Friday, June 29, 2007


over the years, i've met some girls i've liked, a few i've really liked, and even a couple that have liked me. rarely do these two match up, and i've wondered what i can do better on my part: how do you make yourself like someone? i don't think you can, nor should you have to force it. this has led me to wonder what makes me like a girl. years of close research has yet to yield a magic checklist of qualities, attributes, and quirks, but i have a found a couple of generally common denominators.

denominator the first: can you sing along to my ipod in the car? hardly a factor in determining the stable character of a nice girl, but this really means a lot to me, and does tend to say a fair amount about the person. i'm certainly not saying that i will only go out with someone who can sing along to every song on my nano, nor am i saying that if she does not like my music that the date is over. far from it. heck, my sister doesn't much care for most of what i listen to. although, our strong brother-sister relationship was somewhat catalyzed by our singing along to the mixed tape that played in the minivan as we drove to seminary and high school on those cold minnesota mornings. singing [especially in the car] is something i really enjoy and someone who can joing with me makes it all better.
the bottom line is, if you can grab my ipod, flip through it and find several songs you enjoy singing along to [and proceed to do so], you're a lap ahead of the pack.

denominator the second: do you leave notes? notes, trinkets, surprises, i'm a sucker for them. i like making things and i like getting made things. i didn't grow up in utah where the high school dance culture revolved around 'creative' ways of asking someone out, but i love it. this really didn't blossom until after a few years at byu, but the fire still burns within me. and forget homecoming and preference [mostly because i don't have anything like it around me]--it's not unusual for me to ask a girl on a date with a box of crayons, a coupon, a mystery letter taped to your door at 1 a.m., a film can and a corn cob; whatever i find lying around and whenever the idea strikes me. i don't need a reason, i just love doing it. which means that if you respond in kind, points go on the scoreboard. i guess this echoes that little box i have: i keep the notes taped to my door, the little cranes made out of chocolate wrappers, colorings and flower petals. opening my door to find something left for me: i'm tickled pink.

that's all i've distilled from myself so far. certainly there are a lot of things, some more important than others, but this is the best i can figure.

ladies, now you know.
and knowing is half the battle.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

my 200th post

if it says anything, i'll let it speak for itself.
thank you for reading.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

my life in a tiny box

i have a little box of stuff. a couple actually; i've found two more since cleaning out my room. and i have about five or six in the top of the closet in the room that used to be mine back in minnesota.

i keep things. 'scraps', i suppose they could be called, as i think i have this secret hope that i will put all of these things into a scrapbook someday. they are the tokens of my life, mementos saved and evidences of what i've done and of who i am. much of it is apparently meaningless, just 'stuff'. but i knew where they came from, who was there, and why i want to remember it.

in the boxes, i have a delta airlines luggage with a sticker from the phuket, thailand airport security, an ihop reciept from may 5, 2005, a napkin from 'weinerschnitzel' advertising the 'chili dog diet' as 'a diet you just can't lose', a ticket stub from a bus in seoul, one frame from a 35mm print of ingmar bergman's 'wild strawberries', a reciept from macy's grocery store that i can't remember why i have it at the moment, a forklift operator's card and a blood donor card [i'm A+], a ticket to a passover seder service, the business card of a cinematographer, an acceptance letter from a girl i asked on a date once, a reciept from the osaka restaurant from october 2001, remnants of clues from an invite to prefernce during the 2004 presidential elections, the bank card from the nice lady in oregon who helped me when my identity was stolen, and old driver's license, a card identifying me as 'the man', a receipt from a byu traffic ticket that i politely talked down from $20 to $5, a pass to a convention in las vegas and a byu all-sport pass, a piece of 70mm film from a print of 'the testaments', a fortune cookie fortune stating that i am 'strong and brave', a birthday card and a gift card to cinemark from a rad girl many years ago [that thankfully does not expire], the ID number from the triathalon i swam/biked/ran last fall, roughly a dozen [mostly handmade] cards from a friend and former movie producer now living in pennsylvania, ticket stubs from the bullet train in japan, receipt for a t-shirt from the hard rock cafe in washington d.c., a colorful bracelet tied on my arm by a cute little shopkeeper in a small village in thailand, a wallet-sized picture of me sitting on graffitied concrete stating 'i ain't in love with you, lady', a small envelope containing an apology card from a girl not being able to come on a date and an accompanying oversized 'raincheck', a brochure from the libery bell, a coin from the united arab emirates, a tag with the number '4619' identifying the pants i wore in 'ocean's 13', a thank you card from the lady who gave me my beloved stuffed dog 'mickey' when i was born, a sheet of paper with a message written in code and it's solution announcing an accepted date, a boondoggle than deb tried to sell in 'napoleon dynamite', a letter from a former girlfriend, 2,000 yen and a welcome card from the tokyo conrad hotel, raven symone's cue cards from last year's 'stadium of fire', the pink bible, a bracelet from ghana, wedding announcements of several very close friends, an empty envelope mailed on dec. 23, 2005 with a 'joseph smith' postmark, the ID of malinna the amazing hair stylist who has sadly since graduated but gave me a hug the last time she did my hair, a newspaer clipping about the r.e.m. concert at the e-center, a japan rail pass, my call to and release from jury duty, many thank you cards from various projects and the like, letters from sister missionaries, 20 baht, a postcard from a place in france, a menu from the 'high rocks' lounge next to our hotel in gladstone, oregon, signed by the cute reception girls, the reciept from my buster keaton dvd set, a birthday card from brasil, more handmade cards from pennsylvania, a 3.5" floppy disk containing files from high school, an 'fbi' pin from the olympics, a letter from las vegas in 2001, and several cards from my mom.

i like treasures.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

tuesdays with jeff

anyone who's been to the movies with me knows that i stay for the credits, and this is for several reasons. respect to the people who worked on the flick, to see what city they actually filmed in, and sometimes there's a little surprise at the end [this helped pacify our group at 'pirates 3']. when the camera crew credits go by, i wonder what life is like for them. who are the people who get the call, 'hi allen. we need a second a.c. for august through september; yeah, rodrigo prieto's shooting it.' or, 'hey, marty [scorsese] is crewing for his next movie; want to come and load for us?'

as far as i know, all changing tents are the same--there's no magical tent that really makes sure your film doesn't get flashed. is it their tape measures? do they lay their marks with a flair or class that i don't have? if i wound my film cores differently, would steven soderbergh hear of my work and call me some morning, demanding that i load for his next movie?

the same thing happened last year, only worse this year--spring blossomed with work, allowing me to pay off the credit card debt that had accumulated over the barren winter months, and now work has dried again. i saw a friend at a church meeting a few weeks ago and he asked me if there was anything going on. he's a great assistant, ambitious, and personable, so hearing that he was parched, too, made me feel better.

this morning i got up and kept the attitude i had last night--i would get going with my day and be productive. a bowl of malt-o-meal honeynut cheerios with a dvr-ed 'seinfeld' episode had me off to a great start. somewhere around 11 i was at '', reading the specific reasons that made 'saving private ryan' rated R [this included 'many people who are shot are bloody' and 'extreme disrespect/bad attitudes from the german soldiers'] when i got a phone call from an unknown number. the caller said he got my name from a couple of guys i haven't seen in a while and identified himself as a grad student from the l.a. area planning to shoot a music video and needing a 2nd a.c. he prefaced by saying that it seems everyone in utah is working right now [what the--?? who are all these working people and why haven't they called me?], but if i was available, they would like me to help out. the shoot days were this saturday, sunday, and monday, and when i told him my day rate, there was a bit of hesistation, followed with a re-affirmed tone that they could pay for my travel expenses and food and could pay me a day rate, though not what i was used to.
it didn't matter though, because i knew from the start that i wouldn't do it--with few exceptions, i don't work on sundays, and this was not making any sort of an argument to change that. and so i politely declined, citing just such reasons, feeling bad that i had asked about pay when i already knew that i wasn't going to take it. but i did give him the names of some people who may or may not be willing to work on sundays.

i set the phone back on my desk and continued to browse 'screenit' to if 'the departed' really deserved its R-rating. at least i was now not working by choice. 'yeah, i've had some work offered, but i don't work on sundays.' passing on this job certainly wasn't going to make or break me, and i had kept my integrity. i was hoping this would turn into a story i could send to the 'ensign' at some point: '...and then steven spielberg personally called me to load for his next movie, saying he'd heard how accurate my numbers are.'

i remember hearing the morning radio show host talking about all the movies being shot right now; usually when these things happen, i get a call when all the 1st string guys are unavailable. did i insult the wrong guy somewhere?

my room is still an undying mess: like the heads of the hydra, where a head must not only be severed but the neck then cauterized by fire, lest a new one grow back, the piles of stuff--my fourth grade teacher never let us use that word, declaring it to amorphous, yet that is what i have: piles of papers, clothes, books, yes, but there is more that can only be properly classified as 'stuff'--will reform and grow back stronger. the piles must be completely eradicated. a notepad lying next to a film can and a deck of trick cards will soon encompass binders, notebooks, a holey pair of jeans and a japanese flag. we went to ikea on saturday and i spent $15 on two sets of small designer swedish cardboard boxes. i think i may have found the weakness of my personal room-hydra.

i genuinely planned on carving out a severe victory in my room/quagmire today, but opted first for the shower, declining to style my hair out of anything more than moderate apathy. i like the way my hair looks and even smells when 'done', but for some reason the 70 seconds that it takes to rub tea tree pomade or hair wax through is a battle that i only win about half the time.
instead, i relaxed back in my director's chair and read the final few essays in my david sedaris book. i've blazed through all 257 pages rather quickly, leaving me excited to again attack my 'collected works of jane austen'; if i read five short chapters a day, i can have 'sense and sensibility' done in a week and a half.
as i sat reading, my japanese bracelet broke. i wasn't doing anything. my wrist was on the armrest, where it had been resting for five minutes, when a couple of the pink beads made a successful escape. not used to having things just leap from me for no given reason, i moved my hand to see, and, sure enough, the rest of the buddhist rosary beads scattered. i just sat there, not so much saddened by the loss of my favorite little token from japan as i was puzzled as to how this happened--do bracelets really 'just break'?
of course they do. mine just did.

this was my second such trinket and i knew how fragile they were. i was a bit surprised it had lasted for a full year. in japan, they're available from the moneychangers at every shrine and temple, so i picked up two, knowing that east asian religious artifacts are a little harder to come by in the states. my current debate is whether to open up the new beads or to allow a period of mourning first.

somewhere in my last batch of sedaris essays the phone rang again. there is a certain benefit of not keeping very strong social relationships with people i work with. i think it would be a sort of psychological torture to see rich's name on my phone and get excited about the prospect of an intermountain health care commercial, only to be crestfallen as he suggests we go see 'die hard 4' this weekend.
thankfully, the people i see movies with are not the same people i make movies with, and so my hopes rightfully went up as i answered brandon's call. we exchanged pleasantries and mutually admitted that there isn't much work right now [me feeling somewhat validated now], then he asked if i would tentatively be available to work as a 1st a.c. a shot-on-video, straight-to-dvd movie he'd MIGHT be shooting. i considered passing on it, as the shooting dates would mean i'd miss the midnight showing of 'harry potter 5' and also the midnight book release of 'harry potter 7'. perhaps if i hold to what i really want, an even better job will come along later this evening.
call it a lack of faith, but in the end, i decided not to risk it.

heck yes.
while it is 'singles ward 2', work with brandon is always good, feature work means three weeks of work, and being a 1st a.c. is better than being a second or a loader, and i will have an assistant. should it all go through, someone will be calling me in a few days.

it's time to get to this room mess.

who knows, maybe martin scorsese will be impressed with my focus pulls?

Monday, June 25, 2007

rantings and hollerings

they took it seriously and got it right.
there was no watering-down for the common movie goer; many of the films would be unknown to today's teenagers, just like me ten years ago. there were several changes [23 new entries on the list], and most of the remaining 77 shifted positions, with a handful of surprises, even to the point of me yelling at the tv [usually for the better]. and most of the new movies were in the lower third of the list, reaffirming that the choices made 10 years ago still held. there was no concern of redundancy; if it was still a great movie, it was still a great movie.
the american film institute established its 'top 100' list not as a 'one-hit wonder', but as a continuing institution for serious consideration; being that it is 'american' films only, it is not as esoteric nor scholarly as the bfi's 'sight and sound' top 10 poll, yet similar movies are seen in similar rankings.

what's out: the oldest movie on the previous list, d.w. griffith's 'birth of a nation' [1915] is out. so are other early landmarks, including 'the jazz singer' [1927], 'all quiet on the western front' [1930], and 'mutiny on the bounty' [1935]--kind of sad to see that last one go; it's nothing exceptional, but a good movie that i wouldn't have seen had it not been the first list. perhaps it did its job. 'an american in paris' [1951], 'close encounters of the third kind' [1977] [don't worry, speilberg picked up one, too], 'dances with wolves' [1990], 'fargo' [1996] [the most recent on the previous list], 'frankenstein' [1931], 'from here to eternity' [1953], 'the manchurian candidate' [1962], 'patton' [1970], and 'a place in the sun' [1951] are all out, and fairly so. my biggest frustration of the list was that audrey hepburn was not represented, but i'd rather her be out than have 'my fair lady' [1964] be on the list again. most of these movies were in the bottom half of the list, though the highest to leave entirely was #39's 'dr. zhivago' [1965]. david lean, omar shariff, and julie christie are all represented better elsewhere on the list, though my condolences to those who love the movie. [it never did it for me; my favorite david lean movies remained strong on the list]. my one outcry from those that were knocked out was 'the third man' [1949-previously an appropriate#57]. amazing cinematography, one of the most famous appearances in cinema history--how could this be left out?

what's in: this list is even better than what's out. on the first list, there were eight movies released within the last 10 years. this time, there are only four movies since 1996, though all belong on the list: 'titanic' [1997] at #83, 'saving private ryan' [1998] at #71, 'the sixth sense' [1999] at #89, and 'the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring' [2001] at #50. 'titanic' and 'ryan' are where they should be; 'sixth sense' is an expertly crafted movie and has earned its spot--i'm just curious how well it will hold in the next 10 years. and while i love 'lord of the rings', #50 seems a little high.
following the most recent movie on the list was the oldest: griffith's racist 'birth of a nation' was replaced by his apologetic follow-up, 'intolerance' [1916]--good choice. and with one exception, that was the highest any new movie placed on the list. 'sunrise' [1927], the apex of the silent era ellicited a whoop and cheer when it came on the list, though at #82 it was a little underfavored.
16 of the bottom 30 were new, including 'toy story' [1995] at #99, 'blade runner' [1982] #97, 'do the right thing' [1989] #96, 'sophie's choice' [1982] #91, '12 angry men' [1957] #87, 'spartacus' [1960] #81, and 'all the president's men' [1976] #77. the marx brother's gained a movie with 'a night at the opera' [1935] at #85, and fred astaire and ginger rogers were given a place at #90 with 'swing time' [1935]. and i was very happy to see the largely unknown 'sullivan's travels' [1941] appear at #61.
once #49 passed, no new movies were seen for a long time, and i began to get nervous, fearing that, despite 'sunrise' being added, a travesty had occurred, especially since chaplin had already had two movies show up. but buster keaton's 'the general' [1927] came in with deadpan force at #18.
the 'ins' and the 'outs' were done with great skill and care; with the few changes that i already mentioned, my only other recommendation would be to see 'traffic' [2000] somewhere in the bottom 20. but i can wait.

the changes: 'pulp fiction' [1994] only moved from #95 to 94, while 'goodfellas' [1990] hopped from #94 to 92. give it time.... the marx brothers' timeless classic 'duck soup' moved from #85 to 60, which is comforting. happy to see it, the optimistic 'yankee doodle dandy' [1942] survived and moved from #100 to 98. 'a clockwork orange' [1971] fell from #46 to 70 [hooray], but so did 'dr strangelove' [1964] #26 to 39, 'butch cassidy and the sundance kid' [1969] #50 to 73, and 'bridge on the river kwai' [1957] #36 from 13; sad. 'the godfather part II' [1974] and 'the best years of our lives' [1946] rightfully held their places at #32 and #37. and 'the deer hunter' [1978] moved a wonderful 36 places, to #53 from 79.
and, to my happiness, '2001' [1968] moved to #15 from 22.
there were a couple of big surprises in the upper ranks: chaplin's 'city lights' [1931] going from #76 to 11--my favorite of his movies, and deserving of the top 20, i think 11 is too high, especially since he already has two others on here. and, moving up 84 places to come in at #12 is john ford's 'the searchers' [1956]. i didn't know of the movie when i saw it ranked at #96 ten years ago, but after hearing all the reverence for it amongst critics, scholars, and directors, it seems much better appreciated now.
'the graduate' and 'on the waterfront' fell from the top 10--7 and 8 to 17 and 19, respectively , but they felt out of place there anyway. the top 10 did hold the most interesting and corrective changes. the fun thing about these lists is that, once you get to a certain height, you know what has to be on there, and so you can start to deduce what will be where by process of elimination. the first time i saw the list, when were down to the final three, i picked 'the godfather' and my brother named 'casablanca', but we couldn't guess what #1 would be.
the new top 10 is great: 'wizard of oz' [1939] went from 6 to 10, while hitchcock's 'vertigo' burst in from it's previous #61. 'schindler's list' [1993] is still the most recent of the inner circle, up one spot to #8. 'lawrence of arabia' [1961] sadly fell from #5 to 7, but it's got tough competition. 'gone with the wind' [1939] was nudged from 4 to 6, leaving the final five predicted by elimination.
the happy: 'singin in the rain' [1950], timeless, ageless, near-perfect [i usually skip the 'modern' sequence at the end] moved from #10 to 5, where it belongs.
the surprise: 'raging bull' [1980], fighting all the way from 24 to 4. it's nice to see scorsese and de niro honored.
the classics: last time it was 'godfather' [1972] then 'casablanca' [1942]; now they've switched, with the corleone family taking the #2 spot.
the winner and still champion: you can't beat 'citizen kane' [1941]. it may not be your favorite movie, but in the crowds of those who know film, it's the most important thing to us all.

you can see both lists, side by side, here.

how does it breakdown?
robert deniro and jimmy stewart each have five, though deniro's range from #92 to #4, while stewart keeps all of his work in the top 50. and, if you want to count 'american graffiti' and 'apocalypse now', harrison ford also has five movies. marlon brando has four, as does humphrey bogart.
orson welles, peter o'toole, and tim allen each have one.

spielberg has directed the most, again with the magic number of five. billy wilder and alfred hitchcock each directed four, and scorsese and coppola each directed three.

all in all, this is a better list to introduce yourself to the greats of american cinema.
which is good, because i've only seen 68 of this new list.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


last summer i went running quite often. i really enjoyed it and was getting alright at it. in the morings or the cool of the night, i'd grab my little ipod shuffle and take off down the neighborhood, enjoying the air as i ran to 'the killers', letting the music carry me until i was far more tired than i realized.
i'd always try to run up the hill, pushing myself. i'd then walk for a fair while once atop the hill.

this year, i haven't been out as much, and when i do go, i don't have quite the enjoyment of it nor the strength for it. i can go for some distance, but i invariably slow down and don't get started again as i used to. the ipod is still there, but the heart isn't.
and such is life, at times. and it's hard. i want to be out there, running, working, fighting. i get out when i get out, but i wish i were more disciplined.


Saturday, June 23, 2007


during my senior year of high school, our fall musical was 'little shop of horrors'. i was unfamiliar with the movie or the broadway musical, but my friends said i'd be great as the voice of the plant. when auditions came around, i was perhaps a little over-confident that i would get the part; i didn't practice much, i just went out and recited some of oogey boogey's lines from 'the nightmare before Christmas' and then sang a few bars of 'seventy-six trombones', all in the richest baritone voice i could do.
and sure enough, when roles were posted at 9 a.m. some morning, i was 'the voice of audrey 2'.

i was taking voice lessons at the time and so spent many hours with dr rothlisberger, practicing breathing, pronunciation, and learning all of the correct notes to pseudo-post-modern classics as 'feed me' and 'supper time' [sadly, 'mean green mother from outer space' is not in the broadway play]. and i got pretty good. during rehearsals, i would stand just offstage, saying my lines into an at&t operator headset while one of my friends was inside the giant plant costume. i sang all of the notes on key and followed what was written, doing the best i could. and it was fine.

then, just a day before our final dress- and techincal rehearsal, i thought, 'dang it, i've got this awesome role and i'm probably doing it rather blandly, to be honest. heck with it, i'm doing it how i want.'
and i let loose.
i screamed. i yelled. i swung my voice everywhere it could go. i didn't get every note pitch-perfect, but i probably wasn't as on as i thought before, and now i at least had attitude.
and i was having a lot of fun, too.
and while i was doing all of this, our director had suddenly run up from the auditorium and was now right in my face, jumping up and down and making every known sign, symbol, and leap for 'YES YES YES!!!'

that turned out well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

the greatest movies

i love lists.
i've usually got my 'top 5 cds', 'top 10 movies', and whatever else suits my fancy. and i think that's why i like the oscars so much--it's something to talk about. did sean penn really deserve 'best actor' over bill murray or johnny depp [of course not!] interesting that 'how green was my valley' beat out 'citizen kane' for best picture; could anyone have topped audrey hepburn for 'best actress' in 1953?

in the summer of 1998, the american film institute aired a special called '100 years,100 movies', listing the 100 greatest movies in the century since the invention of the movie camera [1896-1996]. my interest in film had been ignited a few months earlier, but this was like diving head first into the waters. for three hours listening to industry professionals discuss their favorite movies and why they were so influential. looking through a published list, i think i had seen about 20 of the movies, but that soon changed. for the remaining weeks of the summer, i went to the local video store and, thanks to their '7 movies, 7 days, 7 dollars' special, watched a lot of really good movies. i was surprised at how good the 4-hour lawrence of arabia was, didn't quite appreciate 'the philadelphia story' the first time, and was not at all expecting what i saw in '2001'. that weirded me out.

it is now 9 years later and i've seen 79 of the top 100 and the afi has decided it's time for another list, airing tonight at 7 p.m. adding ten years means that movies up through 2006 are now eligble, which has is interesting. when the original list came out, i knew nothing much about movies [i was hoping 'the nightmare before Christmas' would be on there, but understood when it wasn't] and so the list has always been a special collection to me: my introduction to a new world. so a new list has me feeling a little protective, especially to more recent movies. does 'fight club', 'eternal sunshine of the spotless mind', 'finding nemo' or 'harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban' belong among the ranks of 'casablanca', 'butch cassidy and the sundance kid' and the third man'? this is getting to be touchy stuff. and i'm starting to understand the controversy over putting 1993's 'schindler's list' at #9 of all time.

the afi selects 400 american movies [with 'lawrence of arabia' and 'lord of the rings', this is a fuzzy line] and asks voters to make their choices based on the film's critical appeal, major awards, popularity over the ages, historical import, and cultural significance. looking over the nominees is interesting. during an IM conversation with my brother [we looked through the list yesterday and debated what should and shouldn't make it], i broke down the selections by decade--it felt like the 90's and 2000's were too favored. thankfully, i was wrong:
silent era [up to 1929, actually]- 22 movies
1930's- 49
1940's- 57
1950's- 50
1960's- 41
1970's- 55
1980's- 55
1990's- 43
2000's- 28

will 'citizen kane' be #1 again? hard to say. certainly nothing has changed in the eyes of the critics, but for a mass-appeal list, will they change it up to make it interesting? when rolling stone magazine put out their 500 greatest albums list, 'sergeant pepper's lonely hearts club band' was #1; not much suprise, nor is there much room to argue. but when vh1 did a top 100 list a few years ago, they chose 'revolver', stating that they want to simply choose something different. 1998, the afi list didn't surprise many people [well, didn't guess it, but i didn't know what to expect then]. if it isn't 'kane', my guess will be for either 'casablanca' [prev. #2] or 'gone with the wind' [#4]. 'the godfather' was #3 before, but it too dark to be crowned the greatest movie of america. ...not that 'citizen kane' is a really picker-upper....

what do i think?
the silents: first and foremost, if 'sunrise' is NOT on the list, there is a serious flaw here [it wasn't on the first list]. 80 years later, this is still a relevant and accessible movie. and one of the few movies to show the redemption of a marriage. chaplin had three on the list last time; i'll let him keep 'city lights'. keaton was sorely absent. either 'sherlock jr.' or 'the general' will be acceptable. and harold lloyd's 'safety last' will be another wise inclusion. 'birth of a nation' was on there 10 years ago; why not griffith's follow-up, 'intolerance'?

1930s: marx brothers' 'duck soup' again, of course. and 1933's 'king kong' is a better movie that peter jackson's. 'mr smith goes to washington' is another requisite. the uniquely titled 'i am a fugitive from a chain gang' is a surprisingly good and poignant movie still. and representative of the great verbal comedies, i'd add 'my man godfrey' and [sadly missing from the first 100] greta garbo's 'ninotchka'. for fun, what about tod browning's 'freaks'. it get points for originality.
1940s: 'yankee doodle dandy' came in at #100 last time; with it's over-zealous patriotism for an unfallible america, it could easilly be seen as nieve in the modern politcal climate. 'best years of our lives' is still strong and worthy about the difficulties of coming home after the second world war. 'casablanca' and 'citizen kane' of course, but what about welles's next movie, 'the magnificent ambersons'? bogart and bacall's first movie together, 'to have and have not', another great noir along with fred mcmurray's 'double indemnity'? 'miracle on 34th street' is as classic as 'the wizard of oz'. and how about a couple of lesser-know hitchcock greats, 'notorious' and 'rebecca'?
1950s: 'all about eve', 'sunset boulevard', and 'singin in the rain' are all guarantees for the top 20 ['singin' should be in the top 10 again]. martin scorsese thinks 'the searchers' is one of the absolute greatest movies ever [as does spielberg]--i don't see it. but i would like to add 'night of the hunter', 'touch of evil', and delightfully charming 'roman holiday'. and of course, 'bridge on the river qwai'.
1960s: 'lawrence of arabia' belongs in the top 10 again, and '2001' deserves to be higher than #22. i don't think much of 'my fair lady' or 'dr. zhivago', and 'the graduate' is much too high at it's former #7. 'psycho' again deserves the top 25, and 'cool hand luke' is worthy of a spot on the list. 'night of the living dead' and 'goldfinger' are worthy of consideration, too.
1970s: 'godfather' part I and II are among the greatest films in the world ever, as are 'jaws' and 'star wars'. 'apocalypse now' and 'the deer hunter' are transgenerational war movies, certainly worthy of the list again. 'rocky', for sure, but it'd be fun to see 'rocky horror' on there, especially considering 'cultural impact' [in it's own way]. terrance malick is arguable, and 'days of heaven' is one of the five most beautifully shot movies ever. mel brooks? 'young frankenstein'? maybe.
1980s: 'raging bull' and 'raiders of the lost ark' for sure. please, don't let 'born on the fourth of july' be on there; i'm not even sure if 'platoon' should be back again. instead, 'the breakfast club', 'back to the future', and 'field of dreams' are worth considering. action movies? 'die hard' is one of the best. and 'this is spinal tap' seems funnier 20 years later.
1990s: 'goodfellas' again, and 'pulp fiction' should be much higher than its previous #95. 'saving private ryan' deserves a spot if its votes aren't split to 'schindler's list'. 'jurassic park'? it's notable. 'the matrix' revolutionized special effects like nothing since 'star wars', and fight sequences have never been the same since. 'the lion king' is not only the apex of disney's second golden age, but one of the greatest movies ever. 'toy story' is noteworthy, 'T2' is possibly the greatest action movie ever, and 'titanic' should be included on basis of cultural impact, box office records, and academy awards. does all this leave room for 'shawshank redeption', 'good will hunting,' and 'fight club'? i don't know, but i hope 'sleepless in seattle' can slip in a spot next to the great classic romances.
2000s: 'american beauty' will most likely make it, though i won't vote for it. my votes go to, first and foremost, 'traffic'. 'erin brockovich' is also very good, but soderbergh won't get two movies from the same year. 'mouin rouge' has potential, creating the post-modern musical so cooly. certainly a 'lord of the rings' belongs on the list, and my vote goes to 'fellowship of the ring' [or else 'return of the king', but the first usually gets the credit]. 'shrek', 'spider-man 2'? congratualtions on making the 400 nominees. 'eternal sunshine of the spotless mind' and 'lost and translation' each bring a worthy argument to their consideration.

the afi list isn't the definitive list to cinephiles, though; many film snobs look at it with disdain, it peddling too much to the popular masses. if you really want to see the serious list, check out the british film institute's top 10 list, updated every 10 years. 'citizen kane' has topped the list every year since 1952, and i'm happy that many of my favorites are often on there [including '2001', and, at #2, 'the rules of the game']. and if you don't think 'citizen kane' is the greatest movie of all time [different from your 'personal favorite'], watch it with roger ebert's commentary--the movie's strength rests largely on all the ground that it broke for the future of cinema.

Monday, June 18, 2007

change of ideas

this is not the post that was supposed to be here. i had a nicely though-out essay about what i can't even remember. all day long i've been sifting through ideas, refining and rewriting, and now that i'm home with time to write, i haven't a clue what it was i'd composed. i found the pictures that i had gathered for the essay, but i have no idea what i was going to write. none.

however, today em posted a sublime posting that is far better than what i would have written anyway.

I finally finished reading Raising Cain. (I also finally got a photo of Oliver sleeping...) I bought the book almost a year ago. One of the ideas that kept resurfacing was "the big impossible" and it's horrific effect on adolescent boys. But "the big impossible" actually nags at all of us. It's the idea that we are failing because we haven't reached some herculean ideal that we feel (for whatever reason, some say it's a societal pressure) we are supposed to have reached. The funny thing is that we tend to feel like a failure for not reaching an ideal that nobody has reached. Doesn't that seem silly?
We really ought to be a little kinder to ourselves. There's more than one kind of smart, more than one kind of beautiful, and a million ways to be valuable to the people around us.
Do the good things that you like to do, and feel good about it. Don't feel bad about not having a meticulously clean house if you aren't the sort who likes to clean (there are people who like to clean, believe it or not). Don't feel bad about not being a fantastic cook if you don't like cooking. Don't feel bad about the things that don't matter much in the end. Feel good about the good that you do, and enjoy doing. Try to improve yourself in ways that you enjoy. As long as you are meeting the basic needs of yourself and the people who depend on you, there is no need to feel like a failure!
The idea of being a Rennaisance man or woman is great, and I'm all for well-roundedness. But nobody is good at everything, and so nobody needs to feel bad about not being good at everything. Yet I think deep inside we all do feel bad about not being good at everything.
It's time to stop being silly, don't you think?

Thursday, June 14, 2007


coming home from institute tonight, mark commented on how this was his favorite time of day--the time from when the sun sets until nightfall. what cinematographers call 'magic hour'.

in lieu of the air conditioner, we opted to just leave the door open. i went outside to get the mail. in the box was just one envelope, and my initial glance of a handwritten 'L' in the name of the return address made me think it was a paycheck i had been waiting for, and i was happy.
it turned out that this was not a paycheck, but a letter from a friend.
an actual physical letter. like what we used to send in the days prior to adding vowels in front of nouns to modernize them.
a letter.
i was more excited than when i thought i was holding a paycheck, yet i walked slower, and chose to sit on the grassy knoll separating the sidewalk from the parking lot as the light of magic hour painted the row of houses in colors that would have made cezanne proud.

there was nothing immensely profound, and the handwriting was a little difficult to read [about the time i was thinking that, the author apologized for writing whilst standing up on a subway; i was somewhat impressed after that], but it was nevertheless a lovely way to appreciate the summer evening.

i lay back onto the grass and drifted up into the darkening blue sky. whispy pink cirrus clouds moved imperceptibly thousands of feet above me, while my thoughts acted similarly. i've been told that pink color in a sunset is a sign of pollution. i was ok with that--it looked nice. my mind wasn't particularly doing much, but i began to look for shapes. after a while i realized they were gone, and the best i had come up with was the form of a bear skin rug that was actually the blue 'negative' space between the whispy pink clouds.

i reread the letter, just enjoying the niceness of getting a letter in the mail. i regretted, as i did the first time, the small hole on the side of the envelope that i had not torn off; i didn't think much of it when i pulled out the letter, but when the p.s. explained the origin of the 'enclosed' button, i felt sad. sad that a little meaningless button enclosed with whimsy was now lost on a postal room floor.

i continued to lay on the cool grass and watched as pair of swallows flew by. when i was a little boy, my dad explained to me that swallows chose a mate and stay with them. i think ducks do, too, which is one more reason why i like ducks so much. i watched the swallow fly around with his companion. i saw a third tag along behind them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

i bought another book

a year and a bit ago, i bought a jane austen book. a book that had all of her books in it, actually. and i was surprised at how much i enjoyed what i read--the first three pages of 'sense and sensibility'.

i like books. like my sister, i love to wander through barnes and noble, looking at all of the books and feeling 'cultured'. but lately that feeling soon fleets as i realize that a have a heartily stocked bookshelf at home of books i genuinely want to read. then i leave the classy bookseller and head home, where the dvd collection stops me before i make it to the books shelf in the back of the room. the marx brothers' 'duck soup' is still an extremely funny movie 74 years later.

since buying the very nicely bound collection of miss austen's works, i have purchased several other books of various sorts, including 'dune', 'the da vinci code' [which i actually read all the way through and thoroughly enjoyed], and 'heart of darkness', as well as having currently read a third of the thomas jefferson biography that my sister got me for Christmas.

a few days ago i was browsing amazon, and along with a used cd of 'the best of bach' [which has proved to be an extremely excellent purchase, especially for $3.49], i also bought david sedaris's 'wrap your family in corduroy and denim' for $1.29. hardcover and in like new condition. even with the $2.99 shipping cost, i love amazon.

i was first introduced to david sedaris four or five years ago when chris moved from the apartment next door into #104 with the rest of us. he loved literature, writing and reading, and, like me with movies, loved share his medium with others. [he was also one of the best room-roommates i've ever had, but that's for a different post] before i knew him very well, i would overhear him reading bits of a book to my other roommates as i was rushing out the door in the mornings or rushing in door in the evenings [life was pretty busy in college]. when i slowed down to listen, i found myself laughing as chris read. this rather funny book turned out to be 'me talk pretty one day' by david sedaris, an extremely clever freelance living in paris and musing about mundanities of life with mark twain-like wit.
while working with jared hess on a movie several years ago, i felt a frustration as he was telling a story. jared is, without question, the funniest person i have ever known personally. and when he starts telling a story, everyone on set stops working and gathers around, because they know that they will not be just chuckled, but genuinely laughing from the belly. he was talking about an incident at a hospital on his mission; nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but his point of observation made it extremely funny. it was much more mundane than extraordinary. and i realized that i've probably had just as many mundanely-zany instances in my own life, i just could recall, polish, and present them as well as he could.

david sedaris is the same way. many of the essays are about his childhood. he plays in the snow. he attends a sleepover. nothing notably different than what most of us do, yet his deadpan observations have me laughing out loud as i read.

he is also a regular contributor to national public radio, and when i heard him read his 'santaland diaries' [he got a job as an elf a macy's department store in new york; google it], i was surprised at how droll his readings were. no emotion, but sounding as if he were as bored as could be, similar to how jenna fischer explains her audtion for 'pam' on 'the office' [perhaps why i love both oh so much]. the passive expression worked amazing for the material.
hearing sedaris's work read this way was a surprise, because that is not how chris would read it. he would read with effort, trying to put the right emphasis on the right words, adding emotion to what the characters said. and until i head the author read his own work, i thought chris was reading it perfectly.

the day i got my book, i turned to the essay that i had bought it for and coerced mark into pausing 'the simpsons' during a commercial break [i love dvr]. while i tried my best to read as deadpan as i could, i sounded more like chris, just about to laugh at what i was reading, barely able to hold back the excitement of knowing that what i am about to say is undesputedly funny, occasionally losing the humor by laughing in the split seconds between when i read the words and when i say them.
his commentary on santa claus in the netherlands is worth the cover price of $24.95.
but if you can find it for $1.29, go for it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

flowers of sarajevo

tuesday evening i'm driving to the provo temple when i get a text message. i love getting text messages. i don't care much for voice mails for whatever reason.
it's from a number i don't recognize: 'you might want to invest in a hose to water your flowers'

while i do my best to upkeep my little house, i know there are areas i miss--the dishes are piling a little high or the bathroom is overdue for a cleaning--but i couldn't think of any flowers we even had, much less ones that would be in an unsightly need of watering.

'i have flowers?'

'i see flowers, don't you?'

'not that i can think of. but then again, i'm not home right now'

'well well you need to check it out then'

i wondering if there would be a vase of flowers waiting for me on the front steps or something.

'perhaps, but i'm cautious about taking botanical advice from strange numbers.'

'but i have a green thumb'

i had reached the temple and had to end the conversation. i texted to mark about this situation, and he had receieved the same initial text and had also been carrying on a conversation with the mystery flower bearer.
so the simultaneous hope of a secret admirer and the dread of an over-zealous female admirer was partially dispersed, knowing that my roommate was an equal recipient/target.

coming out of the temple, i found a small note on my windshield, printed on a patterned stationary, eloquently stating that for my serving at the temple tonight, the river view ward young women had cleaned my windshied.

when i got home, mark suggested i go look out back.
now, our back yard is a sadly neglected part of our house--mark's combination grill and smoker usually sits in the middle of the concrete area, while weeds of all sizes grow in the sandy dirt by the house and also by the fence. it looks like the remnants of a crumbled civilization. i used to say it looked like sarajevo, but i really don't know what the bosnian capitol looks like; it's probably a nice and growing city [a quite google image searchs confirms that the latter is true].
i've sincerely been meaning to get out and at least weed our backyward lately.

but that was before.
the grill and related implements had been neatly arranged to one side. the dirty, dusty concrete had been swept clean. the patches of dirt were now edged with a simple brick wall [i don't remember if the wall was there before; if it was, it certainly wasn't as neatly alligned]. and the sections of dirt were now flower beds, with several little flowers planted with care. there was also a little tomato plant, as well as two more medium sized pot of flowers on the steps.

i didn't know what to think. it was beautiful. it was what i'd wanted to do with the yard since last summer.

i just wondered who did it and why?
mark and i discussed the usual suspects and potential motives. it seemed most logical that someone from our fhe group would do it, as we were out having a water balloon fight there just last week, so people could see our demilitarized yard. and, as i think about it, i remembed talking about how i wanted to prune and care for the poor little spot of land.
what concerned me was that it was some girl hoping to win one of our hearts. and while it is a truly impressive gesture, i'm not really interested in anyone i know, despite having a great respect and admiration for many of the potential gardners.
in discussing the mystery with my sister and her husband last night, the elements of the situation--mark and i both getting the same texts, there being no other clues as to how to find the person--it seems more likely that it was just someone doing a really rad act of kindness.

it's really cool. i love it.
now i have to go to wal-mart to buy a hose.