Tuesday, June 30, 2009

what i'm listening to these days

  • yo la tengo- i can hear the hearts beating as one
  • patti smith- horses
  • u2- the joshua tree
  • arcade fire- funeral
  • kraftwerk- the man machine and computer world
  • michael jackson- thriller
  • tally hall- marvin's marvelous mechanical museum
  • stacey kent- breakfast on the morning tram
  • jane monheit- the very best of jane monheit
  • vladimir horowitz- rachmaninov concerto #3
  • johan sebastian bach- the best of bach
  • wolfgang amadeus mozart- the best of mozart
  • the shins- wincing the night away
  • r.e.m.- accelerate and fables of the reconstruction

Monday, June 29, 2009

this is not a joke!

as i write this, my blog visitor counter is at 9,999. the first person to see this post will be the 10,000th visitor to sheep go to heaven (since i instituted the counter, which was a while after the blog's inception).

please leave a comment.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

blog shots

a series of small to short posts from the past week, to be taken similar to the virgin jell-o shots at monday's f.h.e.

the seventh seal indescribably gets better and better every time i see it. and, on blu-ray, rises to become one of the crown jewels of my collection.

i've been a fan of frisbee golf for years. but kinetic speed frisbee golf is a whole new level. i like it.

lighting an interview in austin, tx.:
i love lighting; it's my passion.
once we've started shooting, i begin to notice things i should have noticed before.
there are half a dozen things i would desperately love to change if we could start over and light for another 20 minutes.
does anyone notice these? are they blatantly obvious because i'm looking specifically for them, or are they legitimately blatantly obvious?
i remind myself that brian, who trained me (?) seems to feel the same way about most of the shots he does, too.
i let it go.

as we were getting breakfast tacos, someone said it was supposed to be record highs that day.
the evening news confirmed it: austin set a new record with 105. as long as i'm in austin, i may as well get the best.

my brother loaned me his macbook so i could watch movies on the plane. in my case:
the making of fanny and alexander
fellini's 8 1/2
le jour se leve
the spirit of the beehive
buster keaton's three ages
kind hearts and coronets
sansho the bailiff
pepe le moko
shrek 2

in keeping with the theme of amazing food on this trip, i had the best ribs i've ever had (sorry, mom) at stubb's bbq in austin. afterwards, my mouth tasted like bbq smoke; it was amazing.
they might be giants played a concert in their basement a year and a half ago.

flying into salt lake, we went through possibly the worst turbulence of my life. when the plane blew sideways, and the ground below shifted in an uncommon way, i decided to close my window and let what happened happen. the crying babies seemed to vocalize how most of the people around me looked. when the plane safely landed, several people cheered.

i went to the lehi rodeo on thursday night. they were doing a "tough enough to wear pink" theme for breast cancer awareness, with several horses, cowboys, and much of the crowd in pink. when i went again on saturday, i wore pink.
evidently, that was only for thursday night. excluding several little girls, i was about the only one in pink.
i'm tough enough.

101.9 has reinstated their acoustic sunday morning playlists. as my i lay in bed, listening, "achy breaky heart" came on. that was perhaps the most surreal event of my whole weak.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

provo monogatari

the night before my parents got into town, i cleaned as much of the house as i could--pretty much everything except my bedroom and the backyard, which was untended since before the winter--then sat down and watched ozu's tokyo story.

my dad had some time off from work, and so he and my mom were driving out west, stopping along the way to visit my mom's family, then swinging around to see us kids. being that i'm the one with the largest residence and a recently empty room, i was also the headquarters for their visit. having them come out was not unusual; they seem to be out here once or twice a year. what was unusual was that they were out here together. in the past, my dad will be out on a ski trip (visiting his progeny is simply an afterthought), and my mom will be out visiting family. so having them here together was, more or less, a new one. as i was bedding down on the downstairs couch, i had a peaceful feeling that took me a moment to place: it was the same feeling i get when i'm back home in minnesota for the first night of Christmas vacation. it was good to have my parents here.

what i enjoyed most about their visit was taking the time to learn from my parents. while i'm starting to play tennis (jack? jaime?), my understanding of the rules is mostly the vestiges from the two-week unit in high school gym class, and my technique is stems from, if anything, wii tennis. but my dad used to play (i think he actually has a trophy or two somewhere), and i asked him to bring out his tennis racquet. on the courts by westridge elementary, he helped me polish up on the rules, pointed me in the right direction with my technique, and even gave me a few pointers on strategy, where to stand, how to anticipate, and the like.
and then, of course, we went to f.y.e., where dad happily found weird al's uhf on sale and promptly bought it.

like i mentioned, the backyard garden looked, well, unpleasant, excepting one pleasant surprise: the snapdragons, flowers that did only moderately well last year under my care and were supposedly one-shot annuals, had grown back in greater fortitude that before. one afternoon early in the visit, we were thinking of what to do with our time when i threw out the option of going back and weeding the garden. i planned for it to be little more than a way to occupy a few hours until becky and brady and the blessed grandchild arrived. yet plucking weeds gave way to thoughts of getting a few flowers and the need for a shovel. a trip to lowe's brought the idea of "why stop at little flowers" and "why not a climbing rose bush"? and "why not some asian poppies?" (my mom has them and they look awesome) a few days later, we were at a serious flower shop, loading our pallet with not only exotic poppies, but dahlias, tomato plants, jalepenos, and purple bell pepper plants (i didn't even know they existed). and then off to another expensive nursery, where hand trowels are sold for $25, to get the best darn rose bush we could find.

my dad got into it to, offering to go to the store to repair my recently broken garden hose and, after some collaboration with my mom, coming back with enough gadgets and gizmos to set up a watering system for my tiny backyard. i didn't need the stuff; in fact, part of the reason i planted flowers back there last year was that i wanted something to work on (although by september i was pretty tired of watering everything every night and decided that their season would end prematurely), but my parents were having more fun with this than i was that i decided to let them enjoy it all.

while it's always nice to have life return to its familiar order, i was sad to see them go, feeling a bit like my grandma waving goodbye as they left that morning.

update: gardening is not my natural forte; everything out back is looking sad. the snapdragons fared much better before i touched them, i see no signs of fruit or flowers on the vegetables, and my beloved rose bush bears a disturbing resemblance to the apostate olive tree of jacob 5. i am hoping that it's just the daily rain showers we've been having, flooding my plants and blocking out the sun, trusting that, when the desert's rainy season passes, my secret garden with one day flourish.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

the new watch list: geriatrics

i'm trusting that the airport security teams know more than i do, and that perhaps al-quaeda is changing their recruiting tactics.
going through security at the small airport in portland, maine, elderly people were being pulled aside for security searches on either side of me. to my left a woman who had trouble bending down to take off her shoes, while the man on my left moved so slowly that it took him a while to gather all of his belongings. in wilmington, north carolina, a frail woman with swollen ankles in a wheelchair was being taken behind the glass partition and searched for guns, bombs, and any other signs of being a terrorist.
meanwhile, i, a man in my late twenties with a scruffy beard and copy of the qur'an in my hand, moved through both security gates without a second look.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

good eats

in 24 hours, i've become "a regular." josh the photographer and i have each been to the dock street oyster bar four times. the ad guys were there as were walking down the boardwalk at sunset, getting more "b-roll" shots, and after more oysters, mussels, and a cherry coke for me, we left to find some dinner. food--good food--has been in abundance on this trip. at a restaurant on the water i got the crab cakes and the flounder, two of the most-recommended items by the locals. the crab cake was full of flavor and spices, living up to all that had been said of it; the flounder was nothing to blog about. just the same, i was still full as we left the dock street oyster bar.
we walked past two sushi bars, numerous italian restaurants, a cafe, countless pubs, taverns, and bars, including a russian bar, a nice french restaurant that looked promising but was, for some reason, passed up (i think because it was empty inside, and therefore couldn't be that good), past another riverside cafe, debated over a classic ice cream and fudge parlor that piped out the smell of new waffle cones, stood in front of an oyster bar with live music on the outdoor patio, and finally conceded amongst the seven of us on the dock street oyster bar, walking in for the fourth time in 24 hours to the place we had just left.
when you've got the best, why do anything else?

two things i wish i'd brought: my still camera and my running shoes.

the interview went great, today. the guy we were interviewing works as a gaffer, and a self-lighting subject is as wonderful as a ron popeil invention: it slices, it dices, it lights itself, and my life is all the easier.
working in this (or any) sort of artistic position is a balancing act; could i have done better? if only i knew more, had more experience; what would the guys who trained me do? are the ad guys happy with it? well, it's kind of like jack johnson song: "everybody thinks that everybody knows about everyone else, but they're all worried about the themselves." so the trick is to keep your wits, think clearly and do your best, then let it be.

after a couple of final hours at the oyster bar and filling bucket of crustacean shells of every sort to overflowing, we were the very last people in our favorite hang out. we parted ways, and those of us walking home noticed some people with ice cream cones, and followed the scent to the ice cream parlor, just minutes from closing. there are few better ways to end a day than with a single scoop of chocolate brownie in a fresh waffle cone and a small box of fancy chocolates.

i hope i go running on saturday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"great grits are perfection"

editor's note: due to our senior photo editor being on the road without a camera, some posts will be without the customary picture.  we apologize for the inconvenience, and hope that the evocative nature of the writing will make up the gap.  (why not having a camera prevents him from grabbing images off google--as he usually does--makes a difference, i don't understand.  but you know how these creative types are)

wilmington, nc.  8:43 p.m., eastern daylight time

north carolina has jumped to the lead for "best meal" at the moment, no small feat on this trip.  at the dock street oyster bar, a little caribbean-style restaurant shack just a few hundred feet from the river.  everyone i've talked to said to try to the crab cakes, but with no cakes on the menu, i went for the day's special, shrimp and grits.

best meal yet.

a flavorful cream sauce with red peppers and green onions with excellent shrimp over a plate of grits, i savored each bite.  afterward, we were brave and tried a plate of raw oysters on the half shell.  delicious.

yesterday was our first day of shooting.  i was generally happy with the lighting on the interview (and grateful for the good help around me), but it's still an odd feeling to not have anyone between me and the ad guys.  i like them, and they like me, but they're turning to me for answers and suggestions.  it's easy to offer the occasional suggestion or improvement, but now i'm the one giving the main ideas for lighting and shots; it requires a step up.  i think i can do better on tomorrow's.

we had lunch at a new england pub that looked like patrick henry could have given a rousing speech in, where i got the fried scallops but should have gotten the lobster roll.  from there me and the sound girl went out with an ad guy to get shots of the city.  again, not "jeff, put the camera here", but "shoot what you think is good, jeff."  i think standing up to shoot out the sunroof as we were driving across the bridge impressed them.

shooting during the afternoon is never really good; the overhead sunlight is just boring.  i told the ad guys i might go back out when the sun was setting, but after getting into my hotel room, lost the motivation for that until the photographer called me.

"hey, i heard you were going out to shoot around town; mind if i come along, just to get out?"

"um, yeah.  i'll be down in.... 10 minutes."

i'm glad he called; the footage we got was much better.  and we ended the day with swordfish at a very nice restaurant.

the night we flew in to maine, i told the shuttle driver that my connotations of maine were pretty much lighthouses on rocky shores and lobsters.  he said that was pretty much it, adding blueberries (and chickadees), saying we will have the best blueberry pancakes in the world here.  the hotel's breakfast cafe, decorating with not with wallpaper but genuine cloth wall coverings, confirmed it: the blueberry malt pancakes were the best i've ever had.

after all this, north carolina seemed like it could only go down.  and, yes, it has, but only slightly.  our hotel is equally nice but more modern, and overlooks the cape fear river (yeah, i always figured "cape fear" was a cape, or even just a movie), and has a nice boardwalk along the river.  

my connotations of north carolina don't seem as accurate as they were in maine: i think of tobacco plantations and toned-down versions versions col. sanders and scarlet o'hara.  instead, jimmy buffett and the island culture are much more predominant in the tourist (?) areas.

the one thorn in this whole trip is that i did not bring my camera.  it's hard to tell if a trip will be a whirlwind, where the camera is just one more bag to carry and keep track of, or it there will be countless moments to capture.  tragically, this trip has most definitely, been the latter.  *sigh*

mental pictures......  (and tim's point-n-shoot, which i appreciate).

josh, our photographer, got in a few hours after we did, and although we'd already eaten, i went out with him to dinner.  and after meandering the streets, which seemed busier now than they did at 7, he chose the same place i went to earlier (largely because i wouldn't stop raving about it).  josh got the special.  i've been jonesing for a good slice of chocolate cake for days, and he noticed that, while it wasn't on the menu, it was on the "today's special", just like the shrimp and grits (and another plate of mississippi oysters).

through the mercy of the fates, we picked the best day of the year to come to this place.

as if that weren't enough, the clock/radio here, too, is ipod friendly.  and i've got jane monheit singing to me as i finish this.

wish you were here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

who needs the old england?

after 30 minutes, maine had already become my second favorite state in the nation.

and hour and a half later, i have to confess that maybe it was a little overzealous, but it's been a long day of travel (and this is a seriously dang place).  alarm went off at 4:44 a.m. after four hours of sleep.  my sleep cycles seem to be about fours in length, because i recover much better if i sleep for four hours instead of 5.  having the good fortune of a friend who works in salt lake early in the morning and who offered ride, mark drove me to the airport, eliminating the hassle of getting myself there (and avoiding a repeat of the vegas trip, where my sister kindly parked my car then forgot where in the long term parking lot she put it).  the plane to jfk in nyc was full but big (and we considered staying on with it to barcelona).

we landed 45 minutes early, only to have to wait 30 minutes and then disembark through the rear of the plane onto what looked like a monorail on wheels (instead of on one rail).  still, that's a net of 15 minutes early, and our plane was delayed for 90 minutes because the stewardess for our plane was on another plane that was delayed in portland, me, due to nasty weather (catch all that?)  i used the time to find out that another part of our team had their flight rerouted to boston and had to drive up, to straighten out some misunderstandings from last tuesday's commercial, and to make sure that the lights and gear was picked up in portland- called the electrician to let him know it was ready, and he'd already done it; that's a good feeling.

once on the plane, the pilot announced it would be a bit of a wait to take off, about 40 minutes.  30 minutes later, he came on to say that we were behind all the international flights and it would be another... oh, 45 minutes.  thankfully, the sole stewardess was very cool and the passengers were understanding.  and we each got our choice of cookies or peanuts while we were waiting.  i chose the cookies.

then dozed off to vivaldi.

ask my geographically astute sister informed me from the airport in new york city, maine in the pinetree state.  that it is.

it's beautiful here.  the air is moist and cool, the city's downtown is rich with new england heritage.  the kid who picked us up in the hotel's shuttle was amiable and helpful, and, in addition to affirming my connotation of maine being the land of lighthouses and lobster, added blueberries and chickadees, declaring the best blueberry pancakes i will ever have.  i tipped him well.

i was already in love with this place.

the rest of the hotel staff was equally friendly.  the hotel is in the heart of the cultured city center (with cobblestone streets), and, though smaller, my room is a exquisite as the venetian in las vegas (but without the vegas part).  whereas most hotels have a simple clock/radio from the earlier nineties (i don't thin the venetian was even that different), here i have a clock/radio with an ipod dock, playing new age spa sounds (or the main menu music on a wii) when i came to my room.   and the downstairs lounge served excellent fish and chips.

forget barcelona; i want to stay here for a week.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

life is like a hurricane

last year was full of "bumper crops", to borrow from joseph musical interpretation of the pharaoh's dream. and, like an egyptian dream, this year has been dry. not just for me, but for everyone. i've turned down a couple of features, one for moral reasons, the other due to academic obligations. and that's actually become a blessing.

a commercial company in salt lake that has been giving me most of my work in the past few months (i'm one of the lucky ones who is working right now) asked me to come onto their feature, but i had to decline, as i was busy learning to make three-dimensional cubes at byu (more on that in the days to come). being that those guys are busy on making a movie, they've started passing some of their commercial work on to me. i've been to las vegas, shooting some friendly verizon execs and discovering a fantastic sushi place, and just a few days ago directed for the first time. granted, it was a continuing the previous day's work on a provo craft infomercial, but that was me in the chair calling "cut" and "action" (and i quite enjoyed it).

a few weeks ago i got a call to go to nauvoo for a weekend. three days with a good guy and good pay and i wouldn't miss any school- cool. then i got a call from fifty films, the guys in salt lake, asking if i was available to shoot and direct a seven-city, two-week commercial. i'd miss the last two weeks of school, i'd have to cancel on my friend for the nauvoo trip, but this was too good to pass up.
so i made it all work. then, a few days before we were supposed to leave, the ad agency pushed the trip back a week. i called to see if they had a replacement for nauvoo; they did.
then, two days before nauvoo, they called to see if i could still go. cool.

nauvoo was beautiful, especially driving through the midwest farm lands as the sun was setting, seeing streaks of light beside the road. ...fireflies. : )

and now i'm working on sorting everything out in scheduling this two-week verisign project. it's a shift i'm responsibilities, but it's a lot of fun, too. so i've got that going for me, which is good.

and my flair for writing has atrophied, too.... that's my own darn fault.

Monday, June 01, 2009

bohemian requiem

i've written before about my funeral, but today i heard queen's "bohemian rhapsody" on the radio and thought it would be a great song to request for my deathday party.

too late, my time has come,
sends shivers down my spine
body's aching all the time,
goodbye everybody, i've got to go
gotta leave you all behind and face the truth-
mama ooo- (any way the wind blows)
i don't want to die,
i sometimes wish i'd never been born at all-

no, i don't mean to be morose; as i was listening to the song, i realized how sad and tragic the lyrics were (i've never analyzed the song or pondered what it's about; maybe there's some other meaning), and it seemed such a poor choice for a funeral that i found it interesting, especially contrasting with the second half of the song.
i imagine a slideshow of dramatic pictures with cross-dissolves.  then, when the much more fun and popular part of the songs starts, the show lets loose with all the pictures of me being the jeff i'd like everyone to remember.  headbanging is optional.
so, if anyone's taking notes...  : )