Tuesday, February 28, 2006

a whisper down the line at 11:39

easy come, easy go: i got a call from a girl who i worked with on a hyundai commercial last summer, telling me there was a big warner bros. movie looking for a loader and that they would be calling me. grateful to have such good work, i started going through my gear, seeing what i had and what i would need to buy. an hour or two later, she called back, apologizing that they hadn't called, saying that there were some legal complications and that they had to use someone else instead; but she said she knew some other people coming in to town, and she was really impressed with my work and will continue to pass my name along.
and that's life in this business--one minute you have nothing coming, and the next you have work. and sometimes there is a third minute when the work you have vanishes.
but the strangest and oddest phenomenon is that as soon as you accept one job, one or two more will call you that day or the next and want you to work for the same days. i have had to turn down work on 'e.r.' and a three-day trip to costa rica because of such comic fates.
i can't wait until i get into business school and can have a desk job, where i sit at the same place every day for years.

like amelie and her parents, i enjoy emptying out my cd towers, organizing them, and putting everything back. i also enjoy listening to old cds that used to be 'staples' of my repertoire. fascinating how i haven't listened to cats in years, yet still know every word and some of the dancing.

lastly, i agree with jaime: the cool, wet overcast weather is wonderful.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

reason #256 why i love my sister

last night i was sitting on the kitchen counter with my legs crossed, talking with my sister who was eating a tuna fish sandwich. i moved to jump down, and my slipper caught on the oven door, trapping my other leg in a sort of knot [the 'k' is silent]. with inertial momentum in charge, i teetered over and onto the floor, my knees meeting the floor first.
that hurts.
becky had turned to leave the room and looked back just in time to see her big brother crash onto the floor.
this was very funny to her.
i yelled in pain. she laughed.
i yelled and laughed.
she continued to stand there and laugh.
i yelled and laughed and choked on the chex mix i was eating.

later we laughed together.
i love my sister.

Friday, February 24, 2006

"the best of 2005" or "how i rocked gladstone, oregon"

at the end of may 2005, i made a 12-hour drive from provo to portland to work on a movie called the sasquatch dumpling gang. maybe it'll be in theaters one day.

it had been a while since i had done a feature, and i didn't know the other camera assistants before arriving, so i was kind of nervous about doing a good job. i took the serious approach, keeping quiet but trying to work as hard as i could. my reasoning was that i would rather be a diligent loader who was cool once you got to know me than a guy trying to be funny and doing an ok job.
it was hard at first, as i could never seem to say anything interesting even when i wanted to and was sure they would fire me any day for not being fun to work with.

next to the hotel where we stayed was the 'high rocks' lounge, which is a euphemism for 'smokey restaurant'. every saturday night they had karaoke, so one saturday night my roommate and i went over the check it out. a lot of the crew liked to sing, and it was fun seeing people in a little more of a relaxed environment. i looked at the song selection, hoping to find 'beyond the sea,' but had no such luck. it didn't matter, as the clock soon struck midnight and i headed back to the hotel.

but i am a sucker for karaoke, and kept thinking about it throughout the week. people were talking about it on set, asking me if i was going to sing. the production manager and one of the make-up girls said they would dance with me if i got up there, so i had some support. i said i wasn't sure, because the song i wanted to sing wasn't available.
...but i had another plan brewing.

saturday night came around, and i was nervously sitting in my hotel room, trying to build up my courage. i had the song i wanted to sing, and if i could pull this off, it would be really cool.
the danger of karaoke is that many songs are easy to sing along with in your car, but when it's just your voice, your realize why those guys are making records and you aren't. [never try 'take on me'--you are asking for failure, unless you are jack]
i listened to the song on my computer a few times to make sure there weren't any surprises, then went out the door.

by now i had made some friends on the crew and found them at a table in the 'lounge.' someone was singing a song while kim and molly had a cool back-up dance going ['son of a preacher man', i think]. i ordered a strawberry lemonade and reached for the song book.
i thought about 'it's not unusual', but was told that it had already been done, so i made my choice, gave it to the dj, and took a sip of my drink.

after just one more song they called me, saying 'and next we have jeff!'
trying to act as cooly as i could, i got up and walked past my friends, none of whom knew what was coming up.

part of what made this so successful was the environment; the big screen tv that displayed the words was down on the main floor, surrounded by several small tables. there was a raised level behind that, with a few tables and the booths, which is where most of the crew was.
the place was full, allowing for energy to flow freely. this was crucial.

i took the mic as kim and molly came down to dance; and the kinetic beat of billy idol's 'dancing with myself' came on.
just being me, i did a little dance to the intro music.

the audience began to cheer.

i knew i had made the right choice.

what happened next i can only remember through emotion. the tumblers of the universe fell into place and for those three minutes and nineteen seconds, i was a rock star; i was ferris bueller.
i sang with a rebel yell, walking between tables like i owned the place, jumping as electricity
flowed through the place like a superconductor. kim and molly kept up. flashes were going off.

when it was all over, guys i had never seen were giving me hi-five's, girls i didn't know were giving me hugs, and the crew was amazed. 'where did that come from??' i heard.

sitting back down at the table, tyler awarded me 'an infinite number of moxy points.'
i felt pretty cool.

i saw the video later that summer. it has dancing zombies. that is really cool.

i still smile whenever i hear it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

the juice

four or so years ago, the international cinema showed abel gance's masterpiece, napoleon [1927, i think]. the blasted thing is silent and four hours long, but i wanted to add it to the list of movies i've seen, and knew that i could never sit through that much moving picture at home. this was my one and only chance.
i took it, and i loved it. a large part of the film's beauty is carmine coppola's immaculate scored, which was incidentally added sometime in the 1970's; francis ford had made so much off the godfather that he could give money to his father to score some silent movie about a short dead dude. worth every penny, but that is fodder for another day's posting.

with the i.c. as such a useful resource for seeing very long movies [tarkovsky's solaris comes to mind], i was quite excited to see the definitive six-hour pride and prejudice on the schedule for this semester. if you count the lord of the rings and the decalogue as parts rather than wholes, this would be the longest movie i have ever seen.
i saw half on tuesday and half on wednesday.

i figured i would like it. i saw persuasion and sense and sensibility last saturday, so i kind of knew what to expect, and 2001 is one of my top favorites, so 'slow' has very little relevance.

but i did not think i would love it like i did.
yes, it is six-hours, but there is not a wasted minute. everything is placed purposefully, every look and line having a purpose in the larger tapestry. time is never a concern, because it all has a purpose, although i don't know if i could have done it consecutively. the break gave me a chance to think about what had happened. i admit, my only previous exposure was with the 'pink' lds version, which i used as a sort of 'cliff notes' to helpd me follow what was going on [i agree with the legions: it does not count as 'pride and prejudice.']

watching my first two jane austen movies last saturday [i really loved sense and sensibility] was like watching a foreign film, sadly. there are almost no movies from a female perspective. there are 'chick flicks', and usually they are as demographically exploitive as the lds cinema, mere genre movies reveling in their girliness, rather than looking afresh through their own eyes.
the kind of movies kitty and lydia would watch.

so this was fascinating in and of itself, to see things from a new lens; seeing the confusion and hopes and frustrations and joy of relationships from the other side [and certainly without 'the gaze']. watching a scene with four or more women, all with distinct characters [and clothes!] was very fresh and new. hearing them discuss their situations and observations, watching them
remain silent out of propriety but knowing their feelings, and feeling joy as elinor breaks down in front of hugh grant--it's all very cool.

pride and prejudice is the capstone. six hours of characters, established, flawed and nuanced. none are perfect, although some are of a higher disposition than others. one of my initial questions during my jane austen education was 'what is shown as acceptable, and what behavior is being chastized?' because some actions seem crazy to me, is that because they are, or because i am a guy and 'don't understand'? [i have heard it posed that girls may similarly wonder when watching fight club]
mr. bennet is a favorable character and declares continually that he three of his daughters are the silliest girls in england.
i felt validated.

there was no evil villian, not bad guy that the maiden was forced to marry. that is disney's idea of a girl movie.
no horse chases, no kabooms. no 'love' scenes or even any kissing until the very end, and that is one of the most gratifying kisses in cinema [while we're here, i give the 'holding hand' award to 'punch drunk love']. NONE of the usual 'elements' of a movie here, and yet this a story that is involving and fascinating to watch for hours, with plenty of drama and plot turns.
i thought only yasujiro ozu could do that.

watching the interpersonal epic on the big screen [i was one of four guys in the theater- i have never seen such a concentration of girls at the i.c.] was the ideal way to see it, as it is with nearly every movie. excepting the occasional girl-laugh/hiss/swoon, i became absorbed into the story, forgetting that it was 2006 and that i travel by a honda.
every character played their part well but not as a stock character- while it is easy to recognize each person, they are not cliches. even elizabeth is flawed, as is mr. darcy [if she were perfect, the story would just be called pride, and that would be really dumb].

darcy was perhaps the biggest surprise. before seeing this, i didn't know anything about him but that he was the perfect guy. i suppose i imagined him to be like 'willoughby' from sense and sensibility [before he is revealed to be slimeball]. thus, i was quite confused after the first three hours when girls were melting before him; all i could see was that he was rude and hid in the corners most of the time. i can do that.

i agreed with elizabeth, he was a jerk. [i liked her.]
now that the story is over, i still do not entirely understand the irresistable charm of said darcy. he is noble and kind, respectable and self-sacrificing. he has control and discipline, but it seems i heard other things mentioned in his praise from girls in the theater.

all of this is hinged upon the infinitely intriguing interplay of boy+girl. i have seen many movies that have wise observations on the enigma, yet this has so much time to do it more subtly than most. so much of plot and character and story and emotion is portrayed through looks, glances, and disciplined silences.
mr darcy's nervous asking of the same trite questions that he had asked but a minute earlier rang true and sounded of hope to all nice guys who have had wiring short-outs. i may nominate that as the best scene in the movie, but if it isn't, then another contender would be his awkward proposal scene. the shot is balanced in a way that would inspire wes anderson, and the uneasy groping for conversation topics is so much that we want to shout out something if only to break the ice ourselves.

a spoken word produces a look, which elicites a silence from the listener, then a response.
an attentive viewer knows that very different feelings and ideas were revealed or understood by the conversants. and that is the immaculate genius of the movie.

there were some times when i found myself having acted similarly, although this was from the girls' point of view. could that mean that the response given by the guy [resembling that said by the girl in my experience] would be thinking what the guy was thinking [i.e. the opposite of what was said]?
this was groundbreaking. old understandings began to shift and melt away as light was shed. i was able to unravel confusions and bewilderments that i had pondered over and left unfinished for so long.

i can think of nothing like it. i tried, and after being at pemberly for so long, any other movie i could come up with did nothing but reinforce the uniqueness of this: gone with the wind? casablanca? sleepless in seattle? they are nothing like it.
the insights, observations, and commentaries offered by ms. austen are what has made her timeless. this is a faithful adaptation of the 19th century novel, but it is as current and real as anything that could be written today.

some things never change, and yet we still can't figure them out.
jane comes pretty close, though.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

in a friendly sort of way

once upon a time there was a boy named jeffrey. he was 16 and in high school at moorhead senior high. their mascot was the moorhead spuds. jeffrey was dating a girl named karen. jeffrey's best friend jamie was dating karen's best friend, leah. jeffrey's other best friend jon got shoved off to the sidelines in an unfortunate way. retribution kind of came their senior year.

the match-up of jeff-karen and jamie-leah was an interesting one, because jeff and leah were of a more conservative outlook, while jamie and karen viewed life quite liberally.

karen was a good high school girlfriend. looking back at the cards and gifts saved, it is easy to think of it as a sunny, pastoral time. and in many ways, it was. but as one moves from shoebox mementos to journal entries after we broke up, the other side of reality appears; it wasn't all sunshine and butterflies.
around the same time, jamie and leah broke up, too. shortly thereafter, the girls graduated high school [the whole concept of dating someone younger than me never really sank in until a few semesters into college], jamie went to europe with some college kids and came back too cool for us*, and jon and i have been best friends since.
in that awkward time when i had been dumped [and before there was the ben folds five song to sing along to], i talked with leah some. i tend to fall apart over girls [those of you from the middle ages of 104 may understand], and she was great to talk to. her outlook on life was solid, she was kind and understanding and reasonable. she provided tranquility and sensibility.
there are a lot of good people in the world, and i have been fortunate to meet several of them. while making any sort of list of the neatest people i have known would be silly and arbitrary, leah is one of the greats. she worked as an editor for the school newspaper, and always wrote really cool editorial columns; we used to stay after school for hours to help proofread, and i would draw cartoons and illustrations as needed. she didn't do theatre or choir with the rest of us, but she always came to the performances; she was in band with us, although i forget what instrument she played; her graduation open-house had the best punch of the year; she was the more subdued between her and karen, the kind of person that could be easily overlooked, but never forgotten. reserved but clever and kind and wise, she was truly cool.

once when she was dating jamie, i told her that i loved her, but '...in a friendly sort of way.' that was an in-joke with us from then on.
we exchanged e-mails when she went off to the university of minnesota, and i am grateful that i saved some of those [this was back in the days when e-mail was only for copmuter nerds and college students and was primitive at best; there was no real archival system--i think i was using aol 3.0, or maybe the short-lived local service, 'prairie on-line']. we lost touch a year or so later, and despite several attempts, i have never been able to find her again.

time is a very interesting sorting machine. music, events, movies, memories, and people that seem quintessential at the minute can get lost within an hour, while the influence of others is not immediately apparent. onlly after the winds have blown away the loose sand is that which is of most worth often revealed.

there are really cool people all throughout life; as i try to think of them, each name brings another one, until i am flooded by great people i have met.
hooray for awesome people.

*the loss of jamie has always been for me one of the greatest tragedies of my life; i have never met anyone like him: his outlook on life, his humor, style, and even handwriting were all original [i tried to make my handwriting like his- the influence is there]. he seemed to be about a step ahead and a little to the left of cool. our junior year he broke away from me and jon [although we did all go see 'they might be giants' open for hootie and the blowfish in the fall; when tmbg finished, we stood outside calling for them while hootie was inside--to see tmbg was our dream since we met in sixth grade], and moved to a theatre school in the twin cities for his senior year. i've had lunch with his parents once or twice since then, but haven't seen him in over 8 years.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

the slumber of feelings that have died

'i am a rock' is one of my favorite songs. and one of my most beloved to sing in the car.
conversely, techno is a nice accent to driving at night.

i spent a considerable percentage of my activities today with my car. first was $X at jiffy lube something called 'safety and emissions' testing. i read a chapter or two in a book i am reading that is the closest thing to a novel that i have read in a long time while waiting, only to have the doctors come out and tell me that i have a healthy baby honda. i really do love my little car. then it was off to the dmv to take a number and wait. when they called #454, i talked with the helpful public employee and gave him the jumble of papers, praying i didn't need to go get something else signed [especially since the required signers probably live in minnesota]. but it all went fine, and my car has now lost it's minnesotan identity. a bit of me comes off with those plates.
but i am not one to give up all character, and paid the extra $30 to the humane society to get a cartoon cat and dog on my plates.

$30 can be a productive amount of money. amazon sells a 'fox studio classics' dvd set that includes 'all about eve' [said to have some of the best dialogue in history], 'a gentleman's agreement' [cary grant is always a winner], 'how green was my valley' [the movie that beat 'citizen kane' for best picture], and, the reason to buy the set, 'sunrise'. these's aren't some 'freeze-dried taster's choice' editions [5 points if you know that reference], but come with beautiful transfers, commentaries, deleted scenes, and more. how much for those four? $24. but since amazon offers free shipping after $25, i threw in a $7 martin scorsese movie ['kundun']. the grand total for those five somehow came in under $30.
you can't beat that with a stick.

i have an unproductive habit of playing solitaire on my computer, which i blame on jack from many years ago. the catch is that it is very, very difficult for me to stop until i win. sometimes i have to work for a long time before i have any success [this has led to several late nights]. but lately i have been winning my first or second games. i don't know if i am doing anything different, or if that is simply the way the fates flow.
he that hath ears, let him hear.

i started this blog because i really liked emily's daily musings on the mundanities of her life [i am also continually horrified to hear what it is like to be pregnant as well]. there was nothing outwardly cool about what she was doing [driving to work, working, and driving home seems to be the main plot], yet her outlook was really fun to read.
'if it's fun to read, it must be fun to write', i reasoned, and thus began my personal opus. while the scort has suggested i do more than that [and a good idea, hence the 'sunrise' review, etc.], i have been encouraged by the positive responses overall. jon commented on how one's personal mundane can seem just that, yet reading the balanities of others can be engaging material.
kind of cool, really.

that i have an outlet in which to create is surprisingly refreshing, and is something i continually think about and fuss over more than almost any graded school project. there is an additional infusion of validation from the knowledge that people read it. the thrill of live theatre, i suppose. what is odd is that i don't know who reads it. i know emily checks this daily, as does laurie, but apart from the posting-comments, it is easy to forget that others do read this.
such thinking leads one to wonder, how many people do read this? emily has promoted this on her site before [you can read more about her at readyformycloseupmrdemille.blogspot.com], which has brought a few kind people who were probably shocked at what they saw, and my profile had 52 views last time i checked [though have seen others that are over 1,000].
good for you.

finally, lest i be one to refuse the blunt command from a reader, here is what was on my mind before i awoke today:
i think i was with my tma 285 class [production: intermediate]; i don't remember the other half dozen students, but tom russell was the instructor. we were in the conference room area of a hotel, entering a smaller room that held about fifteen chairs. george and laura bush were in there to speak to us and were standing in the front of the slightly dim room. tom stood in the back while the students took seats among the few rows of chairs; i was sitting in a chair down in the front of the room, next to the wall on the left. as the bush's were talking about whatever, i got bored and found things to be much more interesting if i turned myself upside down, so that my back was on the seat and my feet could point high into the air. tom chided me for being rude, and i suppose it was, but as my head hung upside down, i noticed that 'the godfather part II' was just beginning on the tv across from me. it was at the part where they are in the open parking lot of some old factory [like the one from 'joe vs the volcano'] and the whole scene has a dusty brown look. i found myself standing in the parking lot as al pacino drove around in an old maroon geo metro. he looked mad and was looking for someone, i think, but then, he's always like that. i stood there, watching him drive around with that look.
i think i was holding a gun.

Monday, February 20, 2006


'i'm not feeling alright today/ i'm not feeling that great'
so sings my computer as i begin to type.

i'm not feeling very lyrical or poetic right now, and certainly not in line with my muse enough to write. i was earlier, but i told myself i would get the downstairs cleaned and finish some reading, then i would write. i did those things, but now have lost the inner flow of prose, and so will remind myself that today has been a pretty awesome day.
i spent time before sunrise at the temple with good people from the ward and had a chocolate muffin afterward. somedays scripture study can sometimes feel like i am watching the clock until my time is up; other days i am racing to read as much as i can before i really do need to do other things--today was one of those days, and it is invigorating. pulling out all sorts of books, finding answers to questions i thought didn't have answers, i loved it. in the past 43 hours or so i have noticed two results of living in this lovely community, although i have no idea who maintains it: one, i was awaken at 5 a.m. yesterday to the sound of someone clearing the snow from our steps and sidewalk [while trying to get as much sleep as i could before getting up at 6 to shovel snow at church], and two, today is president's day and i have noticed that utahns are generally more celebratory of holidays that your average american, and so our entire neighborhood has a nice large american flag planted firmly in the ground in front of each house; no idea who put them there or how they're standing or when they'll be gone, but i think it's kind of neat. fhe is getting a little complicated tonight, as we have two groups of 10 tickets to go see the new 'joseph' movie in salt lake; that's enough for our group, but being the great and popular group that we are, we have other people wanting to come. it is getting a little tight. after a weekend of some good cooking [shame i didn't get the enchiladas to the fiesta; they are good], the kitchen was as dirty as i have ever seen it; there were very few dishes remaining. but it is amazing how much can be cleaned during one oingo boingo cd and how much can fit into one dishwasher. i remember the days when we had to wash the dishes before we put them in the dishwasher, and the commercials that promised dishwashers that could take off hardened egg seemed like a dream only for kings. the year 2000 is here, and while i haven't checked, i feel confident that all is clean [i did cut my thumb well enough on a cheese grater, so the future isn't perfect yet]. my room still looks like a jeff-bomb went off, with clothes lying everywhere, compounded by the boxes brought from my dad during his visit--all this time at college i left a furnished room at home, figuring that my mom liked having a room that she could look in and remember her son. recently at Christmas, becky and i came home to find that her room had been repainted, refurnished, and her personal things relocated to inside her closet. that's when i realized that mom is ready to move on to the progressive future. while there is still much at home, there is much out here, too, now, including hundreds of cds for me to somehow store in my room.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

turning saints into the sea, *sigh*

i was in japan, and we were having some sort of church meeting one morning. i realized i had forgotten my computer, and went outside to get it. my backpack was sitting against the apartment building. i opened it and pulled out the soft case that contained my laptop. as i did, i heard an omniscient voice say, 'go'. i remembered that the japanese army was launching a new shuttle that day and looked out across the street and over the ocean. off in the distance i could see the launch pad and the rocket, poised and ready to fire. 'yon, san, ni,' the voice continued to count down. 'ichi!' and then there was the sound of ignitition.
the rocket on the pad did not fire, but rather a missile came out from underneath the sea. it didn't look like any missile i had seen before: it was white and looked like the bottom third of a space shuttle rocket, flat at the top and flared at the bottom.
the missile rose out and into the air, then wobbled and tilted down, as though it didn't have enough power to continue pushing it up. people began to scream as it fell forward, eventually crashing into the sea, making a large splash.
then there was the sound.
the missile exploding underwater sounded like 'doom!'.
there were giant waves coming in from all directions, as though the ocean was as panicked as the people. water towered over the apartment buildings, creating rushes of water in the spaces between buildings. my only thought was to keep my computer above my head and out of the water. and somehow, i managed to do so.
when the waters subsided, i ran back into the building, looking for bishop johnson, or lindsay or ashly. it was dark, and i called out for them but no one answered. as i rushed around as carefully i could in a black and scared environment, i bumped into someone, who screamed. i think it was lindsay.

that's all i remember, but it was quite an odd dream to contemplate as i got up at 6 this morning to help shovel snow at the institute building.

last night i read the first seven or eight verses of first nephi chapter three. i noticed that lehi talked with his sons about what the Lord had shown to him in a dream.
while i wasn't seeking any specific answers, i prayed that i could receive some sort of revelation in a dream that night.

to the best of my understanding, i have only once received an answer to a prayer in a dream; it was the day of my wedding, and i was supposed to be marrying a girl from india. her family and my family were around us, rejoicing and celebrating, while i realized i didn't even know this girl's name, and didn't want to marry her. even after waking up, it was still a very unsettling feeling.

as i was getting dressed and remembering this odd dream of japan and missiles, i thought that if i did not know better, i might think it some sort of warning for the future. it made me grateful to know the order of things and how the Lord does work with His people. i know that God does not give warnings to the world through some guy in provo, utah.

as i write this now, i am glad i am not president hinckley. after a dream like that, and with his stewardship, i would wonder what to think.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

he told me not to worry // he told me just to take my time

it's been a nice day.
it's started out pretty murky; reading my scriptures, i felt like i was missing something. i read the Book of Mormon and the Bible and commentaries, but i was looking down, not up. the correlations between lehi's prophetic call and that of joseph smith weren't strengthening my testimony and filling me with the joy of the Glad Tidings [they usually do; i'm not being facetious here]. an honest prayer and some thinking later, i decided to forget myself and go forth with what i thought about doing today--i delivered some valentines and had fun. [emily, i regret that i did not get anything for you and renn; your valentine was very awesome and is much appreciated. i will plan trip to japan for you and be your personal guide whenever you need]

my roommate gave me this:

pink hair, pink roses, that color seems to follow me.

that cool, i like it.

here's something fun to watch-
happy valentine's day. cats are awesome

[sorry, the cat video is no longer available]

Monday, February 13, 2006

the cruise: orient

summer 2001- family trip to orlando. we collected autographs from all major characters in several minor ones [including 'liverlips' the bear], had hotel room water with a high sulfur content, and rode the 'dueling dragons' rollercoaster more times than i can count. becky did her 'singin in the rain' pose on a lightpost.

    summer 2002- family trip to duluth, mn. on the edge of lake superior, we took a tourboat ride that identified for us 'the second largest grain elevator in the port', ate a pound of rib tips at famous dave's bbq, leaving me full for the two days, and went to the country's only 'all freshwater' aquarium--their main attraction was an otter. he was asleep.

    summer 2003- becky was on her mission in brasil; i spent four weeks in preston, idaho.

    summer 2004- celebrating becky's return, family trip to nauvoo, il. saw a lot of cool church history, visited carthage jail, and made the drive back to northern minnesota in one day.

    summer 2005- becky and i went to thailand; she saved the world, i videotaped it; we spent a 'day' in bangkok and seoul; she went to singapore without me.

    summer 2006- not sure, but the family's going to japan in may.

    a few 'what if's have somehow led to my family going to japan this may, which is proving to be a potentially very awesome adventure. i ended up as the tour manager in florida, and am resuming the mantle for this excursion into the orient, i suppose because i've been there twice before, speak the language, and really enjoy planning vacations.
    works for me.
    drawing from personal knowledge and hours on the internet, my current itinerary for the 'japan cruise' is as follows:

    sunday, may 21, 5:05 p.m. after a 12-hour flight direct from minneapolis, we land at narita airport and make the hour's journey to tokyo. i'd like to stay at the park hyatt [re: 'lost in translation'], but the hilton looks pretty awesome, too. everyone crashes, jeff runs out to buy octopus dough-balls on a stick.

    monday, may 22: tokyo, the biggest big city in the world and about three years into the future. check out shinjuku, the same location featured in 'tekken 4' where my little brother has beat me several times; shibuya, odaiba, and ginza, where land goes for $100,000 per square meter; akihabara, with every electronic gadget conceived; the imperial palace, just becasuse it's there. anime for tim, culture at the kabuki theater for becky--shows run for hours, but a one act ticket is $15. and of course, the hard rock cafe, where e'er it may be. after seoul, becky and i can find a hard rock cafe anywhere. and we now have an advantage- we speak the language!

    tuesday, may 23: nikko. bullet train and a few transfers to see a shrine ornate enough to make louis xiv jealous. the ruler who brought japan into the modern era is enshrined here. evening in tokyo to see the town lit up. perhaps yakiniku for dinner, where you grill the marinated meat at your table.

    wednesday, may 24: travel to kyoto. the capitol of japan for nearly 1000 years, kyoto is the place to be and see. and there's no better way than the bullet trains and a rail pass. available only to foreign visitors, the rail pass gives access to japan's major rail company and makes you feel like a movie star; flash the pass and a ticket to anywhere you want to go. the bullet trains ['shinkansen'] are like first-class airplanes; comfortable, quiet, smooth. a three hour journey to kyoto. mt. fuji is best seen out the right-hand side about 40-45 minutes after leaving kyoto. oddly, kyoto doesn't boast the selection of hotels that tokyo does, but there is a very nice place connected to the kyoto station itself.

    thursday, may 25: nara. 40 minutes south and a little east of kyoto is where the national capitol was from 400-700 a.d. some of the world's largest structures in the world, big buddhas, and deer that are considered national treasure; they harass you for food constantly. perhaps a stop in osaka or kobe- not a lot to see in the cities, although the osaka aquarium looks to be very cool, and kobe is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, especially at night.

    friday, may 26: hiroshima, 2 hours from kyoto. maybe a visit to 'himeji' in the morning; it's on the way and has japan's most famous and real castle. nothing much beyond that, but a real castle is something. hiroshima's peace memorial park is one of the most somber places in the world [excepting the noisy school kids on field trips]. the atomic bomb dome stands powerfully, eerie that it was only a few hundred meters from the first aggressive atomic bomb. the memorial museum is an emotionally draining place, but certainly worth the visit. the basement houses pictures drawn by survivors of the blast. not to be missed.
    after that, a visit to miyajima, one of the most famous sights in japan; 40 minutes by train, ferry, and foot to the island. supposedly there are monkeys.

    saturday, may 27: ise and shingu. a tricky day, as ise is very famous but small and out of the way, and shingu is even smaller and much less popular. ise is the oldest and most sacred shrine in shinto, built around 300 a.d., and said to hold the mirror given by the god amaterasu to the first emperor of japan. shingu is a quiet little seaside town where i served for six months, saw some beautiful nature, and ate dolphin.

    sunday, may 28: kyoto. we've been staying here for most of the week, and now we get to look around my favorite city in the world, as well as go to church here. there is more to see here than any other city, and enough natural points of interest that it's good for a sunday.

    monday, may 29: kyoto. all the big sites, the golden pavilion, the silver pavilion [best on a rainy day], kiyomizu temple, gion [where the geishas thrived], the ryoanji rock garden, hall of 1,001 statues, and the gardens of heian shrine, to name only the biggest.

    tuesday, may 30: take the train back to tokyo and fly out at 4:00, only to arrive in san francisco at 9 a.m. that morning. weird.

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    the other first best picture

    i first saw sunrise [1927] in my 'intro to film' class five years ago. it was one the weekly movies we had to watch, and i was pretty sure they had decided to show us a bad old movie to see how we would review it; after all, they had shown us groundhog day a week or two before, so it wasn't like this class had critically high standards.

    how dumb i was in thinking so of both movies.

    byu really is one of the best places in the world to see movies, and i state that without hyperbole or ignorance. first and foremost, the international cinema shows two to three movies a week [usually prints] that you will have difficulty finding in most video stores. there are few venues like this in the world that would have such a diverse and continual array of great works. second, the library's 'special collections' shows a classic movie every few weeks, always a print [16mm, but better than video]. these have included gone with the wind, king kong [which i sadly missed], rio bravo, casablanca, laurel and hardy shorts, and the perennial hit, it's a wonderful life [and that's mr. stewart's personal print running through the projector, mind you].

    tonight was murnau's masterpiece, sunrise: a song of two humans, with a alluring bonus: a live organ accompaniment. those of you who were lucky enough to see buster keaton's the general at the capitol theater this fall know what that is like [same organist, by the way; that guy is a national treasure]. if you have not had such fortune, i will tell you that that experience rivals the re-release of the original star wars and the opening day of return of the king as the greatest cinematic event of my life.

    why is sunrise so special? [apart from the drunken pig, obviously]

    it was the first hollywood work of the great german expressionist director f. w. murnau. his previous work included nosferatu [1922] and the last laugh [1924], a film with an impressive closing shot, featuring the camera flying backward and out of the city. in fact, fluid camerawork is an integral part of sunrise, and the final silent years were doing some amazing work with a moving camera. those of you who have seen singin' in the rain will recall that when sound came in, it caused a slew of problems, including having to put the camera in a large sound-proof room. only in the last 15-20 years have we caught up with what the silents did in camera movement.

    murnau was offered a contract by william fox [of 'fox' studios] to direct any film he wanted, with unlimited time and budget. nearly everything was filmed inside of a studio, including many of the boat scenes. perhaps as a result of his knowledge from the skewed world of german expressionism, the city sets were built with forced perspective adjustments, and midgets were used as extras to make the site look expansive [this was also done in the final airport scene in casablanca].

    equally stylized is the acting. the whole concept of narrative cinematic storytelling was barely 20 years old at this time, and acting methods were still fresh from the live theatre, where actions and motions were largely over-exagerated. further, the german techniques of the time emphasized the surreal, where characters' mannerisms were drawn from emotions, not reality. the looming, brooding dark looks of the man and the fainting, perilous flailing of the wife are not cheesy acting, but actually really cool stuff.

    and that is what makes sunrise perpetualy potent; it is full of really cool stuff, the stuff life is made of.

    a title card at the start of the show reminds us that this is an everyman story, that it happens in every city; 'you might hear it Anywhere at Any Time'. the main characters are credited only as 'the man' and 'the wife', the eponymous two humans, referring not only to the universal nature of their story, but also of the responsilibilities contained in the covenants made by man and wife on the wedding day.
    the movie resounds long after the passing of its contemporary culture because it tells the story of eternal truth. it has been said that the three pillars of eternity are the creation, fall, and atonement. that is true in the grand plan of God and also in the micro-scheme of so many events, especially marriage. the movie brings us into the marriage when the fall has already happened, where the man is meeting with the seductive 'woman from the city', who tempts him to kill his wife. while not every marriage falls to such depths, a fall to the greatest depth makes the theme universal in its application.
    from such a fall, atonement is necessary by eternal law. it is what heals us. it deepens our joy, brings light into all that we see, and creates a bond of love greater than anything else on earth. that is what the majority of the movie tells. there are no explosions, no fist fights or car chases. it find beauty in the plain, excitement in the mundane, and love in the everyday chores of life. bombarded by stories of the extraordinary, the story is cool water to parched lips. our life is beautiful. their matrimonial redemption comes through an afternoon together; they go to the beauty salon for a haircut, get their picture taken and have a little mischief, then go see the sights of the city, play games at the carnival, rescue the aforementioned pig, go dancing, and return home in love by the same boat that nearly became their demise.

    when tragedy does strike the couple, it is not the sort of crisis that comes between the man and wife. though the fear of death does come, it is not as horrible as what was proposed at the start of the journey, for now they are united, and we feel that they would not be divided even in death.

    the story is remarkable in its structure, encompasing two days and two nights, ending with the second sunrise, with many parallel events, one dark and one light. it moves from the country to boat where there is a near brush with death, then to the chaotic city. once the healing happens, the city is orderly and inviting; there is a return to home by the same boat, where death again draws close, and finally a return to the rural home. the journey is completed.
    so often when we are passed through the refiner's fire, there may be little if any apparent difference, but we know that we are in an infinitely stronger state.

    the film won several awards at the first academy awards, including 'unique and artistic picture', considered to be a secondary 'best picture'. that award has never been given since.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    me and the others

    i've gone though so many ideas, thoughts, observations, and commentaries today that i am now unsure what to write.
    my hometeachers came by tonight on that rare time when beej and i are home together. i love having ashly as my hometeacher; he's a good friend and a good person. his lesson included number of pieces of paper, each with a trial of some sort written on them; we had to choose two that we felt would be the hardest for us to deal with. i chose 'death of someone close' and 'broken heart.' the others included 'lost job', 'lonliness', 'stress', 'car trouble', 'harassed for being lds', and such.
    while i did not think of it when i made my selections, both involve the removal of a significant person from my life. all are legitimate trials we can go through, and it was interesting to see how people made choices based on who they are and what's going on in their life.
    it's hard not having a job. i'm working on that, though the corporate life is a great unknown [and i worry that i will misread some description and end up selling something on a telephone all day....], and work of any sort can bring a certain degree of fulfillment. as i have mentioned earlier, one of the major ways our society evaluates ourselves and others is based on what we 'do'. that is simply something we think about when we first meet a person. that's one of the first questions asked on my profile off to the side there.

    in japan, they want to know your blood type.
    it follows, then, that as a 'freelance camera assistant' who really isn't doing much work right now, it's hard to get myself going some mornings. i did get out and run/walk and even made it to the weight room, and am now quite sore in some spots. my goal is to go swimming tomorrow. it's hard to relax when there's nothing to relax from.

    people are the stuff of life. talking about what we chose, beej mentioned that as he looks at possible changes in his life, he realizes how important his job is. he shared a story of his friend who's husband had lost his job but that time turned into one of the best becuase they were more concerned for each other.
    i watch '24' not because i need to know what's going to happen, but the group and i need to know what's going to happen. Christmas break isn't so much fun because i am in moorhead, but because i am with my family; i loved being in centennial for so many years because of the great roommates i had; projects at byu were exhilerating not just because we were making movies--it was working with some wonderful people and watching what happened when we came together; i don't want to get married for tax reasons- i want to be with my best friend forever.
    the people i am closest to are those i talk to. friends i stay up late talking with, friends to whom i can vent out my frustrations and fears because they know i'm just getting it out, friends who come to me when things are falling apart. something forms when you talk with a friend; sharing your struggles creates an understanding and a connection that can be really awesome. the times when i've ended up significantly liking a girl started from such conversations. i think that is also why great faith and closeness to God requires sincere and honest prayer. you're in it together.

    walking back from my exercise excursion, i saw my neighbor sitting on the steps watching her 3-year old girl play.
    i view the married crowd the way the u.s. businesses view the japanese: you seem the same yet it's a very different world that i don't know much about. in a way i can't quite put my finger on,
    people change when they get married. i suppose sealing yourself to another for time and all eternity carries with it a different mindset than that of a singles ward.
    while i may be overly cautious, i don't want to be the understanding guy for a frustrated young wife. i don't know what is and isn't appropriate about being friends with a married girl, and would rather be safe than sorry. on the other hand, it is alright to talk with my neighbor, right?
    my knowledge of the married world and me is based on a comment made by a wise girl as we were talking on mountain overlooking kyoto many years ago [on a study aboad, not as a missionary]. speaking of a guy she once dated who wrote to her after he was married and said he was thankful for the relationship they had, she stated 'i don't have 'relationships' with married men.'

    that being said, i was a little weary of sitting down to talk, but i have observed that she is not only married but also 25 and therefore appreciates talking with people her own age sometimes. [another interesting observation is that married people generally think that singles have a much more exciting life--that worries me because 1- i figured married people had more fun; you're sealed to your best friend, right? and 2- i like the fun i have now and really don't want to lose it].

    despite sabina being from germany, married, and a mom, we are pretty much in the same situation; stay at home, bored beyond all else and wanting to do so much more. it can be very difficult to get going when there is nothing to help keep up the momentum. i noticed this in school, that when i was busy with projects and classes i somehow managed to do more than when i had a whole day free to do with however i pleased. i have fallen short of my daily goals for this week, yet i have done some of them, which is more than i did without the goals, and that is encouraging.
    it was nice to talk with my neighbor some, as well as to simply enjoy the nice weather today. i offered to watch their kids on valentine's day if they wanted a night for themselves. i was considering asking a girl to go see 'sense and sensibility' at the international cinema that night, so i'll see what happens. i'm fine with watching my movies here, too, although i doubt leoni [who is 3] will appreciate 'punch drunk love' the same way i do; we may end up watching 'aladdin' that night. [i could suggest 'il postino', but she probably couldn't read the subtitles fast enough].

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    i love contact with humanity

    driving home from byu today, radio was great. i heard oingo boingo's 'we close our eyes', then 'somebody told me', and then the long version of 'barbara ann'. wow, what a great day.
    that led me to wonder, what is oingo boingo's best song? is it 'we close our eyes', or is it their quintessential 'dead man's party'? [which i am listening to as i type].

    some questions don't have answers.

    i visited another mba class today, and the demystification of the whole program continues. today's class was a sort of captstone seminar for the human resource people, of whom my friend kristin belongs. the speaker talked about restructuring workflow and showed what can be done to streamline the processes. in all honesty, it was really quite interesting, especially his conclusion--very few companies do this sort of organizational analysis, because they find that they need far less managers than they have.
    if this sounds strange, imagine 'the office' without michael.

    growing up in grade school, the basic model was this: we were presented with problems, we worked on them, and then the teacher had the correct answer, even for story problems. watching some cabel news channel today, there was talk about what to do with the families who were displaced from the hurricanes and that this was the biggest natural disaster in american history. lots of people are doing their best to remedy the situation, but there is no one holding the right answer for them to check their work against.
    sitting in some of these business classes, i have realized that again: in the real world, there is no one with the right answers- that's now upon us to find the right answers and know that they are right.
    that can be intimidating, but it's the same as going from theater rehearsals to opening night, and from shooting video with a monitor to shooting film and knowing that your exposure and contrast is dead on.

    i didn't pull of a 6:30 morning today. my alarm/radio came on at that time [after beej's alarm going off yet again at 5:55 a.m.], and i lay in bed and listened to the morning show, as they were having an interesting conversation about the struggles teachers go through in the public school system. and at 7:30, the radio turned off, and warm blankets overtook determination for discipline. at 9:30 i realized that beej was actually home and got to enjoy my roommate long enough to get caught up on the few tv shows i watch.

    seeing beej this morning, and then getting out and spending three hours in the tanner building feels great. having people to talk with and connecting with society really boosts my attitudes. there's even a big difference in myself between monday afternoons and after fhe. hopefully i will learn from this for the days when my wife is stuck at home with kids, and that i will be more sympathetic and understanding.

    lastly, the superbowl was on sunday, and as proof that blessings come to those who keep the Sabbath, google has a lot of the commercials available to watch, download, and post. here is one of my favorites:

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    you really like me!

    i regret that i do not have much time to write this evening.
    but i am happy to say that....
    • i awoke at 6:30 this morning and was out of bed around 7. no great increase in productivity, and i didn't study my japanese like i planned.
    • i got asked to help a new girl in the ward get her keyboard working. after making my '24' group wait 30 minutes, i got the mouse to work, but no bluetooth keyboard. i think she just needs new batteries for it.
    • fhe was a great success this evening. in fact, i have never ever had a group that has been as supportive as ours, and every week is always a blast.
    • in related events, our '24' group gained another watcher this week. the show is serialistic, but o, we love it so.
    • after going public last night and having the realization that people are actually reading this, i felt uncomfortably exposed and stage frightened. but those who have commented on this have been positive. i presume that this means that the majority are sitting home in bewilderment, but i will take what i can get.

    jon wrote me back today in response to the same question raised by garfield the cat back in the day when halloween specials were 2-D cartoons and were actually kind of scary. said the cat: 'what should i be?' much of jon's thoughts echoed what i jotted down last night, and i will conclude with that [after which i will search for an appropriate jpeg, set the tivo to record conan, and go to bed, because i am getting up at 6:30 again....]

    24 vs. lost

    not a critical thematic analysis of media a mirror of our times, though the title may seem, but rather a representative scenario of how i approach tasks and the ensuing rate of success.

    [as a side note: after watching 'howls moving castle' on friday and 'castle in thes ky' on saturday, i think it would be a fascinating masters thesis to look at the auteur traits of miyazaki]

    beej wanted to me to get into 'lost', a show which he loves. the premise sounds interesting enough, so i'm all for it. plus, it'd give us something to talk about and get excited over as the plot unfolds. but i wanted to do it right and watch the first season before jumping into the current second season. beej even kept as many of the second season episodes on tivo so i wouldn't miss a thing. but that equals about 30-some-odd hours of tv to watch. overwhelming, and thus far i've only watched the pilot and we've had to delete this season's off the machine to free up space for higher priorities like 'the office'.

    conversely, my friends from fhe had me record '24' one night because our activity was going to overlap it, and '24' cannot be missed. whatever. so i did and we watched it and it was pretty intense and gave me nightmares that i was kidnapped by terrorists, but i thought it was cool and fun. and so we watched it the next week, and the next, and now it's a tradition to come over here and watch it every monday night. and i like that. jen and the other addicts fill in any major questions about who's committing treason this week and who killed who last season, but i can figure out enough to enjoy the show.

    i have too many things in my life that i want to do perfectly and never get started on them. that which i do just to do it often turns out pretty well.

    what a telestial world.

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    the blessings of the fast

    i love disco skating. we used to go back in the golden days of centennial. but people went on missions or moved out of the ward, and it lost its appeal. now a new ward brings new disco skaters; i really do love my ward and think that my friends who come skating are pretty cool. i bemoan that they play my favorite song during the ladies skate, forcing me to stand on the side and give hi-5's, and i come back with a blister on the same spot of my right ankle every week, but largely overall it's a blast being out there.

    couple skates used to make me really nervous when i was at 'skateland' in 6th grade. now i wish there were more.

    skittle bowling also turned out to be quite fun. a tip o' the hat to jaime for that one...

    disco skating is pleasure. it is fun at the moment, but the fun does fade. there are many things that provide deeper, lasting joy. one is watching someone grow in the gospel.
    last semester, my hometeaching companion and i were assigned a guy who hadn't been to church in a while. he was very nice and always willing to meet with us, and his mom loved having us over and made sure we got something to eat. on our first visit i invited him to take the book of mormon challenge to finish it by the end of the year. every month we visited with him, and he honestly answered hadn't read it; but it was amazing teaching him, because his testimony was strong and he had a wonderful spirit about him. in january, we invited him to church the next week and he said he'd 'like to come.' we were stoked.
    i arrived early that sunday and he was already dressed in his suit, with a new haircut, waiting with his mom, holding his scriptures. he asked if i recognized him. i told him i did.
    everyone at church was friendly to him, introducing themselves and inviting him to activities. he asked for a wilford woodruff book, gave comments in class and got his picture taken for the ward directory. and he was the first one to come to ward prayer that night. and man, did i love my ward. the next week on the way to church, he commented that he had read his scriptures that week; he had read all of 1st nephi! he mentioned how he saw some changes he needed to make in the people he hung around with. that night he came and played games with some people from the ward. today i asked him what he does in his free time between work; he showed me that he was now in alma 57- he had read half of the book of mormon in a week!
    sitting next to him in church was a wonderful moment. he is back at church, reading his scriptures, and making changes in his life. there are few feelings that bring greater and purer joy than watching a friend grow in the gospel.

    last week i was at my sister's place, reading aloud from a pop pyschology book about why i was the emotional neurotic that i am and that makes me, me. becky grabbed the book and threw it on the ground and said 'a wise person once said that the study of doctrine changes behavior more than the study of behavior.'
    one of my favorite quotes.
    and she taught me a very good lesson there, and i am grateful for an awesome sister who tells me i'm being dumb when i'm being dumb [she is also very good at listening to me spout my fears when i need to, which is what i was going before the incident].

    but that is very true. true doctrine, understood, changes behavior more than a study of behavior. thank you, elder packer. i have seen and felt that both in my own life and in the lives of those around me.

    i had a thought this morning that must be inspired, because i would never think it one my own.
    i am going to do and experiment this week and get up at 6:30 every morning, monday through saturday. my reasoning is that it will give me a better attitude and make me more productive. plus, that sort of discipline is something i want to develop. of course, this will be difficult if i watch conan every night at 11:37, but with new inventions like tivo, my obstacles are removed.
    along with rising early, exercise seems in order. i went out running on friday morning. actually, i was going to use the weight room, but felt a little run would be good first. it became more of a sprint, actually, thanks to 'dancing with myself' coming on my ipod and helping me to give it my all. following that with no water and a weight machine, i made myself somewhat sick and had to come home after 10 minutes.
    'and see that all these things are done in wisdom and in order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. and again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all must be done in wisdom and in order.'

    it changes behavior better than a study of my weight training book.

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    wouldn't it be nice?

    i've been in love a few times. it was really a lot of fun. those situations all ended differently than i would have liked at the time, but i look back now and see that there was no lasting harm, and things are just fine and actually probably better this way.

    i used to fall in like with girls so easily. it seemed there were always one or two girls that i was
    interested in and wanted to ask out. now that doesn't seem to happen much; i jokingly say 'i think i'm broken'. rather, i think i'm scared of the whole deal. correction: i like 'the whole deal', but the risk that the deal may go sour is greater than the possibility of something awesome with a girl i only kind of know.

    'you think too much; you just need to let it happen.'

    so said my voice teacher once. he was referring to my technique [probably my breathing, knowing dr. rothlisberger], but it's a good observation in general. with the girls that i have liked signficantly, the stronger interest never formed on the first or second date; rather, it took a colaboration of dates, activities, and simple friendship, catalyzed by some sort of special event where we got to know each other better beyond the facet presented during dates; where you stop trying to be 'your best' and start to be the person your friends love. there's a standard level of date conversation and presentation that is friendly and works to be approachable, but if you never get past that, you never connect.

    and when you do, that's often when it becomes and awesome date.

    i've been on a lot of dates lately with a lot of good girls. 8 dates in the past three weeks, i think. i've had fun on all of them, and all of the girls we nice. a common question afterward is 'would you like to go out with her again?' well, sure. there's no reason not to. i've wondered if a better question is 'would you be sad if you didn't go out with her again?' that doesn't formulize my
    dilema as much as i would prefer, unfortunately, as love doesn't happen on the first date. not when you are watching for it like a hawk, at any rate. so how did i end up feeling differently for those few girls who made everything magic?
    i don't know, it just happened. after a while.

    do i ask a girl out for three times if the first time wasn't too awkward and hope that i catch on on fire? why did i ask out whatsherface for a third time if, after the second date, i wrote 'i don't think she's for me'? the delicate aspect of dating is that we are not testing out cars, where you can test as many as you want as often as you want and no one cares except for the guy hoping for his commission. meeting a nice girl and dating her a few times 'just to see' can lead to confusion and hurt, especially if she thinks you're great and you think she's nice but nothing beyond that. i've been on the other side a few times. naturally, this side isn't that much greener.

    but that's where my thesis collides with itself from the beginning: i've been on that hurt and broken side before and yet i look at myself and acknowledge that it was best this way and that i'm fine and maybe even better [evidently more cautious, too]. but somehow still alive.

    when it all comes down to it, though, you can get it if you try. and there's really not much else that matters. i believe in love. the few moments that i've had with it have been wonderful. i don't know much about the love a parent feels for their child from the perspective of the parent, but i don't think i will ever value it above the love that can grow between a husband and wife. it just doesn't make any sense otherwise. girls are really awesome. i like them a lot.
    and if i do, will it be with you?
    i need to get ready for my date.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    the guy

    i realized a unique benefit to being in the provo-orem area today; the two colleges provide two very different platforms for hearing speakers. at byu, we can hear prophets and apostles, as well as general authorities and other notable speakers, like the guy who coined the term 'aerobics.' he was rather interesting, while justice sandra day o'connor was somewhat dull.
    uvsc provides a wider variety, as pointed out by warner woodworth, most imfamously michael moore and sean hannity. we talked about this as we waited to hear paul rusesabegina speak this afternoon.
    who is that?
    he's the 'hotel rwanda' guy. not the director or the writer or the actor, but the guy.

    he told us his story. about the divisions between the tutsi and hutu tribes, about how 1,000,000 people were killed in 100 days for no reason other than their heritage. he talked of having guns to his head, of the u.n. 'peacekeeping soldiers' who sat and watched one tribe kill another and do nothing, of being the only person in the hotel who could talk to the militia and keep them from killing everyone inside, of having their water cut off and having to ration out water
    from the swimming pool, where every hotel refugee could only take one wastebasket full of water enough for that dat, and how he watched the water slowly go down, wondering when the nightmare would end; he commented on the end of the movie, when he and his wife found the two orphaned children of his brother, that that was not made up, but in reality they were only 2 years and 9 months old.

    listening to him speak, i had to keep reminding myself that this really happened. while i was enjoying my last summer before high school, this man was hiding 1200 people in his hotel and sending his wife and children off with u.n. workers to be safe and negotiating with humans who had lost their humanity. i've seen the movie, and heard him tell it, and still cannot begin to comprehend what happened.

    near the end, he remarked about hearing someone important speak about the jewish holocaust and what mr. rusesabegina described as the two most misused words: 'never again.'
    it happens everyday in africa, he told us, and listed off ghana, the ivory coast, and several other places were such a genocidal holocaust has occured.

    a few years after the massacre, paul and his family fled to belgium as refugees themsevles. he saved enough money to buy a taxi, and later a second. now he owns a trucking company.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    now why do they gotta go and do that?

    the original 'i love the 80s' series was really pretty good. regrettably crude at times, but it did teach me about the decade in which i grew up and generally shut down all other activity in our apartment when it was on. i just turned off 'i love the 80s 3D'; minimal facts about the decade, over-abundance of really dumb graphics and a lot of bleeped-out words.

    i visited with jeff parkin for about 20 minutes this morning. it's really pretty great that i can visit with former professors, call them by their first name, and give them a hug afterward. i noticed all seven volumes of 'the director's label' dvds on his shelf as i was leaving; asking about them, he said that i introduced him to them [he did show 'around the world' as part of his first 285 lesson], and that he can't show much in class from the newer releases. i've only got vol. 5 of the new set, but have that same feeling about them.
    which is really a crying shame; while the chris cunningham set was severely weird, spike jonze and michel gondry have provided hours upon hours of really cool fun for me and several dancing associates. and while jonathan glazer has a few that are 'kind of cool', and the 'dollar/chicken' commercial always gets a laugh, the majority of the work and even the feel of the dvd is a little uneasy.

    t got me the complete box set of the bbc 'office' for Christmas. a very cool idea, as i had been raving non-stop about nbc's rendition of it. but the british are a little [lot] more vulgar than the scranton crew, and after three episodes i suggested we play 'tekken 4' instead [i lost the final match in a very close game].
    at the suggestion of a friend, i watched the final 'Christmas' episode. a handful or two of moments i wished weren't there, but i am beginning to think that the u.k. incarnation has more subtlety and heart than the u.s. series. which does say something, as the domestic show itself is very subtle for a network sitcom.
    but one of tim's last interviews about how life goes on after the cameras turn off and that nothing is really 'finished' was really pretty cool, although i can't remember what feelings it stirred at the time.
    and tim's secret santa gift to dawn and the ensuing change and results were wonderful. really a fulfilling but not sappy way to wrap up the short series.
    i wonder how long nbc's will last and how long it will stay good? because right now it's one of the best things on tv.
    i've been told i would love 'arrested development'.
    and i regret that i haven't gotten up to speed on 'lost' to enjoy it with beej.

    my fhe group has gotten me nearly hooked on '24'.

    here i am talking about television.....


    i spent some time in the library today [fifth floor, cubicle with a window overlooking the quad] reading 'the promised Messiah.' i got the set of books as a Christmas present and started the first book about a year ago. i am about halfway through the first book.

    one of my frustrations with myself is that i have a tendency to lose focus on personal long-term projects. but this is not one of those. i am going through the book with my scriptures, marking and cross-referencing the hundreds of insights and commentaries, and in the process am finding out how amazing the old testament is, particularly the psalms.
    the notes and colored underlining in my scriptures grow slowly, but by the time i am 60, i should have a pretty cool set of scriptures.

    i've worked with that guy getting hugged.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    ...just like brian wilson did

    i had lunch with tom russell, one of my film professors, yesterday. talking with him over double cheeseburgers and fries at the creamery on ninth, he commented on something he often reminded us during classes; we place far too much importance on a person's profession. often that is how we are described and summarized; someone is a film maker, an accountant, a landscaper, an entrepreneur, a piano player.
    on a film shoot a few years ago as a student, i learned that fulfillment does not come work; it comes from people. shooting a good script with a great crew did not bring the same joy that my friends do. this past year, as a freelance camera assistant, i have learned that work is important; it can bring purpose and a feeling of accomplishment, and that working with your hands is just as noble as working with your mind. this is especially apparent during the slow winter months.
    my roommate watches tv more than i do, and i happen to see bits of whatever is on. most of the shows deal with exciting people in exciting jobs with exciting scenarios. to these characters, their work is their life. we rarely see their personal lives.
    i think about the people who make those shows. writers who have to keep up on current events and the structures of the genre and the accuracies of the world they parallel; directors and producers who organize a million details in the artistic sense and have to fight for life in the profession; the 2nd a.c. who is clapping the sticks and laying marks 70 hours a week with his wife and baby at home.

    i love film making. i love being on set and hauling cameras and jumping over rusted boxcars and seeing countless places i would never have the opportunity to otherwise.
    but is that worth the price of 14-hour days for six days a week, of being on location for six weeks at a time, or never having a regular schedule, not knowing when i will work again?
    does it get better, or does it get more demanding?

    would a less-demanding profession, one where people don't say 'wow' when you tell them what you do, be worth having a [more] stable base from which to build a life with friends and family?
    it certainly seems like it.

    there are no choices that yield only good; every worthwhile decision carries with it the necessity of sacrifice.

    sacrifice that which is good for that which is better.