sense of “coming home” when I first spotted Vietnam from the plane. Is home where you are or where you should be? That's a question I thought I knew the answer to before the trip but now feel an incredible sadness having left Vietnam. In the days ahead, unpausing my life will take a little effort. I’ll miss waking up at 4am. I’ll miss sitting on the bus for hours on end. I’ll miss feeling a bit lost in the early hours of clinics before finding my way. But I’ll miss doing these things with the incredible people I met on this trip most. They contributed to an unforgettable trip and I hope to sustain long friendships with them. I look forward to going back with Project Vietnam and being with them again.
nv

Monday, July 25, 2011

agIsh: Home

I think they call it "post-travel blues". You come home to find that life was seemingly on pause, nothing has changed, and stands in stark contrast to the life you just left. It's boring. It's familiar. You fervently sift through pictures in hopes of sustaining those moments and feelings but it's just not the same. You start mentally planning your return trip but also realize that your life now, here, must move forward. Jet lag is not conducive. The sadness deepens.

I'll post more as I come out of this funk and get back on schedule. I really do want to share/document my time in Vietnam. Until then, I feel another nap coming on.

nv

Sunday, June 19, 2011

agIsh: [Happy] Father's Day

Given the limited choice between life and death, my father is bored of one and scared of the other. I'm not sure what to tell you, Dad, you kinda have to pick one. The only real third option is a coma and I'm not entirely sure how to guarantee that condition. I mean, if you want, we can make a couple of attempts. However, our first attempt may very well lead to one of the original choices you weren't entirely happy with.

So...yeah...[happy] Father's Day.

Your son,
nv/ag

Saturday, June 04, 2011

agIsh: Youtube. Schmootube.

Not sure when I first heard about these guys. Maybe it was from bg, maybe it was a random search for "awesome", but these kids have been consistently amazing in their videos. Great talent and great song.



nv/ag

Thursday, May 26, 2011

agIsh: MOTHER RRRUSSIA!! (or: I guess I'm going to Vietnam)

As all things, it started with an idea. Really innocuous too...not that going to Vietnam is necessarily dangerous or anything. It started with extra credit. The students were to volunteer at least two hours of their time for 10 points of extra credit. Some students gave blood. Some students volunteered at a hospital. One dude even signed up to donate blood marrow! However, a couple of students said, "We technically haven't volunteered time yet, but we are going to Vietnam in July to help needy children."

Knowing that I'd be finished with my thesis by that point, I guess that's all it took. I went to a meeting and was introduced to the coordinator. I was immediately welcomed with, "Oh! That's so great! We have the perfect job for you!" That night I emailed copies of my passport and Visa application. My next step is to book my flight and get my immunizations. So, in a matter of a week, I went from not giving Vietnam a thought to volunteering for two weeks.

I gotta tell you that I'm really looking forward to this trip. It's going to be hot as hell, we're going to be worked to the bone, and I'm sure I'm going to experience extreme culture shock...but I am really optimistic about this trip. The foundation (Project Vietnam, pvnf.org) aims to take people out of their comfort zone in the service of others and I can't wait.

I don't know why I didn't submit to my usual apprehensions on this one. Something about this...adventure, for the lack of a better term, clicked with me. And so, instead of mulling around and letting my fears wash the anticipation away, I acted. In retrospect, my reaction confuses me. Then again, I have no qualms about going. So, I guess it's all okay. Or maybe I've hit the too-old-to-care stage.

*shrug*

nv|ag