My Introduction to Low-Budget African Cinema


Yesterday afternoon I traipsed on over to my hairdresser’s salon to get my hair done.

What I expected was that she’d call me into the chair, and I – as I usually seem to do often – would nod off as she did my hair.

Not today.

As I was waiting my turn, I was trying to read my travel book to Spain when I kept getting distracted by the DVD she had on. At first, I thought it was a music video. Turns out it was one of those low-budget movies filmed in Africa. (Ghana, as it later turns out.)

I listened to the bad dialogue. I watched the bad acting. But I couldn’t turn away.

Thus began my introduction to African cinema. In this case, Beyonce: The President’s Daughter.

Although I walked in part-way through, I think I got the gist of it:

Boy meets girl. Boy hears girl singing at the local club he goes to and is mesmerized by her. Boy tells girl he thinks he loves her. Girl says she thinks he’s crazy, but doesn’t exactly turn him away. And hence boy and girl start a romance (which is somehow illustrated by all the scenes of them shopping at the local grocer’s or department store).

But wait, it gets better. Amidst all this, boy meets another girl. Girl happens to be the daughter of the president of the country. Boy hangs out with girl lots, but doesn’t really see her as girlfriend material. Girl has other ideas.

Somehow in all this, girl talks boy into sleeping with her, and girl falls hard for boy. Keep in mind that Girl # 1 and Girl # 2 know nothing about each other.

Throw in some jealous possessiveness, a materialistic mother and sister, a convoy of SUVs and bodyguards, an acid attack, a couple of broken legs, some reconstructive facial plastic surgery and you’ve got, well, a reeeeeally bad, over-melodramatic, soap opera.

There is nothing redeeming about this movie. They named their main female characters after American R & B singers. The musical score is ridiculous and doesn’t really match the scenes. Some of the continuity makes no sense. And did I mention how bad the dialogue was? And this movie comes in several parts!

But the train wreck was doing its job. I was completely hooked. I almost missed a party because I wanted to stay to find out what would happen. Would Raj find out that Marcy was really his sweetheart Ciara, whom he was told died in the hospital? Would Ciara keep her identity a secret, or die trying to face off against Beyonce? And would Beyonce get what was coming to her, or get away with murder?

So many questions, and no time. But one of these days I’ll have to swallow my dignity and get my hands on a DVD copy of the movie to find out.

Diagnosis: Meh.


So yesterday, I went up to see an orthopaedic specialist – who’s a surgeon – about what the hell’s going on with my back, and what he thought should happen.

The drive there took about 40 minutes.

The wait, about 4 or 5 minutes.

I saw the doctor for all of 3 minutes.

His diagnosis of my MRI: I have normal wear and tear. I don’t need surgery.

Great. So now what?

Well, essentially he said he would phone my doctor with some options for managing with the pain.

But basically it boils down to: strengthening my core muscles, keeping my weight down, and essentially not doing anything that’ll re-injure my back.

Other than the “don’t need surgery” part, I almost feel as if that appointment was a waste of my time.

Le. Sigh. And so it continues.

The In-Between Post …

So much to say, so little time …

I was struck with a few good topics to blog about this week.

But between the crazy gerbil wheel that is my life, and the imminent arrival of a relative this weekend, I’m not sure when all of this said blogging will occur.

But I’ll try my best. Stay tuned.

Sphygmomanometer?! Re-DONK-ulous!

It’s only Monday and already I was introduced to two new(ish) words …

While hanging around after work with a friend and her co-workers, I was privy to a brainstorming session, in which they were trying to decide on a graphic for a story they were working on for the following morning’s show.

I guess the subject of images came up – particularly regarding the blood pressure cuff doctors and nurses will use on patients to check their blood pressure – because before I know it, my friend Kristy says, “It’s called a sphygmomanometer.”

(Yeah, I know. I didn’t know that was the official name for it, either. Don’t even ask me to try and say it.)

We all turned to her and blinked, and then proceeded to mangle the word just trying to pronounce it.

And then after that, we teased her for a few minutes. Yes, we were all incredibly mature.

Earlier this evening, when I got home, I mentioned it to my mom. Being a former registered nurse, she had to point out to me that a sphygmomanometer isn’t just the blood pressure cuff we all know and love. There’s another part attached to it that’s actually the tongue-twisting term in question. So apparently my friend was kinda right.

The other word came up, while a co-worker was talking about something, and then he said, “That’s redonkulous!”

This is probably the second time I’ve heard it in a week. And at the risk of sounding really unhip and old, when something is redonkulous, does that mean it’s more than ridiculous? Or is it something that’s just so bonkers and ridiculous at the same time, that neither word will really quite do?

I just don’t want to be the one who gets laughed and pointed at for using it in the wrong context. ‘Cause then you know what follows. That’s right – high-waisted pants, sweaters with iron-on images of wolves on the front, and white socks with my shoes. Nuh-uh. Not me.

Going it Alone

I was puttering around in my bedroom earlier, listening to the radio, when the DJ brought up the subject of doing things alone – going to the movies, to concerts, clubs, bars, etc. – and then inviting people to call in with their opinions.

Of the few phone responses I caught, a few people were of the opinion, “Why not? I do it from time to time, and I’m just fine with it.”

It made me wonder about my own social habits.

For the most part, I meet up with friends to go for meals, or for drinks, or just general twenty- and thirty-something debauchery.

But I have gone out on occasion by myself to do things. I remember the first time I did it. I was 19 or 20, and it was Thanksgiving. I couldn’t go home because I had to work. So instead of eating the food in the cafeteria, I decided I was leaving campus. So I went to Swiss Chalet, got a table for one, and happily ate while reading a book.

Another time, I went to an independent movie that I really wanted to see. I never bothered asking any of my other friends, either because (a) they probably wouldn’t like or relate to the film, and (b) if I waited on someone to have some free time to see the movie, it probably would have done its run.

So I made the decision one day, went downtown, bought my ticket, made my way to the theatre. I’m not going to lie. It did felt weird at first, sitting at the back of the sparsely-populated theatre while other people sat in seats in front of me with friends. But I forgot about it long enough to watch. I once remember saying, “If people were meant to always go to the movies with friends, then they would be selling tickets in pairs.” And one day, I finally decided to practice what I had been preaching (mainly to myself).

Another time, I decided, on a whim, to attend a social event I was invited to, by someone I met at a party a couple of weeks prior (held by a couple of friends getting married). It was kinda weird in parts, but I did it nonetheless.

Last year I went to two concerts by myself. It wasn’t bad at all. I put in my earplugs and moved along with the songs, singing out loud to the lyrics I knew. I’d probably do it again.

Some people might think, “Big deal. People do stuff by themselves all the time.”

But that’s just it. I don’t know a lot of people who actively go to social events by themselves. I can understand why the thought of going somewhere, into a situation where you don’t know a soul, would be daunting. You don’t want to attract crazy people. At the same time, you don’t want complete strangers coming to the conclusion that you’re some sort of loner, either.

But those people who do things by themselves, hats off to them. It’s all about self-confidence and independence. And it could be entertaining and enriching.

I think, though, once you do it a couple times, you get over the discomfort of being alone in a crowd quicker and quicker each time.

One thing that I haven’t done is travel by myself. I hear it’s one of the scariest, but one of the best things, you can do, if you have the chance. I’ve been told you really learn about yourself as a person. And maybe I’ll do that one day.

What do you think? Are you the type of person that just goes out and does stuff alone on a regular basis (and I don’t mean shopping or banking, either)? Or do you prefer doing things with friends?

Funny random sidebar: The picture I used from this post is actually a painting from the Web site for actress (and artist) Eve Plumb, a.k.a. Jan Brady. No, seriously! She paints! And she’s good, too – I thought a couple of these were photos. Go here and look for yourself.

Happy Birthday!

Hey folks!

Well, just a quick note to mention that today marks two special dates.

Today’s my friend Christine’s birthday – happy birthday!

But as well, I started this blog exactly one year ago today. I’m not sure how far I’ve come since posting that first entry all those months ago, but hopefully it’s not as sleep-inducing as it once was.

(Or maybe it still is. Who knows?)

In any case, just wishing everyone a belatedly loquacious day and a just as loquacious week!

Welcome Back, May!

Wow. I can’t believe it’s May. I thought it would NEVER get here.

Sorry I haven’t been as witty with the posting as I usually am. I think I go through some kind of funk between mid-March and the end of April. And tax season doesn’t help, either.

I will hopefully write more on the weekend (and publish a couple posts I haven’t gotten around to writing yet).

But I just wanted to mention that I went to this awesome event (in my humble opinion) last night.

My friend Dan hosts a reading series called Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids. Essentially it is what the name implies – people dig up old journal entries, poems, creative writing stories, letters, etc., they wrote as schoolkids (or teenagers), bring it on down and read some of their handiwork to a willing audience.

I decided to go this time because I unfortunately couldn’t make it out the last time, and it turned out to be a huge hit. It generated a column in the Globe and Mail (if you can’t access it, lemme know and I’ll just send it to you), as well as a mention in the LA Times. No joke.

Last night was good, too. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard until my eyes watered. (Although I’m sure it hasn’t been THAT long.)

Of course, now the geek in me wants to take part in the next one, whenever that may be … so much so that, upon arriving home, I immediately went down to the basement and started unearthing my carefully packed boxes with schoolbooks from days gone by and started mining, (This was at 11:30 at night, of course.) Already, I may have spotted a couple of kooky gems.

I also managed to find my old diaries (and had to jimmy the lock on one of them with a hairpin. I may have busted the lock). Those writings? Mmmmm … not so much. I much more scatterbrained as a child than I thought.

But whenever the next GRTTWAK night comes up, I’ll be armed and ready with some elementary school ramblings.