Saturday, April 25, 2009

Women on the Verge of a New Series

How apropos - Fox TV Studios is developing "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" for television.

Looks like they are aiming it at the boomer void between Sex in the City and The Golden Girls. Perhaps inspired by the success of Desperate Housewives? Not a bad idea on paper. Anyhow, if they manage to maintain some of the European aesthetic sensibility (i.e. putting a moratorium on Botox in the contracts, maybe?), and designing the interiors so they don't look like, well, sitcom sets, this might be fun, but without Almodovar actually attached to creatively consult in any way, it might also lose what makes the film so compelling in the first place. I just don't want it to be some sort of "Hope and Faith" or whatever that show is called. Blech.

All About My Flowering Almodovar Secret

I've been bingeing on Almodovar films. Claro.

I've watched:
Volver (The Return)
Atame! (Tie Me Up!/Tie Me Down!)
Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother)
and Mujeres al borde de un Ataque de Nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown)

These films have a casual, intimate quality that renders the high drama of the plots believable, despite the events or characters that strain the suspension of disbelief. It is like meeting a friend of a friend for the first time, and then spending the whole day with her and realizing when you get home that you really hope you can hang out with her again, because there is a lot of heart and fun mixed in with her brand of crazy.

Almodovar manages to capture female emotions in their full mercurial movement. He presents emotions always in the context that organically feeds them and lets them move the characters (and plot) along.

I love Almodovar's use of colour too - bright orangey reds of 1980s European plastics, turquoise tiles, yellow wallpaper; the sets are as juicy as the passions portrayed in the films. Food also shows up again and again - tomatoes and peppers, frying pans and blenders. Tomatoes may be the metaphors for hearts full to bursting, being methodically chopped up by women trying to keep things under control. And when they can't keep life under control, the women turn to sedatives of various kinds.

My sedatives happen to be the films themselves at the moment.

I'll leave you with a couple of lines spoken by the male-to-female transsexual character of Agrado in "All About My Mother". This line stopped me in my tracks and prompted the blog post:
Well, as I was saying, it costs a lot to be authentic, senora,
and one can’t be stingy with these things
because you are more authentic
the more you resemble
what you’ve dreamed of being.

Heart phone photo from Etsy seller domestikate.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Female Mechanics Calendar

In the past four years, my father has encouraged me to learn a trade as the haphazard quality of my writing "career" makes him nervous for my future financial stability. As he is a creative man, he has come up with several ideas:

1) Property Manager - "you just sit in an office in a building - you'll have time to write"
2) Teacher - "you get the summers off - you'll have time to write"
3) Securities course or study/play the stock market - "manage your money - you'll have time to write"
4) Plumber - "something to fall back on, they make $70 an hour - you'll have time to write"
5) Auto mechanic - see above
Though I have no special affinity for machines (or property management or money management for that matter), auto mechanics sounds cool, so I looked into it. I drive, and it wouldn't hurt to know how to speak "mechanic" when I take the car in for service.

I found some local automotive training courses, but I was more excited to find the super cool Female Mechanics Calendar by photographer and writer Sarah Lyon. Her photos made the prospect of mechanic training far more appealing. Here were women who had already taken a career turn into mechanics and seemed quite happy (and renumerated) for it.
From 2007 to 2009, Sarah Lyon photographed women mechanics (or mechanics who happen to be women, however you prefer to slice it), documented their stories, and put together a calendar. She says it best herself:
This unique and dynamic calendar includes automobile, motorcycle, hot rod, hybrid, marine, jet aircraft, bicycle, and race car mechanics. The project challenges stereotypes of the typical tool-girl, pin-up calendar by showing real women mechanics working in their shop environments.
I asked Lyon permission to use some photos from her calendar and she very graciously sent me a hard copy of the calendar too. It's fantastic. Never mind that we're halfway through April, this calendar is fresh and inspirational and nice to look at. One of the mechanics, Tess Gape (in the first photo), is even from Toronto and now works "on a Ferrari GT2 Team with the American Le Mans Series".

Some of the women grew up around car fixer-uppers or rode motorcycles and wanted to be able to fix them, but one started off with a journalism degree and another graduated with an English degree. As in any field, each woman took a different route to get to where she is now, but the calendar proves that the despite being a male-dominated field, there is (as usual) room for hard-working professional women. Order one calendar for yourself and one for a young woman you know. This calendar would also look great on the wall of your child's classroom. It goes till February 2010, so you'll still get 12 months worth of calendar, and a serious amount of cool.

While you're at it, check out Sarah Lyon's beautiful Journey photography too, of her solo 8,900 mile motorcycle ride.

All photos copyright Sarah Lyon