People are amazing & amazingly annoying

The above is the lesson I (re)learned from this past weekend.

One of the things I hate most in this world is also — probably understandably — one of the things I understand least.  I’ll paint you a picture of it.  You’re sitting in a crowded, dark moviehouse watching a film like, say, Brokeback Mountain.  You’re watching a beautiful movie, watching breathlessly as everything clicks just right — the cinematography, the photography direction, the actors, the world, everything.  And then the movie comes to a close and the music comes on, the credits roll and you’re faced with having to reenter the real world.  And that reality comes even faster because someone is stepping over you to leave the theater and a couple is walking down the aisle out of the theater laughing about how one of them almost tripped on the carpet.  Inane things.  And things that instantly break the spell and break my heart.  Such it is, I know, and it will continue to be this way.  But I really hate it.  If you don’t respect the movie, fine.  But respect that I’m sitting there and have been changed a little bit by watching it and need some time to readjust.

Ok, but that’s movie theaters and not everyone has the same reverence for the medium that I have.  I do get that.  But here’s something I really don’t get.  I’m taking a yoga class on Saturday mornings at the Memorial Union and my favorite part is the calming voice of the instructor (even when we’re doing some pose that has me shaking and feeling that death is imminent) and her efforts to have us relax.  So, I was completely incensed this past Saturday when, about a minute after class started, two buffoons enter the classroom late and the nice, sweet instructor calmly tells them, “Come on in.  We’re just starting.”  I believe polite people of even below average intelligence would then quietly take off their shoes, put their coats to the side, roll out their mats and get started.  All without a word.  But, as usual, I am wrong.  Instead the two launch into a loud recitation of how difficult it was for them to find the room; how they asked six different people for directions and received six different answers; how the third floor of the union disappears midway through (true, but common knowledge); and how they are finally here and aren’t we all thrilled.  So, after this commotion, we try to all go back to being all centered and calm and looking up to our third eye or whatever.  Then we do our yoga and it’s hard and frustrating and I’m really terrible at it.  But then I am rewarded with my favorite part — the part at the end when the instructor tells us to relax, lie back, close our eyes, we’re done, we’ve done a great job and we need to let all of the stress and tension go.  We get to lie down in the darkness for several minutes while calming, tranquil music plays.  Unfortunately, in addition to being terrible about yoga poses, I’m terrible at shutting down my brain and relaxing.  As she tells us to sink into the floor and then tells us to just float like a leaf, I can’t stop wondering how if I am supposed to be sinking, I can’t possibly be floating.  And then I chastise myself for these thoughts, but then come back to, “But it’s true.  I mean, really.  How can I relax if I’m supposed to be both sinking and floating at once?  No wonder I can’t do yoga.”  Anyway, finally, there is a moment of peace and calm and I don’t even realize it’s happened until the instructor says, “It’s time now to come back.  Wiggle your toes.  Rotate your ankles.  Open your eyes.”  Damnit!  I don’t want to wiggle my toes!  I was just getting into it.  And as I’m thinking, “Oh, that was so nice.  I love the quiet,” my near-serenity is interrupted by one of the buffoons nearly screaming, “So, are we going to be in this room again next week?”  And then loud advice from several people about which stairway is the best stairway to take to get to this room.  And then louder discussion about which door to enter to get into the union itself to find this best stairway.  My almost-moment was dashed.  And this I really don’t get because these are people who are voluntarily paying to take yoga.  The best part is the end and why you would want to cut that short — and ruin it for others — is beyond me.

Ok.  Done.

I’m going to try now to balance the annoying people section of this post, though, with inspiration I found this weekend at the eleventh annual Wisconsin Film Festival.  If you count the shorts as separate movies (and why wouldn’t you), I saw twelve in all.  Of these twelve, there were several highlights.  For example, Win or Lose: A Summer Camp Story.  This was an awesomely funny documentary about an all-male summer camp in northern Wisconsin that ends the summer with an event they call “Collegiate Week.”  It’s an incredibly intense week of competitions that (most of) the campers and staff hold in the highest regard.  For example, a past participant said that getting married, having his kid and winning collegiate week were the best parts of his life.  Probably in that order.  It was neat, too, to see how boys behave at these ages, particularly in the absence of girls or women.  This was an insanely fun movie, but I wouldn’t put it in the category of inspirational.  Of course, I don’t think it was meant to be.

In the “people are amazing” category I place the following films:  Football Under Cover, Between the Folds, Cheese Wars & The Rock-a-Fire Explosion.  Also, the film festival’s own trailer is in this category because it was hilarious, creative, retro and just damn cool. 

Football Under Cover was a neat story about a German women’s soccer team that had learned that Iran had its own national women’s soccer team, but that the team had never played a match against anyone but themselves.  So, the German team sets out to change that.  And the Iranian women are all for it.  There are many obstacles to overcome — including getting visas and playing in pants and headscarves — but it comes to fruition and even ends in a tie!  It was just neat to see how hard “ordinary” people work to pull off something like an international soccer game.  And it was so interesting to see the women in the stadium watching the match (women aren’t allowed in the stadium at men’s matches and men weren’t allowed at this match).  The women were so excited, cheering like crazy and demanding rights.  It was just a really good, inspiring, honest movie.   

Cheese Wars was a snapshot of the California dairy industry versus Wisconsin’s.  It was made by a native Wisconsinite who is now a grad student at Berkeley.  Though balanced between conversations with industry insiders from both states, Wisconsin came out securely on top, producing better quality products using less destructive and nasty means to do so.  Wisconsin looked so beautiful in this movie — everyone was proud.

Between the Folds is a movie about people doing some serious origami.  While the designs were truly outstanding, I was more moved by people who are so passionate and loving about something like paper folding.  Some of the artists made really intricate figures that had expressive faces and detailed clothing.  Some, though, were obsessed with the math involved and the implications the models had for scientific discovery.  All, though, were people who fully embraced this art form and reveled in working with it.  The two (very) short animated films that followed it were made by animators who clearly, too, love origami.  These two films were almost as inspiring as the feature, even though they couldn’t have been more than two minutes each.  They were so lovingly made that you couldn’t help but be entranced.

Speaking of entranced, a real disappointment was the movie It Takes a Cult.  It was an inside look at the Washington state-based Love cult.  Started in the 1960s (shocking!) by a fellow who called himself Love Israel, the cult developed around the idea of leaving the past behind (wow!); giving the cult your entire net worth (original!); taking the last name Israel; living all together on a plot of land outside Seattle; drug use (no!); men sleeping with any woman they wanted (unique!); no monogamy for men (what?!); women raising the children (outstanding!);  book burning; and ridiculously annoying folk music.  The thing was, the movie was billed as a “sympathetic” look at the cult, so I was wary that this would annoy me.  The problem, though, was more that the movie felt really incomplete.  There were more than allusions made to the greed of Love Israel and the disintegration of the cult from more than 300 people to fewer than 40, but there was absolutely no exploration of this.  Most of the folks interviewed for the documentary had left the family, but the filmmaker refused/declined/neglected to ask any probative questions regarding why they had left.  There was talk of some letter they had written to Love, who, without reading it, tore it up.  Apparently, that was that and these members went on their way.  Anyway, it was, as I said, a disappointment.  I was left with way too many unanswered questions.

The last film I saw was The Rock-a-Fire Explosion, which is, expectedly, about The Rock-a-Fire Explosion.  You remember, the Showbiz Pizza Place band, featuring Fats & Billy Bob & Mitzy Mozzarella.  The film briefly chronicled the rise and fall of Showbiz Pizza and the related disintegration of the band, but mostly it was about the peeps who continue to be so in love with the band that they buy up the old memorabilia and hope for some sort of a resurrection.  These people are pretty odd, but totally loveable.  They speak about this band as if it were real, and as if it was the most remarkable human accomplishment ever.  One guy worked three jobs for two or three years in order to buy a never-used complete band set (it seems as though it comes with tons and tons of miscellaneous props and, I’d say, at least six characters) to stick in his approximately 600 square foot house.  He’d have the neighborhood kids come over from time to time to watch a show.  I was worried this would get creepy, but it really didn’t.  He made a bunch of videos of the band playing all sorts of songs and posted them on youtube and, apparently, the response has been tremendous.  The creator of the band, a self-described inventor, is also — not surprisingly — a nut, too, and has some serious pack rat tendencies.  In any event, the movie was a great reminder of how connected we can all become around something as odd as animatronics.  And that human creation can sometimes touch us in such indescribable ways and that those feelings stay with us so much longer than we would have ever expected.  

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17 Responses to “People are amazing & amazingly annoying”


  1. 1 gwendolyngarden April 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Gall Darnit. That was a HILARIOUS post. I’m afraid to do yoga in a group because of the sinking/floating dichotomy and how that would make me get the giggles.

    I would love to see Cheese Wars- especially given the result.

    Your take on “It takes a cult” makes me want to watch it, but Mystery Science Theater 2000-style, with your commentary.

  2. 2 gracieandkate April 6, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    It was just like, “What just happened?” The cult totally broke up, but then there were people who stuck around. Very little explanation was given. And the people who stuck around were all wearing jeans, modern clothing, and many were clean-chaven, whereas earlier everyone had ridiculously long hair, and the men wore robes and the women dresses. Ugh.

    Cheese Wars, not surprisingly, made me really hungry for cheese and we had some delicious fried cheese curds at the Old Fashioned afterwards, while we waited for the Cult to begin. I think those might be in the running for the best cheese curds ever.

  3. 3 Sara H April 7, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Kate, your yoga story reminds me of a favorite Jess memory, when she got me to go to a yoga class with her. It was my first and last. The reflective part of the class was to balance one of our chakras, which involved imagining “a yellow light flowing out of the area between your anus and your genitalia.” We had a good laugh about that one (after the class, but it was not easy to hold it in – it was so funny in many ways, not the least of which was that no one else was snorting/laughing – WTF?).

    Congrats on seeing all 12! The summer camp one and Cheese Wars both sound muy interesante to me. And the cult one – I’m not sure what my or others’ fascination is with cults, maybe it goes back to the Branch Davidians, that was such a gripping story. I get so mad at those happy cow commercials. And the Old Fashioned does have really, really good cheese curds. Mmm.

  4. 4 gracieandkate April 7, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Those happy cows were featured in Cheese Wars! They had the Wisconsin people saying, yeah, that was a great campaign, but it makes no sense. Cows are not on pastures in California, but they are in Wisconsin. Then the filmmaker found the farm on which the California ad was made and he had one dairy cow, but all the rest were cows for meat. And he said that they couldn’t use his cows for the commercial, they had to use Union cows and truck them all up from LA. It was v. funny.

  5. 5 Kristin April 7, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve never had cheese curds – can you believe it? And I don’t know Showbiz Pizza but I am assuming it’s like Chuck E. Cheese or Razz Ma Tazz? That documentary sounds super fun.

    I love cults. Didn’t anyone see Oprah at the Yearning for Zion ranch?? When she asked about their dresses and their hair?!? OMG.

  6. 6 gracieandkate April 7, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Showbiz Pizza bought out Chuck E. Cheese and then they all turned into the latter. And apparently, these Rock-a-Fire people HATE the Chuck E. Cheese band. The Showbiz peeps tried to get the Rock-a-Fire inventor to turn over the copyrights to the band (for free), but he declined so the Showbiz peeps had to use the Chuck E. Cheese band. That’s what I learned.

    Did not see Oprah. Will research now.

  7. 7 gwendolyngarden April 7, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Union Cows?

    I thought our Attorney’s Association was a bit zany.

  8. 8 gracieandkate April 7, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Fee, I feel for whomever at Penguin (Penquin) had to edit The Countess’ book, given this “about” section on her website.

  9. 9 gracieandkate April 7, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Also, note this gem from her blog —

    “If a relationship fails, it was never meant to be.”

    Um, what? What the hell do people mean by ‘meant to be,’ anyway? Meant by whom? God? So, you goofed up by being in a relationship God never intended? Then why did He let it happen? This makes absolutely no sense to me. I suppose it’s just something people say to make themselves feel better. Though I don’t really understand how that makes anyone feel better. I guess it’s like, “It’s no one’s fault. It’s just not going to continue because it’s not supposed to. And by not ‘supposed to,’ I mean, the Stars say it can’t.” Why, though, don’t people just take comfort in the idea that not all relationships last forever, or that relationships change and ebb and flow? I don’t see how the idea that ‘It wasn’t meant to be’ is more comforting than ‘It just stopped working.’ I suppose then it seems like maybe it’s someone’s fault (and maybe it is), but I find it more comforting to think that a relationship ending is a very human thing, not something written in stone by anyone.

  10. 10 Kristin April 7, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Right. That the “point” of every close relationship you have isn’t an ironman competition to see if you can make it last forever. It’s to have that relationship be what it is. It is what it is. That’s another thing people always say, but I like it better than “it wasn’t meant to be.”

  11. 11 gracieandkate April 7, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Yeah, well, and it makes sense. I mean, of course it is what it is. What else could it be? Hee hee.

  12. 12 gracieandkate April 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    And, I’m not trying to be an ass, of course it’s sad when relationships end in a way no one would have wanted. But that doesn’t mean that the relationship should never have occurred or that of course it was going to end or anything else. It just means what it means. Ha!

  13. 13 Louis Lapat April 8, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Glad you liked the film, I’m the guy that made it. Check out the website for more info – http://www.winorlosemovie.com, check out the facebook site for some other clips – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Win-or-Lose-A-Summer-Camp-Story/48563335020

  14. 14 gracieandkate April 8, 2009 at 11:02 am

    It really was a great film. You guys should mos def check it out. But speaking of people being annoying, sometimes the Q&As at film festivals can be too much for me. I stick around if I really liked the movie, like I did with Win or Lose, but when someone asked the filmmaker (who is Louis, apparently) what inspired him to make the film, I had to leave. I mean, it was about a camp that he went to and this nutty week. Isn’t it clear? I mean, what in the world would lead a person to ask that question? It’s not as if it was a movie about some obscure hermit in south Peru who makes gold come out of his armpit. It was a movie about (mostly) Jewish boys at a summer camp in northern Wisconsin. That the filmmaker attended. Ugh.

  15. 15 gracieandkate April 9, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Ou est tout le monde? Je suis desole.

  16. 16 Terry April 9, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Je suis ici.

  17. 17 gracieandkate April 10, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Salut! Ok, je pense que j’ai besoin de faire une nouveau poste.


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