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.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

lucky 13

the alarm went off shortly after 4 a.m. we had gone to sleep around midnight. my call was at 5:30, while joe and kirk came later in the alphabet and so had to be there an hour later. but i was their ride, and we left together, 20 minutes later than i wanted. the casino was about 20 minutes away without traffic and the freeway was jammed. we took an early exit and sped down the old strip, a little nervous as we rushed toward the 'o' theatre, wondering if they would tell me to go home if i was 10 minutes late.

i suppose i should start at the beginning.

remember that day when i was sick and posted the video of r.e.m. and the muppets? well, that afternoon i got a phone call from a friend [kirk] whose wife works at a casting agency and had just told him that 'ocean's 13' was in vegas and needed 200 extras and proposed we leave the next day and go be in the movie. i was sick, tired, and told him i would call him back. within a few minutes i decided i wanted to do it-- a couple of phone calls would take care of my responsibilities at church [that's one reason why we have counsellors] and opportunities like this don't come along everyday. as cool as it would be to see brad pitt and george clooney, what i [and kirk] really wanted to see was steven soderbergh, the man behind 'ocean's 11 and 12', 'erin brockovich', and the great 'traffic'. that would be cool.

a very sloq oil change on friday held us back a bit, then up to salt lake to grab kirk, pick up joe back here at byu, and we were off to vegas. we stayed at a friend of kirk's [thereby greatly cutting costs and making this trip feasable] where i slept on the floor and tried to off any cockroach i saw [trip total: 4].

we were to report for costume fitting at noon on saturday. we left an hour early to make sure we could find the place and did so within 15 minutes. we were in and out before 12. they loved my shirt [tj max, thank you] and gave me some gray pinstripe slacks to wear and a number to pick it up.
we went out for good sushi, ran around the strip, checking out the bellagio in all it's class, trying on clothes that cost as much as my car at ceasar's palace, and had dinner at a wolfgang puck restaurant in the mgm grand. three fountain shows at the bellagio and we headed home, renting and watching 'ocean's 11' and falling asleep to 'ocean's 12'.

monday morning got us in a long line of extras, mostly amidst aspiring actors, eager to show off their talents of being able to sit at a slot machine or silently sipping a drink. i got my pants and dressed, happy that everything was working out without a hitch, feeling a little strange as the grips pushed their carts past us, watching, as it were, from the wrong side.

breakfast was catered by the hotel/casino and was quite good [especially the hashbrowns]. we ate in the theatre where cirque du soleil performs their 'o' show, and after a while a couple of 2nd a.d.s came and explained things.

'today we have bernie mac, andy garcia, and al pacino.'

who else can we add to the 'ocean's' movies? how about al pacino? sure.
actually, it seemed like a natural progression. wow. to see al pacino. the godfather.

yet, despite all that, i was a little bummed that george clooney and brad pitt weren't going to be there--they're the ones i think of when i think of 'ocean's 11'.

they called a large group of 'casino gamblers' [which is what we were] to go out, but not our row.
and we waited.

and waited.

thoughts began to come: what if they don't need us? what if we spend both days just here in the theatre?

right out that door and down the hall are bernie mac, andy garcia, and al pacino, all being directed by oscar winner steven soderbergh....
and we're in here.

we didn't come with a ravenous hope of being discovered or schmoozing with anyone; we were just independant filmmakers who wanted to see what a big set of a great director is like.

we hung out right by the doors, so that whenever they called for us, we would be right there. and sure enough, it worked.
by luck and grace, we managed to not get placed in some obscure background, but at the outer row of video poker machines--the camera was still a ways a way, but we had a chance of being seen.
as we were waiting around for something, i was straining to see mr. soderbergh. i thought i saw him: a guy standing near the camera who kind of looked like him and wasn't doing much but looked focused. when i saw him move toward the camera as they called 'rehearsal', i figured it was him. [he not only lights his own work, he operates the camera, too].

we heard some applause, and i looked across the masses to see bernie mac in a bright orange blazer and pink shirt [stars are easy to recognize in costume, thankfully]. we saw a propmaster, holding the cane andy garcia carries in '12', and soon saw mr. benedict himself. but what was really exciting was when we noticed the stand-ins, just behind me [at a machine] and right in front of kirk [who was assigned to mingle with some other gamblers], for one of them was about the size and complexion of mr. al pacino.

sure enough, we heard some more applause, and around came michael corleone, al pacino.
he looks like he looks. dressed very sharp, his character is obviously in line with terry benedict [andy garcia was also dressed to the max]. while near us, his general action was to walk past us and then into the section where the other two charaters were.
for being one of the legendary actors of cinema, it was nice to see that he was not a complete dink. everyone professionally gave him his space, but i also saw him joking with an older couple of extras. that was very cool.

and i have the honor of having used the same restroom as him.
for they are human, like us.

am i in the movie? i think i'll be able to freeze the dvd and see my back. thankfully, my shirt stands out well.

lunch was a nice box lunch, again courtesy of the bellagio, and then back to the same spot. when the camera wasn't on us, we gathered togethed and tried to see across the crowd to what mr. soderbergh was doing. not quite the educational experience we had hoped for, but we didn't complain.
jokingly, i said i wanted to go up to him and ask, 'are you peter andrews?' i'll let you look that one up for yourself, but it would put me ahead of the usual adoring fan. i could even compliment him on rating the 'ocean's 11' stock at 1500 and pushing it two stops while holding a great image.

speaking of an over-excited camera assistant, i saw that there was another camera operator for 'b' camera, and this is one more reason to stay and watch the credits of a movie--you start to recognize names, especially if you've read about them in magazines. and sure enough, the 'b' operator was duane manwiller, whom i've read about, seen pictures of, and who worked on 'solaris' [also soderbergh's]. i would have had no problem introducing myself to him, as i doubt camera operators get recognized by extras very much, and it would have been fun, but i never got close enough.

the 2nd a.d.s told us they usually do 8 hour days, 10 at most, which left us baffled, as i have never heard of regular days that short-- 12 is standard here in utah, and i thought that was industry standard. but our day did go long, a little over 12 hours for those of us with 5:30 calls, and so we got overtime pay [the bonus of bigger shoots is more money for everyone, even the extras].
the downside is that they evidently worked faster than planned [hard to imagine, since it seems like we only did four or five shots that day], and so they didn't need us for the next day.

we went out for dinner at the venetian that night, watched 'ocean's 12' at home, and concluded our trip.

i think in the end, after we get paid, the whole adventure will have cost me about $30. not bad for a weekend in vegas with a couple of good friends and a day on set in steven soderbergh's new movie, next to al pacino and andy garcia.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


i'm sick today.
i feel cruddy.
and my keyboard just stopped working.

and so i'm posting this.
i hope you like it.
it makes me feel fuzzy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

in search of sunrise

whenever i talk with my dad, he asks if i have any work coming up; a reasonable question from a caring parent to a son of a freelance lifestyle. when i talked with him on monday [i think i did...], i told him 'no', reminding that that can always change.
tuesday morning began like any other day: listen to the radio, go to the weight room [the blasted deposit for that key was more than the deposit for my apartment in college--i'm going to use it!], finish watching 'the magnificent ambersons' over breakfast, shower, and turn my phone on.

on my phone was a message from cosmic--called my friend, and he said they might need me for a shoot tomorrow, but he would get back to me. nothing hard, just shooting a glass of beer on the stage.
well, i wanted the job, but i won't take money for promoting beer.
when rich called back, i declined and explained why. he said, 'what if it's an underage drinking psa?' i whooped and cheered and was happy to be working the next day.
be there at 8, work until 5. i can do that.

then, that afternoon, i got a call, looking for help on the last night of that rugby movie; they were starting at 7 p.m., tomorrow evening.

do the math:
wrap at cosmic at 5.
1 hour to travel home.
half hour at home.
half hour up hobble creek canyon.
call is at 7.

24 hours? sure, i can do that.

the cosmic shoot was great. we spent quite a while building different rigs to pour the beer into the various cups. the concept is a baby bottle, a sippy cup, a sports bottle, against a black background, being filled with beer, showing something about underage drinking.
i don't know how they do it, but whoever does the bud lite commercials really knows how to pour beer.
we spilled some, spilled some on ourselves [i was curious if questions would arrise when the other camera assistant showed up to byu to teach the cinematography class that night, smelling of such], and eventually got a decent stream. [getting it to not look like a urine sample was a trick, too].

we got out of there in good time, and after a brief stop at home, i was going through springville, up the canyon. talking with the production manager on set, i got a call from rich at cosmic, asking if i was available for some light work tomorrow morning at 8. i did consider it, and would have taken it, except that i didn't trust myself on the freeway. only working 24 hours, i guess.

nights can go long, but cool work makes it better. talking with the other camera assistants, i found out that i wasn't replacing someone, but was extra help, as we had four cameras for the 'car crash' scene.

i ended up on 'b' camera, which was on a 25' jib arm, operated by a really cool guy who also does audio surveilance for the midvale police. if he weren't working that night, he would have been wiring a hotel room for a sting operation.

the car came speeding down the road, swerving as it almost hits another car, going right underneath our camera as i'm pulling focus.

after dinner and around 3 a.m., we found ourselves out in the field, setting all four cameras to capture the convertable as it jumps a ramp at 35 mph. we had a safety meeting:
'if the car flips over, she's going to run out and see if i'm ok. if she asks for people to come and turn the car over, that means i'm fine. if she calls for the paramedic, that means i'm hurt. i've also got a fire extinguisher, although i can't imagine needing that.'


a few tests, to make sure he can hit the ramp, and then they called to roll the camera [all this time i'm going over everything in my head, making sure i turn the camera on and all that stuff]. ''b' camera speed!' i yelled, and in a few moments, here came this red convertable, down the road, off the ramp, into the air, onto the field, and it kept going.

really fun, but dare i say a little too uneventful?
i better not.

by 4:30, i was getting a little sour and tired, especially since my work was essentially done. i helped out here and there, noticed that the regular loader had a lot more girls in the trailer than came to visit me when i was loading, and by 5:30 was let go.

i was getting home just as my neighbor was coming back from unlocking the pool. he stared at me and asked where i was coming from. 'work,' i told him.

i slept until 2.

Monday, September 11, 2006

my thoughts

sept. 11, 2001
i remember first hearing something in the wilk ballroom during my 8 a.m. social dance class. something about a plane crash and maybe the twin towers. i really don't remember much, because i didn't hear much. class just went on. i heard something in my japanese class, too, but again, it was just bits and class went on.

when i really saw what was happening was walking through the bookstore, i stopped by the tv and saw a replay of the towers collapsing.

there're really no words to describe that.

'unreal' is the only thing i can think of, but isn't exactly correct.

president bateman was scheduled to give the opening year devotional that morning, but instead spoke on what had happened, giving us details on what was occurring on the other end of the country, what we could do to help, and offering words of wisdom and understanding in his deep, somber voice. i remember hearing the details of the attacks, feeling the same thing i felt at the hiroshima peace museum that may: a very heavy feeling, coming from the outside, not within. i also felt a resurgance of gratitude for the Atonement, though i didn't fully see how that applied at the time.
i find that quite interesting and still think about it.

i spent the afternoon in the library on the internet.


Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 20:26:55 EDT

Subject: The day after the revolution

So yeah. What do you make of this? I am not interested in going to

so wrote my friend at the university of minnesota.

that night we were, like most, gathered around the tv for news that was interesting and relevant [that's an understatement].
and we rushed out to buy gas on the rumor that it would go up to $5 a gallon.

i've met several people who are wwII buffs, or who love to study the civil war. i find myself rather fascinated with 9/11. i saved any relevant newspaper and magazine i could get ahold of [and still regret not taking a copy of the new york times when i saw the bin's door left open... i would have left some money for it], and get a solemn feeling when i pull them out and flip through them.

maybe it's because the news was interesting and relevant. maybe it helped us forget small and large trivial things. maybe because congress prayed for the first time in a long time. it brought out unprecedented kindness and solidarity in those who call themselves 'americans'. one of those times where you are reminded that even though your life isn't perfect, you [hopefully] do have what really matters, and reach out however you can to those who don't.

i spent this morning watching msnbc's rerunning of that morning's news coverage as i did what work i could do in my living room.
i read emily's blog, and decided that i really should buy 'the man who planted trees.'

Saturday, September 09, 2006

the littlest triathlete

in elementary school, the day we did the mile run in gym class was the most dreaded day of the year. it seemed much too long and really quite an unreasonable expectation for children. that many kids were getting 'gold' and 'silver' awards for clocking in at 6 and 7 minute times did not help, as my fastest time was 9:55 in second grade, and i did not break that until high school. [that that time has stayed with me for nearly 20 years is evidence to my feelings about this.]

in junior high and high school i strayed from sports. they seemed difficult, beyond me. i didn't enjoy gym class much, spent my electives on band and choir, and my after school hours were in musical theatre. [i won't play the 'last picked in gym class' card here, but you know i hold it]

in japan, a mountainous country, i drove my trainer nuts by never really having ridden a bike much before the mtc and being quite slow [and often tired] as we traversed that isle of the sea.

this spring, my sister talked me in to running the rex lee run, byu's 5K fun run. i did it.
i published the post so late that many of you probably missed it. you can read about it here.

becky has developed several weird hobbies, including visiting hard rock cafes in foreign countries, medicology, and running triathalons.
we talked of doing one together, and so i began training [running], a little worried that our pool has been closed as of late. last week, we decided not to do it.
'smart idea,' i thought. 'i really wasn't prepared.'

then, as you read, i learned that the decision to 'do' was back on, with less than 48 hours before the event.
i rented me a wetsuit [really rather excited to have that], found a bike to borrow, and put together a special playlist on my ipod. at 11:30 p.m. the night before, my friend brought over his bike, one fit for a tour of france. it didn't even have pedals; it had little silver dollar-shapes, whereupon the rider, wearing special little aerodynamic shoes, attaches to the silver dollars, allowing one to go very fast.
watching my friend [an able sportsman] demonstrate them and fall over in the process, my anxiety of what was to come in six hours did not calm down.

sleep cycles go in four hour segments, and i've noticed i feel better if i sleep for four hours than if i sleep for 5-6. so i watched 'conan' and went to bed at 12:30, my alarm set for 4:45.

i am not a morning person.
i am working to be better at it, but not there yet. even if i am in the morning of the first resurrection, there's a chance i will be cranky for the first hour or so.
i fought to stay awake as we drove to get to yuba lake, somewhere past nephi, by 7 in the a.
the thought of swimming half a mile in a lake on a cold morning, the getting on this superman bike and praying i don't fall over while my feet are attached ['you can really hurt yourself' phil told me last night], then running 5K did not have me too excited.

'remember how brothers are awesome!' yipped my sister and she and her friend got their gear ready.

i was somewhat calmed as i looked at the people around me. scattered about were those who looked like they were sponsored by adiddas or powerade, but many were gas station attendants, bus drivers.... you know, regular people.
maybe i could do this.

becky's roommate and friend of mine came down with a few other friends [obviously crazy] to take our pictures and cheer us on.
by now, my attitude had thawed and i was making jokes and had a good spirit about this impending gauntlet.

the water was cold.
the half mile course was outlined by three floating orange markers; the first two weren't too far out, and i felt kind of good. then i saw the third one-- this was a very scalene triangle.

ten minutes before us went the 'olympic' crew--they do twice the ordeal that we 'sprinters' do.

then they blew the horn and we all burst into the water.
i'm not a swimmer. i did the crawl stroke for about, oh, half the distance to the first floatie. then got tired.
this was not looking good.
but i still saw people around me, and that was comforting. there were also lifeguards out in bright green boats, ready to save any floundering soul.
as i rounded the second floater in the backstroke, realizing that even if i just turned around and swam back to shore i would be tired, i thought of calling out to the bright green and just holding on.
i didn't see how i could make this. when you're swimming, you can't stop to catch your breath. your only other option is to go under water.
i switched to the sidestroke. my right arm hurt all the more. i even doggie paddled as i noticed the people around me become scarce. every muscle in me was sore. i couldn't balance my head and it felt like i was falling back in to the water, my body was arching backward, yet i didn't go underwater. i wondered if i was hallucinating, panicking, but didn't feel like i was.
i did the backstroke again. water splashed in my face as i stared up at the sky, desperately trying to stay straight. a jet had gone by, leaving a line of smoke. if i could keep the line the same place, i would be on a straight course.

yet everytime i came back from the sidestroke and checked to see that i was still going toward the bouy, when i looked at the sky, that line at turned. a lot. that really confused me.

the lake was nearly empty by the time i came close to the dock [keep in mind, the olympic guys had gone around that course twice] but i could hear our friends cheering for me. i paddled and paddled until i touch ground. i stood up.
and then fell down into the water.
melissa and andrew helped me out as i stumbled, confessing that i hadn't been in water since maybe january.

it was like having my own pit crew. andrew helped pull off my wetsuit as i dried myself off. melissa held out my shirt while andrew put on my socks and got my special shoes ready. i put my ipod on, donned my wind tunnel-approved helmet, and took off. i didn't bother to lock my shoes onto the super-pegs; more speed is not worth having me feet securely attached to the bike, should i fall at such high speeds.

as bon jovi told me we've got to hold on to what we've got, the killers reminded me of all these things that i've done, and i fought like a lion. i sped down the freeway, crossed the bridge as the police officers watched for traffic, and passed my sister as she was coming back the other way--i was looking for her, but with her issue number written on her arm, she looked like some granola girl with a tattoo and i almost missed her.
i kept fighting at i rounded the turn around point and headed back. every time i saw someone on the horizon ahead of me, it gave me new resolve to work harder and i would pass them as japan's 'judy and mary' sang in my head. the terrain began look familiar once again when moby's james bond theme fueled the fires all the more, and i pushed even hard, passing three more girls.

'mission: impossible' was playing as i was helped off my bike and into my running shoes. i downed half my bottle of gatorade and took off, running like ethan hunt until andrew came up from behind and grabbed me, turned me around, and pointed me in the opposite direction. i thanked him.

the running part of the event never concerned me too much, because i get out and run 2.5 miles a couple times a week anyway [and there's no hill here]. but as i started down the course, my legs brought up a point of irrefutable logic: the rex lee run was a fun event, and becky and i were rather tired after that. i have just swam and biked a total of 13 miles, and now i'm going out to run five thousand meters? that's down a football field fifty times.
so, yes, i walked for a good part of it.

the course was also a bit of a psychological game, too. i ran across the field and then came to a guy who told us this was the turn around. they had little spats of flour on the ground to mark the course, and sure enough, this was the place to turn around. as i headed back to the base, i was feeling pretty good, thinking that this almost felt too short. after having done 13 miles, three more isn't that much.

but the flour didn't lead me back to the base. it kept going down the road.
so i ran.
after a good run [+ walk] i saw a guy leaning against a red converable, with a path leading down to the beach and back to base. i watched the horizon and saw people turn down there and go back. but when i reached the guy, he didn't point me down. he pointed me onward.
so i ran.

i fought. i wasn't getting any more tired, oh no. i ran out of energy shortly after the second floating orange marker in the lake, and never really got any weaker. afterall, you can't expend something where there is nothing.
i wasn't running on energy. i was running on my soul.

as a techno version of 'ode to joy' played, i began to imagine what it would be like, to cross the finish line; began to get emotional even at that thought; i even began to hyperventilate, though i'm not fully sure why. because i was pushing myself to the limit, i suppose.
and i began to understand why people did sports in high school. you can't get the feeling of being on stage on opening night in front of a packed auditorium out on the road, but you can't get this feeling there, either.

the course didn't seem to end. the road went around a mountain. eventually i saw a nice lady and her children at the water table. i drank two cups and turned around. i passed the guy by the convertable and headed down the hill and ran along the beach.

i was in my own movie. i was rocky. i saw myself in silhouette, running against the sun as sand kicked up behind me [and rocks fell into my shoe, but you don't see that part in the movies]; i pushed as the camera showed close-ups of my hands, my legs, my teeth, gritted and strong. i wanted to find 'ode to joy' and have that playing, but couldn't spare the energy. instead, i had 'kung fu' playing by 90's alt. rock group ash, and just as i crossed the finish line, cheers errupted from the song as people in reality cheered for #168.

i found my friends and hugged my sister, partially crying as we took pictures. it didn't matter to me that i was near the end, that they had all been there for 20 minutes. this was for me. crossing that finish line tasted just as sweet as first place did to the victor.

i did it.
and i wore my dirty, sweaty shirt for the rest of the day my number pinned to it. i had been through too much to earn that to just take it off for not good reason.

Friday, September 08, 2006

my tiny, personal scream

i'm here in the library on a friday night.
as a student, i think i would have felt like a lamer, that even if i weren't out on a date, it is at least better to be home than at the library.
but now that i'm a cougar alumnus, i feel above the reproach of the college social rules, and actually feel a little studious and disciplined, being here on a lovely night.

but apart from writing my dad a nice birthday e-mail, i haven't done much.

today has not been my day. much of that is my fault, for when you do not get off to the right start, the whole thing goes out of whack.

i am going to write the things that are bothering me. i just read the most recent writing's on em's blog, and she is preparing to make a full-blown cross country journey to leave her family and take her son and join her husband, starting grad school with so many unknowns before them. i know em will make it; she is awesome, and i've seen her in rough situations before, and would want her on my team, were she available to work on a movie. she's good and will get you through it.
my frustrations do not compare to hers, but i will write because i want to write.
  • i'm upset that i haven't written more, that so many good ideas and theses have been lost to the passing of meaningful time, lapses in memory, or lost in sheer volume of ideas.
  • that my computer is confusing me; quicktime will not run for some reason; in attempting to clear out more disk space, i lost a handful of non-essential but still apprecaited programs [solitaire's loss may have been for the best]; and that my nice savings to buy a new mac have been depleted to pay the bills [i suppose i should be glad i didn't buy the computer]
  • that internet availability at our house is sketchy at best, working really at the only the most inopportune times, making things just that much more frustrating [on the other hand, it is nice to be back at the library; i just wish i had the time to enjoy being here right now]
  • that my sister informed me last night that she was indeed running the triathalon tomorrow, after deciding last week not to go. and, since i want to run one with her and this is our last chance, i am going, too, despite not having swam in many, many months and that i haven't fully secured a bike yet and it is 9:30 friday night and we are leaving at 5 a.m. tomorrow. i'm really quite nervous about this.
  • that my phone died when my friend who was going to loan me the bike called.
  • that i had so many things to do today and hardly did any of them.
  • that all the friends i tried to contact this evening just to say and have some 'friend contact' did not reply for one unknown reason or another.
  • i guess that's about it.
  • i want to write blogs, journals, work on this movie thing, buy more equipment so i can be a better and more confident camera assistant, read so many books, watch so many great movies and then write about them.
  • and my room is perpetually messy, which doesn't really help anything.
  • i could use a hug.
  • or a cat.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

days go by

i'm terribly sorry i haven't written more.
i want to write, too.
i have notes jotted down, ideas and themes in my head, and dreams that will probably not turn out all that glorious when i write them.

all in this afternoon, i got two back to back jobs for tomorrow, meaning i will be working 24 hours straight, and i am also working in pre-production on a feature-length movie [more about that later] and was offered to pitch myself for a job from a creative agency.

so much for those bohemian days on the fifth floor of the library.

currently i'm in the main hall of the library, racing to get even this posted before the 'get out now' music begins.

i love you all.