24.7.06

Eat the meat

24.VII.06

I’ve been engaged in a passive aggressive war with the hotel maid assigned to my room. It all started when I discovered that my shower “curtain” didn’t do much to keep water off the floor. I got out and stepped onto a completely soaked bathmat. So, taking advantage of one of the two towels afforded to me, I laid out a dry path to the sink. Perfect, I thought. One towel to dry myself and one to sop up the water that floods the floor every time I take a shower.
However, I came back the next day to find only one towel available. Hm. Perhaps an oversight.
The next day, two towels are back, but there’s no bathmat.
The next day, two towels and a bathmat, but no hand towels.
The next day, everything but washcloths.
I’m not sure what this woman wants, but I’m starting to get a little scared.



With VIPs in town, last night there was a “BBQ” at the house of a local Jordanian producer. He runs a new production company that is trying to give a voice to Jordanian filmmakers.
He picks us up and drives us to what can only be described as a palatial home. It turns out that it’s his parents’ house. We mingle in the back yard. It’s lit with candles. There’s a heated pool, an outdoor bar, nicely set tables and loads of servants.
We drink and talk.
Then, in a manner consistent with good servants, the food appears without us even noticing. It’s time to eat.
The offerings consist of sushi, shrimp, stuffed peppers, steak and potatoes, a whole fish, various vegetables, all spread out nicely across the bar.
We eat.
Then, magically, dessert appears.
Several kinds of cheese, fruits, some of which I don’t recognize, apple cobbler, chocolate cake, almond vanilla ice cream.
And here I expected a night of good old brats and beer.

At the BBQ there was a young, fairly attractive woman. During drinks, I notice her talking to Merva, so I decide to slide over and see if I can join the conversation.
I walk up and introduce myself.
“Where are you from?” she asks.
“The U.S.”
“I’m Canadian. I was just about to tell a great story about stupid American tourists.”
She says this last bit to me as if we both just realized we had the same favorite color.
The story is not that funny, but she is able to draw it out ad nauseum.
Ugh, I think. I slowly wander away.
Later, at dinner, I end up at her table. I easily avoid her conversation by turning my attention to the lively people next to me.
Eventually, however, she herds the whole table into a discussion that revolves around her area of expertise. What a surprise.
It turns out she’s some sort of reporter, an ex-pat middle easterner back in the region to cover various stories. She’s just come back from Egypt, it appears. Our discussion at first had to do with some American cultural exports that we agreed were positive ones: jazz, the civil rights movement….she stops us here. Apparently the name Malcolm X made her think of how Cairo accepted all these oppressed individuals like Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela, and how some leader in Egypt went off and married a Ghanean leader and they had a son and he came back to Egypt and lives by the Nile and has a huge afro and is really cool if you email him to have coffee when you’re in town.
At this point she has completely monopolized the conversation.
Both her tone and the pace of her words are dizzying. I have the sudden urge to put my head down on the table and go to sleep.
Later, in the car, I am unable to express my frustration. Merva sums it up nicely.
“She’s one of these annoying orientalists, who talks and talks about how fascinating the middle east is.”
Exactly.
“I’m from here,” she adds. “It’s not that fascinating.”

The next morning we have to take a cab to Nidal’s shoot, but the directions are complicated, and there’s no way we can give them to the cabbie, since we don’t speak Arabic. As a compromise, Sharif gives us directions to a Burger King nearby, and agrees to pick us up there in half an hour.
We hail a cab and I try to explain to him where we want to go.
He scans the paper where I’ve written the street name and the closest circle to it. Below that I wrote “Burger King.”
“Ah!” he exclaims. “Boorger King!”
He motions excitedly for us to get in.
“Boorger King,” he repeats, “you want to eat the meat! Eat the meat!”
“No, we’re just meeting someone.”
“Eat the meat!”
“Yeah, ok.”



Nidal’s shoot is pretty disorganized. Everett has to crack the whip and play AD. These guys have a lot of positive energy, but set organization is foreign to them. It makes me realize that without knowledge about how to shoot efficiently, a project will crumble.

While waiting for the students to check out their equipment, Luke and I watched Ghostbusters. I confess that it’s the first time I’ve seen it in its entirety. It was like filling in a blank from my childhood.

I get that a ceasefire won’t prevent Hizbollah from continuing its violence. But the dismissive way in which Condoleeza Rice referred to a potential ceasefire as a false promise was maddening. Not only are the high majority of casualties and damages affecting innocent Lebanese, but Hizbollah still seems undaunted. The amount of collateral damage in this operation is downright sickening.

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