Monday, December 19, 2016

Charles Dickens' Victorian London

   I don’t celebrate Christmas so I stayed away from The Dickens’ Fair.  The fair is held every year at Cow Palace, along Geneva Ave, Daly City.  I’ve been in San Francisco for three years before I took an interest to see what goes on in there.  I found out The Dickens’ Fair is not about Christmas.  It’s more about London during the Victorian era.  Street signs of the period were posted along the hallways of the exhibits.  It’s not only about Charles Dickens either.  Edgar Allan Poe was there too.  

   The costumes, food and products available during the Victorian era were displayed and were on sale.  The shepherd’s pie was good.  I also tried the hot cider with whiskey and cinnamon and the clam chowder.  There were a lot more but I can’t afford to sample all.  The products on sale were scented candles, crystallized rose flower fashioned into jewelries, handmade soap and a host of curios that may or may not have been worn during the Victorian period.

Joy  Strong playing a street wench 
   There were some interesting characters portrayed by actors and actresses who were all dressed in Victorian era costumes.  They stayed in character while they mingled with the spectators.  One of them was Joy Strong, who played a ‘street wench’, (prostitute).

   “Where can I get a wench’s costume?” I asked her, expecting an answer circa 2016.

   “Find a lady who has fallen from grace and steal her clothes.  You’ll be fine.”  She gave a suggestion expected of a wench in a Victorian low life accent. 

   At the end of our conversation, she handed me a ticket that meant she had given me crabs.  Another ticket meant I contracted “Scarlet Ague”, a sexually transmitted disease of the place and time.

   There were stage shows which were the entertainment during the 1800’s.  They featured acted drunken singing and supposedly lewd jokes which are tame compared to what we have today.  The audience was singing, hooting and hollering with the performers, giving the hall the atmosphere of a theater bar.  We may not have this kind of theater bar today.  These days it’s called a strip joint.

   It made me wonder if long after I have died, would people dress up in my era’s fashion to reenact the stories in my books.  That would be just as interesting I’m sure.

See also: 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Makati Film Society Experience

   Back in 1977, three film enthusiasts joined hands to found a film society that would highlight memorable films.  The Makati Film Society was born.  The first project was a film revival festival to be shown in one of the theaters in Makati.  In those days there were large ones like The Rizal Theater and small ones like Quad.  A big one might be difficult to fill with a rerun film.  A small one would be perfect.

Festival Poster on Gloria's car
   Dick Cutab, the moving force of the society, initiated talks to rent a small theater for seven days.  He then went to the movie distribution companies to see what could be rented on a per day basis.  The brainstorming with the other two co-founders, Tess Novero, an accountant and Gloria Samson, an Advertising Account Executive took several days off and on.  Finally, the three came up with a choice of seven films to show in one  day each for seven days.  Posters would be printed to promote the project.  Apparently, using the tape tickets from the theaters would mess up the theater’s accounting records.  Festival tickets would have to be printed.  

   Quad management wanted PHP3,000. per day for one of the four theaters.  They didn’t have to come up with the cost of the entire seven days.  The ticket sales of the first day would take care of the succeeding days' rent.  Still, PHP3,000 was a fortune back then.  The three went scrambling for their share of PHP1,000 each.  They rummaged through their personal savings.  They tried to interest relatives to invest or get a loan.  A few days before the rent deadline, Dick and Tess had their shares secured.  Gloria had nothing, no savings that big, not good enough credit to qualify for a loan.  Renting a cinema and film was unheard of at that time.  Her parents and relatives thought she was being scammed.  They wanted no part of it.

   Then Gloria’s Aunty Aida arrived from the US for a vacation.  Gloria told her about the project but she had no hopes of getting a cent.  Gloria assumed Aida will be needing all her pocket money to spend on her vacation.

   “I can lend you the PHP1000 but it’s my shopping budget.  You’ll have to give it back a few days before my return to the US so I can shop in Divisoria,” Aida said as she handed Gloria the cash.  It was a surprise of Gloria’s life.  Her Aunt Aida gave without her asking.  That PHP1,000 became the seed money for her role in The Makati Film Society which lasted into the 80’s.

   The film's rent was PHP250 each but could be paid upon pick up of the film reels.  There was no deposit required.  After all, who would run off with several heavy reels that could be played only with a cinema projector? 

   The Makati Film Society film revival projects were promoted with free press releases, the Eat Bulaga television show gave free 2 seconds camera shots of the posters and announced the movies scheduled.  The first project grossed well in the box office insuring the budget for succeeding film festivals in Quad and in Ali Mall theaters.  Notable movies shown were The Godfather, Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein, Franco Zefirreli’s Romeo and Juliet, the only one that featured the original Shakespeare language in the dialogue.

   The arrival of Batamax movie copies in the mid-80's killed the film revival projects.  The three co-founders moved on to different directions but it was fun while it lasted.  

See also:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Climate Change is a Poverty Issue

   It’s easy to blame one who is not present.  Thus every calamity is called ‘an act of god’.  Climate change deniers are as many and as prominent as those who brought the issue to our attention.  
   There are tons of scientific evidence presented.  Famous names have taken the cause.  Some laws have been passed to minimize the advance of global warming.  These resulted in a more systematic waste segregation and recycling, better landfill management and composting on a nationwide scope.  

   Federalism created different strokes for different folks.  Wood burning fireplace is not allowed in California but is allowed in the Midwest states.  Homes in States prone to drought have a shower while in the Midwest, even the cheapest place has a bathtub. 

   Flash flooding is dealt with one storm at a time, with no permanent solution other than the age old water pump.  Flood water can be pumped into waterways, rivers and shorelines when low tide allows.  States in the center of America have no shores and may have no river running through it.  In those places, the water pump does little help.  I have seen a city where flood water is pumped towards the poor community populated by African Americans.  This results in basements requiring expensive and arduous repair, not to mention the damage to the building foundation and home appliances.

   That brings us to the one argument about climate change that has not been discussed.  Climate change is a poverty issue.  Global warming does not affect the rich in their sturdy hilltop mansions and high rise apartment towers.  In the comfort of those homes, politicians watch the six o’clock news about the flood rescue and fatalities then go to work the next day and make laws about taxing soda.

Typhoon Haiyan From:
   The Philippines get six months of typhoon season every year.  If a storm falls during high tide in islands barely above sea level, people drown.  Only poor people drown.  The worst that can happen to the rich man’s home is the swimming pool gets a little messed up.

   As an act of god who loves the poor “He will have pity on the lowly and the poor, and the lives of the poor he will save.” (Psalm 72:13), global warming and climate change blame needs a second look “and the appointed time came … to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:18).