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Archive for June 29th, 2008

Skateistan: Kickin’ it in Kabul!

Sunday, June 29th, 2008
By raincoaster


Trust three bored Aussies in the middle of a war zone to come up with this: an outreach program in Afghanistan consisting of co-ed skateboarding lessons. That pic is of Haroon, teaching his two-year-old sister Baher to pop an ollie while a crowd of sk8er boiz wait their turn.

From the Guardian:

Afghanistan… has the world’s highest percentage of school-age children but some of the toughest conditions. Despite progress since 2001, illiteracy is rife, beggars swarm the streets of Kabul and there are 600,000 child drug addicts. Just 1% of students make it to university.

Skateistan, as the project is called, started 18 months ago with 10 secondhand skateboards that Percovich, 34, scrounged from friends in Melbourne. It is a departure from the macho image of sport in a country where the national pastime, Buzkashi, features two teams of horsemen fighting over a calf carcass. Dog fighting and cock fighting are also popular.

Skating is non-competitive, creative and urban. The organisers hope the sport will come to define fun in the post-9/11 era, just as the bestseller The Kite Runner symbolised childhood in 1970s Kabul…

Skateistan tried to be different. It started small, offering free skateboarding classes in public spaces, with virtually no budget.

The strategy took the Australians to some unusual venues, including the Russian pool, an empty pool overlooking the city frequented by hash smokers and used for Friday night dog fights. Under Taliban rule it was used for public executions.

Sounds like the skate park near my house, actually, but that is neither here nor there. After deciding that building a skate park would be a step up from trying to take back the dogfighting arenas from the hash smokers, and rejecting working with the nonprofits in Afghanistan on competence-based grounds, they’re looking to raise the money from scratch. And we all know how well-funded the ground level of skateboarding is, don’t we?

In tangentially-related news, does anyone know why skateboarding in North America is almost exclusively male? I see plenty of girls at the skate park, sure, but they’re sitting, they’re smoking, and their waiting for their boyfriends to go so they can applaud wildly. Was I the last girl on the continent to feel welcome on a longboard?

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Listmania! Pixar Perfect

Sunday, June 29th, 2008
By Glinda

On Friday, Glinda, the Munchkin and the Scarecrow (my husband’s new pseudonym) went and saw Wall-E at our local cinemaplex. Being a big fan of Pixar, I had really high expectations. The first twenty minutes of the film is without dialogue, and it is superbly executed. Wall-E has been described as a “Little Tramp” archetype, and I agree. The story is a multi-level one, a love story when you come down to it, that I think works a bit better with adults than kids, actually. This is not to say I didn’t like it, but I think I liked it more than the Munchkin did. And as always, the accompanying short film “Presto” was excellent.

So far, Pixar has managed to bat .1000, and as any baseball player will tell you, that’s a very difficult thing to do.

Here are my favorite Pixar movies, each of which is ensconced in our permanent library:

PhotobucketToy Story The one that started it all. The scene with the toy soldiers and the reconnaisance mission is classic, and I still cannot help but feel sad when Buzz jumps off the stairwell, even after many, many viewings.

PhotobucketMonsters, Inc. Line for line, one of the funniest movies ever. Billy Crystal and John Goodman are sheer magic together. I have watched this movie too many times to count, and I still laugh at each and every joke.

PhotobucketFinding Nemo A visually gorgeous film with a truly compelling story. The casting for the voices was sheer genius, because each actor was fabulous, from Marlon to Crush to the seagulls screeching “Mine, mine, mine!” And of course, Ellen DeGeneres giving a pitch-perfect performance as Dory.

PhotobucketThe Incredibles Another example of great multi-level storytelling that gets better each time I watch it. But, it has enough visual pizazz to keep the kids interested, even if they may not completely “get” the message.

PhotobucketRatatouille Pixar somehow manages to make you completely forget any revulsion you should feel at seeing an entire kitchen full of rats cooking a meal. I think that in itself deserves some kind of award.

PhotobucketPixar Short Films Collection – Volume 1 Famous for their short films as well as their feature-length ones, this DVD has some of the best, from Jack-Jack Attack to For the Birds. Proving that shorts can still be long on entertainment.

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