Sunday, November 26, 2006

oh, turkey. i never eat you.

Another Thanksgiving is behind us. I have been up to Westchester and back again, which is not exactly like going into the heart of darkness or the heart of Mordor. It's more like being in the suburbs and being well-fed for a while, and getting to watch a lot of the Office. Funniest show ever! Who knew? I moved Season One to the top of my Netflix queue so I can make sure that the six or seven hilarious episodes weren't a fluke.

I got to see my three first boy cousins, all of whom are very tall, and my little brother, who is also tall. In the car with my family driving me back to Brooklyn my grandma reflected with satisfaction on the fact that all five of her male grandchildren are around 6 foot. "None of them is short," she said. "Good." I sat next to her, slightly awkward in my 5-feet-1-and-3/4-inches, until she added, "It's lucky you're a girl!"

Back here, I saw Stranger than Fiction. All of the reviews feel compelled to mention that it's like, Charlie Kaufman lite! Which it is only in the sense that any movie that involves an ensemble of characters who sometimes talk at the same time is an homage to Robert Altman, or anything misanthropic, stylized, and anti-American is Lars Van Trier-ish. Film critics need to expand their imaginations, or at least their repertoires.

Stranger than Fiction is about a guy who realizes he's a character in a story and has to determine whether his life is tragedy or a comedy. It's not mindblowing, but since it has the courage of its convictions, it ends up being really enjoyable. I even cried a little. So what if it doesn't approach the films in the Kaufman pantheon? It's cute! It showcases Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson AND Dustin Hoffman, all of whom are on my eternal crush list.

The Egyptian grocery store clerk where I bought ingredients to cook tonight thought it was weird that Jews celebrated Thanksgiving at all. "It's not a Christian holiday?" he asked doubtfully.
"No," I told him. "It's secular. American."
"What about the Orthodox Jews? Even they celebrate it?"
"No, they probably don't, you're right."

He peered at me. "You're not Orthodox?"
"Nope, we're just regular."

As his family's back in Egypt and he seems to work at least part of every day, he said he didn't celebrate at all. I don't know if he's Christian or Muslim. I felt a little funny asking, even though he knows Ben and I are Jewish because, several months ago, he asked us (!). And then asked if that meant we were Israeli. It weirded me out a bit at the time, but he still smiles at us and makes small talk at the register. Egypt and Israel do have a peace treaty, you know. Maybe that extends all the way to Brooklyn.


nate said...

because of this blog's name, I still associate it with a general bookishness... so, I must ask, have you read Atonement?!? Man, I am deeply in love with this book, and I am only halfway through it. I felt compelled to talk about it. I have friends that read many books but none of them seem to have read this one, and Amazon reviews just ain't cutting it. I thought I recall you mentioning it here...

nate said...

Oh, and sorry; I know that had nothing to do with anything you posted about.

ester said...

I have read Atonement and I didn't (eek) have that very reaction ... But I really liked Saturday! Does that make up for it?

nate said...

Eh. That's alright. I figured you would have read it though. My fascination with that time period certainly helps... though I love his prose and precision. I plan to read Saturday and some of his other stuff too.