Thursday, September 27, 2007

the hail mary pass

so i'm out driving around town, running some errands, when i get a call from my friend kirk down in l.a.

'do you know what a 'hail mary' pass is?'

'yeah, i think so; it's where you throw the ball and say a 'hail mary' because it's such a long shot, right?'

'that's the way i understand it. i'm about to throw you a hail mary.' [and, with kirk, this could mean anything is coming next] 'i have two tickets to see they might be giants here next week, and i want to give the other one to someone who would truly appreciate it. what do you say?'

i laughed. 'i just saw them here last week. and besides---'

that's about where i stopped. where do i start?
--l.a. is 800 miles away.
--two full days of driving for one concert?
--i don't have $X00 to spend.
--my mom is coming to visit next week.

but he saw my pause as an entry to plead his case, and soon i was realizing that i could fly, thereby saving time; i had just had an unexpected job come up that would pay for this unexpected pleasure trip; and that my mom was coming on wednesday; she can spend the day with becky and i'll be back on thursday.

and so i'm going to l.a. next week.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

eleanor roosevelt fights triangle man

i spent the day listening to naught but they might be giants. yet despite all that had led to what was to come, i wasn't especially euphoric or ecstatic. i donned my black 'apollo 18 tour' shirt and picked up nathan. due to this, that, and the other, we left a little later than i would have liked, and a couple of collisions ['accident' implies that it was unintentional] on I-15, we got to salt lake a little later than we'd hoped.
utah is an unusually big tmbg market, presumably because all us mormons like the goofy, quirky, clean lyrics. sounds about right. thus, the line at the depot was long. 'long' as in 'it snaked back and forth about four times out in front of the building and all the radio promo stuff [playing tmbg music, of course] and went off downt the street'. that kind of long. nathan and i took our place at the end of this long line amidst all these other late 20's-early 30's pseudo-nerds. people began to line up behind us and i felt that feeling that often comes when i'm waiting in line without tickets for general conference: the odd justification that, the more people are behind you, the better chance you have of getting in; after all, the more people who line up behind me, the higher up in the line's percentage i become. never mind that the number of people in front of me hadn't changed; i was now in the top 94%, and after twenty minutes i was in the top 60%.
one of these people was joel hilton and his wife, a good friend of mine from many years back, our friendship being solidly founded on our mutual appreciation of movies and they might be giants. we passed the time with discussions tmbg lore, occasionally saying something intriguing enough or inflamatory enough to elicit comments from other concert goers. on the other hand, mormons and tmbg fans are generally friendly and talkative to begin with.
as we were debating just how good 'mink car' is and what 'fingertips' really means, if anything, we began to hear whisperings that our tickets did not guarantee admission, that this had been over-booked. i told myself not to worry, that we were early enough in line to certainly get in, that this was just a concert and that i had already had an amazing concert experience just two nights before, and began scanning the line for anyone to whom i could plead my case and prove that i was more of a fan than any of these people and certainly deserved to be among the elect.
i texted a panicked message to those who would appreciate the dire gravity of the situation in hopes of consolation or divine intervention. meanwhile, joel left his group and went ahead to the front of the line. when he came back, he was carrying a handful of what looked to be v.i.p. passes. i tried to count and see how many he had, if i would be among the chosen. he passed us and went to his friends just a few people behind me. like kevin costner watching james earl jones enter the cornfield, i confusedly and yearningly watched them walk past me, past all the lonely people, and enter into avalon. i withdrew my cell phone and texted joel, what we would call back in the old ward, a 'cold prickly', thereby ending our friendship, effective immediately. kaput.
eventually, and certainly after the printed 'doors open' time of 7:00, prayers were answered, fears were quelled, and we made it inside. in a narrow entry way, past the shop selling tmbg cds and t-shirts, and up some narrow stairs into the main venue area, nicer than where we experienced tally hall, but about the same size and with a trendy bar in the back.
as i walked in to the room, i rush of elation hit me--it was almost empty!! at the tally hall concert, we fit somewhere in the back, and i would have been happy with that for they might be giants. but, while there were people scattered here and there, nathan and i were able to walk up to about five or six people from the stage. i couldn't believe it......
'I'M 10 FEET FROM THE STAGE!! WE'RE STILL WAITING FOR THE OPENING ACT, BUT I MAY VERY WELL DIE FROM PLEASURE OVERLOAD! = D' i texted to anyone who would appreciate the grandure of the situation.

as demonstrated by my buying a 'guster' shirt even before i had heard them [or the opening act, which proved to be much more paradigm-shifting], i'm firm believer of buying a shirt at the concert you're at. nathan and i took turns going down to the t-shirt booth, so that we would not lose our oh so precious place on the floor. he got the green with the classic u.s. presidents' heads [they might be giants have several motiffs/recurring themes, and past u.s. presidents are one of them]. i got a red one that said 'the mesopotamians' on the front and listed the four 'band members' on the back [a reference to a fictious band from their newest cd--i quite liked the pseudo-in-joke].
basking in the beauty of our spot on the floor, a pair of friends came and joined us: a production designer, erica, from school, and her husband, both of whom had worked on 'food boy' with me earlier this summer. they were relatively new to they might be giants [i suspect nathan and i were among the die hardest fans there, with him being the most devout of anyone there], but tmbg can be enjoyed by all.

the opening act was someone no one had heard of, an irish duo called 'oppenheimer': a skinny dude with a shaved head who provided the drums and vocals, and a shorter, stockier guy with longer hair playing the guitar and keyboard. and that gives you an idea of what their sound was--soft vocals with an electronic+guitar and drum sound. different but it works. the crowd really seemed to like them, which was cool, since they were very nice and had had a very bad day. they announced that their van had broken down as they pulled into town and were in desperate need of a way to get it fixed. but the salt lake crowd genuinely liked them and the two guys sincerely appreciated that.
they were everything than an opening band should be--they got us warmed up and ready for the main event without overshadowing the headliners.

the problem was that we were warmed up and the was no one on stage. the room's density decreased as people migrated toward the bar, and as nathan and i were discussing tmbg lore, my ex-friend joel came up to me, still wearing his v.i.p. pass, and handed me a foam '#1' hand that had 'they might be giants' printed on it. 'no hard feelings,' he said with a smile and a pat on the back.
did i mention that it was autographed by both johns and the band? [john flansburgh's signature was just a blocky 'jf']
i was stunned and feeling like a moron, even if my 'end of friendship' text was in jest. i stammered as joel walked away smiling. evidently scum can text, because my phone proves i sent him this message:
'wow man. seriously thanks. many times over. heart.'
to which he replied with sincerity: 'anything for a friend.'
i never did talk with him afterward to find out the story behind this, though it seems that the v.i.p.s were up on the balcony, and that these hands were given to them, as i saw many up there [though i don't know how many were signed].

after much too long of painful waiting [the ticket said door open at 7:00, i think oppenheimer went on at 8:00, and it was now close to 8:45], parker, the station dj, came out to introduce the show. he thanked the sponsors, as ken garff auto paid for us to have free tickets, and let the dealer representative say a few words.
'well, they might be giants, but we hope you're all ken garff customers,' he quipped.

this is why you never let car salesmen kick off a rock concert.

they did the drawing for a free signed guitar and told us to make sure we continued to listen to 101.9 and then got off the stage.
the house went dark, the lights from the stage shone into our eyes as they might be giants appeared on stage like ninjas.
the music started.
it was all happening.
it was all i hoped for.
it was they might be giants.
and it was fifteen feet from me.

they opened with a song from their new cd ['the cap'm'] and would eventually play a good percentage of 'the else'; and who can blame them? they tour almost continuously and have probably played 'don't let's start' ad nauseum [they didn't play it tonight]. it's got to be nice to play new things. plus, it's made me like the album a lot more.
but the johns know that it's because of their fans that they get to do what they do, and so they repay the favor. the third or fourth song was 'new york city'--this early on in the show! oh boy! i called becky, since it's her favorite tmbg song. not that she's a big music fan; she was amused, but that was about it. i think she'll look back on that in a few years and realize how lucky she is.
a few songs later came 'birdhouse in your soul'--my favorite song in sixth grade, one of my all-time treasures, was being played live right on front of me! i grabbed my phone and called jack--it was too loud to tell if he answered or i got his voice mail, but i just held up the phone for a while, hoping it would come through. [i later got a text from him, saying that he got the voice mail and that he, his wife, and brother all gathered around to listen to it and loved it--we're all a bunch of nerds...]

at one point they turned on a slide projector, showing a cartoon drawing of some tombstones in an old graveyard and announced that they had a telephone that could talk to the dead. that's pretty crazy by itself, but what was really eerie was that as john was talking about this, the phone actually rang! he answered it and it was eleanor roosevelt--calling from the grave! but she was very cordial, and said that she had written a screenplay to submit to sundance. as i write this, i can't help but wonder how she wrote it, but i bet she'll get accepted. think about it: not only is she dead, which certainly gives her a new perspective in the festival, but she's also a respected and notably figure from history.

with most bands, a deceased first lady would be the highlight of the show. here, it was just one of many. their lead guitarist [one of the 'dans'] played an incredible long intro to 'istanbul', hearing 'the alphabet of nations' made me an instant fan [it looked so much fun, i wanted to hop on stage and join them, but i didn't know the words, and most likely would have been escorted off stage, had i known the words and so hopped up there], and when john picked up his accordion about two thirds through the main set, someone yelled 'it's about time!' 'particle man' was just as good as it should be [and inspired me to get my hands on an accordion again and learn that solo], and the confetti canons went of during 'experimental film', which was a visual manifestation of just how awesome that song is.

i was dancing and bopping and jumping for the pretty much the whole show, trying not to be too much of a nuisance [although everyone was moving with me, so i'm not too worried], but there was this one dude very close to me who just stood there the whole time. he didn't move, didn't smile; just stood there with his arms crossed facing the stage. i can't figure out who goes to a tmbg concert, gets as close to the stage as possible, and then does nothing.... if he was some girl's boyfriend and was there just for her and if that girl is reading this now, well, it might be time to find a new guy.
sometime late in the concert a pair of cup-of-beer holding drunk dudes appeared behind us and started yelling for them to play 'spider'. but i'm not going to mention them. instead, i will note that as john was standing in front of the mic with his accordion, getting ready for the next song, some girl in the back yelled out, 'oh my gosh you're so cute!!' that was pretty funny.

near the close of the second encore, john f. came out and displayed their new album, 'the else', on vinyl. with qvc-style background music, he displayed all the features of buying an actual record, including the opening in the second flap, which he could not account for. noting that this was also autographed by the band members, he said he would be downstairs after the showing, selling them for $15 but accepting only $20s and not giving change. and then they played their final song.
nathan and i looked at each other: did he say HE would be selling them?
the song ended, the lights came up, and we moved as quickly as we could whilst still being polite toward the only exit in the back. at the bottom of the stairs, we rounded the corner and he was right there! not standing behind the counter, but out in front: john flansburgh, holding a stack of records and selling them for $20. what surprised me most was how not-mobbed he was. nathan and i composed ourselves and i loaned him my last bit of cash then pulled out my camera. he talked with john while i fired away. i then handed nathan the camera and asked john if i could get a picture. 'i'm just selling records, man.'
ok. i didn't want to annoy one of my childhood idols, so i just quietly stood behind him and told nathan to snap one. and yet the photographic evidence shows me looking off somewhere and the merciful john waving at the camera. who cares? i was walking out with proof that i had met one of the guys from they might be giants. i was grinning from ear to ear.

Friday, September 21, 2007

me and john and john

in middle school and junior high, i would come from school at three, pull up a chair and stool in front of the 13" tv on the kitchen counter, prop up my feet, and watch afternoon cartoons. the tv had a knob to be turned, no remote, and got only the five basic channels: cbs [channel 4], abc [channel 6], nbc [channel 11], pbs [channel 13], and fox [channel 15]. i didn't need a remote because it stayed on fox the whole time: gummibears, tiny toons, rescue rangers, animaniacs, tail spin, and sometimes batman: the animated series.
i didn't have mtv, which i'm grateful for now but felt a little left out back then, and so music videos were a rarity. in the early 90s, there ran a sort of psa/music video by this group of weird looking guys called the barenaked ladies. the lead guy was dressed up like some sort of goofy alien and they sang about racial harmony. a few years later i saw that they had just released a new cd called 'maybe you should drive' in my cd club magazine and bought it. i liked it but no one else i knew knew who they were, so i gradually lost interest and sold it.
around this same time, tiny toons did a sort of 'mtv' episode, where they played animated music videos. most of them were to oldies, such as 'respect' and 'money (that's what i want)'. but they also did TWO songs by a group called they might be giants that i found really cool, one about 'istantbul' and the other about 'particle man'. i really liked the songs but gave little thought to hunting down the tapes.

in sixth grade my best friend told me about this really cool tape he had gotten, i think from his older sister. one of his favorite songs was about a particle man. i couldn't believe it--these songs actually existed somewhere! at this budding age of adolescence, it seemed to me that teenagers listened to music, so it was time for me to start building a music collection [and with large that's grown, i wonder if my parents wish i'd have held an early interest in the stock market]; for Christmas i asked for 'flood' by they might be giants on compact disc. no one in any of my extended family had heard of 'they might be giants', but at grandma's that year i got one of my very first cds [i had actually received 'joyride' by roxette early that year for my birthday, on the recommendation from the mother of popular girl in the neighborhood, but that never really caught on with me].
jamie and i were they might be giants fans. we rode our bikes to best buy and looked through the cd selection. not much, though they did have 'lincoln' on tape. jamie bought it. he eventually acquired 'miscellaneous t' and i got the pink album. and when 'apollo 18', my mom bought that for me--this was back when cds came in the long box; a lot of waste, yes, but that was when cds were new and cool, when it was exciting to look forward to being a teenager, and i kind of miss that.

in sixth grade we had to write about our perfect day. jamie and i both decided that the greatest day possible would be spent at the local video arcade with john and john of they might be giants, where we would have unlimited quarters and could play until our hearts content.
when we had to fill out a personal questionaire, i listed 'birdhouse in your soul' as my favorite song.
that year also mtv did a day called 'al tv', where they let weird al [also one of our favorites] take over for a day. jamie taped it so i could watch it. one afternoon we were sitting on the recliners in his house and al showed the next video. opening shot of the coffee cup and saucer seemed familiar, and we had both recognized the song and shot out of the chairs to get a closer look on the floor before 'the statue got me high' title appeared on the screen. it was a sign that we were not the only ones who had heard of the 'they might be giants'.

in junior high i bought an 'apollo 18' tour shirt from the catalog that jamie had. at this point, the internet was still a very primitive and obscure thing. i was learning how to use compuserve to talk with people in germany, while jamie had a service called america on-line. no one even thought about shopping on the internet. i wore my shirt with pride amidst the sea of pearl jam, metalica, and cyprus hill shirts. i still wear mine now. i doubt any of those other kids wear their shirts.

jamie's dad was a director for the theatre department in one of the local colleges, so we would spend some time hanging out with the older college kids. they had heard of the they might be giants, which further brought some liberation from wondering if they might be giants might be listed in the guiness book of world records as the most unknown band ever.
one night the college radio station broadcast a concert of they might be giants in brooklyn. jamie had them record it and made a copy for me. you can't do that with cds.

to think of they might be giants being played on an actual radio station was as plausible as having my own hoverboard.

shortly after jay leno took over the 'tonight show', they might be giants were the musical guests, playing 'the guitar' and 'the statue got me high'. seeing them on tv was thrilling, and i taped it on my special tape of things to keep forever.

shortly before the start of our freshman year, 'john henry' was released. this was the first new they might be giants cd since we had discovered them. it felt like my own personal moon landing. i remember laying all of my tmbg cds on the floor in my room, just to admire them. i also stood them into a cube because there were six of them.

one day during our junior year i was walking down the basement hall of school with jon [my other best friend and fellow tmbg enthusiast] when jamie came bounding up behind us, not unlike tigger. 'guesswhatguesswhatguesswhat!!!' he exclaimed. 'they might be giants are coming in concert!!'
we had waited our whole lives for this moment. [in fargo, little alternative bands done come by often. guns 'n' roses and metalica seemed to be there regularly, though]
what he actually meant was that hootie and the blowfish [remember them?] were coming and tmbg were opening for them. hey, we aren't choosers. we bought our tickets for $32.50 [agian, this was when you had to go to the counter at sears and buy tickets. buying things on-line was something out of '2001'], dressed up in all our tmbg apparel [i still wish i had that bright orange shirt with green writing that jamie had], painted our faces and put as much gel as we could in our hair [borrowing from the crazed-football fan crowd]. our tickets were quite a ways away and i don't remember much of what they played, but to see them live was thrilling nonetheless. we cheered until they were finished or until our throats were sore, whichever came last. the set ended first, and so, being much too cool to like hootie, we went outside and yelled for john and john to come out. they never did, but we did find some other fans out there.

about a week after we heard about the hootie concert, we found out that they might be giants were giving their own concert down in minneapolis. tickets were $20 and i talked my dad into driving [and even talked jon out of letting his dad take us, for some odd reason; though his dad owes me--the drive coming home was so snowy that my dad to this day still talks of how trecherous the journey home was]. finally, we were at a they might be giants concert. the opening band was a group called 'cub', a three girl punk band who originally wrote 'new york city'. at some point someone called for them to play it and they responded that john had asked them not to [i'm pretty sure it was flansburgh]. then someone offstage obviously said something to them, the band looked back to us and said, 'ok, we can play it.' so they did.
the highligh that i remember from the concert was that, during 'exquisite dead guy', they brought out little puppet heads on very high poles [12-15' if i remember correctly], shone the spotlight on them, and the puppet heads sang the song [or at least the opening 'ba-bada-ba-ba-ba's']

in july 2005 i was in oregon shooting a movie. the day before i drove home i received a number of texts from different friends, all telling me that they might be giants were in springville giving a free concert, that it was awesome, and why on earth wasn't i there.

after 200+ attempts, i have finally won tickets to their concert tonight.

so, yeah, i'm pretty excited.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

i owe tally hall $6

on monday night i got a call from laurie, sometime around midnight. 'did i wake up you?' she asked, holding back her excitement. 'no,' i lied. 'ijustcamefromthemostamazingconcerteveritwassocoolandigotomeetthebandandtheyweresocoolandiplayedmyukeleleforthemanditwasamazing!' she burst forth. still bringing myself back into standard coherence, i asked what amazing concert this was. 'a group called guster', she said. i'll be darned. i had tickets to go to that show in a few days myself. i was considering giving the tickets to some friends who liked them, but earlier that i night i talked with a girl at fhe who was going to the concert, and with laurie's beaming recommendation, i'd be crazy not to go. and she told me that the opening band was really truly deeply amazing, too, and that i was supposed to talk to them afterward. sure.

as i mentioned, i invited kristing to come with me, since she has heard of 'guster'. she's also a ton of fun to do things with, so she seemed like the right choice. i don't go to a lot of concerts, and certainly not a lot of smaller indie shows like this. with the venue being some little place out in the rougher side of salt lake, i was a little curious what the crowd would be like. i didn't feel like breathing a lot of smoke of any sort that evening. as we walked up to get in line, i was happy to see that 'guster' seems to attract nice, normal people; regular people. and i'm guessing at least a third of them were byu students: friendly, polite, talkative, and regularly bathed. the place holds about a thousand people, which meant that anywhere was a good place to stand. we met up with allison [my other friend from monday night] and her friend steve, for whom guster was his favorite band. as we were talking and generally getting excited just for the concert environment, even if most of our group didn't know much about the band, it occurred to me that this was about the same size as the venue as which i was going to see 'they might be giants' in two days; here we were near the back and yet were still 30' from the stage at most. so see 'john and john' like this would be nigh unto incredible.
but that was a few days away, still.
apart from a song on the radio, i'd never heard a song by guster, but as long as i was at the concert and hadn't had to pay for our tickets, i decided to get me a guster shirt. so i did. as we were walking back to our spot in the masses, the opening band was setting up on stage. they looked like missionaries--five guy all in matching white shirts and black pants and each with a different colored tie: yellow, red, grey, green, and blue.

i've often wondered what it's like for married people to look back on their moment when they first met their husband/wife; maybe they knew things would never be the same, or maybe they didn't realize then what it would lead to.
either way, that is how i look back on the first time that i heard 'tally hall'.

five guys in ties up on the stage, they began by talking into the mic with a bullhorn, which sounded really cool as the percussionist in the grey tie beat a rhytm. green keyboardist and blue bass joined in and so the red guy began a bnl-esque whiteboy rap. i was entranced. i'd never heard anything like it. they all chimed in for the chorus, 'we're in the mini-mall, working the carnival, we like to play it all, welcome to tally hall'.
and, suddenly, tally hall was my home.
they did whiteboy rap. they played ballads, alt. rock; their sound seemed to continually change. like the barenaked ladies meets mid-era beatles, yet it didn't sound imitated at all. during a slow song they told us all to grab your sweetheart or your friend or your manfriend and dance; kristin and i gently swayed. at one point they pulled out some tiki trums and sang a faux-african song about bananas that involved both excited yelping and quite whistling. for one of their last songs, the yellow tie guy was singing very quickly through the bullhorn again and the whole thing was rocking when he suddenly stopped, looked perplexed, and turned to the red tie, confessing, 'i forgot the words'. with a little nudging he was back on track, and a few moments later jumped down into the audience and began making his way through the crowd as he sang.

unfortunately, their set eventually came to a close. i was sad. i didn't want them to ever stop. nor did i want to hear guster, no matter how good they may be. i just wanted two more hours of tally hall.
i made my way back to the t-shirt area, regretting my earlier choice. still, it never hurts to ask. 'can i return this guster shirt?' very surprisingly, the lady was willing to take it back and gave me my money [i wore it over my other shirt, so there was no significant trace of me having ever worn it]. i took two steps to my left and asked the dude working the tally hall booth for a shirt. and wore it with pride through the rest of the night.

guster did come on, and they were fine [though, in my opinion, tally hall severely outshone them]. they're scruffy alt. accoustic rockers, laid back and cool. the room was full of fans, and it was fun to see a lot of couples in their 20s-early30s who knew all the words. i didn't know the words, but danced and bopped along with the music, singing along to choruses ['chori'?] as best as i could pick them up--learning 'fa fa fa' was easy enough, though at one point i got a mouthful of kristin's hair as she was dancing and was very grateful that my date was hygiene-conscious. we took pictures, sent text messages to each other about how cool this was, and had a good old-fashioned thorough blast.

being that this is a small indie show, the band members were hanging around afterwards to talk, chat, and shoot the breeze. laurie had given me specific instructions to talk with them, as two days before she had played her ukelele for them after their show in arizona. i made my way through the crowd and talked with joe, the red tie. 'when you were in arizona a few days ago, did you meet a girl who played her ukelele for you?' 'oh yeah, laurie!' replied joe. 'i love that girl.' well, laurie would be thrilled to hear that. i then used this 'in' to talk him into a few pictures with our group. i should also use this as a forum to apologize to the dozen people who stood and waited while the four of us gathered around the 'hot sexy one' [as allison described him] and took three different pictures: thank you for your patience; we sincerely appreciate it.
earlier that evening i had loaned kristin some money so that she could buy herself a guster shirt [which she later got autographed--by tally hall, if the pictures are right]. between her shirt and my shirt, i was left with two $2 bills and a text message from laurie saying i should really buy the tally hall cd. in another act that, in retrospect, may have worn joe's kindness thin [though there was no evidence of it], i showed that i had bought a shirt, was a friend of laurie's, and had only two $2 bills but really wanted a cd. he saw that i was of a true heart and, out of sight to the crowd, passed the money down to andrew [green tie] and handed me a copy of 'marvin's marvelous mechanical museum'. i asked him to sign it; he signed his name and wrote, 'you are jeff- lucky team'.
no idea what it meant but thought it was awesome.
i went off to find the yellow tie, rob. he was my favorite from when i first saw him on stage. whereas joe was dark and handsome with long tossled hair, rob had glasses and a bland haircut. i felt an affinity with him. i again played the laurie card, and he again remembered her. i told him how much i loved the show and asked how the tie colors were chosen. initially they matched their instruments, but now they all have black instruments, so they're just the colors. cool. i had him sign my cd and got a few pictures.
as long as i had come this far, i decided to get the remaining signatures of ross, andrew, and zubin. kristin, allison and steve ran off to get some pictures with the guster guys as i sat and just enjoyed the awesomeness of the whole situation. lastly, kristin wanted a picture with all five guys, so we asked a couple of them and they agreed. we had three of them standing around waiting while the other two were talking with some other people. they called for them, told them to hurry up, and finally walked over and picked up the two and carried them back to us. kristin got her picture.
we played their cd as we drove home.

and the cd was in my car when i drove to salt lake this morning. i was prepping a camera today and they had just installed a stereo for us. so i went out to the car, grabbed the cd, and played it as many times as i dared without severely annoying anyone else around me.
i listened to it a total of eight times today and am absolutely in love with it. so i came to the conclusion that i need to send them to other six dollars, so that i will have paid full price for this cd.

epilogue: i felt like i was one of seven people who know of tally hall, and want to go forth as a missionary, telling everyone i can to buy their music. i suspect they'll be like the barenaked ladies, slowly growing a solid following then one day suddenly making it big. and so it surprised me a little to find that they're already on itunes. actually, that wasn't so bad as seeing the 150+ posts about their cd. it's like meeting an amazing girl--i want others to know they're amazing, i just want it understood that i was here first and like them most.

so, if you've made it to the end and have a dollar or two to spare, please consider downloading one or two of their songs.
i suggest starting with: 'good day', tally hall', or 'the ruler of everything' if you want their original, eclectic sound.
and if you do, please comment here what you think.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

it happened

last week the radio hardly gave away any they might be giants tickets. this began to cause some alarm with me until one of the djs announced what i suspected: they were holding them for this week, and would be giving them out like they were going out of style. [...because, after friday, they would be out of style...]
every hour between 10 and 6 on the hour, 101.9 will be giving away a pair of tickets to the first five callers. and so i planned to keep my radio on all day long, despite the poor reception my little clock radio gets [yes, i listen on the internet, but there's some sort of delay that i can't quite figure out, and time is of the essence here, people]. yesterday i made roughly 20 attempts at 10:00, all to no avail. eleven rolled around and found me with my phone in hand. mr. west [the dj] told me to call and i did. and he answered.
'hi who is this?'
'uh, this is jeff.'
'jeff, what's your last name?'
i spelled it for him, and followed with my city and phone number, when asked.
'and have you won they might be giants tickets from us before?' he asked.
'DID I WIN??' certainly it was obvious that i did. he wasn't going to get all this information from me only to say that they had already found their five callers and to wish me better luck next time. nevertheless, it was too wonderful to comprehend for those first few moments.
'yes, you won,' he replied with the non-chalantity of a man who makes dreams come true everyday.
i let my 'wa-hoo' ring though the house.

and i sat with a giant grin as he later read the names of the winners on the air. he even pronounced 'gustafson' correctly. i felt like i had accomplished something amazing, even though i had done nothing more than make a phone call. to be fair, i had made over 100 phone calls, yet this seemed far too easy. i picked up the phone, dialed, won tmbg tickets. it felt like i could do this all afternoon, give out a new name each time, and bring all of my friends.

so today i went out to the station office to pick up my tickets. i wondered if my guster tickets were still available. i won them a month ago; maybe they gave them up. i was hoping for a large bay window, through which i could see the dj, surrounded by all the panels and dials required to a solid alternative rock station. instead, the office was extremely bland; rather small, with closed doors at either end and a dull reception desk in the middle. the kind of thing you'd expect at the front of a secret government x-files building, a ninja training camp, or a video game test laboratory. ahead of me was a young mom, picking of a pair of tmbg tickets for her husband. i said i was there to pick up some tickets, a pair for guster and a pair for they might be giants. the lady asked my name, and i was prepared to show some id. but she just opened a drawer with no locks or thumbprint identification and pulled out my tickets. she didn't even cross my name off of the list she had. she wrote it on the list. i was astounded at the lax security here. getting back in the car, i contemplated calling jack and suggesting he come down and tell them he won some tickets, too.

actually, speaking of jack, i was faced with a bit of a dilema. i knew a lot of people who would have loved to come to this concert with me. jack would love to go. so would my roommate, mark. and there was a really cool girl at church with whom i had been talking about this and she agreed we would both try to win tickets. how do you choose over a really awesome girl? well, the tickets helped a little: they said it was a 21+ show, and she's 19. but, like many decisions in life, i made up my mind before i had to make the choice. my friend nathan is not only a fellow movie maker but also a fellow tmbg freak. he knows more about them than even i do. he gave me copies of their cds that i didn't have during 'minutemen'. my very first conversation with him, before i even knew him, was about they might be giants [in the production office on 'the outlaw trail' two years ago]. it was only right to invite him.

on the way home, i called to tell him the very good news.
then i called kristin and invited her to guster on wednesday.

Monday, September 17, 2007

let me explain

i didn't mean to take a two and a half month haitus. as you may deduce from reading all of these new postings, a couple of things happened all at once. first, our modem burned out [turns out that keeping it in the un-air conditioned attic during the 100+ degree july heat will do that. go figure], and after several futile phone calls with comcast, i started work on two features, literally back to back. still, in this time, i tried to keep notes on my computer, so that when i was wired into the world again, i would have evidence of what i've been up to. hence the 17 [or however many] new posts all of the sudden.

my internet works again, i've got a few weeks off until my next movie, and it's good to be writing again.
thank you to all of you who expressed your sadness in missing 'sheep go to heaven'.

i hope you find some posts that you like.

Friday, September 14, 2007

[insert future title here]


tonight i saw a movie that blasted into my top 10, and, as i've had even a little time to think about it, probably my top 5.
ingmar bergman's 'fanny and alexander'.
i went to see it because it's a landmark of world cinema, the last major work by one of the pantheon's greatest directors. going in, i was expecting a good movie, but didn't think it would be better than the iconic 'seventh seal'.
this far surpassed it.

the movie was made for swedish television as a five-hour miniseries, and later released as a three-hour version for international theatrical release. about two hours into it, i realized that there had not been a false step anywhere. i began to get an excitement that took me a few moments to place: it's the same feeling i get when i watch '2001', when a movie is so near-perfect that every line, every look, every movement is amazing. in the third act it got a little weird to the point that i wasn't sure what to think, but in retrospect, i still hold that there is not a frame out of place.

during the movie i began to wonder how to write about it. i still don't know what to say. i need some time to let it settle. to think about all that i saw. the audience seemed to generally enjoy it [before the show, i was wondering about that: who goes to see ingmar bergman? returned missionaries from sweden? world cinema buffs? have they seen other bergman movies, or did they just happen to wander in here?], but i was very pleased when, as the credits rolled, my friend and i sat there in a moment of silence [after the applause] until he softly said, 'wow.'

i'd like to write about it, but i don't know if i can. there were so many themes, ideas, stories, thoughts, characters, and moments, all layered and interwoven using every element of cinema so skillfully that i feel i could barely scratch the surface. bear in mind that i'm still on the 'high' from the movie, but this may be the most perfect movie i've ever seen.

afterward there was a faculty-led discussion for those who were interested, and there were about ten of us who were interested. i didn't plan on saying anything; my thoughts were still too fluid and i just wanted to hear others' ideas, theories and interpretations.
the discussion did help me to better understand somethings and begin to further see what i saw. but it was also exciting to be back in an academic environment. my dear friend em has written before about the empty space that graduation can leave, and i didn't realize how much i had missed the dialogue of academia until i was walking out of the theater.

i was beginning to shake with... i don't even know what, but i had to share it with someone who would appreciate it and appreciate it with me. on the phone, i couldn't stop talking, even though half the time i wasn't even sure what to say except that it was fascinating and intriguing and thought-provoking and and and here i am again, not even sure what to say.

but wow.
top five.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

my name in lights

tonight was the premiere of 'turnaround'. the theater was mostly full, which was encouraging; the director noted that when you invite all the extras and their friends, it's easy to do that. it's good advice: my high school choir director advising holding your first concert in an elevator, so that you can have a packed audience. [and it really was an 'extras showing' in essence; when they had all the crew stand up, i think there were three of us standing, though i know at least two who remained seated. not that that's saying much; we had about an 8-person crew total]

this was my first opportunity to shoot a feature, and even though it was a little low-budget shot-on-video strait-to-video for a niche market movie, i felt like notifying the american society of cinematographers when i was offered the job. and considering that when i saw the movie i directed at the byu student film festival, i spent whole 7 minutes in an upright fetal position, i was curious how i would take exhibition of my work.
it went well. and i took it well. it was actually quite fun seeing my work up there [i have to confess, it was also pretty cool to see my name at the start of the movie]. projected from a dvd on that large screen, the image was painfully pixely; we knew we would have focus problems with the confusing equipment we were using, yet there were some scenes that never seemed to have any plane in focus; and the colors were often inconsistent between shots within a scene. yet underneath all of that, i was often quite happy with the lighting. and doubly so when i remembered how grossly underpowered our lighting package was. it looks like as if we had lights four times bigger than what we really did. i'm working on updating my d.p. reel, and there are several shots that i'm planning on adding in.
how was the movie itself? i really can't say. i was too close to it, too involved to really think of it as a movie on the whole; i watched it from the same standpoint i shot it, bouncing back between remember what was happening when we shot a certain scene and critically studying the cinematography, analyzing what worked and what i would do differently were i to shoot that same scene again.
that's the surprise reason that i'm most eager to get my own copy of the movie; to see where i can improve and do better next time.

afterwards they were giving away posters and the cast was available for autographs, and i was glad that so many people lined up for it [enough that after waiting in line for too long i said heck with it and just had the producer hand me a couple from behind the table]. my date wanted one and had me sign it, and i think i'll give the other one to my mom; finally, her son's name is on a poster.
by small and simple means are great things brought to pass.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007


for me not watching the movie, it's been a good movie night, mark had retired to his room because he has to get up way too early for his job, and i was jotting down a few teapot notes on my computer when a shriek came from his room. he threw open the door and in desperation yelled for me to listen to the radio, which obviously couldn't hear from my room down the hall. by the time i'd walked in, the horrible announcement was over, but he was still shaken up. he said that the white stripes concert for september 29 had been canceled, due to meg having acute anxiety or something.
i'm really quite bummed about this. we bought our tickets so long ago that there's no financial scar of having paid for them, and we've been continually talking about how cool it will be to see them. plus, that was going to be a nice complement should i ever win they might be giants tickets and a nice consolation should i not win said precious tickets. [i still haven't decided if i'm going to see 'guster' or just give away the tickets] getting a refund isn't as fun as seeing the show.
now, my only choice is to win they might be giants tickets.