Tuesday, September 30, 2008

recommended reading

today, i will defer to my brother's blog.  it's a long post, but expertly done all around.
general conference is this weekend.  oh boy.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

they don't make them like they used to

around easter this year, a silent film theater in salt lake called "the organ loft" showed cecil b. demille's 1927 "King of kings." in their promotion, they said that when the lds church was preparing to make a movie about the Savior, the first presidency told the producers to "watch "the King of kings." it's the closest to getting it right." that's certainly enough to pique my interest.
the movie is made and directed by cecil b. demille, one of the great pioneers of early hollywood, of the era when producers were often more of an influence on a film than the director. it was also a time when hollywood was less concerned about box office marketability and when those in power sincerely wanted to tell good stories. this is evident from the opening titles of the silent movie, stating that the movie is a reverent effort to follow the command of taking the Gospel to all the earth.
i'm not looking to write a lengthy review of the movie (editor's note: this kind of turned into one; and if you do want a very good such one, click here), but i do want to say this is great. in light of the above-referrenced first presidency endorsement, it took me a little while to figure out what felt a bit odd about the movie: it really does feel like a church-produced story. or rather, it seems that this has influenced the church's work. certainly, it is most akin to "the Lamb of God", as that is also largely visual, with very little dialogue.
if the thought of this being a silent film makes you loose interest, this may actually be one to help break that phobia.  people generally have a hard time with silent films for a few reasons. one is the terrible "over-acting" that came to early film from theatre and an effort to convey without words. perhaps in respect to the sacredness of the story, the acting is much more subdued and realistic. the role of Jesus (played by h.b. warner, whom you know as mr. gower, the mean shopkeeper that young george bailey works for in "it's a wonderful life") is as good as can be, never melodramatic, never passively dull.
the other cause of silent-film-apprehensiveness is the melodramatic music. the original score had several melodies i recognized from the hymn book, invoking lyrics, associations, and familiarity. the movie comes with two other music options, a modern organ composition and a full-score, both of which are reported to be fantastic. if you are looking to give a silent movie a try, this may be the place to start. (actually, i'd recommend buster keaton, but this is good, too). as a bonus, you get something you usually don't see in silent movies: actual color! the resurrection is filmed in genuine color. who knew?
don't take it as an impeccable source of history, though. while demille was known for his attention to accurate detail, there are some interesting changes, most notably the expanded stories of mary magdalene and judas iscariot: she is well-known reveler of all things worldly, upset that her main squeeze judas has gone of following some Carpenter, while judas is hoping to follow the Master all the way to a possibly-shared kingship. further, several of the events that occur in the movie are not in the generally-agreed chronological order. the majority of the inter-titles are actual scripture quotes (with the references given at the bottom), which helps keep the story grounded in its source text. however,like the out-of-order events, many of the scriptural quotes were out of context (to my knowledge, anyway), but none of these things detract from the story or its impact. the purpose of the movie is not to replace a need to study the bible, but to tell the wonder, the grandeur, the spirit of the Son of Man. in that, they succeed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

sulfurous fall

i'm working on being more of an outdoors person.  with tim's help i bought a pair of hiking boots earlier this summer, and today took them on their inaugural journey, up spanish fork canyon.
the hike was planned by my hometeaching companion, an hour hike up the canyon to a group of natural springs and hot pots.  i thought those were only around yellowstone.
we couldn't have picked a better time to go; the trees and leaves all around were absolutely beautiful.  not since the mountains of kyoto japan (just around eight years ago) have i seen such vibrant and varied vegetation.  i didn't bring my camera because i was told to "plan to get wet", leaving me thinking we were hiking through waterfalls or fording rivers.  i regret not bringing it, because i could have easily taken a hundred pictures.  hooray for memories.
it is so choice.  if you have the means, i highly recommend it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

life is a contact sport

a few summers ago, i had the opportunity to work on what was known as "the rugby movie."  i saw it last summer at the crew premiere.  it was great, and i hoped it would get the national distribution it deserved.
if you've driven I-15 lately, the billboards will tell you that it indeed did get its chance.  i attended the official premiere tonight.  it's even better the second time around.

we americans never grow tired of the inspirational sports movie; it's a perennial favorite inside of us.  usually it's about football or boxing, sometimes baseball, and, occasionally, hockey.  but in a good sports movie, the actually sport is arbitrary.  like the sport itself, getting the ball from one end of the field to the other doesn't mean much compared to the stories of those who move it.
"forever strong" is about rugby, which is new and cool, but it's about honor, diligence, purity, hard work, sacrifice, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent; that kind of stuff.  in the great pantheon of "inspirational sports movies", it's perhaps my favorite.  it makes me want to work hard.  to hold to honorable principles.  to be the best that i can be.  check it out when you're looking for something to see.  not only will you be supporting utah filmmaking, you'll come out a better person.
it also makes me wish i'd played sports in high school.

kia kaha

Friday, September 19, 2008

you are lucky team

it was one year ago today that i wandered into a concert for a band i didn't know and my life was changed forever.
kristin said it best earlier this year:
Ten reasons I like Tally Hall so much?
1-Clean, creative music: My mom even likes them!
2-Musicianship: they are incredibly musically talented--amazingly tight harmonies--which sounds silly considering they're a band, but it's shocking how many artists are out there these days with not a lick of real talent.
3-Variety: with some of their songs, if you were to randomly listen to two or three different parts of the song, chances are you might just think it's a couple different songs. Then they have totally crazy songs, then super chill songs.
4-Uniform: they don't need retro sequin jackets or skinny pants to be cool. They have their own style, and it has become their trademark.
5-They share: Their shows aren't monopolized by just one band member. They all have little spotlights and recognize everyone as a part of the whole (or, the Hall).
6-The guys: SO personable. I love just talking to them--they are so chill, and don't stick themselves up on a pedestal. They are just normal guys who happen to travel everywhere and do what they love, and do it well.
7-Bongos, xylophones, and other various percussion instruments (the names of which still elude me)
8-Their frequent use of a megaphone.
9-Whiteboy rap? Heck yes. And whistling solos.
10-They like to kick it at the university, but all work and no play makes them crazy, so...they jump in the bumpin SUV.

Honestly, who could argue with that?
to the original tallyheads and those who've joined us along the way, i'm so glad you even really truly came.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

jellicle joy

tonight i saw CATS at the capitol theatre in salt lake.  it was my fifth time seeing the show, my second at that theatre.  i first saw it when i suggested to my dad ten years ago that it was coming to a nearby city and it'd be a fun family event.  he bought the idea and bought us tickets; he and i got our faces painted before the show.  we laughed.  we cried.  nothing is better than CATS.  a month later we were in iowa for thanksgiving and noticed that it was playing in des moines.  dad and tim and i ducked out of the family gathering and went to see it again.  just as good.  and i got to meet macavity afterward.  in japan on my mission, i saw signs that it was coming and lamented that i wouldn't be able to see it.   yet i was back in town on a study abroad and managed to find tickets to the show in osaka.  it was in japanese, which was a twist.  i saw it at the capitol theatre in salt lake a few years later- nosebleed seats and a small stage:  in my pantheon of viewings, that was my least favorite.
tonight we were in row D on the orchestra floor.  mr. mistoffelees was lamentably somewhat lackluster, but everything else was spot on, including the most important part of the whole show: grizabella nailed "touch me!"  and the jellicle ball is fifteen minutes of sheer joy and perfection.
it happened the very first time i saw it and it continues to happen: i have to hold back tears of beauty at the start of the show.  it's the greatest thing to ever be on stage.  the end.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

read directions carefully before operating

last week i was down in moab on a subaru commercial.  beautiful, beautiful place down there.  it was the first time i've ever felt a self-originated desire to go biking.

in navigating who was riding in what van, why the japanese guys got to ride in the motorhome, or what was the reasoning with some of us having to change motel rooms over the two nights we were there, we looked to john, our production manager.  and he did have all the answers for us.  at one point, he reprimanded us in desperation, reminding us that he had explained all of this in the e-mails he'd sent out--and why didn't we read them?!  well, we all got the e-mails and read them; i guess everyone kind of skimmed over them like i did (which is why i ended up at the "red rock inn," only to find that i was staying at the "red stone inn" and had to walk two miles down the road.)

i wonder if God feels the same way with us and the scriptures...

Friday, September 12, 2008

yes, but does it suck?

a few weeks ago i bought a new couch. it's beautiful--i love it. in preparing my old leather couches to be sold, i was vacuuming them out, and in the process, sucked up a nickel. this wreaked havoc upon my cleaner to the point that the belt broke and it sounded like it was ready to explode.

i chose my repair place based on the yellow page ads: "orem vacuum" had the largest, and the guy had a nice smile. i dropped it off and eyed the other vacuums on my way out. they had a decent-looking panasonic (they make vacuums?) for $416. suddenly i wasn't so interested in that anymore.

i was working on a subaru commercial on the salt flats when i got a call from the repairman: the broken part of my vacuum is one that the company does not make, and my best hope is that they'll give me a $25 trade-in credit.
i suspected it was time for a new cleaner (mine always gave off a slightly funny smell when i used it), and decided i could budget about $100 for one. if i wanted to be really frugal, wal-mart had some for as low as $38. on the other end, a website ("vacuumwizard.com", i believe) rated a $1,000 model as the best choice. that seemed obscenely expensive, but i've learned a little about vacuum cleaners since then. gather 'round, and hear my tale....
  • while i did not do an exhaustive search of utah valley, i did scope out a few specialty shops. any fear of the fast-talking vacuum salesman was unfounded; instead, i learned a lot of what to look for as i went back and forth between "A-1 vacuums" and "orem vacuums", both on state street. the two stores are friendly with one another, which is something i appreciated.
  • "orem vacuums" had a nice old guy who sounded like president packer and who threw the vacuum--one-handed--across the room, to show how tough it was. "a-1" has a friendly lady who took off the bag and vacuumed over several cloth balls, shooting them across the room as a demonstration of how the system works.
  • if you love buying a vacuum cleaner, go to wal-mart or target, because you'll be buying one every few years from them. they've got hoover, eureka, and dirt devil: all names that i recognize from the price is right. and they look like they could be transformers, in bright colors and with lots of stickers pointing out all that they can do. they're also as must plastic as they can be, and belong in oversize cracker jack boxes.
  • never get "bagless"/"dirt cup" models, no matter who makes them. they're the worst.
  • in contrast to the superstore rainbow-colored models, the pricey ones at the vacuum stores looked, well, boring and old fashioned. of course, that's what i thought about criterion's dvd cover art when i first discovered them. let that be a lesson: the quality speaks for itself. between the one that resembles your grandmother's and the one that looks like it possibly runs on nuclear fission, trust grandma.  (during my journey, i deduced that kirby's are about the best around, which explains why my parents' have had it about as long as they've had me.  that's a seriously good machine.)
  • vacuum cleaners work in one of two ways: those without attachments use "direct air flow", meaning that the dust goes straight from the carpet through the fan into the bag. the other kind--dang, i forget what it's called--is utilized in cleaners with the attachments (the cleaning hose) built in. the air flow completely bypasses the fan area and travels through the hose into the bag. some say that this prevents dust from getting into the fan and motor, although it's minimal in the direct flow models. 
  • the direct flow system gives you more suction for much less electricity. those with a hose give you the option of not needing a secondary vacuum for the difficult to reach areas. the highest-end cleaners have two motors and utilize both systems; if you've got $1,000 to spend, this will speed up your cleaning.
  • go metal over plastic. metal floor plates can get bent out of shape, but definitely get a metal roller: they last longer and the brushes can be individually replaced.
  • the best brands i saw were sanitaire, panasonic, and solitary. leave the plastic stuff to the kids.
at a dry cleaner's near centennial apartments, i saw a sign that said "the sting of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of a good deal has faded away."
in the end, i bought a solitary for just over $300. i love it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

rotting apples

having extensive experience as a young, unmarried mormon in utah valley, i have played "apples to apples" quite a lot. and i've gotten pretty good at it. that is, if there is any strategy to the game. as much as anything, the biggest factor is how well you know the person choosing the card. many years ago, jenny ricks and i would almost always choose the other's card, just because we knew each other that well. i wonder what she's up to...

in fact, i'm getting a little tired of the game. don't get me wrong: it's wonderful. mensa has endorsed it. there's an "apples to apples: jewish version." it's just that it was cool and new to me in 2002, and now i get a slight nausea at any game night whenever it's suggested, because, being the great game that it is, it is invariably selected.
such was the case at the game night i went to tonight. but i smiled and played anyway.
as i said, the trick is knowing the crowd. for example, i will choose the "charging rhino" card every time, no matter what, because charging rhinos are so great. the scort could be counted on to choose "a barrel of monkeys." and so forth. tonight i was with a group of mostly hyper-active byu theatre students, and was soon befuddled when their choices... made sense. i was sure my "the inside of the sun" was a lock for "glitzy", but it was passed up for something that i've already forgotten.
oh well, you win some, you lose some.
all the same, i won three in a row, and went on to win the game.

before and after the game, i talked with a girl who said she is thinking about illustration as a major, and offered to show me her sketchbook. in the process, i realized that i am fascinated by such objects. i'd like to have a beaten and battered, tattered and torn, ink, glued, and painted sketchbook of my own someday. i have a few moleskines, one that has primarily become a record of my favorite text messages, and a larger one in which i keep lines and scene ideas that i have for movies, but it has yet to yield much. but a black book filled with pictures, clippings, drawings, notes, ideas, markings, color, and doodles, is sheerly fascinating.

note to self: draw cool things in my big moleskine.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

lucky shirts

at both tally hall concerts in provo, i've had them sign my shirts.  despite the permanent power of sharpies, washing machines also have power, and i've been afraid to wash my shirts for fear of extra strength tide winning, or at least fading the beloved signatures.
but when one wears these shirts to concerts and expresses excitement as best as one can, well, one's shirts begin to become "less aromatic".  and so one is left with a dilemma.

at the risk of consigning my treasured shirts to moments when the smells would be difficult to trace (i.e. other concerts), i gambled on the "delicate setting."
in the end, everyone won.

in other t-shirt news, when cleaning out my closet and getting rid of those i didn't wear anymore, i made the following stats:
35 t-shirts in regular rotation
9 are hard rock cafe shirts
7 are music/band shirts (2 r.e.m., 2 tmbg, 2 tally hall, and a bnl)
8 i would consider 'in style' to one degree or another (usually from express)
the remaining 11 are shirts i just like (homsar, thailand, pink, bizarre chinese-english, etc.)

Monday, September 01, 2008

provo's greatest secret

if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

-joseph smith 
the thirteenth article of faith

by beloved family and friends aside, the best part of living in provo is byu's international cinema.  in a town known for (insert adjective here) "mormon culture," happy valley is home to "the world's longest running international film program."  it is wonderful: during the fall and winter semesters, september through april, two to three foreign films are shown repeatedly throughout the week, free of charge.  i discovered it early in my first semester at college, when i innocently walked in to a movie called to live and was left emotionally drained and completely astonished.  it immediately became my dream job.  a year and a half later i was a projectionist there.  (and, five months later, i was fired, leaving me devastated until i talked my way back on and did a much better job).  at first, i would do my homework and occasionally watch a movie.  near the end of my time at school, i realized that this was a unique opportunity--to see such a wide variety of films projected in a theater--that homework became a secondary priority.  it was here that i first saw the rules of the game, fanny and alexander, not one less, stalker, and many more that have deepened my love for the cinema.
while the orem public library's near-complete dvd collection is another great perk of living in the valley, the opportunity to see a bergman or renoir movie projected from a film print is becoming rarer, making byu's i.c. such a treasure.

be excited.