Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On The Film Industry

I just finished watching the movie Prince of Persia. It wasn’t easy. In my humble opinion the movie was bad. Regardless, you will not find a more textbook Moroccan film. From the mountain wide frames to the Kasbah chase shots every frame screamed “I was filmed in Morocco”.

The fact of the matter is that, as you become conscious of it you realize more and more that a large number of movies are filmed in Morocco. From Kingdom of Heaven to Gladiator, from the Bourne Ultimatum to Green Zone, Morocco is becoming the place to film. The reason for this is two fold.

The first reason is that Morocco is becoming more a part of the American film industry. If you are going to shoot a film you want to shoot it in Morocco because it has developed studios, a varied landscape and it is cheep.

The second reason is that the American film industry is becoming more a part of Morocco. Twenty years ago America’s war films were set in the jungles of Vietnam. Today they are set in the deserts of Iraq. What is the Arabic country where you can shoot a desert war film without worrying about getting shot yourself? Morocco.

From Body of Lies to Spy Game any film that is about the West’s interaction with the Arabic world is filmed in Morocco (except The Hurt Locker, that was filmed in Beirut) Morocco is a more common filming location that most people think.

And despite all that it only has two television channels… Go figure. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On Communication Technologies

Morocco is famous for its use of the word ‘Inshallah’. This translates to god willing. It is generally used to start or end a sentence that talks about the future. For example “I’ll go shopping this afternoon inshallah.” Basically the word is a caveat, a way of recognizing that while we can make plans, the future is not in our hands and we should except that some things are not meant to happen.

That brings us up to today, the day of my mother’s birthday. For the last week or so the weather has been over 110˚F and all manner of things, specifically water faucets, people’s brains and computers don’t work the way they normally do when they are only 100˚F. So for the last week or so I have had on and off problems with my internet which is normally how I call and talk to my parents. So that is a problem since I would hate my mom to think that I forgot her birthday all because of a faulty internet connection.

However I do have other ways of communicating with people outside my valley. I have both a hard-line phone and a cell phone.  The problem with the hard-line is that it is tied in to the internet, so when there is a problem with the internet, there is a problem with the phone. Not to worry though, there might be problems with two out of three ways of communicating but I can always rely on my trusty Motorola Razor and it’s Maroc Telecom sim chip. Actually, maybe I can’t. Yesterday it got wet. Who knew you could sweat enough that you could actually short circuit your phone as it sat in your pocket. One brand new battery later and it… still isn’t working.

This is when you say to yourself ‘well I guess god did not will this to happen. Time to watch a movie… Inshallah.’

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Dish Detergent

It is something so widespread and obvious that it is inconspicuous. So prevalent and distinct that it is passé. The fact of the matter is that Moroccans don’t use dish soap when washing up. Almost every dish in morocco is cleaned, shined and softened with Tide® PowerLemon laundry detergent.

While this fact might appear odd at first, it is so commonplace that it quickly becomes ignored and it might be almost a year before someone points this fact out, returning it to conscious consideration.

Within the cities the large chain stores sell a brand of Fairy® washing up liquid, however beyond that it is Tide® or OMO® laundry flakes.

This begs the question, what really is the difference between dish soap and laundry detergent? Perhaps a scientist could give a specific chemical-compound answer but without such expertise the answer seems to be that there is no difference. Or maybe there is one. Laundry detergent can be used for washing up, but washing up liquid cannot be used to do the laundry. The suds overwhelm the washing machine. That being the case they why doesn’t the whole world use laundry detergent, it is practical in twice as many situations.

Once again Morocco leads the way on finding useful solutions for modern living. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One Year!

It has been one full year since I landed in Morocco. One rotation around the sun. 365 days...

One more to go. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Morocco In the News - Summer Edition

AMELN VALLEY, MOROCCO // When the noon sun hits the mountains above the Ameln Valley in southern Morocco, stone and shadow interact to form the face of a gigantic lion that protects the women when the men are away.

That is the legend they tell in the valley, where the men have always worked and women have stayed indoors – until now.

Friday, September 10, 2010

On Technical Difficulties Being Resolved

Well, I see that I have not posted since about mid June when my old computer Artex succumbed to hard drive difficulties and died. He lived for five years and nine months, spent time in four countries, carried more then five thousand songs and died without pain after a protracted battle with hardware problems. He will be missed.

The fact that I am writing this is evidence that there is a new, as yet unnamed, computer in my life. Consequently, I now hope to be able to resume regular postings to this blog. I hope you’ll enjoy them.