Saturday, May 31, 2008

Carried Away in Santa Fe

Sarah Jessica Parker Sex in the CityPhoto courtesy of Yahoo! Movies

I went to see the new Sex and the City movie in Santa Fe last night. I usually try to avoid going to big new releases on opening day because I like to avoid crowds, get my choice of seats, etc. But I really felt like going to the movies and there wasn't anything else I wanted to see as much, so off I went to the Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14, a lovely year-old theatre with all those great new amenities like stadium seating and really comfy cushions on the chairs. Regal was showing the movie on four screens so I figured there was a pretty good chance there'd be a space for me!

I got there early enough to get my preferred seat--one of the seats in the front row of the second section--the ones that are designed with spaces in between groups of seats for wheelchair patrons. I love those seats because you can stretch your legs out, there's no one in front of you (except when you're trying to read the credits at the end of the movie--which I ALWAYS stay for), and I think it provides the best view of the screen....

Anyway, I have to say I think this movie is going to do huge box office. I know that the reviews have been only OK (reviewers B-, patrons B according to Yahoo Entertainment) but it's really all about the experience. The theatre was full of women (and I would say that they were mostly over-40 women) with a few brave men (though more than I would have expected). When the opening music for the TV-show started at the beginning, the audience broke into spontaneous applause. When Samantha lambasted a man who interrupted her toast at an event in Carrie's honor, the audience burst into applause again. I love that kind of spontaneity and interaction at the movies! The crowd was warm, and sympathetic, and appreciative--laughing and clapping at all the right places, and being quiet (with just a touch of non-audible cry-emotion) at the places that demanded it. No snickering junior-high students laughing at all the wrong places and hooting at the frank girl-talk.

So what that it's like five episodes of the TV show strung back-to-back? Not being an HBO subscriber, I first watched Sex and the City on Netflix DVDs in back-to-back viewing sessions--six seasons in six weeks--when recovering from surgery three years ago. So it's just like old times for me!

Wesley Morris, Boston Globe reviewer, gets it: "It's like going to somebody else's house to binge on a stack of new episodes surrounded by a bunch of girlfriends you don't know. . . . The movie is just like a half-season of the series - a funny, sappy, clumsy, crude, rambunctious, argumentative, gleefully vulgar attempt to balance the fantasy of romance with the reality that the fantasy is impossible."

Jessica Reaves, Chicago Tribune reviewer, gets it too: "Social critics are wringing their hands on the sidelines, fretting. They can't understand why so many women are so captivated by the SATC world, which is, after all, a totally fantastical place in which women have financial autonomy and healthy sex drives. It's a materialistic, completely unrealistic world, the scolds tell us. Yes, of course it is. That's kind of the point. It's escapist fun. But it's also a show (and now a movie) with an enormous amount of heart, the kind of viewing that reminds you to call your best friend, just so she knows you're there if she needs you."

Manohla Dargis at the New York Times doesn't: "I wish Ms. Parker had let that bee in her bonnet go silent, because the movie that she and Mr. King have come up with is the pits. . . . vulgar, shrill, deeply shallow — and, at 2 hours and 22 turgid minutes, overlong."

And Lou Lumenick at the New York Post complains that "the men serve strictly as plot devices." Hellloooo!!! What about every other summer movie made in the past ten years that was aimed at an audience of 14-year-old boys??? It's a trip and a treat to see a blockbuster-in-making that's aimed at an over-40 female audience!!! And it's clear to me, based on the response of the decidedly non-Manhattan audience here in Santa Fe, that its appeal to its target audience is universal.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Acoma Pueblo

Acoma Pueblo Enchanted MesaEnchanted Mesa

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a half-day at Acoma Pueblo, which claims to be the oldest continuously occupied community in the U.S. "My ancestors have been living on this mesa since 1150," reported our tour guide. "And see that mesa over there?", he asked, pointing to so-called Enchanted Mesa a few miles away. "That's where they lived for 500 years before that, until a storm destroyed the path up to the top."

It's quite an amazing feeling to have someone telling you their family has lived within view of this spot for almost 1,400 years.

Acoma has a very organized tourism business, running buses from the visitor center located on the flatlands below the mesa, up to the top of the mesa, and then conducting a walking tour. Unlike many of the other pueblos I've visited, photos were permitted with the payment of a camera fee.

Acoma is located close to Laguna Pueblo, where I attended midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Click here to read my post about that experience. Acoma and Laguna share a common language (Keresan) and a high school, among other things.

Acoma PuebloAcoma PuebloAt the end of the tour, several of us chose to walk down a path carved into the sandstone of the 367-foot high mesa (as opposed to riding the bus back down). While I think the guide was a bit over-enthusiastic about the path (stone stairs! 10 minutes!), it gave us some incredible views that we otherwise would not have seen.

Before the modern road was cut, this path was the only way up and down. Since the Acoma community farmed in the flatlands, carried up food and water, and brought the logs for the construction of the church in from Mount Taylor, 30 miles away, this must have been a very difficult trip.

Acoma Pueblo San Esteban ReyAccording to our guide, the church of San Esteban Rey (Saint Steven the King) was built in the 1630s, under the direction of a Spanish missionary, and the men carrying the logs were not allowed to put them down anywhere on route (including on the path up the mesa) since otherwise they would be considered defiled.

Acoma Pueblo lawn chairsToday there are relatively few folks who live on the mesa top, though it is used for all holiday and ceremonial occasions. Some Acoma people come and spend time on the mesa in the summer (much as others of us might go to a rough cabin in the woods or mountains). Since there is no electricity, cell phone reception, or running water on the mesa, it's really like going camping. Here are some outhouses set into the side of the mesa--you have to be brave, wide-awake, and surefooted to use those in the middle of the night! Acoma Pueblo Outhouses
Several artists were selling their wares along the tour--I bought a pot made by Selina Sanchez, who lives in Grants, NM, and specializes in Acoma "fine line"pottery painting, using yucca brushes that may continue as few as a single strand.Acoma Selina Sanchez pot
Acoma Pueblo
Acoma Pueblo
Acoma Pueblo
Acoma Pueblo
Acoma Pueblo