Friday, March 30, 2007


i stopped by the tiny wellsfargo branch down by centennial, where i used to live, to deposit a couple of checks and got a little cash back. stuffing a small handful of bills into my wallet, i was reminded of my former roommates from the aforementioned area once laughing at my slighly oversized wallet.
back at home, i joined mark in a dvd episode of the simpsons and enjoyed a bottle of cream soda. partway into the second episode, i got a call from the teller at the bank, asking if i had left received my money. i said that i had, clearly remembering the slight struggle to get it in. he said there had been some money left on his counter and wondered if it could be mine. i pulled out the cash and counted it, and, sure enough, i was missing a twenty.

when i got to the bank, he said that he had stepped away for a moment after i left, and when he came back the next customer questioned about the mystery money lying on the conter. the teller checked his books and found that he was balanced, and so deduced that the dude whose haircut with malinna the amazing paul mitchell student had just been rescheduled probably left it there. he somehow tracked down my phone number and gave me the call.

it's nice to be reminded that there are still intengrious people in the world. = )

other happy things:
*e.l. fudge cookies are on sale for $1 at macy's
*my 'babel' poster came today. brand new and $2 on ebay
*it's conference weekend. oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy

Thursday, March 29, 2007

all these things that i've seen, part 3

elizabeth [1998] -long, slow, and as difficult to keep the inter-character politics straight as 'braveheart', but without the great battle sequences and blue facepaint. while no aspect of the production showed a lack of quality, i really didn't care much.
as is the case with most movies, however, the last 15-20 was somewhat interesting and brought together the story through a montage that was most certainly homage to one of the greats. in a sequence paralleling the 'baptism/execution' scene of 'the godfather', we see that elizabeth is eliminating her enemies to consolidate her power as well. further referencing coppola's masterpiece, the film ends with elizabeth ceremonially assuming her throne, establishing in no uncertain terms that she rules, and that you should never takes sides against the country. after the fade to black, the film informs us that the queen ruled for another 40 years, creating england's golden age and making it the most powerful country in the world.
interesting how information like that can make the film that much more enjoyable.
--less than i expected--

four weddings and a funeral [1994] -the pacing moves along briskly, leaving no time to get bored; keeping track of the eponymous number of weddings and funerals helps, too. edited for tv, it's interesting how the british profanity was left in; it means nothing to me, but would have burned the ears of some of my friends. the movie gets in just as things get interesting and gets out before anything becomes dull; the story brings a joyful array of characters, including a deaf brother, whose signing ability becomes more than just another flavor to the story.
i am a hugh grant fan--he's just too darn charming. 'about a boy', 'sense and sensibility', 'the englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain', and this; you just can't beat the bloke. i think this was his introduction to u.s. audiences, and over ten years later, his sheepishly pathetic charm shows no signs of fading.
it was interesting to see the film's philosophizing on the institution of marriage, this being an early predecessor to our current climate of nervous bafflement toward matrimony. the movie looks at marriage with a mixture of yearning and apprehension. a mentality that has only grown amidst the late 20's early 30's crowd in the new millennium, notably dealt with in both of zach braff's directed features, viewing marriage can be a scary thing. the reservation toward entering into the commitment shows that there is still some respect for the sacred covenant, evidenced by the fear of breaching such. yet even the careless hugh grant character [and his surrounding enterouge] felt a yearning for something more than just a night in bed; the desire to be one with someone is within each of us.
not until the final act of the story did i find myself really caring about the characters, but during the closing sequence, i was smiling because i was happy for them.
--better than i expected--

platoon [1986] -best picture 1986, on the afi top 100, i was curious to see it. sadly, it did not hold up to great vietnam movies like 'the deer hunter' or 'apocalypse now'. what happened? well, universal truths come from specific experiences. 'deer hunter' and 'apocalypse now' are the journey's and experiences of defined characters--martin sheen or robert deniro [and/or christopher walken] are all unique characters, following paths that we have not specifically seen before. charlie sheen in 'platoon', however, could have easily been one of thousands of grunts in the surreal jungle world. there is no clear objective or plot with the movie; its thesis statement is simply, 'war is hell', and spend the next two hours eloquently stating such. i disliked oliver stone's very anti-war 'born on the fourth of july', and was happy that 'platoon' was not so nauseatingly manipulative. still, the movie gave us little to hold on to. there were a dozen tertiary characters, including johnny depp [whom i did not recognize until his credit shot at the end] and john c. mcginley ['scrubs's dr. cox], all of whom i suspect most vietnam vets could recognize as being from their company.
my knowledge of old war movies is about as shallow as my experience with westerns, but john wayne, gary cooper, and the heroes of yesteryear made war look glorious and heroic, with clearly defined boundaries between right and wrong, the good and the bad. and, to a degree, it seems that things were moreso back then. even the modern wwII epic, 'saving private ryan', doesn't invoke the same nightmare as the contemporary vietnam stories. 'platoon' showed the horrors of war without leaving room for dispute while avoiding repulsion. in the end, we are left feeling like that of our everyman protagonist, not knowing what went on out there, but it was crazy.
--less than i expected--

patton [1970]-patton could have easilly be a movie about a stubborn and headstrong general who lived for war, believing in reincarnation and who won one of the most impressive victories in not only world war II, but in the history of the united states. and it would have been a fine movie that way. there are two aspects of it that make it become so much more. the foremost is an seemingly small incident that ripples through the entire movie. grandpa simpson put it best when he said, 'you can push them out of a plane, you can march them off a cliff, you can send them off to die on some forsaken rock. but for some reason, you can't slap 'em.' the general's slapping of a soldier who had lost his nerve created a stir throughout the military and government bureacracy as well as a spike of outrage among the u.s. civilians. soon patton was released from his command, even after making a formal apology for his actions, and was stationed around as little more than a decoy. when the germans read from the american newspapers that the great and formidable general, one of their biggest concerns [and rightfully so], had been demoted for slapping a grunt, they blow it off, unable to believe that the americans would dismiss their greatest leader for something so trivial.
the question is never explicitly addressed and barely stated, yet it is one of the movie's ponderings that makes it deeper than 'just a good war movie'. is there logic in removing a great strength in the army or any organization because of a relatively small indiscretion? is the loss of leadership worth the example made about the importance of rules above all else? in our current culture, we are much quicker to praise heroes who break the rules to achieve their noble goal, following that the ends do indeed justify the means. but in a movie made thirty years ago about people thirty years before that, it was much more of a question [making a wwII during the vietnam war is intriguing in inself, but won't be discussed here].
the 'always on the offensive' personality of general patton seems possibly impeccable early in the movie, that perhaps making people hate you at the moment but getting the job done is the way things work, not caring whether or not they like you afterward. the other strength of 'patton' is that it does not glorify it's emponymous character, but tells the story of an eccentric man. the antithesis is karl malden's character, omar bradley, whose book provided much of the source material for the screenplay [written, by the way, by a pre-godfather francis ford coppola]. general bradley is a good friend of patton's, and they work together throughout the war, but with very different attitudes. while we do not see much of his leadership, we can infer that bradley leads with respect, not blazing determination. when patton is given command over the 3rd army, he is under bradley, but he has also learned humility. he no longer reaps results through shouting and fear, he has learned that people respond even more effectively to support and affirmation, best shown in the wonderful scene where he hops out of his jeep and cheerfully directs intersecting patrols of tanks himself.
i've been wary of 'patton' for a while, not only because it seemed like a boring old movie that my dad likes to watch, but also because i wondered if i could ever take george c. scott seriously after his amazing role in 'dr strangelove, or how i learned to stop worrying and love the bomb'. neither was a problem; the dialogue carried with it just enough fun and levity to keep it from being a dry and dull military movie and from the opening monologue to the final scene with him and willy [not william] the pit bull, i never doubted he was patton. the title is correct; it is not about world war II, nor anything or anyone else but george s. patton. there is no bias, no glorifying nor demonizing, but a movie that tells the story of a person.
--better than i expected--

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

turkey juice

i've worked with people from both sides of the united states, and have done a car commercial with some fancy dutch director, but turkey was a new one. we did a two-day commercial at the u of u huntsman center--kind of like the marriott center but covered in red and it leaves you feeling.... uncomfortable. the concept was to have memot okur, the turkish guy on the utah jazz, playing basketball against himself. he then proceeds to thoroughly school himself, and after knocking himself to the ground during shot, pulls him up and into himself again. he drinks 'dimes' fruit juice and feels happy. that meant a body double and a lot of place-marking, dots on the double's face [for motion-tracking and digital replacement], and even a green screen at the end.
getting the crew list was fun, because it was once again the usual group of guys i work with, and having a crew you know really makes a lot of the difference. the director and other ad guys were from turkey, which is really an interesting language, and i found myself looking up the country on wikipedia on my day off; interesting place. the dp was from new york but spoke turkish, as well as french, russian, and japanese, and thought it was neat that i did too [just japanese]. that was nice, because it gave me some brownie points, and eased the pressure off me when things got busy.
the turkish guys were friendly and cool, and even though they spoke english, m&m's are also a universal language.

all during the shoot, i was curious to try some of this turkish fruit juice [apple, grape, peach, and pommegranate], but despite there being several cartons sitting on the craft services table, they were for the commercial and so were off limits. when we wrapped, however, they let us take some. i was thrilled and grabbed four. on one side everything is written in turkish, and on the other side is the english translation. alongside being toted with 'no sugar added', another spot on the carton says 'with cell'. i don't even know what that's trying to say.
but the juice is good.

this is not one of my better posts. i need to write when i'm feeling it, not when it's convenient.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

if i had a million dollars....

alexander nevsky (1938)
ashes and diamonds (1958)
l'avventura (1960)
ballad of a soldier (1959)
beauty and the beast (1946)
black orpheus (1959)
brief encounter (1945)
the fallen idol (1948)
fires on the plain (1959)
fists in the pocket (1965)
floating weeds (1959)
forbidden games (1952)
the 400 blows (1959)
grand illusion (1937)
haxan (1922)
ikiru (1952)
the importance of being earnest (1952)
ivan the terrible, part II (1958)
le jour se leve (1939)
jules and jim (1962)
kind hearts and coronets (1949)
knife in the water (1962)
the lady vanishes (1938)
the life and death of colonel blimp (1943)
loves of a blonde (1965)
m (1931)
m. hulot's holiday (1953)
miss julie (1951)
pandora's box (1929)
pepe le moko (1937)
il posto (1961)
pygmalion (1938)
rashomon (1950)
richard III (1955)
the rules of the game (1939)
seven samurai (1954)
the seventh seal (1957)
the spirit of the beehive (1973)
la strada (1954)
summertime (1955)
the third man (1949)
the 39 steps (1935)
ugetsu (1953)
umberto d. (1952)
the virgin spring (1960)
viridiana (1961)
the wages of fear (1953)
the white sheik (1952)
wild strawberries (1957)

late last year, janus films [parent of the criterion collection] put out an 'essential art house' set of 50 great films. i watched 'alexander nevsky' yesterday and really enjoyed it, and have since been eying this set again and again. i don't need it. that's a lot of stuffy, artsy, black and white foreign movies. and it screams 'culture.'
suggested retail price: $850. direct from $650.
all the same, i put it on my amazon wishlist; it worked for my buster keaton collection.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

a bag of chocolate chips

i had a dinner appointment this afternoon and was a little late leaving for it. coming out my front door, i saw my neighbor coming back to her door [roughly six inches from mine]. she said hi and asked if i happened to have any chocolate chips. there have been a few times in the past when they have come by, inquiring to borrow an egg or an onion or some other food that single guys don't have much. but this time, well, we might have chocolate chips. i rummaged through the 'cooking ingredient cupboard' and found a partial bag of swirled chocolate chips and a brand new bag of western family chocolate chips.
may i say, i was thoroughly happy about this.
i proudly offered her the choices, and as she took the bag, she recommended that the 'macy's' brand chips were better [and usually cheaper] than the western family variety.
i was quite glad that i had dawdled around, walking out my door at that exact moment.

and yes, i thought that 'western family' was the macy's brand--i'll have to look into this.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

wallet-floaties on a friday night.

my roommate comes home from work yesterday and says that a friend of a guy he works with [or something like that] is going flying tonight and invited him to come along and that if i wanted to come, he would give him a call and see if it was alright. as much as i wanted to hang around the house and tweak pictures in iphoto, this sounded like a much better way to go. so we grabbed our cameras and headed down to the spanish fork airport [no, i didn't know there was one either].

many years ago for a scout activity, we got to go flying in some little cessna, which was roughly the same size as my honda civic, and that's what i was expecting for the friday night flight.
no. this thing wasn't a tiny airplane; it was a teeny tiny airplane. imagine two chairs at the marriott center [or any arena seats] inside of a lightweight metal peapod with wings. like that. and a cool little windshield dome that encloses over you like a star wars fighter.
after several safety tests and checks and a briefing on how to exit the plane should we have a 'problem', mark hopped in while i snapped a bunch of pictures for him, playing with shutter speeds and the rotation of the propellor [roughly 1/250 is best; 1/4000 makes it look like it's not even moving].
i hung out on the ground, texting on my phone and calling friends while they flew up around timpanogos and around american fork canyon.
after what seemed about half an hour [i later learned that it was closer to a full hour], they landed and it was my turn to hop in. i put on the headphones [for talking in a noisy cockpit] and gave some goofy smiles to mark's camera as we taxied out to the runway. in a little 'mork from ork' podplane, you hop off the ground pretty quickly, and before long we were flying off into a beautiful sunset toward mt nebo. at times as we flew toward the snow-covered mountains in the setting sun, it looked very much like the opening shots of 'the two towers'.
we had been out for a little bit when he said, 'it's your plane; you're the pilot.'
i tenderly took the stick and moved it a little--yes, i was controlling this plane.
lest there be any question, this was nothing like playing 'top gun' on my old nintendo. yes, i knew that the play wasn't really sitting on anything, but had this weird feeling that if i turned too far to the left or right that we would fall over... pull back, and the plane noses up. i push forward, and the plane dives; i assure you, i barely pushed--propelling us toward the ground was not something i was ready to try yet. all death-potential aside, this was really quite cool.
we looped around nebo, where some gusts of turbulant wind bobbed us around enough to make me grab the window [i don't much like turbulance even in big planes], and as we were flying over the land at magic hour, i had to try something. i reached back and pulled out my [light, thin] wallet and set it on the dashboard in front of us and asked if we could do something i had heard about; i knew the physics of it, but physics is best seen in practicality, not theory. i asked if we could climb and then do a nose dive, and he agreed.
the plane went up and we got pressed back into our cushy seats, and then we turned and faced the ground. i felt myself float out of my seat [by the way, i was grateful for my seatbelt], and my wallet did an excellent impression of the 'blue danube waltz' scene from '2001'.
yes, it was awesome.
yes, we did it three times.
yes, i was happy there was a safety net behind the seats; otherwise, the tools would have ended up in our laps.

grinning from ear to ear, we headed back to the airport, very much enjoying the tranquil night scene of lights below us.
before heading home, mark and i stopped at his house and helped him move a piano--certainly a fair price for a good game of wallet-floaties.

Friday, March 16, 2007

yes, em, i am alive

i started work on 'high school musical 2' a few weeks ago, put in an 80 hour week [plus 45 minutes of travel each way for six days], overlapped that with my brother coming to visit for spring break, where upon we went snowboarding, got sunburned, learned to jump my board, watched akira kurosawa's 'ikiru', spent a night in vegas, ate sushi and creme brule, only saw the bellagio fountain show once, joined tim in awe as he went through 'tekken tag' in the arcade all on one credit, learned the the excalibur hotel does actually have some rather nice rooms [in tower 2, not tower 1], got some severe blisters on my feet and no longer like my steve maddens, beat both of them at a very competitive battle in 'super mario kart' at the mgm grand arcade [go team toad!], made two new fans of 'in and out burger'--animal style is the best, played mah-jong as my friends amusedly watched at how similar my brother and i are, and made it to the airport in record time this morning.

em, i also got you card, and am, as always, appreciative and amazed.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

closing walls and ticking clocks

it's 12:45 and i'm leaving the studio, walking across the street to the parking lot with the grain silos in it and generally feeling pretty good. i got here at 9:15 this morning, but i don't really mind the 15 hour day. perhaps part of it is because we've got a good crew and stage work is pretty easy. but i really don't mind having a 45 minute drive home and a call at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. working on 'beyond' last year was much harder--granted, doing 'splits' until 1 a.m. in temperatures reaching the teens didn't help, that's for sure [the series never did air, and it was supposed to be one of fox's big five]. but i think it's got a lot more to do with attitude and expectation. and maybe acceptance.
a few weeks ago, my cool roommate mark made an insightful observation as we were watching 'the office'. he pointed out that unreal expectations lead to disappointment. as i've thought about that since then, i am surprised at the depth of that. in the show, michael has such high expectations that they are never met and so he is continually disappointed, upset, and frustrated. now, there is also a fault in setting one's expectations too low, but that's not for here.
at the end of last year, i hadn't worked as often as i would have liked, and so told myself that this year i would take everything i could; that i would go for it, regardless of the cost [within reason, of course]. and so i don't mind that tonight i had to miss a reportedly very fun fhe and the weekly '24'. tomorrow i am going to miss hosting our weekly 'classic movie' night, and i will probably miss institute on thursday. but these are the sacrifices i accepted to taking when i took this job, and therefore they are manageable.

on a separate but related issue, there is a position open for a nice girl to welcome me home with a tender and appreciative embrace at the end of the day; applications are now being accepted.