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broodings from the burrow

August 30, 2006

parrots fly
posted by soe 11:56 pm

We rented The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill over the weekend and divided the show over the last two nights (due to life intervening not due to lack of interest).

The movie, filmed by fellow Conn alumna Judy Irving, focuses on Mark Bittman, a San Francisco man who champions a wild parrot tribe in the Telegraph Hill section of the city. Bittman is a sweet man who knew absolutely nothing about birds when he first noticed them and who grew to become an expert on the three types of parrots that comprised the flock. For the majority of the film he is essentially squatting in a cottage rent-free, feeding the birds with proceeds of odd jobs (and, eventually, a book).

I was prepared for the movie to be sweet; these sorts of movies never succeed if they don’t take a bleeding heart-approach to nature. I wasn’t prepared for how normal and humane Bittman seemed to be, how individual the birds were — or how heart-wrenching certain later scenes in the movie were.

Irving’s film is sensitive and moving and the colors of the film are over-saturated, calling to mind the bright plumage of the title birds. She does periodically pop into her movie, but in an unobtrusive way, and only in a way that answers questions you have — like why she made the film.

It wasn’t the best documentary I’ve seen this year, but it was one of the nicest I’ve seen in a long time. I’m proud to share an alma mater with Irving, who put together a pretty awesome film. I recommend the movie with the only caveats that you be prepared for a deeper story than you expect and to connect more with Bittman and the parrots than 90 minutes ought to allow.

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posted by soe 2:16 am

What is it about a good book that makes it so hard to put down? What makes a book compelling rather than commonplace? Is it the storyline? The characters? A unique twist in the storytelling? Something intangible?

I’m not sure which of these has come into play, but I finally got around to reading Peter and the Starcatchers and it is taking all my self-restraint to put it away for the night and to go to bed. I mean, it’s 2 a.m.! I have another 20 chapters — probably 150 pages — which I could finish by 4.

What sane person thinks like that? What normal person seriously considers intentionally staying up until 4 hours before they need to go to work in order to read a book that will still be sitting there come lunchtime or eveningtide? Will things happen in the book while I’m away that will change the story? It’s not like I’ve left the characters in a precarious situation (which I never would do, by the way). They’re all safe. They’re on the beach. They’ll be fine until I’m able to get back to them. (They will be, won’t they?)

But it doesn’t matter. I really just want to throw myself back on the couch, pull out the book, and read away until I reach “The End” and my curiosity about what happens next is satisfied.

Woe to those who hope their children grow up to be readers. This is the future that you’re pointing them to — sleepless nights and an unquenchable thirst for adventure and knowledge. It’s a hard life.

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