Monday, July 27, 2009

Movies, books, etc.

We have been watching a lot of movies since our break from teaching began a couple weeks ago. Last night, we saw Shop Girl -- the Steve Martin adaptation of the Steve Martin novella. It wasn't all that terrible, nor was it all that great. You, whoever you are, probably know this without me telling you. Depending on the phase of movie-going and movie-renting I am in, I either catch movies right as they come out, or I only see them years after the enthusiasm for them has dissipated. Saturday night we watched Tropic Thunder. We caught that one while it was in theaters. We saw it at the giant Loews theater in Boston Common. Ben Stiller isn't as funny as the people who work with him on any given movie (although he is funnier than Jim Carrey, star of the under-rated Stiller movie Cable Guy). Robert Downey, Jr. Nuff said. 

I have translated a couple of short poems by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, my wife's favorite Brazilian poet. I had tried months ago to translate Joao Cabral de Melo Neto, a poet from Pernambuco, our state, but I find Drummond more attractive because more lyrical, with a fluid syntax. Cabral's lines are patterns of small stones painstakingly arranged. Drummond's style is closer to mine than Cabral's, although I'm sure the more I get into Cabral I will appreciate more because he is known for his narrative poetry. I am only just beginning. Anyway, the main purpose of translating is to strengthen my Portuguese. And to work the poetic muscles. 

My sleeping pattern is out of whack. This happens whenever I don't have many responsibilities to attend, errands to run, classes to teach. My bedtime these days is 5:00 or 6:00 AM. I managed to go to sleep before or around midnight last night, but awoke at 2:30 for a bathroom run and failed to fall asleep. There was an obscenely huge pile of dishes in the kitchen, now all clean thanks to me. Also took the time to wash my socks. We share a washing machine with my wife's sister, which is a drag by itself because laundry means hiking back and forth since neither of us can legally drive (wife's working on getting a license; her dad gave her a car he isn't using anymore). We wash socks and underwear by hand because the washer isn't as effective on these articles. 

I don't think even the richer people in Garanhuns own dryers, and most people here don't own washers. Usually if you have money, you hire someone to wash your clothes by hand, clean the house, and cook lunch. They're known as empregadas.  

So I slept a few hours, got up at 2:30. It is now 7:30. I'm going to stay up as long as I can, see if I can start reversing this sleeping pattern. The new semester starts next week, so I damn well better. 


  1. My favorite Brazilian poet is/was Manuel Bandeira. One of my professors at UC Berkeley produced a volume of Bandeira translations, which I read after I became a fan of Bandeira (via translations in anthologies). Candace Slater's translations were, I thought, unpleasant poetry in English. I produced a translation or two for my Portuguese literature class (not Slater's class), but I don't know where they've got to, and I haven't the confidence in my Portuguese to offer them up anywhere anyway.

  2. I had not heard of Bandeira, so thanks for telling me about him. I'm very interested in reading him because he lived in Recife as a child, which puts him in my region. When I saw your comment earlier, I looked him up and read a poem online.

    I hope that, after a few years and a lot of work, I will produce some translations I'd be happy to have published. If you find those translations of yours, and wouldn't mind, I'd like to see them.