Archive for July, 2011

Tomas y Temperaturas

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Right now I’m hunched over on the floor in front of my laptop, trying to fit my entire body in front of the fan in my room. Yes, it’s that hot. For those of you not sweating in New England right now, there’s an  heat wave swamping Massachusetts, and campus seems to be moving in slow-motion. I think the campus squirrels have taken permanent refuge in the trash cans, and the sports camp kids look incredibly miserable.  Luckily for Kelsey and I, the MRC is air-conditioned, so the extra hours we’re putting in to finish up our project are actually a nice reprieve from the un-air-conditioned dorms.

We’re in the final stages of finding and uploading the clips to CINEGLOS; now it’s gotten down to the last dozen techniques or tomas (shots) that are near-impossible to find. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve googled “deep focus in Spanish film” in hopes that some website will point me in the right direction, to no avail. I can only imagine how much more frustrating this must have been for Spanish film students who have to be able to explain and identify a Dutch angle without ever seeing one. Even though I’m an English major, and have a pretty strong attachment to the written word, studying film this summer has given me an appreciation for the ‘visual’ language of films- I can only imagine analyzing a film without a glossary like CINEGLOS is kind of like trying to write an essay for the first time without Strunk & White.

As we take stock of all of the film clip’s we’ve uploaded, Kelsey and I have realized that we show blatant favoritism towards certain movies. I think Kelsey would fill the entire website worth Pedro Almódovar films if we had permission, and I would do the same with any film with Ricardo Darín. However, we want a pretty even spread of the 50 films we watched, so we’re also replacing certain examples with others from less-utilized films. We’re also scrounging for tomas during our Spanish movie nights, so I apologize to any of the other students who had to listen to us whisper (not so quietly) about good prop shots and whether or not a characters monologue could could as an aparte (aside).

Soon I’ll be able to post the URL of CINEGLOS officially on my blog and show the proof of all the hard work we’ve done! Until then, I’ll be under the nearest air-conditioner.


Monday, July 18th, 2011

This weekend Prof. Franco and two of her former students Francesca and Alexandra invited Kelsey and I to a taquiza at Prof. Franco’s house in honor of her new tortilla press! A taquiza is an Mexican meal in which all of the guests choose from tons of side dishes like carne asada, pico de gallo,champiñónes con chorizo and guacamole to create their own custom tortillas. First we had to make dozens of these small corn tortillas, which we about the size of a CD  and baked on a flat pan (we improvised with a pancake griddle)

My first job was to mix the cornmeal with water with my hands-it was kind of like playing with silly putty- and roll it into small balls that you can see above. Then whoever was on ‘grill duty’ would filp the tortillas when they became brown around the edges- they should be really think and flexible, like tissue paper, so it took us a few trial runs before we got it right.

Here’s Kelsey and Francesca cooking as we finished up the tortillas- we must have made at least 60! Of course, then we got to eat them, which wasn’t as educational but really delicious. Prof. Franco had made lots of different sides before we arrived, so I experimented with a little bit of everything.

Francesca (right), who just graduated, is actually living in Italy next year on a Fulbright and wants to teach an American cooking class, so during dinner we were talking about food that can culturally be considered ‘american’. Unfortunately, besides hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries there’s not a lot that we haven’t taken from other culture’s cuisines or adapted (like ‘american chinese’ food or Tex-Mex) but I guess that’s only to be expected when your country has only been around for 235 years.  However, I had to admit that this was my first experience with ‘authentic’ Mexican food (as opposed to Tex-Mex or Mezcal) and I was blown away.

We’re Halfway There…

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I went home last weekend for the 4th of July to see my family and enjoy some home cooking for a couple of days. I can’t believe that my fellowship is more than halfway over… I feel like it was just yesterday I was moving in and cowering in the common room over the tornado scare.

Now that I’ve reached the halfway point, I can’t believe all that Kelsey, Prof. Franco and I have accomplished in the Cineglos project- the website is almost ready to go live! Once we’ve uploaded a majority of the clips I’ll be sharing the url on my blog so that everyone can see the results of our labor.

While most of time is still dedicated to uploading clips, I’ve tried to journey to the library to read up on history and criticism of Latin American film as well, so I can better understand the film’s I’m clipping and choose shots that are the most meaningful. I didn’te really appreaciate Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s Memorias de subdesarrollo on the first viewing but after reading some criticism on it I clipped a great ‘zoom’ shot that shows  Sergio’s (the main character) lack of identity, because the camera zooms in so close that it obscures his face and. I actually managed to find the exact clip of the zoom on youtube- the final words that accompany the zoom are “where are your people? Your work? Your women? You are nothing, nothing, you’re dead. You’re final destruction, Sergio, begins now.”

zoom clip

Apart from my Mellon research, I think I’ve also become skilled in the nuances living at HC over the summer, such as

-Navigating around eight different construction sites at each major stairwell on campus

-Dodging the enormous traveling crowds of Gateways kids/sports camps/odd conventions

-creatively cooking in a dorm with one kitchen and no appliances allowed

The cooking is definitely a preparation for this fall, when I’ll be mostly cooking for myself in Oxford. I’m already starting to fight off the nostalgia for the campus. My friend from home came to visit me this weekend, so I got to play tour guide. Of course, if Admissions had heard my version of the Holy Cross ‘tour’ they probably would have had a heart attack, but walking around making up facts and telling funny stories  reminded me of how much I love Holy Cross.

highlights of my frelance trour included the 'narnia shack' and the wheeler swing