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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Asked to judge a drag show at university sponsored by gay student group. Was fearful of losing teaching job at same as a result, which perhaps shows ridiculously out-of-date assumptions about what is and is not acceptable in academia. Uncomfortable at age difference between me and everyone else in the audience, but then took solace in realization that it was only a matter of a few decades and that I should be used to it since similar age ratio in every yoga class I attend. And at least, in case of drag show, room would not be 100 degrees and I would keep shirt on.

Initial creepy feeling of being out of place quickly gave way to feeling of belonging, which, ultimately, is probably way creepier.

Drag acts more Halloween than Holly Woodlawn. All-in-good-fun attitude, which—thankfully—mitigated inherent sexual overtones. Except for grand finale, spectacularly effective impersonation of Kylie something or other, diva apparently. Amazing dancing and outrageous costume emphasizing legs and derriere. Had to bite tongue to not make overtly lecherous comments.

Classes officially finished, a strange disappointment. No excuse to wear jacket and tie or 2nd-hand Prada shoes until September. Oh well. Reading Valley of the Dolls in preparation for courses next year. Unbelievably tawdry, crass writing, and hilariously implausible plot twists. Have been unable to pull head out of book for last two days. Unless in public, in which case, resort to collection of Susan Sontag essays.

Posted by Stephen @ 12:51 PM EST

Thursday, April 3, 2008

VCU French Film Festival in Richmond, VA last weekend a horrible experience. Disastrous. Dismayed at having attended at all. Should have stayed at home.

So well organized, so inspiring, so well attended, so much fun, felt so pampered and cared for (as if opinions, interests, and desires mattered) it was much too difficult and depressing to return to normal, everyday life. Oh well.

Festival founded 16 years ago by world’s most charming couple—Peter and Francoise Kirkpatrick—to bring attention to French films not yet distributed in the US. And to test theory that American filmgoers might be more interested than anyone suspects in subtitled movies about people instead of explosions. Turns out they were right. Films shown in 1400-seat movie palace with gorgeous ceiling and sticky carpeting. Movies start at 8am and people lined up around the block even at that hour. Festival more or less takes over town. French flags everywhere. People from Detroit, Seattle, Florida. French Ambassador. Directors, actors, producers.

Put up at grand hotel. A little too Tara for my taste, but comfort of bed and pillows more than compensated for antebellum ambiance. Nice dinners and lively conversation, much of it incomprehensible due to language: French, or worse still, heavily accented English.

Gave talk with director Sam and singer Catherine after showing of La Verite Ou Presque. Film well received. Talk so-so. Sound system a problem and my having nothing of interest to say a bigger problem. A few cheap laughs for Angelina Jolie joke, justified due to Jennifer Anniston role in Object of My Affection. Advised by friend immediately after that “ummmm” uttered after every third word. The nonnative speakers more articulate than me. Returned to antebellum room with feeling of accomplishment and defeat. Drowned sorrows in bottled water and Marjane Satrapi graphic memoir of growing up in Iran.

Met French Ambassador next evening. More polished and less accented English than mine. Someone asked if I was French, which I took as compliment to language skills until I realized I was speaking English. Badly, apparently.

Plane de-iced upon leaving Richmond. Cold winds off ocean upon landing in Boston. Drowned sorrows of return to normal life with yoga class in 100-degree room with student teacher who spoke WAY more haltingly than…ummmm…even me. Bad instruction, but fleeting feeling of superiority definitely worth price of admission.

Posted by Stephen @ 10:25 PM EST

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