Friday, November 24, 2006

today is the longest day of my life

the following takes place between 7:00 a.m. and 1:53 a.m.

7:01- we're starting season 4 of 24, with the plan to watch the entire season nonstop today. sounded like a fun idea when we suggested it a few months ago--now i'm wondering how it's going to feel watching a full season of tv in one day. a couple of years ago, a roommate and i watched the full 'lord of the rings' in one day; it was fun to see the whole story, but after 12+ hours we finished 'return of the king' feeling kind of fried and saying i would never do that again. the difference here is that we get a full plot structure and cliffhanger every 42 minutes, making it easier to keep our interest sustained.
so here we go.

10:09 a.m.-
one episode down: we're 1/24 the way there.
two episodes down: we're 1/12 the way there.
three episodes down: we're 1/8 the way there.
four episodes down: we're 1/6 the way there.
and thus ends disc 1.
it's a little odd being that it's just me and mark watching, as we normally have 6-10 people here, but we still cheer [such as when jack pulled out his man-purse and yell at the tv. we still haven't see a handful of regular characters and we're already making predictions about who will turn out bad, who will get fired, and whatnot.
my only complaint now is that i'm out of eggs and i wanted to make some breakfast.
i'm still working on that.

jack's kill count: 2
and one gas station held up.

11:39 a.m. 'man, jeff, what are we doing?'
so asks mark as we're 25% done. he's on his second can of diet coke, i've had two donuts, and a friend of mine told me how to get into her house to get some eggs. we've finally found out what the threat is for this season, discovered a traitor, and still haven't seen a few of our favorite characters [while enjoying new ones]. i'm doing alright. we've been at this for almost five hours; it's a weird feeling to think how much longer we'll be here, depending on how many breaks we take. some friends invited me to temple square tonight for the lights--i'd like to go, and depending how i'm feeling around 4:00, i may take the offer. but that would really set us back.
unlike 'lord of the rings', 24 moves fast enough that it doesn't feel like a long time; that makes a major difference in our endurance.

why are we doing this? because we can, mostly. just like standing in line for superbowl tickets for long hours, there's something fun about this sort of crazy scheme. wild keggers aren't our style and i've done the toga party thing- ironman 24 is one more item to cross off the list.

jack's kill count: 15 [yeah, that was a good episode]

and marks swoons as jack and audrey hold hands.
so do i.

5:18 p.m.
oooh, we're halfway there....'
two papa john's pizzas and a load of laundry and we're still going.
somedays on set, as we sit down to lunch, i find myself thinking, 'if we were done now, this would have been a good day.' that's kind of how i'm feeling now. but we're just crossing the halfway mark. when we did 'the lord of the rings', the whole thing took about 12 hours; compared to that, i'm feeling just fine.
being that we have seen every other season of 24, we know the structure of a 'day' and what sort of incidents 'have' to happen, and so it's been fun calling out what will happen and then seeing it fulfilled. and yet it's new enough that it keeps us involved. 'same same but different', as they say in thailand.
so far the season has been fine; nothing amazing, but keeping the status quo of what we expect from the greatest show on tv.

we went out and tossed a football around for a while to keep ourselves moving. i jammed my pinkie. it hurts.

jack's kill count: 20

8:11 p.m.
coolness note: i've worked with and talked with the guy who guest d.p.ed three of the episodes this seasons.

starting disc 5 out of 6; we're starting to get a little numb to the whole thing not paying full attention, talking some during the 'slower' parts, but still getting excited. and the last episode just reminded us once again that, yes, 24 will do anything. that being said, this season hasn't been as 'intense' as 2 and 3 were--i don't think as many people will gasp watching it. that being said, we haven't gotten to the infamous 'chinese embasy' episode yet.
now that we are on the second-to-last disc, the end is appearing on the horizon and i think we will make it. actually, i've never doubted that we would finish this [and what a goal, right?] still, it's nice to get near the finish.

i've been icing my pinkie and the swelling has gone down, i'm debating if i should go for a slice of cold pizza or some thanksgiving pie, and i never did get those eggs. [actually, i got one, but it was hardboiled.]

jack's kill count: 38 [we're hoping to get to 50 by the end of the 'day']

11:05 p.m.
i've been having to prod mark every so often, but he just declared that he's going to make it.
and now we start the sixth and final disc, the anchor leg, the home stretch. mark's eating a bowl of orange rock star float and egg nog ice cream, i'm contemplating a can of apple beer [bottles are so much better], and we're both getting a little numb; the last episode was the best one of the season so far, one that we probably would have been on the edge of our seats; instead, we were somewhere in the 'pretty interested' category.
when we had five episodes left, it felt like we were close to the end--only five left. when mark described it as a drive to las vegas, that kind of sent my head for a trip.

it's looking like we will finish shortly after 2:00 a.m. really pretty good time, all things considered. and my pinkie is still sore, but the swelling has gone down.

jack's kill count: 42
chloe: 1

12:30 a.m.
we're down to the final two. 'cowboy hats help you stay awake' states mark, and it seems to be working for him. on the other hand, he's getting kind of weird, now trying to play a broom like a guitar to keep himself entertained.
all this is now is running down the clock. we should be all excited about the final climax; instead, we can barely remember what happened even an episode ago. in fact, every 'hour' [42 minutes without commercials] is feeling longer and longer. they used to fly by, but now i look at the dvd timer, thinking we're near the end and find that it's only 13 minutes into the show. kind of too bad, too, as this is some of the best work around right now, and we are so over-saturated that we can't appreciate it.
maybe the hardest part is the psychological perception of time--whether it's because we've been sitting here for more hours than i honestly want to admit or because we're sucked into the world of the show, but it feels like it's 4:30 a.m. or later [and it's been feeling like that for a while].
we're detatched from the show. it's mostly just running down the clock.
and the powerful 'ticking' sound of the clock is starting to get annoying.

did you ever see 'they shoot horses, don't they?', about the marathon dance competitions?

1:53 a.m.
we did it. 24 should not be watched like that, but we did it.
i don't regret doing it, but i can't recommend it to anyone.
and now we're going to sleep.

jack's kill count: 43

Sunday, November 19, 2006

editor's note

dear readers,

i deeply and sincerely regret the current and prolonged famines of this publication. i know that some of you very much enjoyed the daily postings that came since the blog's inception this year and generally continued throughout much of the summer.
when a reading base has been established, it is the duty of the publisher to see that deadlines are met and that a certain degree of respect and responsibility is shown to those who matter.
recently, our staff has become exceedingly busy with other matters-- sadly, none of which involve any degree of notable interpersonal female relations.
sudden changes in daily structure can have rippling effects, and a lack of time management skills can quickly erode seemingly extranneous activities.

certainly, this takes a mental toll on all of here, including our writing and editing departments [which is to say nothing for h.r., who seem to be have hit the hardest of anyone].
our r&d staff, however, has been working around the clock, compiling weeks worth of material that we feel is not only interesting but also up to the standards our readers have come to expect from sheep go to heaven. several dates have been set for press time, only to have other priorities arrise that have sent our publishing department into near-tantrums, pulling our their hair and yelling about 'the suffocation of the artist'.

after many long nights with third party-mediation, we have decided to begin publishing backlogued commentaries, insights, opinions, reviews, emotings, and rantings just as soon as they pass by my desk.

as readers, i encourage you to check the recent archives from time to time, as we will be publishing these articles under the date which they occured, beginning with october 20, 2006, and continuing until we reach this posting.

we hope you continue to enjoy our work here, and i welome your comments at anytime.

thank you, and be excellent to each other.

jeff gustafson
sheep go to heaven

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

a closer look...

never in my life have i seen a movie that has left me with more to say while still not knowing if i the movie was worth seeing or to be avoided, yet that is exactly how i felt watching 'american beauty'.
i was in japan when it was released and winning all the oscars, so i didn't hear a lot about it for a while. in fact, i didn't know much, other than it was best picture, kevin spacey won for it, as did the great conrad hall, and that when i mentioned i wanted to see it, a friend of mine who is less scrutinous about movies than i am, said 'no, you don't want to see it; it's not a good movie.'

it was on tbs one night, and that's what the dvr is for.

but before i get into the complicated matter, let me rave about that which there is no debate: conrad hall is truly amazing. arguably the most talented and respected cinematographer in cinema history, i have often wondered how a movie that's about a suburban family would be so expertly photographed. as i write this, i notice a sort of personal irony, as his work in 'searching for bobby fischer' is one of my four most beautifully shot movies, and that work is enhanced by the movie's outwardly mundane story of a little boy playing chess. just a michelangelo reportedly was told that nothing good could be carved from the oddly-shaped block of marble that would produce 'david', constraints of our working environment often push us to excellence beyond what seems to be possible. in 'american beauty', nearly every scene, from start to finish, is wrapped in light and shadow in a way that does not distractingly draw attention to itself, but strengthens the whole of which it is a part. gymnasiums, living rooms, front yards and bedrooms, corportate offices and fast food drive-thrus, the back alley outside of a dinner party, all look like works of art created without effort, as if they were always beautiful but no one took time to notice them until the camera came. visually, suburban disfunctionality has never held more artistry.

that's the easy part.
but what about the movie itself?

watching it, i kept thinking to myself, 'turn it off.' it was unhappy, with no admirable characters. everyone seemed to be destroying their lives, often willingly and without any notable remorse. yes, there is a form of storytelling known as 'naturalism', based upon the supposition that a portrayal and exposure of evil will cause the viewer to inspect their own lives and erradicate the similar traits in their own lives. but the question should soon follow, 'does it work' and 'how much is too much?' has 'in the company of men' made us kinder to those around? did 'salo' solve all of the world's problems? is your family better now that you've seen 'american beauty'? this is a question for the individual, but from my observations on society, i do not subscribe to the theory of naturalism. one of 1999's other 'best actor' noms, richard farnsworth in 'the straight story', was more inspiring to change [and yes, i am aware of the ironic and tragic choices me made a few months later].

throughout much of the movie, i was asking myself what the director was trying to show. was i being encouraged to throw off the chains of corporate america, throw my anger in my boss's face, and buy a corvette? will i also 'rule' then? or was lester's [kevin spacey] irresponsibility of working at the fast food joint a morality lesson of what not to do? certainly, he seemed happy then. his wife, his daughter, her stalker-turned boyfriend, angela, the real estate king, none of them seemed to hold more than an ounce of decency. and we were here to watch almost everything.
i didn't really like being there.

everything was coming to a horrifying collision, with bad choices reacting with misunderstandings and indifference for responsibility. then, in the last 15 minutes, angela's confession to lester changed everything. everything.
suddenly, our protagonist's became clear again. in a manner very true to life, a quick realization can cause the illusionary phantoms of sin and tempation to disappear and we can see reality once again in clarity. the muddled gray lies disolve into bold contrast, and the wrong path and its consequences are exposed without glamor.
the lies and mists that he had been following were gone, and he saw again what was real, what was important, and what was actually happiness. and the movie had the strength and the boldness to say that 'family' is matters most.

in the fashion of a david lean epic, this should have been the intermission of the movie. there should have been another two hours of movie, or an 'american beauty vol. 2'. instead, the story gives us a tinge of hope then irreparably ends the story, and timidly bows out with a mediocre monologue.

yes, lester's closing monologue leaves us with a certain amount of hope and perhaps even resolution to appreciate what we have, but for all the gradiose skill of the movie, the story ends because no one knows how to tell the next half. we are very good at showing humanity decending to the depths of hell as we understand them; we can show misery, sorrow, pain, and agony very well and very honestly. but to show the redemption of a marriage is a story that hollywood genuinely does not know how to tell.

'american beauty' is about family, and the core of the family is lester and his wife. there are several movies about the fall and redemption of parent and child, or between siblings, but any story that primarily deals with boy+girl either ends with them getting together or them starting together and falling apart. no one knows how to tell the story of creating a strong and happy marriage. countless sports movies have told the stories of starting at the bottom and reaching the top, and we never seem to grow tired of them [and that's a good thing], thus showing that an interesting story does not have to glean conflict solely from denegration.
to my knowledge, the only movie that has successfully addressed this is 1927's 'sunrise'. 'jerry maguire' attempted but found he didn't really know what to say in the end.

would i recommend 'american beauty', or would i watch it again?
the technique and artistry of the movie are quite amazing, and there are websites that bring all sorts of insights [i didn't know that 'american beauty' was the kind of scentless rose displayed throughout the movie], and the movie has a good lesson at the end. but it was a lesson i already knew, and the filth and mess to wade through to get there is not worth it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

she's so refined...

it's fun to go on a fun date.
an evening with buster keaton helps.

i must say, part of me was sad when neither jack nor aaron nor mark could come along with us, but if things go well, it can be fun to be just the two of you.
byu was doing a 'silent film night', something i had never heard of before but which seemed to be regular occurance; i suppose it's possible that things have changed since i was at school two years ago, but not likely. i bought two tickets to the gala--buster keaton's 'college' in the dejong concert hall, with live accompaniment--and regretted not getting a byu friend to buy them for me at the student price. meh.

wanting to have fun, i called kristin and suggested we dress up for the outing; i wore one of my shiny silver shirts and a black hat. i really do wish men wore hats again. her mom opened the door and invited me in. i seem to end up talking girls' moms a lot more than dads, for various reasons. while i've been in the dating scene for a while and really don't get nervous, i can't help but wondering about those few moments while the girl is getting ready. is her mom looking at me, wondering 'so this is the guy taking out my daughter?' is it some secret interview, asking subtle questions to judge my character in five minutes? in reality, i think she's being friendly and hospitable. but that doesn't make for good blog-pondering.

i'd never really talked with kristin outside of f.h.e. and church, but anyone who can go through my ipod and sing along with the songs wins with me. i'm really not sure why, if you can sing along, you've got my first vote.

the event itself was great. while i believe all movies should be seen in a crowded theater, comedies are especially enhanced by the populated environment. the organist was a different guy that i'd seen at previous silent movie events, but still did a very good job. we were encouraged to clap, cheer, boo, hiss, and have a gay old time, and we did. before the movie was a sing-a-long to old timey tunes like 'my bonnie lies over the ocean'. it was also the first time i'd heard humans sing 'daisy'.

'the general' may always be the great buster keaton movie, although 'sherlock jr.' gives it a run for the money, yet 'college' lived up to everything i had promised. the plot is tried and true, the nice but downtrodden hero is ignored by the girl for the jerk she hangs around only because she can't see anyone else, yet with determination he wins her in the end. all good and well, what makes a keaton movie is the physical stunts, leaving you not only asking 'how did he do that?' but also 'how did he survive that?' that these were made 80 years ago, obviously long before any sort of cg effects, and also before modern safety and padding had been devised [the high jumpers in the movie's track team landed on a pile hay]. along with the rest of theater, we booed, cheered, stood up and applauded, and laughed until it hurt.

with the evening still relatively young afterward, we went off to what has become one of my favorite places in town, 'the happy sumo'. yes, their standard plates of sushi are four times what you can pay for in downtown tokyo, but that's not why one frequents this trendy restaurant. far and away, the tastiest [and most economical] items are the rolls--a full page of different styles, augmented with everything from crab to avacado to spicy sauce to those nasty fish eggs are available. we opted to sit at the bar, because there was less of a wait, plus we got to hang out with the sushi chefs [and i found that having a pretty girl as you date helps with the service].
stories, jokes, and a couple plates of good sushi, coupled with a great cultured movie and a fun girl makes for a great date.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

howling at the moon [sha-la-la]

sometimes i just want to scream

when i was driving home last night, realizing that it was halloween and i wanted to call someone and say it was cool and fun and then realizing that i had no one to call

or because i need to become much better at managing my time because i feel like i am spending all my time working on this movie yet seem to get so little done and wonder if i am making any progress or only circles

because my life feels like a poorly mounted lens, in that no matter what i do, i cannot find the focus

for my sister, who is one of the neatest people i have ever known and is hanging out with an equally neat boy and doesn't know what to do with this new possibility

and maybe i just want to scream because i wonder if anyone would hear me?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

and now for something completely different

i'm on my way to salt lake to work because... because that's what i do; i go to salt lake to work.
just coming over the crest of the point of the mountain, my sister calls me.
'brother, president hinckley is coming to the devotional today! are you coming?'

at that moment, the main focus of my thoughts had been along the lines of wondering if 101.9 was going to play my request of 'gray matter' by oingo boingo before i got to kirk's.
i told becky i'd be there. hearing the prophet is worth putting off work for a few hours.
i called kirk and said i'd get there later.
the mariott center was 30 minutes away.
i had 20.

talking on your cell phone while driving down the freeway is something i do quite often, and texting is more often than i would like to admit [although the T9 function certainly helps things out]. but i had a 'conversation' with a friend, trying to find out where the seats were available.
my guardian angel must have been watching over me, because not only did i text safely, i made it to the mariott center without hitting a single red light for the entire way.
things like that don't 'just happen'.

i found becky, dressed in her purple kimono, sitting near the top, behind the podium. but at least we got seats.

president hinckley said that because it was halloween, it was cause for something a little different, and which point laughter spread through the arena; we laughed, too, though not really knowing why. i later found out that he revealed he was wearing a pumpkin-speckled tie.
it was also different because, instead of a standard 'talk', he shared ten or so short stories or moments from his life. on the surface, several of the stories didn't really seem to mean much. and that i found fascinating, as i wondered what he saw in his experiences that i did not. why did he find that story worth telling to thousands of college students?
it left me with something think about, and i think there was great wisdom in that.

Monday, October 30, 2006

at the late night picture show

it's halloween, we've got a messy activity planned, and the clubhouse is booked. so what do you do? you push back your couches and lay down a tarp.

the activity was suggested by a good friend who is always putting a motor on something or blowing up something else. i let him handle the activity, and tonight was a success.
we made ice cream sundaes in others' mouths. from 2-3 feet up.
it was a sort of relay race, to see which team could get a scoop of ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream [the non-dairy aerosol kind], and sprinkles into the mouth of the person lying below in front of you. it was a mess.
and yet, these are the reasons why i love fhe.
i was surprised at how well the whole thing went in our nice little house, which was a tad too little for the activity:
1. with help, everything cleaned up with no residual messes. 2. chocolate syrup does not sting when it lands in your eye.

but because we are the cool fhe group, we did something extra for the holiday; we went to go see 'the nightmare before Christmas' in 3-D at the towne centre cinemark.
now, yes, coordinating money for 25 tickets with a bit of a headache, as the ward payed for half, i got the tickets and people payed me back--and it was a little stressful standing outside the theater with five tickets leftover. yet, in some miraculous fashion, when i counted the money i had, i had more than half, thereby covering the cost of the five tickets from those who didn't show up. that was really cool.

'nightmare' has one of my favorite movies since that night in high school when i came home from play practice absolutely exausted and threw in the soundtrack [which i had bought for some whatever reason]. i've seen it many times [and laugh at the 'bunny!' line everytime], but seeing it in the third dimension is really a new experience. because those barren trees and pumpkins are now sitting six inches in front of your face, it [naturally] pulls you into the world and helps you to look around more. i saw details and touches that i had never noticed before. seeing our jolly old bishop and his wife in those goofy 3-D glasses alone made it worthwhile.

later that evening i was bent over my desk, reading with my head propped against my hand. a sprinkle fell out.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

today is the day before tomorrow

'i predict homsar will be 'pedro', and strong sad will be that dude from the cure or boy george. the cheat...maybe an oompa loompa'. 'strong sad is always the emo rocker and homsar is usually the off-beat movie hero and we are running out of short icons for the cheat.

that's from my friend tyler in oregon, whom i met while working on 'the sasquatch dumpling gang' a few years ago. we bonded by mutual love for 'homestarrunner'. he once stated that his favorite day of the year is the day the homestar halloween cartoon comes out: the monday before all hallow's eve.
it is perhaps the biggest cartoon of the site, and seeing what everyone is wearing is probably the most fun of all; some costumes are immediately recognizable and induce instantaneous laughter, while others are so obscure that i'm grateful for things like the wikipedia and its off-shoots.

life is better when you have things to look forward to, be they big or small.

and i have to say, tyler's predictions are pretty good...

Friday, October 27, 2006

#150: do sheep go to heaven?

here i sit, listening to 'pet sounds' for the second time around [although that's not saying much; it's only about 36 minutes long], pushing myself to write.

i've like sariah for two and half years, and i've known that she hasn't 'liked' me for two and half years. and so i've 'broken up' with her several times, determining to leave her out of my life and move on. of course, that's kind of hard when she doesn't know that and so keeps calling one of her good friends to hang out.
and then the cycle repeats.
a while ago i decided that i really needed to just say 'goodbye' for good.

i walked her to her door tonight and gave her a birthday present [two days ago]. my feelings haven't changed, and neither have hers. so it's really not working out as friends.
and i said goodbye.
our last hug wasn't even anything special.
maybe that's a good thing.

so, thank you to all of you who have cheered me on over the years, telling me to never give up, and being a very encouraging group of cheerleaders. persistance has worked for jack. but not for me.

i've been planning this for a while, and even looking forward to it, to having a clean ending; but i didn't think it would hurt this much.

in closing, please enjoy this:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

all these things that i've seen, part 2

kill bill vol.1 [2003]- i remember seeing quentin tarantino at the mtv movie awards [where 'nappy d' beat 'kill bill' for best movie] as he accepted some award. he was up there with a couple of girls, cheering and yelling and possibly sauced, looking like the leader of a frat house--possessing some talent and leadership skills, but leading and inspiring a lower class.
it felt like that person made 'kill bill'.
vol. 1, anyway.
those of you who know my cinematic history know that 'pulp fiction' is a notable movie for me, and so i was quite excited to see 'kill bill' when they were on tnt.
i haven't seen vol.2 yet, but vol.1 was rather disappointing. 'lacking' may be a better term.
lacking the immensely catchy dialogue of 'pulp fiction', missing the quick intensity of 'reservior dogs', and a general absence of very cool music from a man who once stated that the combination of music and movies is about as raw, visceral experience as you can get.
i've heard that vol.2 is better, especially for those who like 'story' over cool action, but no one can go through byu's film program without a good dose of hong kong kung fu [thank you, darl], and this wasn't even that. kung fu is fun because we get to watch spectacular feats of physicality that leave us in awe--no editing, just a wide shot that lets us watch and know that that's that. the fight scenes in the movie are more eisenstein than bazin [learn your film history], and so less exciting.
the animated scene missed me, the conversation in the sushi bar with hanzo was dull, and i wondered if the black and white was solely a stylistic choice, or if it was easier to sneak past the censors ratings board that way.
it had some good and cool shots peppered throughout, and i liked the brief moment of music entering the o-ren night club [as well as the 'vonage' music] and the silhouetted fights in the blue room. but that's about it.
i heard it said of tim burton's 'mars attacks' that, in the attempt to satire bad alien movies, he ended up with a bad alien movie. tarantino's homage to old kung fu movies bows a little too deeply.

the conversation [1974]- every so often, a director has two movies up for 'best picture'; soderbergh did it in 2000 for 'traffic' and 'erin brockovich', and francis ford coppola did it in 1974 [how a person can even put out two movies in a year seems difficult enough; that they can both be considered among the five best of that year is beyond me]. 'the conversation' lost to 'the godfather part 2', but that doesn't say much about 'the conversation'--i'm hard pressed to think of anything that could beat 'godfather 2'.
'the conversation' stars gene hackman as a surveillance expert [the best, to be precise]. it follows him working through a recorded conversation, him piecing together the bits that he recorded, slowly realizing why he was hired and what his work may lead to. the movie is quintessential 70's cinema, from the use of zooms to the stark, bleak world the story creates, culminating in an ending that is laced with negativity [as well as a very young harrison ford].
technically and even craftsmanshiply, the movie makes no flaws. yet having no faults does not necessarily mean a movie has heart or soul.
worth seeing, but not a must see.

braveheart [1995]- big, long, grand historical epic with really cool blue face-paint. a darn good movie with a story derived from a very long epic poem and little else about a time where records are sketchy at best, mr. gibson does a wonderful job in fulfilling the tricky task of running things both in front of and behind the camera. the movie connects to us despite a few large barriers [set close to a millennium before our time, it is a foreign world about a people we know very little of] largely because the hero is an everyman who arises to greatness out of necessity. in one scene he is talking with a friend [who will later play 'hagrid', if i'm not mistaken], saying that his dream is to be a farmer with his family, but they have this problem to deal with a the moment. the average person achieving great things by choosing the right resonates with all of us.
i think we're also partial to scottish accents.

mr. smith goes to washington [1939]- now this is an american classic. and that's claude raines as senator paine! jefferson smith's [great name, isn't it?] genuine excitement and love for washington d.c. and all that it stands for is inspirational nearly 70 years later. it certainly inspired me to look at the capitol of our nation from a new point of view that is both more energetic and hallowed.
an interesting aspect of films is that they are inherently time capsules--snapshots of their time. in that light, mr. smith is fascinating. it is easy to look back to former days, when life was simpler and people were better [i would occasionally get these stories when i carried groceries for the older customers at sunmart]. if washington held a disgusting and corrupt world in 1939, what is it like now? did this and other criticisms help cleanse our national nervous system, or have things continued to decay? the spirit of jefferson smith lives on today, it seems. as has been written here before on sheep go to heaven, we are living in a nation where faith in our current government is polarized and wavering, while we still resolutely believe in the american government. we need a jefferson smith, an everyman who believes in america with all his heart and will stand up against the cancer of washington d.c. that's pretty much jack bauer.
like the poor, power corruption and all it's accompanying vices will always be with us, but pushing against it is to fight the good fight. mr. smith is not a pessimistic movie--not at all. it leaves us with hope and a resolution to stand a little taller.

to have and have not [1944]- they don't make them like they used to.
that's not a bad thing; there are plenty of really good and really great movies still being made, but that doesn't mean that they supercede the old ones. they don't make them like this anymore because they can't. it just doesn't work.
lauren bacall was nineteen when she asked the great humphrey bogart if he knew how to whistle. the french admired howard hawks because just about everything he touched was great. hawks said he just did what he liked, and if he didn't like it, he'd do something else. he must have liked bacall, because she's great in this, with a quasi-bad girl look that get just about anything she wants. bogart is the rough and tough blue-collar worker with the heart of gold, strong enough to take not only underground thugs and dangerous missions, but the even rougher exterior of bacall. [listen for her as the witch of the waste in howl's moving castle, one of the rare instances where the english over-dub is better than the original language]
foggy harbors, gunshots in the dark, a crooked police squad, and one of the best hollywood couples [who could totally take on pitt and jolie]--make this one on your watch list.

the philadelphia story [1940]- grant. stewart. hepburn. they could be reading the phone book and it'd be interesting. [hmmm; stop and consider that for a moment--that really could be interesting. if i had the clout of steven soderbergh, i'd try something like that....] i'd seen this once before, when i was still a neophyte cinephile, renting the video shortly after i'd seen the a.f.i top 100. i didn't think much of it then, but i do now.
the philadelphia story is a classic example of golden hollywood screwballism and witty dialogue. the story bounds deftly from character to character, giving ample material to three silver legends. similar to ocean's 11 [and 12], it seems that they enjoyed working together and really having fun with the work. stewart is his slightly sarcastic and straight man, grant is the smooth-talking charmer who can return hepburn's wit and fire without breaking a sweat, and hepburn, well, i'm starting to warm up to her brash attitude and at times find myself really enjoying her. and, unlike a lot of movies that leave you guessing who will end up with who, only to make a choice that doesn't quite work, the ending choice is really the only option they had, although i didn't see it until the end.
it's a classic folks.

ninotchka [1939]- i'd never seen a gretta garbo movie before, which was a severe fault in my cinema culturability. and so, i can't compare it in the compendium [e.g. this is the movie where 'garbo laughs', if i'm not mistaken, but that doesn't mean much to me]. i will forego any rantings about how much i loved the movie in favor of some samples:
ninotchka: we don't have men like you in my country.
leon: thank you.
ninotchka: that is why i believe in the future of my country.
* * *
leon: don't you like me just a little bit?
ninotchka: your general appearance is not distasteful.
* * *
ninotchka: the last mass trials were a great success. there are going to be fewer but better russians.
* * *
leon: a russian! i love russians! comrade, i've been fascinated by your five-year plan for the last fifteen years.
* * *
ninotchka: what have you done for mankind?
leon: not so much for mankind... for womankind, my record isn't quite so bleak.
* * *
ninotchka: i should hate to see our country endangered by my underwear.

Monday, October 23, 2006

the most wonderful time of the year

i love jacket weather.

i like wearing my long-sleeve shirts, my hoodies and the leather jacket that tim gave me a few years ago.
i like the crispness in the air, the colors of the leaves, and the occasional smell of those same leaves buring.

i think some of this comes from the fact that i generally enjoyed school, and the associated memories of the whole thing amplify the fondnessity of the feelings.

perhaps it's because i like the night time, and so i enjoy the shorter days and the magic of the evening.
or because minnesota is so beautiful in autumn.

i do prefer being cold to being hot, and i december is my favorite month, which is just around the corner....

or maybe i just like fall.

Friday, October 20, 2006

tales of a 2nd a.c.

i think that if i know i'm only on a job where i have to get up at 5:something in the a. for a couple of days, i don't mind it as much.

today was day 4 of 4 on series of d.i. spots i've been working on with the Church. we're shooting up in salt lake and much of the crew lives in that general direction, leaving just me and our b-camera operator with the equipment van at the provo studio.
on some adoption commercials last year i got comfortable just driving this big 12-passenger van up, down, and around i-15. *i've never been much for big cars--i drive a sweet little honda; before that, my bronco II ['the max'] was rather stumpy and fit into just about anywhere. and in high school, i was rather tall and dating a rather short girl; she loved big station wagons, and my dream car has always been a vw bug. pickup trucks and my dad's lumina ['the executor'] are nightmares* now we are not only driving the big ol' van [with not a lot in it], but towing behind us an even bigger ol' camera trailer, which is heartily packed.

i let the other guy drive for the first day and a half, then realized that, a) i would never learn to tow a trailer if i didn't ever tow a trailer [makes sense] and i would like to be able to do that, and b) while it isn't in any way technically part of the job description, this is guy older and has driven this beast far too many times, and it would make me a better camera assistant if i would drive to and from everyday so he could get some rest. oh, and c) driving gives me more psychological control over the radio, and i like the 101.9 morning show.

on the way home that first day with me at the wheel, he gave me some pointers on how not cause major accidents, rode rage, and how to be polite, and i was quite grateful for that. i was even more grateful that the traffic seemed to thin out at crucial junctures, namely anywhere that i had to turn this elongated monstrosity.
and while i can now rule this beast like my own personal falcor, determining whether a car is far enough behind me that i can safely change lanes still gives me a headache.

we've been in a different place each day: an old elementary school in sugarhouse, a farm [that was really, really cold in the morning {and never, ever eat two mcgriddles- it's a horrible feeling}], the salt lake city library [very cool place], and a d.i. furniture factory [carrying two cameras through there: interesting].

the first day was really a lot of fun, as it seemed like just about everybody i knew was on the crew [we had two large 18K hmi lights on cranes to shine into the school gym, which necessitates more grips and electrics] and having a loader is a nice change i am still getting used to. slowly but surely, i am climbing the ladder.... she's pretty cool and turned out to be a lot more 'green' than i originally thought, and even flashed her first roll on day three at the library--loaders come in two ways: those who have flashed a roll, and those who will flash a roll.
our b-camera [the one i'm working with] came up with some lens and focus issues at the end of the day, and the closest camera we could get for the next morning was byu's.
it was interesting seeing that trusty camera that i had shot so many projects with once again; after two years of using professional equipment, the cougar sr-2 looks pretty beat up. i was kind of expecting that.

a fair amount of day 2 was spent freezing in the morning on that cold, cold farm, talking with one of the electric guys about how cool the wikipedia is.
b-camera broke off to go do some 'quick' 2nd unit shots and finish up the day. instead, we waited for about an hour, i got sick and had to toss aside any embarassment and ask the location lady for a ride to the closest gas station, and we finished our day running across the field to get a shot of the sunset.
a day in the life.....

the salt lake library is really cool and was a fun day, except for that time when we were shooting an interview and i was kneeling next to the 2nd director [there were two directors, which was kind of weird] and my phone [which was turned to 'silent'] suddenly took a picture of the inside of my pants and made the shutter-click sound. it did it again when i moved to take it out and turn it off. i highly doubt it caused any sound issues, but he glared at me and i felt like a lamer.
we got breakfast burritos this morning, which were much better than the mcgriddles.
the library is covered in banners delcaring 'library of the year', and i wondered if it was for the city, state, or union; it's a national award, i found out. as we were wrapping for the day, there was a nice book sale going on, and i picked up nice hardcover copies of 'the da vinci code' and 'dune' for $5. can't be that with a stick. i was also eyeing similar copies of 'Jesus the Christ' and president hinckley's biography, but they were both taken before i could get to them. blast.

friday was just another day, keeping the cameras free from the dust of a furniture factory, getting high off the fumes and wearing face masks. it got a little long near the end, but it's always nice to be working with good people.
it's getting fun driving that beast of a van and trailer.

and paychecks. it's really nice to not have to worry about that.

Monday, October 16, 2006

my best foot flowered

i thought today would be a very long and painful day.
i've recently sat through numberless hours of countless auditions for our own movie in a position where i actually had some say in the matter. so when i got a call from a friend at cosmic, asking me to come in and run a camera for 12 hours of auditions, i was contemplating where my threshold of sanity would fall; even when people care about my opinions i'm climbing the walls after five hours.
and on top of all that, i didn't get much sleep last night.

me+little video camera+white limbo cyc = my day.
i brought a book on lighting to read.

instead of a stuffy agency, it was a rather cool and laid back dude from a local ad agency who was cool to talk with as i ate whatever food i felt comfortable eating out of their fridge and chatting with the colorist guy during the breaks between auditions.
[was that a coherent sentence? trying breaking it down into subject, verb, object and circling the topic]

the auditions were for a....what did he call them? a micro-site?
for their holiday campaign, staples is making 20 little websites that you can go to and just play around--no advertising at all. the two that this company is doing are:

1- a sort of 'mad libs' Christmas letter. i remember the 'fargo forum' did a similar thing several years ago, where you fill the blanks of whatever template you like, be it the 'perfect family' or 'dysfunctional family'. this site will feature a 'church lady'-esque character telling you the secrets of writing [and embelishing] that perfect letter.

2- remember 'a Christmas story' and 'flick', the weiner kid who licks the flagpole? imagine a site where you can have a kid with his tongue stuck to a flagpole sing you any of twenty Christmas carol selections [and have a secret code that will get you aaron neville's greatest hits]. genius stuff, i tell ye.

thus, the first six hours of auditions were ladies and dudes in dresses and other creative apparel [how do you spell that?] reciting a monologue that was rather funny. personally, i thought i could have done it better myself. and so i did. i auditioned and didn't make the callback list.

the second half of the day was in some ways more interesting. first off, people [from both sessions] started thinking i was someone of importance, because they would ask me questions, and after a few rounds of this i began knowing enough to answer. this must have worked well for the real guy, because i ended up running the auditions, even to the point of giving these kids direction during their performances.
and speaking of which, seeing kids ages 8-13 singing 'jingle bells' whilst holding their tongues can run the whole gamut of interest, from pitifully dull [some kids just don't have it, despite what their mom's may think] to genuinely and incredibly funny [some kids do have it, especially the one who brought in a broomstick to act as the flagpole, doing an entire monologue, or the kid who mimed the pole actually coming out of the ground and falling on him].

good people to work for, i read the entertainment weekly article on this new 'borat' movie while waiting for the dvds to burn, and made it home in time to see the final few episodes of season 3 of 24 [and yes, that had us gasping on the edge of our seats, understanding what phil meant when he said he wasn't sure if we were ready for it--in 24, they will do anything].

Friday, October 13, 2006


it occurred to me today that it was indeed friday the 13th, and in october, no less.
and yet i had nothing planned for this evening. and frankly, i was ok with that.
i've had so much to do for the past few weeks that a night off is a very welcome event. getting the five postings that i've had partially written for almost two weeks was at the top of the list.
i came home from the happy sumo [possibly my new favoritest restaurant in provo] and mark told me that some friends were meeting here to go watch a movie in a graveyard. [jill certainly has her style, that's for sure] it's good to be social, and i want to become more of a person who goes out with the group and does the fun things, but i really, really wanted a nice evening to get the inner zen of jeff alligned with my chi.

people showed up, old friends and new, and eventually the urgings of the group combined with my previously stated intentions of being a more active group member and i went. we grabbed mark's new laptop and 'wait until dark', the quintessential utah valley scary movie.
all the way down to spanish fork i was scanning the radio stations, deciding that if it's friday the 13th, someone ought to be playing oingo boingo. taking matters into my own hands, i made close to a dozen calls in an attempt to make a request; i've never had a station be so constantly busy...

the graveyard idea was fine; nine of us, huddled together around a tree, trying to stay warm under blankets and unzipped sleeping bags, with the subtitles turned on because the computer's speakers didn't carry very far.

i have a funny tendancy about watching movies; if it's a movie like.... um... 'bill and ted', i'm all for the talking and joking and the group movie mentality. but in movies that require any sort of careful attention to plot detail, i sometimes get inwardly frustrated when people talk, joke, or generally don't pay attention. i guess i want them to enjoy the movie instead of enjoying themselves. restated, i really enjoy seeing people really enjoy a good movie, and so when i see that chance lost, it bothers me.

when the computer's battery died, we packed up and went home. to be honest, i didn't think we'd get that far before getting booted out of the cemetary, but apart from a pickup that drove through the place and didn't care that we were there, we didn't see nobody.

on the way home, i continued to hope and pray for some boingo, but all i got were queen and david bowie and more busy signals. as we pulled in to the neighborhood 'dancing with myself' came on, which gets an honorable mention since it has dancing zombies in the video.

and now they're all downstairs, finishing the movie while i sit here and type, listening to oingo boingo's 'grey matter'.

i'll go down and join them.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

i'm nobody's little weasel

for 'great classic foreign movie night' tonight we watched amelie.
the first time i saw amelie, some three years ago, it didn't do it for me. i had heard so much about it beforehand that the movie couldn't possibly live up to its reputation. i watched it, i saw things that were neat and fun and clever, but it just didn't click with me. every time i have seen it since then, i have liked it more and more.

tonight i fell in love with it. interestingly, it wasn't the movie's famous style or tricks that smote me, but the underlying themes, both deep and fun, that i noticed and liked.

amelie just made my top 10.

on a similar vein, mle 'tagged' me; i don't know what that means entirely, but it gives me something to respond to:

What do you like most about where you live?
that i own all of my own furniture, i have good neighbors on both sides, i'm about five minutes from byu and i-15, and there're a surprising number of places to see good movies around.

Is there anything strange about where you live?
the flags that appear on our lawns every so often [and subsequently disappear just as mysteriously], the water drains unusually noisily down the pipes, and the walls jiggle just a bit when trains go by.

What's one of your all time favorite music albums and why?
i've raved about the beach boys' 'pet sounds' before, and that still stands.
unassumingly purchased for the heck of it, coldplay's 'x&y' is a near perfect album: from the opening ethereal sounds of 'square one', aurally swimming through the lakes of the subconscious, to the universal contemplation of 'talk' [really getting overplayed on the radio lately, if it's possible to overplay a coldplay sound], the porcelain beauty of 'fix you', and every other song exists outside of reality. every song is unique while remaining cohesive with the emotional theme of the album, culminating in '+'.

and the orb's 'adventures in the ultraworld' is not only a pioneering landmark of techno, but 100+ minute symphony, layered with sounds and rhythms creating richness and depth. 'little fluffy clouds' helped sell the new vw bug some ten years ago, russian choral music blends with a nasa-sounding report, and 'star 6 & 7 8 9' is what love sounds like.

those would be my three 'deserted island' cds.

Did you have a passion for something as a kid that you still have now? (If not what is one of your passions now?)
i sometimes wonder that i may have lost some of my passions as i have grown up.
whlie i didn't think about it at the time, i did spend many hours playing with my dad's big fatty video camera, doing stop motion, tying g. i. joes to my toys and making weird al 'music videos', and turning the camera sideways so i could 'climb' the floor.

What do you like most about having a blog?
it is where what i say will be heard.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

midnight run

amidst a small group of uvsc students who had to have the new 'killers' cd released at wal-mart at midnight, me and jack went to wal-mart at midnight because we had to have the dvd release of 'the little mermaid'.
reportedly, there were actually a fair number of guys also looking for the mermaid.

standing in line, we discussed disney princesses.

'belle' won as most datable.

Monday, October 02, 2006

responsibility, duty, gravity, and reality

working in salt lake much of the day

hurry back home, just in time to pull together fhe and a birthday celebration
enjoying the good feeling of being productively busy

fhe is a boisterous madhouse, mostly in a good way

everyone is off waiting for me to start '24'

and i just want a minute to myself

to clear my head

thank you for reading my blog
i do appreciate it

Saturday, September 30, 2006

otoko wa tsurai yo

for a kid who could barely make it through one two-hour session of conference even when he was 18, i sure do get excited about the whole conference weekend now. having traditions and activities that go with it helps, i'm sure. recently, the routine breaks down like this:
  • leave provo at 7:30-ish in the a.m.
  • park at zcmi mall, where parking is free on conference weekend
  • stop at mcdonald's in said mall
  • wait in line to get into the conference center or go to the legacy theater in the joseph smith memorial building, because when we can't get into the conference center, they send us there anyway
  • bask in the spirit of conference
  • borrow some note paper from my sister because i forgot to bring my own
  • after conference, walk a few blocks [past the guy playing his bagpipes] to 'the house of kabob', our new exotic lunch place now that baba's is gone
  • enjoy lunch and have a blast
  • drive back to provo and listen to the afternoon session on the radio
today followed that pattern rather well.
coming back through the zcmi mall, we passed deseret book store and considered waiting to meet john bytheway [giving all nerdy guys hope]. as i was getting on the elevator, i looked across the way and saw a poster for what is evidently a new book entitled 'strangling your husband is not an option' [or something to that effect].

as a generally nice and well-meaning single man who is halfway to 54, i have started paying more attention more closely to husbandhood in society. i have interviewed for the job several times and one day hope to get hired on. yet there are times when i think i would rather apply for a different opening, were there any other options.
society's view on husbands seems rather cynical. fathers are somewhat respected and the word still connotes an amount of dignity, but husbands... they get a bad rep. barnes and noble has an aisle of books with all sorts of titles offering women help on training the men in their lives to be tolerable and perhaps good for something. the general attitude seems to be of the opinion that men are the worst option out there but they're better than all the alternatives. and, if you're smart and crafty enough, you can probably make something decent out of your man.

perhaps that's getting a little too defensive. maybe i'm looking at the most cynical end of the female sociology. i suppose seeing a book being sold at deseret book with a title suggesting that every woman wants to strangle her useless husband really surprised me. i would have thought that the attitude in the lds community would be different.

on the other hand, i received an e-mail in my junk mail bin advertizing a book on 'how to cheat and not get caught'. that wasn't very encouraging for the male species.

...but a title like that at deseret book?

tonight's priesthood session was wonderful. the entire meeting hit me with about as much force as elder [dallin h.] oaks's talk this morning, but what especially resonated with me this evening was the talk by elder christofferson. lehi's counsel to 'arise from the dust, my sons, and be men' aptly sums up his subject. he shared a comment from president hinckley, saying that the woman we marry takes a terrible chance on us; that we will largely determine the course of the remainnder of her life.
that is very sobering, indeed.
the degree of our manhood is measured by our relationship to women.
i think all of us walked out of there with a new resolve to work harder and learn what it really means to be a man.

it takes a lot.
at and times, we don't live up to all that is hope of us.
please have patience. love your husband.
don't strangle him.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

tell me all your politik

i was in japan for the 2000 presidential elections. when i came back to the u.s.a., i thought presient bush seemed like a fine guy. when we were attacked on sept. 11, he stood on the pile of rubble with the megaphone and rallied america together, and i, along with some 80% of you, gathered behind him.
the fighting in afghanistan was swift and effective; at one point we had lost only six soldiers, while defeating over a thousand of the enemy. mission accomplished.

then one night in march 2003, we were hanging out in 104, watching tv, when the president came on tv and gave saddam 24 hours to get out of baghdad. he didn't, so we went in, and thus began the iraq war, or whatever you want to call it.
regardless of nomenclature, that is the most universally controversial topic of our current government leadership.

what is going on over there, anyway?
i don't know, and i don't know if anyone does.
we don't even know how it's going.
it is hardly a contestable point that news services are skewed, biased, and edited. the rise in popularity of 'the daily show' has created an interesting trend in edutainment; last fall i heard a statistic on npr that a significant percentage of college age adults get their information from 'the daily show.' heck, i think we did in 2004. it was clever, funny, and the jokes and snide remarks operated only after showing a clip of the 'actual' news. further, you had to be educated and informed on the issues to understnad the humor. and in the world of single-serving news bites, the clips shown before jon stewart were nearly as informative as anything on msnbc or fox news. so why not get your news with a laugh?

it's unfortunately true that it is all about the ratings, and the other 'serious' news shows have had to compete for watchers. thus they have started pundit shows with sarcasm and more trivial news, soliciting laughs instead of information, further diluting the already bland media world.

but where is the truth, anyway? all of us have seen movie trailers advertising one story, but the actual movie is a completely different genre. context can be created however the editor-in-power wants. what clips do we show of iraq? a tight shot of a small crowd gathered around a toppling statue? soldiers terrorizing an possibly innnocent family in attempts to find insurgents? children playing playing peacefully the day before we invaded? iraqis sharing their gratitude for liberation?
regardless of the clip, cynical remarks on 'the daily show' don't do anything to support the situation; sarcasm just doesn't work that way. by nature of the satirical show, it mocks the current administration and the situation in iraq. and, just like in high school, we tend to rally around the cool rebel who makes witty remarks at the struggling leadership. it's easier.

look anywhere on tv and it is nigh-impossible to find anything by or for a twenty-something audience that supports the war or the presidency. billie joe is selling far many more albums by protesting the amercian idiocy than proclaiming patience and endurance. john lennon's charisma carries on even today, left hands raising in proclamation of 'make love, not war', insisting that if people are dying, it must not be a good idea.

i am not advocating that everything is going peachy in iraq, or that there aren't things we could be doing better. i am saying that there is a problem with the modern popular american mentality. when the score was 6 to 1000 in afghanistan, we didn't have many complaints. now that it's actually become hard and difficult, we have cast away any confidence we may have collectively possessed as a republic and raise the easiest outcry: we simply yell 'no more war' and 'get out now'.

from talking with a returned soldier and friend, i have been told that there are still plenty of places in iraq that could have the notorious wmd's, and further, regardless of their existance or not, removing saddam was alone a very good thing for the country.
but that is not my ultimate point.

when the president went in to iraq, the majority of us said 'ok, you're the president'. he works for us, and we approved his decision. yet now that it has gotten hard, we all say 'this isn't fun' and want to quit. as soon as it becomes hard and the term 'blood, sweat, and tears' becomes much more literal, we want to retract, drop what we are doing an run. not only is that the antithesis of the united states, that is the sign of weak character and a lack of intergrity.

lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it is not our place to complain anymore. it was a splash of cool water to hear brian williams [nbc's news anchor] on conan o'brien a few nights ago comment, in an almost off-handed fashion, that regardless of whether or not we agree, he is our president and we should support him. election time is the time to fight for your choice, and when the majority's voice is heard through a system that we agree upon by being americans and partaking of the services offered here, we then work together to support the chosen leader, even if they weren't our choice. at the very worst, eat your vegetables and then campaign that much harder for your choice in four years.

when someone is in a moment of difficulty and crisis, yelling at them and calling them 'stupid' rarely helps them perform to their best. when the cougars are down by a touchdown or two, the fans do not start yelling insults at quartback john beck or coach mendenhall. that is when we take off our shirts, paint ourselves blue, and put watermellons on our heads; we rise and shout, supporting the team all the more, yelling 'you can do it!', and that is what we need to be doing as a country.

yes, iraq is a mess. at least, that's what i'm told by the news, because that is the popular view for the age group that brings the most lucrative ratings. i honestly don't even know what my position on the war is, because i do not know what is true.
but just because the war has become difficult and our initial strategies have not worked as effectively as we are used to does not mean it was a bad idea or even that it is hopeless. stick with your choice and follow it through to the end. we cannot just get out of iraq; leaving now is the worst option there is. a doctor does not open a patient for surgery and then decide he is tired and walk out of the o.r. our leaders will not perform confidently and to their best if even their own people hate them as visciously as the opponent. we need to come together, accept that throwing a fit will not make it better, but that following through and encouragement just might do it.
we have started a project and we do not quit, we finish.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

only a man of steel

monday night was the funnest fhe we've had in a while, and we had a great turn out, too. we played ultimate frisbee. it's dark by 8:00, so i bought some red and blue glow-in-the-dark wristbands and a few green glowy discs for the frisbee. the rest just happened.

it's becky's birthday on friday and the conference weekend.
good times.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

taking the heat

i don't remember the particulars of this story, as it happened some 20 years ago, but i will say it as i see it.

i was in first grade in nevada, iowa. we came in from recess and the teacher [who's name i do not remember] called us all together, because something had been stolen. she asked who did it. no one responded, and so i raised my hand and said that i did it.

why did i do that? i didn't steal whatever was missing.
i think it was because someone had to take the blame for it, and i figured i would. it just seemed like the best way to aleviate the problem and move on.

it didn't occur to me until later that the teacher may have known who the culprit really was, because she looked at me with some surprise and said, 'jeff, did you really do it?'

'no.' i put my hand down.

whatever gene or wrinkle in my brain that causes such a response from me has remained, as i see evidences of it in me to this day.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

today last year

it's a shame that it was on the same night as the general relief society meeting, because it would have been one heck of a good date activity.

while driving home from an adoption commercial a few weeks earlier, i overheard something on npr about 'buster keaton', only to learn that the capitol theatre in downtown salt lake was having a free showing of the great silent classic, 'the general'. now, if you know my theories on film viewing, you will know that the environment is just as crucial as the film itself, and in some ways, moreso. [if you don't believe me, just let me dance 'the time warp' for you] i had seen keaton's most famous work once before in a class at college, and we laughed our heads off. the movie has deservedly withstood the 75+ year test of time. sadly, watching it with a few friends in my living room cannot adequately present the movie and its funny genius.
but at the capitol theater.... this was something not to be missed.

admission was free, but we were invited to bring a donation of 'two bits'. we were also invited to dress all old timey like.
white shirt, vest, hat; we looked the part.

and yes, this would have been a great opportunity to introduce a nice young lady to the cultured of history of cinema, and to show that we are cultured young men. but all these cultured young ladies were [hopefully] listening to sister parkin that night.

dag, yo.

there was a line outside the theatre before the doors opened, and i was very happy to see so many other people who knew greatness when they heard it.

but what made this presentation all the more awesome was that, before the presentation of the main event, there was a live, hour-long npr broadcast from the theatre, comprised of the show host, two film historians [why no dean duncan, i know not], and a man who still plays live film accompaniment, a living treasure.

i think that just about every movie should receive some degree of introduction and/or background before viewing. certainly 'citizen kane' is much, much more impressive once one understands the historic and artistic context in which it was conceived. shoot, even 'armageddon' sounds a like a classic after reading the liner notes provided by the criterion collection.

needless to type, 'the general' is no exception. listening to the program presented on stage was fascinating. we learned of the glory of the silents, anecdotes of how buster keaton got his style, the intricicies and beauty of live film accompaniment, and trivia about 'the general', sometimes found on lists of the greatest films of world cinema, and considered by orson welles to be the greatest civil war film ever.

and then the presentation began.
at the front of the theatre sat the accompanist, creating scores and sound effects in uncanny timing and accuracy [like a cannon blast]. sadly, the projection was digital and not a print [prints of 'the general' cannot be easy to come by], yet after but a few minutes i was sutured into the movie. occassionally we would 'awake' in awe, remember that all this music was being made on the spot by that one guy down in front.

we laughed, we cheered, we booed, and we really, really laughed. it felt good to hurt. and i wondered, why don't they do this more often? everyone who came loved it, and i do not doubt that those who had never seen a silent before laughed just as hard as the rest of us.

as the movie ended, the theatre errupted in appluase for both the immortality of the screen and the immediate talents of our great guest organist. home theaters have nothing on this guy.

i had the opportunity to hear him at byu a few months later, playing for one of the other penultimate classics, 'sunrise'. and i loved every minute of it again.

even to this day, if you ask either of my friends who were with me what it was like, seeing 'the general' with live accompaniment, they unwaveringly declare the highest praise, denying any hyperbole.

probably the capstone of my personal cinematic experiences, the others in the running include: seeing 'psycho' at the midnight showing at byu, the re-release of 'star wars' in high school, and the opening night of 'return of the king.'

i think it still drives jack nuts that he couldn't come.
and it should.

Friday, September 22, 2006

all these things that i've seen, part 1

with the combination of a dvr and comcast's digital program guide, it is very easy to go through the line-ups on american movie classics, turner classic movies, and even tnt, and just record everything that looks interesting. i currently have some 20 movies recorded and waiting to be watched [and have told myself i will not record any more until i can get these viewed]. i will post brief reviews of them as i go.

maybe you will find something you like.

my man godfrey [1936] -wonderful example of a 1930's screwball comedy. it began with an interesting social commentary, as a couple of clueless or heartless socialites go to the city dump in seach of a 'forgotten man' as part of an upper class scavenger hunt. the man becomes the butler [seinfeld, anyone?] of the family, the only island of reason amidst the family of two silly, bickering, and completely undisciplined daughters and an equally shallow mother. the dialogue is extremely funny at times, delivered with lightning speed and returned with deadpan counter-comments. my only complaint was the supposedly 'happy ending', feeling contrived and unbelievable; yet it was the only choice the movie left itself and is pardoned, due to the depression-era audience, looking for all ends to be tied nicely. still, the movie deserves its spine number on the criterion collection.

the magnificent ambersons [1942]-welles's second movie, following shortly after his making the greatest movie of all time. with a voiceover by the man himself, the story is more linear and traditional than 'kane', and, while never overly-compelling, is worth seeing and a good movie that has stood the test of 60+ years. the cinematography was beautiful [as is to be expected], full of light and shadows, and hearkened so gently to citizen kane that i was quite surpised to see the credit belong to the great stanley cortez and not the great gregg toland. as was common with welles, there were several of the mercury theatre actors involved, and i loved the closing credits; instead of title cards, welles's voice introduced the players, giving the names of all the department head as the camera showed a sound recorder, costumes, an editing machine, or a movie camera. really cool.

the last samurai
[2003]-i've liked most of tom cruise's movies that i've seen: jerry macguire, minority report, war of the worlds, and m:i:i & iii [didn't like born on the fourth of july, but that's more of oliver stone's fault]. and i liked the last samurai, which could have just as easilly be entitled dances with samurai. a little long at times, the battle sequences were great, realistic enough to contain the emotional impact of war without becoming overly graphic [thank you, amc]. the japanese people spoke japanese to each other, instead of speaking english with thick accents, and the subtitles were really good translations, carrying the idea instead of the words.

the phantom of the opera -1925 and silent, and i liked it every much as last year's movie. and in some ways, more. 81 years old, it held my attention for the entire way--the proscenium sets were great, especially the backstage and underground chambers, lit with great chiarascuro skill, and the pacing of the story moves smoothly. the print was dyed different colors depending on the location of the scene, and the masquerade was filmed in color [a primitve three-strip process and very impressive], nicely showing off the phatom's 'red death' costume. it was pointed out to me that, in mr shumacher's movie, the phantom wasn't really repulsive; he looked like a versace model with a deformity on one side of his face--some people might even find that kind of attractive. lon cheney, however, is perhaps the most famous make-up artist in cinema history, and as the phantom, he looks like a ghoul. his eyes are sunken, his face gaunt, his skin leathery; he is repulsive.
not scary anymore, but certainly worth watching, and just in time for halloween.