November 23, 2007

Feliz Thanksgiving
Lima, Peru

Last year I barbecued for "Turkey Day" in an Argentine hostel—this year I'm spending it with a Peruvian family who flatters me by celebrating it for the first time.

Truth be told, I think just about any holiday that involves food goes down well in the Boza home. And the thought of an American Thanksgiving—that of plentiful food and remembrance of good fortune—is certainly in line with the spirit of this household.

In the days leading up to today's event, I watched the family whisper about foodstuffs in anticipation. The specifics of the meal would be kept a surprise for me, but I noted the interest in things such as pie and all things yummy.

A quick blurb on Thanksgiving for those that only know it by name:

Public observances of Thanksgiving usually emphasize the holiday’s connection with the Pilgrims. Thanksgiving pageants and parades often feature children dressed in Pilgrim costume, complete with bonnets or tall hats, dark clothes, and shoes with large silver-colored buckles.

Many of the images commonly associated with Thanksgiving are derived from much older traditions of celebrating the autumn harvest. For example, the cornucopia (a horn-shaped basket overflowing with fruits and vegetables) is a typical emblem of Thanksgiving abundance that dates to ancient harvest festivals.

In keeping with the idea of celebrating a plentiful harvest, preparing and eating a large meal is a central part of most Thanksgiving celebrations. Thanksgiving menus usually include turkey, breadcrumb stuffing, cranberry sauce, squash, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. These simple foods recall the rustic virtues of the Pilgrims. Additionally, most of these foods are native to North America, emphasizing the natural bounty that greeted early settlers in their adopted homeland.

Today the dining table in the Boza home swelled with people and food. Adding to the normal ten people living in this home would be the addition of two of relatives on her father's side.

I was getting rather judging glances from a woman who Tatiana warned me ahead of about—this woman's utter lack of tact was known in this family, and now by me. She left while I was out taking the dog (and my full belly) for a walk, having said that she approved of me after passing her "tests."

Sweet potato heaven—population: Me. I've been craving these for about two years now, and am now finally satisfied. Tatiana's mother is big into ceramics and the such, and dinner was served on plates of her design. Plates stuffed with ribs, corn, baked potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, veggies, and glazed apples for dessert. Oh man… good stuff.

Although falling asleep in front of football game on TV while digesting the day's exceptionally large meal is customary for many in the United States, my good friend Tristan and I have adopted a slightly more entertaining tradition: The Turkey Day movie.

This year's movie is Hitman. And although I couldn't watch it in unison with Tristan this year—just like last year's turkey, Déjà Vu—I selected a substitute that Tatiana and I could go and watch.

Tickets at the cinema we went to cost about US$3.50/person. Advertisements were littered throughout the theatre, touting the cheap movie day (dia del espectador—US$1 admission) this upcoming Sunday. Apparently, it's an annual nationwide campaign against of movie piracy. Tatiana knows this makes little impact on the people here in Peru, a country where media piracy is as visible as any other Second World country, and as accepted as any First World power.

Next to copyright violations, I think that media/software piracy is one of the most accepted white-collar crimes in the world today. And just like Tatiana and me, Peruvians will pay to see a movie the theaters because they enjoy the experience, but will still download or purchase DVDs off the street to their heart's content.

As for the movie, Beowulf, it was an interesting adaptation of the epic poem—there was no succubus in the original writings from over a millennia ago—but a disappointingly perfect turkey of a movie.

Just like that train movie with Tom Hanks, the Polar Express, I just can't get into this particular style of animation. I could only watch a handful of minutes of the train flick, and would have probably moved on from Beowulf if I were flipping though movie channels on TV.

There were honestly moments where I forgot I was looking at a computer-generated image. The instances where the artists spent excessive amounts of time on a few facial close-ups and I really had to snap myself out of it to realize it was completely artificial. Although the voice acting was enjoyable, the physical movement of the animated actors and lack of environmental detail is still too unrealistic for me to enjoy in a full feature-length movie. And I suppose it also didn't help that all of Grendel's dialog was in an obscure language with subtitles moving too fast for me to translate from Spanish into English.

In short, if they had taken the exact same script with the same dialogue and scenes, and simply used live actors complemented with CGI, the movie would have been twice as a good as it was animated.



December 3rd, 2007

God I can't wait to see Hitman. What a horribly glorious movie that looks to be…

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