March 6th, 2005

XmasKiss

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

I'm a native northern Californian, and the city I call home is San Francisco. So it was with great delight that I saw a trailer for The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a documentary about one of two flocks of escaped wild parrots in the City and County of San Francisco and the man, Mark Bittner, who befriended them.

The flock, numbering about 45, has its home base around the Filbert Steps near Coit Tower. I've actually seen them, flying around; there is no mistaking the sound of a flock of parrots in flight because it doesn't sound at all like anything that occurs here naturally. It's an amazing feeling to see a film about something you've seen in real life; it's like being in on an in joke.

This is an interesting study of not just the parrots, but of a man who really had not a lot in his life before the birds, the politically hot topic of introduced species becoming established in California, and an exposé on yet another quirky feature of a city known for adopting eccentrics. It's charming, fascinating, a little sad, and romantic. If you get a chance to see this little film in your area, take it. It's worth it.
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XmasKiss

Kinsey

There seems to be a lot of interest lately in uncovering the lives of famous, yet flawed, men lately. Not the legends, not the men you learn about in school, not presidents and people who become household names like Einstein and Hitler, but sort of the "second string" of fame. By which I mean men like John Nash, Cole Porter, Ray Charles and Alfred Kinsey.

Kinsey's name is sort of synonymous with the whole sexual revolution that started in the 50's and took the 60's by storm. But it's scary how much people didn't know in the 20's. No one had ever thought to find out about sex. Kinsey was a scientist. Not a particularly amoral man, he was merely curious about things. And when he and his wife had a little problem on their wedding night, he realised that there wasn't a general body of knowledge, a reference of facts that related to the human sexual experience. No one wanted to talk about it, no one recorded it, no one really knew what "normal" was because no one ever bothered to find out.

Kinsey found out. Oh, boy did he find out.

This film makes you realise how far we've come from the early 20th century...and how far we have yet to go.
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