Saturday, January 30, 2010


10:16 i was told to be in park city around 10. i think i'm still within the parameters.

11:07 my first assignment is an airport pickup at 1:10, but another group needs a ride to the airport now. me and my soccer mom minivan are a good fit for that.

11:22 i'm driving a trio of londoners to the airport. they seem agitated about the quality of their film's print but they're polite to me and i like their accent. they ask if we'll see salt lake city on the way. unfortunately it's somewhat smoggy today.

12:27 i read anything that looks interesting in this week's complimentary "entertainment weekly." i see chris from sympathy for delicious in their sundance photo session. in the past, oscar nomination announcements have come out during the festival and i've been able to snag a swag issue. this year the noms come out next tuesday.

12:54 i'm done with my magazine.

2:56 i drop off my directors at the eccles theater. i like coming here because it's the most high profile and the guards move the gates when i pull up.

6:16 we go out to eat at "el chubascos", just across from the hotel. i learn that tomorrow is essentially the last day of the festival and that sunday is pretty low key. i might be able to teach sunday school if i'm not driving some excited festival winners tomorrow night.

7:53 there's not much going on, so three of us offer give a few staff members a ride. afterwards we talk about going to the eccles theater and pretending we're famous. they offer to be my bodyguards. i decide my name will be gustaf jefferson, from bulgaria.

9:00 my assignment is to take a director to the tower theater for a Q&A. should be a decent night.

9:41 getting near the theater, he says that the show starts at 9:45 (so much for an early night) but that he doesn't want to stay for the movie and would rather go eat. the polite french girl with him asks me if i've already eaten.

9:47 despite what my trip sheet said, their film is not playing at the tower, but at the broadway.

9:53 i drop them off at the broadway. they leave quickly and i'm not sure if they're just running in for a moment or staying for the whole film.

10:22 a police car turns it's lights on behind a car at the corner of state and broadway. an identical scene happened when i was waiting here two nights ago. i can't tell what they may have done. i've been in the "taxis only" parking area for at least half an hour. i wonder if the police care.

10:37 i learn that lithium, the satellite grudge/90s alt rock station, doesn't edit their songs.

10:48 i notice that a legitimate parking spot has opened up behind me. i back up and now i feel more comfortable pulling out my harry potter book and just reading. plus, there's a tree just out my window with blue Christmas lights. i like that.

10:58 it's always a little strange to hear songs on the radio that i was introduced to through rock band. at the moment, it's "flirting with disaster" by molly hatchet. i notice the guitar solo more than i normally would.

11:00 it's followed by "paradise city" by guns 'n' roses. i wish that was in rock band....

12:12 their movie ended almost an hour ago. fantasize that maybe they've already left and i can go home from salt lake, but a) i've been out front this whole time, they couldn't miss me, and b) they left their scarves and gloves in my car.

12:24 they show up, but stand outside the car to have a smoke first.

1:08 on the way back, the director of the doc and the girl with him talk. she's really smart and knows her film history. after i drop off the director, i talk with her a bit. she's a french actress named julie gayet who also has a production company to help independent cinema like this one. it turns out that her first movie was blue, the first in the three colors trilogy which i saw at the international cinema two weeks ago. that's pretty cool.

1:19-2:16 i put "this american life" on my ipod. it's got stories of people who, for various reasons, are up through the night. i can't quite figure out why there's there's thick fog on the long road between heber city and the canyon, but there has been for the last few nights. at times it's so thick i have to cut my speed in half down to 40.

1:48 i pass a car with its brights on. "lamer," i think. i look down and see that mine are on, too.

the snow-covered mountains of provo canyon look wonderful in the full moonlight. absolutely beautiful (but then, i'm a sucker for moonlight)

2:29 feels so good to be in bed.

Friday, January 29, 2010

breath of air

i think today is friday. i've slowed on taking notes over the past few days.
  • wednesday morning my first ride is a group down to the sundance resort. they're six guys from denmark, two of whom are comedians of korean-decent. i introduce myself and say that if they have any questions, just ask. the comedian in front asks me what is the meaning of life. i tell him, "to be happy. next question." "are you happy?" he ask. i say yes.
  • their movie is called red chapel, where the two comedians pose as a "famous" danish comedy team (i don't think they had met before the film) and try to tour north korea. on the way down, he says they wanted to show the problems of the country through comedy. after seeing the film, they weren't as witty and sarcastic as michael moore or as audacious and brash a borat. the film was interesting to see what life was like in north korea (most controlled and austere than i'd thought), but overall wasn't anything notable.
  • driving back, i discover i'm out of washer fluid. that doesn't sound like a big deal, but for thirty miles on wet and dirty highway roads, it makes a difference.
  • after seeing countless commercials for domino's's new pizzas, we order some. i like it.
  • 10:04 p.m. i've been waiting outside the broadway. i've been here for an hour and am hoping they don't show so i can go home through salt lake instead of stopping through park city first. "standing outside a broken phonebooth (with money in my hand)" comes on the radio. i love this song and realize that it used to be on my itunes but isn't for some reason anymore. i buy it when i get home. along with "surrender" by cheap trick, "here i go again" by whitesnake, and a couple of other songs i can't remember because it was after midnight.
  • we had to all be at the hotel room at 7: 30 thursday morning. i'm not entirely sure why. but there were donuts. i post that on facebook and get more comments on that in an hour than my post about me driving some oscar-winning director.
  • in the evening, i was scheduled for an ogden run (my fourth) but another driver asks to switch and gives me a run to sundance. they're a pair of doc guys who seem cool but are busy. the odd thing is that they want to be there a few hours before their showing, meaning that i've got four hours to wait. sweetness. i check the i.c. schedule but, tragically, red, the third part of the "three colors trilogy" isn't showing until 10. but i get a good scripture study in (it feels so good after a week of craziness), make a warm, balanced dinner, do some laundry, get sam hooked on 24, and watch last week's office. it's so nice to have time to live a normal life for a moment.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

tuesday: forgiveness and redemption

  • my 7:00 a.m. pickup becomes 7:40. we still get to ogden in time, as the guys are only planning to do the Q&A after their movie. they want a place that has coffee and internet and i take them to a gandolfo's down the street. they take a table in the corner to do whatever sundance directors do. from where i'm standing, it looks like facebook.
  • finding the common ground of us both being from utah, the guy behind the counter asks me a little about what it's like working in the festival. like most people, he seems to think that my life in "the movies" must be more interesting than his. to be fair, i do think my life is pretty cool. but running a sandwich shop seems kind of interesting, too.
  • the movie this morning is called bilal's stand, about a kid in detroit who need to choose between helping his family's coffee stand and staying in school. so it's showing for a theater full of high school students who seem to respond to the movie for more than it just being a chance to get out of school. i'm kind of sad i didn't get to see it.
  • the director, sultan sharrief, makes a good point during the Q&A: "a lot of people don't tell you this, but pursuing your dream, and even living your dream, can be really stressful."
  • in describing it to the students, he refers to the film's style as "neorealist." i think that's pretty cool, since today is the day that criterion is releasing roberto rossellini's "war trilogy", the quintessential films of the genre. i think this is kind of cool and try to talk with him a bit about his film on the ride home, noting his stylistic description of his film. kindly, he tries to enlighten his driver about movies: "a lot of people think my film is a documentary. do you know what a documentary is? it's a movie that doesn't have acting." i'm so amused on different levels with that response that i just let them talk amongst themselves for the rest of the ride.
  • there's a lot of downtime that afternoon. we hang out in the hotel room, laughing at jesse's story of getting bounced back into a bathroom by michael moore and watching mark try to see how high he can pour a can of pop into matt's mouth.
  • that evening i give a ride to a lady who's the festival director (or something pretty high up). i introduce myself to her and she asks if i'm the same jeff who drove lynn shelton. i tell her i am and she says lynn raved about me, asking if i could be her driver for the whole show. it's nice to know that i'm making a good impression.
  • walking out to my car, i'm singing "here i go again" by whitesnake. i get in my car. the song is on 80s on 8. today has been a much better day. 5: from dusk til dawn

  • the movie was called sympathy for delicious. it was about a homeless guy in a wheelchair who used to do scratch turntables. he auditions to play with a wild rock band but is rejected. inexplicably, he is given the ability to heal people with his touch. he doesn't understand it, but the priest at the shelter encourages him to help other in the homeless community, while the band courts him to be a part of their act. the characters, the story were all great, and i was surprised to see a film at sundance that was optimistic about faith and religion. the language was as bad as you'd expect from an indie feature about rock and roll, so i can't recommend it, but the development of it all was excellent and some scenes were simply sublime. orlando bloom was spot on as a crazy front man, juliette lewis and mark ruffalo were solid, and chris was great as the central character. it was an interesting experience to be sitting next to the guy who wrote and starred in the movie i was watching, a guy who i had talked with for the last half hour.
note: a google image search for the movie yielded three pages of orlando with his shirt off....
  • adding to my list of new experiences was being able to talk with the writer of a movie for an hour after seeing it. i spent the whole drive asking chris questions about where ideas came from, how plot points developed, his thoughts behind some scenes, and anything else i wondered about. i think it was safe to say that this was the best conversation i would have throughout the festival.
  • here is where my night started to wilt. we got back to park city and the gang asked if i could take them to get a pizza first. we're only required to drive to and from venue screenings, but they were cool and i agreed. this soon became a treasure hunt around town, ending an hour later with only two domino's pizzas and half a minivan of tired people, finally dropping them off around midnight. and i checked in to find that i had a 7:30 pickup in the morning. add to that an hour's drive each way and that meant i would only be home for five and a half hours. i decided it would be best to stay at the drivers' house in town.
  • i waited in the hotel room for a guy to take me to the house, since i wasn't sure where it was. i thought about staying in our bedless room at the marriott, pushing some chairs together and even ordering up a blanket and some pillows. but as i was getting comfortable, someone came in to do some work and my guide showed up, so i decided to go. i should have stayed. so should have stayed.
  • we because the luxurious park city streets are narrow and the house parking lot was full of cars (very full), we had to park a quarter mile away at a park and walk under the clear cold sky. the house was surprisingly awake for it being almost 1 a.m. downstairs were some king-size mattresses laid out on the floor, with a few blankets scattered about. i was told that the blankets all belonged to people and that most of the spots on the mattresses were claimed, but i'd probably be ok on a spot. i didn't understand the culture of the house here but i just wanted to get as much sleep as i could before the morning, so i changed into my pajamas and tried to curl up under my leather jacket.
  • around 1:45 i was jostled from my pseudo-sleep to a girl upstairs saying "[forget] those guys downstairs!", followed by eminem asking for the real slim shadey to please stand up. this went on for about an hour until they decided to play rock band, again throwing decibel consciousness completely out the window. amidst seeing red, i gathered that the drummer was our boss, thereby ruling out any feasibility of asking them to turn it down. the singing would have fit in well with the who, and, to make things almost criminal, the girl playing guitar was really, really bad and kept failing. excluding nights a few nights of violent illness, i couldn't think of a worse night in my life as the remaining minutes to sleep dissolved away. as i lay curled up on a bare mattress trying to stay warm under my jacket, i fantasized about finding the circuit box and flipping off the power to the whole house. i prayed that i would magically fall asleep, that i could calm down, or at least that i would not fall asleep tomorrow.
  • in the end, i got about two and a half hours of lame-o sleep. my alarm was set early enough that when i was told my pickup was changed to 7:00, i was still there on time. ...even though my ride showed up at 7:40.
  • my day could only get better. : )

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

monday, sundance monday

  • there's a dang awesome sunset this morning. a bold pink sky over the dark blue snow on the mountains. today is going to be a good day.
  • last night i drove one of the programmers for the festival who was telling me about several of the docs this year. i'm usually more of a narrative guy, but a lot of the docs this year seem to be the more interesting of the lot. one of the most notable was a movie called a small act, about a lady from sweden who contributed $20 a month to put a child through school in africa. the boy when on to go to the university of nairobi, then to harvard law school, and is now working for the u.n. he later sought her out and how now set up his own such foundation. my first ride this morning was jennifer arnold, the film's director, on her way to the broadway theater in salt lake for a screening for high school students. she said that roger ebert had written a great article on her film and waiting for superman (directed by davis guggenheim, whom i drove yesterday), praising them as being two excellent films on the power and importance of education. i think she said she met bill gates here, too, who was interested in her film.

conversation with a security guard who looks like jimmy carter above the broadway theater, trying to find my way into the locked theater:

"hi, uh, is there a way that i can get to the theater from here?"


"i'm a driver with the festival and the doors are locked downstairs, do you know how i could...."


"i know this isn't the theater but was just wondering if there's another entrance."

"no. we're not part of the theater. no."

"ok, thank you."


  • after the screening, there was a Q&A and then the students left. in the lobby, a goth girl came over and talked to the director. she was obviously very moved by the story and asked to give her a hug. it was cool to see the movie have that kind of an impact on someone like that.
  • when i'm driving someone, i usually keep the radio on the classical station. it's peaceful and unobtrusive amidst the hurricane of being a director at the festival. i dropped jennifer off and switched to a new station and jubilantly sang to "what's the frequency kenneth?" and "footloose." and dang the 80s on 8 plays a lot of bananarama.....
  • my run that evening was for mark ruffalo's movie. i knew his name but couldn't think of where i'd seen him. looking him up on imdb, i learned that i saw him in collateral a few weeks ago and would be seeing him in eternal sunshine of the spotless mind next week at movie night. a total of six people, said my trip sheet. even though all of my rides have been good, i still get nervous waiting, wondering if they're going to be jerks or impatient or have some odd preferences (as i'm writing this two days later, i no longer get nervous). and mark is the biggest name i've had yet.
  • the group pulled up in another van and i helped everyone into mine. the man with the wheelchair sat up front and the other three loaded in the back. it turned out that mark was starring in another movie that was premiering tonight and would be attending that showing and not going with us to ogden. so i had an entourage of actors who wanted me to go and pick up another of their friends before we got on the road. despite the schedule allowing us ample travel time, i always seem to get in situations that leave me racing the clock to get to ogden on time. i tell them we'll make it all work out.
  • i'm in a van with actors who have one movie at sundance. so far, i've driven mostly documentary people. narrative film makers (and actors) are a little more interested in the public/fame scene, it seems. but there's a group of them in my van; they're energetic, praising each other and talking about their chances of winning. i'll let them entertain themselves and i'll focus on driving. about 20 miles out of town, the guy up front starts talking with me a little. his name is chris and not only does he star in the film, but he write it with mark over the last ten years. we hit it off well and talk all the way to odgen. it's his first time having to do press interviews all day long and it can be pretty grueling he says. the actors in the back also talk about the whirlwind feeling of doing press, of getting some silly questions and that most of the time the reporters were interested in orlando bloom and juliette lewis (in the film but not in my van).
  • i'm not familiar with the film or much about it, but chris is happy to talk about it, despite having done so all day long. he tells me that my questions are better than the press's.
  • we get there just after the movie has started, so they don't get to introduce the film. i'm able to park the car right out front. i tell the theater people i'm the driver and am seated right next to chris.
author's note: i forgot to charge my computer last night and it just threatened to shut down in a moment. coming up next: my best conversation of the festival and the nightmare night that followed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

sunday, sundance

editor's note: at sheep go to heaven , we do our best to keep our posts to one a day, both as to not overwhelm our readers and to keep our writers from posting copious amounts of pointlessness. in light of our head writer being quite busy at the sundance film festival in utah (we suspect he's sitting around more than he admits), we have posted two today in order to avoid a backlog. please enjoy.
and leave comments.

the editor.

i'm not a fan of working on sundays, but sometimes it happens. my first run was pushed back, so i had time to study my scriptures before i left and kept xm on the classical station.
in the hotel room, a girl walks in and says that her sister made out with bill murray last night. he told her she had "a pretty mouth." and the day started.
  • we're told to keep our cars clean and are given an envelope of petty cash. personally, washing a white car in a busy, slushy town seems like an odd idea, but the money's there. the catch is that the money is a $10 and a $20, and the machines don't give change. i'll wash tomorrow.
  • my first ride was a guy named davis guggenheim. i asked him if this was his first time at sundance and he said he'd had a couple other movies here. i asked him what he'd directed. "i did a movie called 'an inconvenient truth'," he said. my mind skipped a moment and i realized that i did recognize him from the oscars a few years ago. we were going to ogden and he was good company, despite us running short on time due to scheduling and me not driving a hybrid (joel). it was a toyota, which was something, i suppose.
  • hanging out in the hotel room, a dude walks in and asks if anyone has a usb car charger. i have a usb car charger but i waited for a second, as loaning things out to dudes who randomly walk in and ask to borrow stuff can lead to said stuff not coming back. but i took the chance and offered the charger i had in my car. in the hall, i decided to be friendly and asked his name. "will roberts," he said. i stopped. there was a will roberts in my ward 20 years ago. not that it's an uncommon name, but he looked like he could be. and he was. and we exchanged holy-cow-i-haven't-seen-you-in-yearses. who knew? i didn't ask for collateral, but now i had his reputation should i not get my charger back. as of this writing, he's driven jessica alba and samuel l. jackson. and he gave me my charger back.
  • matt walked in and said that crispin glover just passed him in the hall. i had no idea. celebs of all kinds here, folks. i hear he has a lot of connections in hollywood.
  • until yesterday, i didn't even know that the vikings were in the playoffs or whatever were today. but the game was on in the hotel room and my image of the vikings is still what i knew of them in grade school, that they're a joke. i have no idea what they've been up in twenty years, but apparently they're good now. so i was getting into the game until there was two minutes left and i had run to the airport. in the park-n-wait, i realized that this was probably the first time i had ever searched out a football game on the radio on my own volition.
  • leaving the airport, the ladies we had picked up said they saw something about a sundance issue on the news. i explained that there was a movie on prop 8 in the festival and the news was covering it. on the way back to park city, i learned that they were a couple with a son. i was glad they didn't press the issue.
  • got home at 12:43 with an 8:30 pickup tomorrow: six hours of sleep and the blog will have to wait another day.

sundance in a snow storm

after a busy morning (with not a lot of sleep), i've got a few hours, so me and e.v.e. (my new mini-lappy) are hanging out in sundance hq. my phone was able to export my notes (which is cool). now if i can turn them into something worth reading...
  • 2:50 pm: i've been up here since 10:30. today i went to the vietnamese place next door to order some overpriced pad thai for our manager, went out for mexican food for lunch despite having packed a lunch, and saw parker posey walk by.
  • allison and devin came up here, just to be a part of it all. after they took shuttles all over town, only to realize that the hq is right next to where they parked, i found out that i could have picked them up. hanging out around a dirty table and talking, we looked over and saw morgan spurlock waiting in line at the cafe. go celebrities.
  • when we have a run, we wait in the parking garage for our people to come. as i was waiting, i had my star sighting for the day: i saw robert yeoman. yeah. very cool. for those of you who don't know, he's wes anderson's cinematographer. i don't know him my sight but saw his name badge and introduced myself. he was very nice and gracious, and, when he found out that i was an aspiring director of photographer, he asked if he could answer any questions for me. i politely explained that my mind had fused at the moment and that i didn't have anything right now. he said that if i was interested, he'd be happy to meet up sometime for a drink and talk. i'm definitely taking him up on that.
  • the lady i was waiting for was the director of an iranian film about women during a coup in the fifties. i was expecting an austere woman to come and instead met perhaps the friendliest and nicest person yet. she and her family were very warm and friendly and way cool. they made for good conversation on the way down to the sundance resort.
  • because we couldn't all fit in my soccer mom van, her brother and a few others took a cab. as we were leaving park city she got a call from him in the cab, asking where we were going. i said we were going to sundance. the driver didn't know where that was. i wondered what kind of a taxi driver in park city didn't know where sundance was.
  • i was hoping they'd invite me in to the screening. still, i've got harry potter to read in a comfortable chair in front of the fire at the front lodge. i told them to call me when the show was over, but i don't have reception here....
  • i meet up with them, they say they're staying for dinner. i tell them i can't stay. they decide to come with me. i bring the car around. they're all gone. how did i just lose seven iranians? i find them. they've decided to stay. that's probably a good thing; the storm here is getting pretty bad.
  • 9:24 i'm sitting in a tunnel in a very long line of cars waiting for avalanche testing that was supposed to be finished at 9. and there's a snow storm. glad i have my phone charger and this american life on the pod.
  • 9:37 stopped in another long line at the dam. behind a timid red grand prix.
  • 9:47 still stopped. in front of me a guy in sport shorts occasionally gets out to look. behind me a lady is continuously taking flash photographs/pictures with a flash. at least the cars going the other way are moving. i guess that's good?
  • 9:55 my hair's getting shaggy. i need a haircut but i kind of like it long(er). but i'm not sure how else to cut it.
  • 9:57 every so often, a car up ahead will pull out of line and turn around. me, i'm fully invested here.
  • 10:01 i'm 20 minutes from home and my car is empty. it'd be cool if i could just turn around and call it a night. but tonight is busy and full in park city.
  • just as i leave heber city, two large snow plows get on, staggered in the two lanes in front of me. there's not much snow on the roads or in the air but they blow up enough to be doing more harm than good. the road is an indistinguishable marble of packed snow and asphalt; the backside of the snow plow is an unfamiliar shape barely visible through the haze; the flashing yellow hazard light pulses like some bizarre experiment. and the background music on my radio show is a woman's choir singing dischordant sounds. nothing i can see is recognizable and the light continues to flash, temporarily disorienting me twice a second on the off beats. i started yawning 20 minutes ago and i feel like i'm in a dreamscape where nothing is right. this is bizarre. i wish i was home in bed.
  • 2:04 am: made the most heinous canyon drive twice tonight.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

notes from sundance day 2

driving home tonight, the weather was fine in salt lake, but driving over the point of the mountain took me into the heart of the maelstrom. the snowflakes were so thick and coming down so hard that at times it seemed as if i was driving through snow as high as the hood of my car. definitely some of the most disorienting weather i've been in. with that, here are some things that happened on friday, january 22, 2010
  • i think i worked for a total of five hours today. i picked up a director at the airport and read through the festival guide about him beforehand. he went to iowa state university, the same as my dad, he worked as a cinematographer before directing this, his first feature, and the dp he used was a guy i had worked with on a pilot for fox out here a few years ago (it didn't get picked up). his movie is called get low and sounds pretty interesting. it stars robert duvall, bill murray, and sissy spacek. he said that bobby usually does 2-3 takes then is ready to move on, while bill likes to experiment and try new things, and sissy likes to talk about the scene extensively. working with those differences was a challenge.
  • my friend is on the premier fleet for today and is driving around bill murray. he called me and asked if i could run to a store and pick something up for bill. i was all stoked and ready to go as i checked in with our team leader. he had just sent another driver out to take care of the run. that pretty much depressed me for the rest of the day (or at least the next two minutes). (i just learned he was driving with him all day, but he did seem him when he stopped by the house he was staying at. still....)
  • having a few hours of down time (which is helping me get caught up in harry potter and the order of the phoenix) i ran a couple of festival organizers downtown then got a call that i might be needed at the st. regis. i learned that is a very, very upscale hotel that is in a gated and secluded area of park city. i can see it being a beautiful place to stay in the summer, but it's so remote in the winter that i'm not sure why you'd stay there if you were planning on skiing or even leaving the hotel.... maybe if you can afford to stay there you can afford a jet pack, too. i also learned that, as blessed as my minivan is, it is not equipped to go up steep hills in wet, slippery snow. thank goodness i learned to drive in minnesota....
  • i arrived at the xanadu-like hotel atop the hill and decided to get rid of the empty starbucks cup before i picked up the peoples. but there was no garbage can out front. nor was there one anywhere visible in the lobby and both concierges were busy. so i walked through like i belonged there, looking for a garbage can. it really did look like citizen kane's palace, very nice and very cold and you're not allowed to touch anything. finally i found the restrooms. these were nicer than anything i had ever seen in vegas (which really aren't especially nice) or anywhere. there were two "hampers" of sorts inside, which at first looked identical, and still no apparent sign of a simple garbage can. one hamper had a sign above it reading "trash" and the other had nothing but white linen napkins: this place had no business with paper towels. long as i was here, no one would mind, right? so i used the facilities and dried my hands with one of the tightly wrapped cloth burritos in the basket next to the sink. i waited outside for another 20 minutes only to be told that there were no more people for me to pick up. i switched my sirius xm to "area" (the techno station) and appreciated that going downhill was much easier.
  • the snow was coming down decently, but it also make everything look wonderful. the house lights on the hills around the valley glowed and flared through the haze of falling snow in the twilight and i decided that i was really enjoying this job. i love driving (in high school i thought it would be fun to be a trucker for a while), i like the snow, i like being around the energy of the festival, and i like being part of it all, that it's organized and i have permits and passes to get me wherever i need to go. and i remembered that the worst part of being single is not during the hard and trying moments, but of not having anyone to reach out and share the moments of awesomeness with. so i did the next best thing and turned up the radio and sang along with the 80s new wave station.
  • i think i've named my minivan "hostess." as in, "it's big and round and white like a hostess snowball." the name hasn't really stuck, but then the car will be gone in a week anyway.
  • me and the other jeff (i'm once again "goose;" i like being "goose") were scheduled to pick up some polish people from the airport, take them to the tower theater, then bring them to park city after their movie. another guy had had a very slow day and offered to do it for me since i had to drive all the way to provo. i was on kearns blvd. and almost out of town when i got a call to go back to the office for a needed run. i got there just as the original driver showed up--he had been stuck at the sundance resort in provo canyon for most of the day and said that the roads down there were a parking lot with slide-offs everywhere. i was free to go home again, but had i not come back and seen him, i would have been through heber city before i'd know that i had to come all the way back and go home through salt lake. and that would have been lousy.
  • i've been on a real coldplay kick lately. i couldn't listen to them for a few months and now i can't get enough, especially the prospekt's march ep. not only do i delight completely in "life in technicolor II", but i find myself watch the video on youtube again and again. puppets are cool.

Friday, January 22, 2010

sundance and a hamster

i'm in a minivan.

we were supposed to pick up our cars on wednesday night, then it became thursday morning. i'm working as part of the transportation department for the sundance film festival. specifically, i'm on the film maker fleet thanks to my friend adam huner. we drive directors to their showings and, i'm told, it's arguably the best team to be on.

at the honda dealership yesterday morning, all but three of us had cars available. two of the guys got their cars later on and i got the sliding-doors-on-both-sides soccer mom minivan. i was ashamed. people laughed and scoffed.

bah. it's an awesome car. after hanging out in the park-n-wait at the airport (reading the sunday school lesson off of my phone) for an hour and a half, i was told that i wouldn't be needed for about three hours. we're paid for the day regardless and i used to time to stop by gandolfo's and visit my sister and nephew. like most jobs in the film world, this work is hours of waiting punctuated by moments of sheer terror.
actually, that's life on a camera crew. just the same, i was a little nervous when i was picking up my first passenger (can i call them a "fare" if my service is complimentary?) a million what if's fluttered around me, but there wasn't much i could do about them so what was the point?

i pulled up at the airport and a friendly lady and her husband waved at me. she was a director who had a film at the festival last year and was speaking this year. he was along to support her. they were way cool and as i drove them to their various venues last night, we talked about favorite movies and the excitement of the industry. i seriously dug it.
(so far the only celebrity i've seen so far was michael moore.)

this post is feeling kind of bland and i'm short on time. you get the idea. i can't even find a picture i like, so i'm just putting up a hamster.

in closing, here are the my xm presets:

X1 (the upbeat singalongs)
1. ch.8 "80s on 8"
2. ch. 20 "pop 20k" (they play coldplay)
3. ch. 47 "alt nation"
4. ch. 44 "1st wave" (they play oingo boingo)
5. ch. 54 "lithium" (early 90s grunge or something)
6. ch. ? "classic vinyl" (can't tell if this or "classic rewind" is better. or even what the difference is)

X2 (the chill night time, hoping to keep my passengers from wanting to stay out too late)
1. ch. 51 "coffee house" (wonderful)
2. ch. 70 "real jazz" (so good...)
3. ch. 77 "pops" (classical)
4. ch. 78 "symphony hall" (yes, more classical, one station over)
5. ch. 84 "chill" (chill beats)
6. ch. 80 "area" (decent techno)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

simplified chinese

i've got a backlog of posts and hope to get them up soon. i start as a driver for the sundance film festival tomorrow, so expect updates on facebook as they come.

in the mean time, in case anyone doesn't quite understand what's happening with conan and nbc, the chinese have explained it here:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

deconstructing harry

i had hoped to reread the harry potter series before the glorious book seven came out a few years ago. but i didn't. and i read the deathly hallows as fast as i could in a combination of obsessive fervor and precaution, in case some joker tried to spoil the ending somehow. this was all the more difficult given that i was a) working on a feature at the time and b) having to share the book with my sister, my roommate, and anyone else who pleaded with me to loan it to them. ironically, i have never overheard any discussion of the series's finale and, had i not read it, i likely still wouldn't know. in fact, i read it so quickly that i barely remember what happened anyway.

last summer, brooke suggested a sort of "harry potter book club." i may have mentioned that i wanted to reread the series, i don't remember. but, as the desire to reread had lain dormant for two years already, i liked the idea of enlisting motivation in the cause. the catch was that most of my friends were over at my house three or more nights of the week already. talking them into another regularly scheduled activity didn't really happen. brooke was in, and i mentioned the idea to a girl i hometaught who thought it was awesome and wanted to be a part. and so wednesday nights became harry potter book club.

i was curious how the series would hold up under discussion and inspection.
it does alright.
in a way, i was hoping for a gold mine of subtext and allegory. harry potter cannot be pulled apart the way that the works of renoir, tarkovsky, or even kurosawa can (i had to list film directors, because i'm more experienced there. i suppose i could offer dostoevsky, dickens, and even alice in wonderland.) as much as anything, it does fit campbell's model of the hero's journey, populated with archetypal characters. and those (think star wars) are the most fun.

harry potter is not a stuffy literary work but a youthful adventure of fantasy so great it's impossible not regret being born a muggle at times. our book club is not one where we debate in what way the author's use of the prison symbolizes the protagonist's sense of irony (anyone?). rather, we talk excitedly talk about what happened in the week's 100 pages as if they were our close friends who went to a cooler school than us. and i couldn't have picked two better people to join me.

at movie nights, i can rattle off about whatever subtitled art house bore we watch, but brooke and emily are the experts on wednesdays. the girls have both read the series multiple times and seem to have it all at their disposal. which is great, because one of the fun things about reading the stories with the benefit of seeing it all is catching so much that meant nothing the first time. sirius black is first mentioned in chapter one of book one. the vanishing cabinet that draco malevolently repairs in book six is smashed by peeves in book two. and there's rumored evidence that the giant squid in the lake is actually gondric gryffindor (i need to look more into that one....) over seven books, many character come and go and return, and i have a hard time keeping everyone and their events straight. thankfully, the girls can always answer my questions, adding insights and tidbits about where we first saw someone or when they come back later. i've been told that ms. rowling sat down and really charted out the series after book three. we just finished the goblet of fire last night and, in my opinion, that is when the series really establishes itself, setting up plot points and objectives that will take a couple thousand pages to fully resolve. and that's another joy of it; each book gets better.

the hpbc usually lasts for about two and a half hours. the first hour is generally about harry potter and the associated awesomeness. after that, the conversation topic kind of goes free game, and we spent the rest of the night talking and laughing about whatever. kind of like being in the gryffindor common room.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

2009 in review: sheep go to heaven edition

editor's note: the following is shamelessly stolen from laurie jayne, who stole it from someone else.... so help yourself.

jeff gustafson
sheep go to heaven

What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
learned computer animation. went on a fly fishing rafting trip. photographed a bear. was the d.p. on some commercials.

Did you keep your new years' resolutions?
technically, i directed a commercial. nothing glamorous, but that was on my list. didn't learn photoshop like i'd planned, but did learn maya, and that counts for something. sadly, didn't bang out tunes on the piano or accordion like i'd planned. and when i pulled out my accordion a few weeks ago, it sounded out of tune, but that may be me.

What are some of your resolutions for 2010?
i'm trying to divide them into groups: intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual. i want to retreat into my social shell less, though i'm not sure how to quantify that one yet. and i want to get into keeping a regular journal again. this blog usurped that when it began, and it's great, but still not the same.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
no, but i was still having fun with my baby nephew.

Did anyone close to you die?
just my mac. one and a half times, actually.

What countries did you visit?
the imagi-nation. and texas, which kind of counts.

What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
someone to watch movies with.

What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
aug.17: my 30th birthday with my mom and brother desperately trying to finish a very intricate "wall-e" cake in a kitchen without running water while we were playing four square out front. it came off marvelously.
nov.6: the tmbg "flood" concert was sheer bliss and elation.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
wedging my way into byu's animation department and the paradigm shift it represented.

What was your biggest failure?
that time i asked that girl for her friend's phone number.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
my eyes got really, really puffy and swollen for a few days. i walked into the first day in my new ward looking like i had been crying all morning. thankfully, jaime could recommend a good optometrist.

What was the best thing you bought?
rock band 2.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
me, for being stubborn and stoic and cold at times.
society, for mocking and laughing at michael jackson for years, then gushing about how much they loved him after he was dead. i had no idea he was so universally beloved, and i don't think he did, either.
runner up: joe/aaron, if it's true.

Where did most of your money go?
besides the obvious rent? criterion. ; ) (not really, but still...)

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
that tally hall agreed to come and play a concert at cheryl's elementary school.

What song will always remind you of 2009?
i can still name the songs that personify several different years of being a teenager, but this is a bit trickier.
owl city's "fireflies" is the song most entrenched in the sound of the day.
any number of our favorite rock band songs ("shipping up to boston", "long time", et al.) will recall this year.

Compared to this time last year, are you: much happier, richer, nicer?
happier: feeling better about the future, that's for sure. richer: nope, this was a rough year for work, but i'm still making it. nicer: i hope so.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
practice my accordion, photography, and running.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
listening to my fears.

How did you spend Christmas?
surrounded by an excellent minnesota blizzard.

Did you fall in love in 2009?
every time i watched "wall-e."

What was your favorite TV program?
yelling at 24 with my friends and laughing with the office surrounded by a similar group of friends.

What was the best book you read this year?
fast food nation kept me entertained on plane rides, but the last lecture is so good and invigorating that i've been savoring it in very small bites, hoping to make it last as long as possible.

What did you want and get?
a solid group of friends, to continue teaching sunday school, and the seventh seal on blu-ray.
i guess it was this year that i got rid of my screeching tv and replaced it with my new one. i like that.

What were your favorite films of this year?
up. nothing else has come close. ponyo was absolutely delightful and me and orson welles was fascinating to watch, and there are still several i need to see.
criterion introduced me to several that were so good i wanted to scream: my dinner with andre, ran, last year at marienbad, jeanne dielman, and some of jean painleve's documentaries.

What were your least favorite films of this year?
nine reminded me that i'm not too desensitized and harry potter 6 wasn't as good as it should have been. at byu's international cinema, i don't need to ever see eyes without a face again.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
i turned 30 and celebrated the heck out of it: two parties for different eras of friends, playing four square and rock band, an incredible "wall-e" birthday cake, and talking late with several good friends.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
getting to go to the tally hall kids show and to master turning my brain down to "medium" and enjoy the moment.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
buying the "three kittens playing keyboard under a full moon" t-shirt. that sums it up.

What kept you sane?
movie nights.

Who did you miss?
jess and pretty much all of my married friends.

Who was the best new person (people) you met?
brooke became an essential part of our group and re-meeting president sam and having him move in is pretty great.
people i legitimately did not know in 08: alan bradshaw, the lighting lead on byu's xing film: he's as knowledgeable as he is kind and continues to be a great help for me.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
i've been compiling a whole list to be coming shortly.

What are you most excited for in 2010?
the unexpected. a year ago, i wouldn't have known to write even half of what i've praised in 2009.

What are you least excited for in 2010?
if i had to take a deathly cold shower, that'll be it.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

the happiest man in the church

before my mission, i taught the old testament stories to the 11-12 year olds. it was a blast.
in the mtc, my teacher mentioned how he was a taking an old testament course at byu. that just seemed cool. my sister and i took such a class together at byu. we learned about the value of charts and that everybody died.

in 2002 at centennial, i thought it would be really cool to teach the old testament. in 2007, i was called to teach sunday school. we were studying the new testament at that time. i thought there would be no way i would be in that calling long enough to cycle through all of the standard works.
two years later, we were nearing the end of the doctrine and covenants when the ward boundaries were changed and i was released. so close...

two weeks into my new ward and i was called to teach sunday school.
and today, i taught my first lesson of the old testament.
i consider myself the luckiest man in the church.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

animal style

In 1948, the year that the McDonald's brothers introduced the Speedee Service System, Harry and Esther Snyder opened their first In-N-Out Burger restaurant on the road between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. It was the nation's first drive-through hamburger stand.

....In-N-Out has followed its own path: there are verses from the Bible on the bottom of its soda cups. More importantly, the chain pays the highest wages in the fast food industry. ....The high wages at In-N-Out have not led to higher prices or lower-quality food. The most expensive item on the menu costs $2.45. There are no microwaves, heat lamps, or freezers in the kitchens at In-N-Out restaurants. The ground beef is fresh, potatoes are peeled every day to make the fries, and the milk shakes are made from ice cream, not syrup.

In March of 2000, the annual Restaurants and Institutions Choice in Chains survey found that among the nation's fast food hamburger chains, In-N-Out ranked first in food quality, value, service, atmosphere, and cleanliness. In-N-Out has ranked highest in food quality every year that the chain has been included in the survey.
fast food nation, p.259-260

when i would go to vegas, in-n-out was my one requisite stop. orem finally got one a few weeks ago, and i finally went tonight.

it's wonderful.
joel, you're just a doorknob.