Tuesday, January 31, 2012


walking home tonight, in rain that was thankfully not that cold, i was thinking about walking home in the rain.

i thought of how i went through four years at byu, never really having someone to walk home with, or to meet up with after class. and i wondered if i'd make it through my time here at a&m the same way.

i'd like to have someone to meet me at work, after everyone else in the office has gone home.
to have someone come and sit with me in the lab some nights when i'm there late.
someone to do a soda run with, or to go grab a box of layne's chicken together.
or to simply have someone wanting to see me at the end of the day.

i have a girl in colorado that i'm getting to know and she's great.
in utah, she's a four-hour drive. that's doable for a weekend visit.
but in texas, that distance is a bit more.

so, i'm trying to figure things out.

and one of these days, i'll have that oscar post up.

Monday, January 30, 2012

grandma ben and the great red dragon

ray: i did it all. i listened to the voice, i did what they told me, and not once did i ask, "what's in it for me?"

shoeless joe: what are you saying, ray?

ray: i'm saying... what's in it for me?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

no false doctrine

so we're sitting there in the combined priesthood and relief society meeting today as my bishop is giving a rather good lesson about the "butterfly effect" and how our choices can affect our lives for years to come. and then he says something you usually don't hear a bishop say: "it's like in the episode of the simpsons...."

and he begins by playing like he's not too familiar with it ("what's the guy's name...? bart, no... the dad?") and references the episode where homer travels through time (he's referring to the second part of the halloween episode in season six, for those of you who are curious). and he says how homer goes back in time and accidentally steps on a dragonfly, and then when he returns home, everyone has turned into dragonflies.

that is not how the episode goes.

thankfully, one of the guys in the back raised his hand to correct the bishop. "actually, when he comes back, everything in his life has become perfect."

no. it. hasn't.
so, i blurted out, "that's a different part!"

look, when homer first travels back to pre-history, he reminds himself of the advice his dad gave him on his wedding day: "if you ever travel back in time, don't step on anything. because even the slightest change can alter the future in ways you can't imagine." even still, he accidentally steps on a dragonfly but tells himself that such a little thing couldn't make a difference. when he returns to his own time, the world has now become an orwellian dystopia.
on a subsequent trip to the past to make things right, he accidentally sneezes on a dinosaur, which kills that dinosaur and sets off a domino effect that ends up killing several prehistoric animals. "this is gonna cost me," he laments. but when he returns to his home time, that is when his house is beautiful, his family is wealthy, his children are well-behaved, and his despised sisters-in-law are dead. the horror, of course, is that no one knows what a "donut" is. he leaves in immediate panic, right before the world begins to rain donuts.
got it?

anyway, so the bishop said, "well, stand up, jeff, and tell us what happened."

obviously i was not planning on having to explain an old simpsons episode to the ward and i tried to be brief. i knew this was frivolous and didn't mean to make such a big deal of it at all.
when i sat down, my face felt very warm, a fact which several friends confirmed to me throughout the day. still, i felt good in knowing that i had had the courage to do the right thing.

that aside, it was actually a really great day at church. one of the benefits to teaching sunday school is that my lessons can be exactly what i need to hear.

we talked about the liahona and about the liahona's that we have in our own lives; about how they work only according to our faith and diligence to their guidance. we talked nephi building a boat, and how the Lord gave him the things that nephi didn't have--a place to find ore, the knowledge of how to make a boat--but that he had to do all that he could do himself--make tools, the actual labor in building the boat. and about how we all have boats in our own lives that we're trying to build. we may not know how to do them, but the Lord will help us build them as we follow the guidance and direction that He's given us.

john bytheway talks about a girl going to e.f.y. and feeling great there but wanting to keep that feeling with her when she goes back to her crazy home and rough school life. i don't have a crazy home or a rough school life, but i had that same feeling today: i want to keep this peace and confidence that i felt today at church with me throughout the week.

church is awesome.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

temperament of an artist

i've had a photography project in mind for quite a while now. it's not for any class but a three-part work that i've been planning out in the back of my mind over the last few months.
tonight i went out to shoot it.

the first part didn't work at all and left me frustrated enough that i didn't even bother attempting parts two or three.

i'm hoping that a good night's rest and a weekend will inspire me to find a solution to the problems and leave me ready to try it again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

maybe tomorrow

a few of you have personally told me that you're waiting for my thoughts on the oscars. it's been a busy few days at school and i was hoping that today would be the day, but it's not.
i think tomorrow should be better for commentary.

i've really been enjoying the clash lately.
like, a lot.

Monday, January 23, 2012

losing the light

we're just rounding out the first week of the school year and i'm already coming home after midnight.

years ago while working on a camera truck, i thought of how the positions on a film set could be broken down into two categories: those who want the day to end and those who don't want the day to end. for most of the crew, you work, then you usually have some down time, then you work some more, and the cycle repeats until they call wrap and you go home. you can leave work at work and just enjoy your evening on the rare event that there actually is anything left of your evening.

but there are a small number of jobs that are not running down the clock but racing against it. the director, the producer, the cinematographer, and the 1st a.d. are spending their day doing all that they can to be as productive as they can, to wrangle the crew and the talent to make the day's list of shots. and when the day is done, they regroup and discuss what to do the next day. the next morning, the race starts all over again.

i've been on both sides. yes, it's fun to be calling the shots and the day flies by, but there's something to be said for, when they call wrap, just being able to ship up the day's film as fast as you can and not having to think about it until the next morning after your breakfast burrito.

as i'm entering my fourth semester here at grad school, i've thought of how i look at my days. there's so much expected of me that, if i was just going through here like a below-the-line crew member, the hours would be easily flying by. and i sometimes find myself in that mode, staring at the clock and telling myself that i'll go home at 11:30 and so i begin dawdling some, browsing wikipedia or rereading a friend's blog for the fourth time as my "breaks" between work become more frequent. soon enough, i've made it through another day and let myself go home. after all, i've got things i need to take care of there, too.

but the people who are racing the clock on set--the director, the producer, the cinematographer--they are the ones with the creative control. that weight rests on them because they are making the artistic decisions and working to make the movie as best as it can be; it's their responsibility. and in this one-man show, that's me. i'm not here in school just to get to the end of each day. i'm here to get the most out of each minute, and whether i get something done today or tomorrow, it's not going to get done unless i do it.

so that's one of the paradigm shifts that i'll be working towards this year.

in other news, the oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow morning. you'll hear my thoughts here soon enough.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

the temporal temple

confession: i signed up to go work at the bishop's storehouse only because i wanted to go with my friend. but then it turned out that she couldn't go anyway and i was stuck having to go and actually do service.
on a saturday.
leaving at 6:45.

and on less than four hours of sleep, i had an excellent day yesterday.

i've heard about bishop's storehouses but had never actually been. president hinckley once described them as looking like grocery stores but without cash registers, and that's pretty accurate. their purpose is to help those members of the church who are doing what they can but are still struggling to put food on the table and so, with the help of their ward bishop, are able to come and get what they need.

we had a great group of seven that went up to houston yesterday. people would come in with lists that would have quantities for each item and we would go through the aisles with them, helping them get what they needed. my favorite was a guy with his five-year old daughter who was very eager to help load the cart with whatever i helped her find.

when things slowed down, we'd restock the shelves: cans of stew, bags of rice, and packages of cheese. the store was small enough that there was usually something that needed to be replenished and there was enough variety of goods that it kept things from getting monotonous. we were usually laughing and had plenty of jokes about the power of the box cutters.

while it seemed simple, there was something very special about being there. as soon as we walked in, we could feel a peaceful feeling in there. and so much of my work in the church has usually been related to the spiritual welfare of people (teaching sunday school, going to the temple) that it was an insightful change to be a part of something so immediate, of helping people get food so that they could provide for their families.

as the day went on, i was starting to feel guilty that my biggest worry that day was making a presentation on my mac for my mfa class at school. talking with my friend in colorado that evening, she noted that we all have our challenges, regardless of our situation in life.
i was glad that i took the day to go the storehouse and i still had time that evening to get my homework done for monday.

editor's note: chalk this post up to another one that falls far short of what the reality was.

Friday, January 20, 2012


i watched harry potter 7.2 tonight.
that's a dang good movie. love it.

it's interesting how the pieces in my life are shifting, some coming closer and others moving further away. that's how life goes. the only constant is change.

i also made some very good chocolate chip cookies.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep

for once, i'm glad someone invited me to a movie that i wouldn't have seen otherwise but am glad that i did. we went to beauty and the beast in 3-D tonight and thoroughly enjoyed myself. going to the theater, i realized that it's been quite a while since i've seen the movie (sometime in 104, probably, when we excitedly found it on a saturday excursion to the used cd/dvd store), and not only is it a landmark in computer animation (the "beauty and the beast" ballroom dance scene) and the only animated movie (until up in 2009) to be nominated for best picture, it's also a really good movie.

last fall at school i saw a few minutes of the lion king on one of our big-a 3-D and was surprised at how good a 2-D animated movie looked in 3-D. every pencil line was clear and there was something about it that was fascinating. the different layers stood clearly and it was like seeing it again for the first time. it was the same seeing all of the details here. oddly, studying computer animation has made me more impressed with traditional animation, i think because i have no bloody clue how they do it. (bonus coolness: i had a class from the lady who animated maurice, belle's father.)

when the movie came out, i remember that we all loved chip's quip's. in tonight's theater full of college texans, he hardly got a response. but there was plenty that i did appreciate more than i have before, the standout scene being the beast pleading at belle's closed door for her to join him at dinner.

i heard something else that left me thinking more than was likely intended. when the beast is brooding at how difficult belle is being, lumiere (a subtle reference to the film pioneer brothers?) notes, "she's had a rough day. she's lost both her father and her freedom."
i thought of how that could feel like marriage, losing your family and your freedom and being trapped with a beast forever. that, in the creation, fall, and atonement stages of a marriage, the courting tale of la belle et la bĂȘte is the journey from fall to atonement. they're different, they clash, he doesn't know how to treat her but he wants to learn. and. slowly, stubbornly, things change. and they fall in love.

whatever it's about, i think you should go see it.
unless the artist is playing. then you should see that instead.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

wednesday, jan. 18

just a few mini posts for today.

i've never pirated a movie, all of my mp3s are legit, and my professional life thus far as been in the film industry, the main force in support of this bill. but i think it is reaching far beyond stopping illegal downloading and will be very bad if it passes.
i also think it's too big to really enforce if it did pass and that there would be a backlash of biblical proportions if it did.

but if the "stop online piracy act" does pass, i will have to go through nearly every post on here and remove the pictures that are not officially mine. so, that post from two days ago, where i listed all of the people i worked with, that'll be gone entirely.

on my walks around campus today, i was listening to a recent podcast of "this american life" where the first act was a guy's story about his visit to the apple factories in china. he talked about the terrible working conditions there, noting that the cost for human labor is nearly zero, so that nearly all of our electronics (not just apple) are made almost entirely by hand. as his story went on and on, i started to feel guilty about the ipod that i was listening to this on.

the second act of the radio show was a discussion of the first act, with their team verifying pretty much all of the guy's story. but they also had an economist who, when asked if we should feel guilty about owning and enjoying all of these electronics, answered, no.
the reason, he said, is that while these conditions are terrible, this sweatshop lifestyle is still a better life than the destitute poverty that the people were living in before these factories came. i found that interesting and wondered if these are just growing pains of an industrial society. the u.s. and britain suffered through similar conditions a hundred years ago, about the same time that the u.s. became the dominant force in the world. and as china is emerging as the new economic super power, it seems that this may be the cost of that victory, but that, just as the american workers did a century ago, citizens will rise and protest in greater numbers and enact the changes for better working conditions. maybe the chicken has to learn to break out its shell itself.

or maybe i'm totally wrong.

i can't remember what my third thought was. but i found some music for our video at work today (my 60s lounge groove was universally liked), and had success with the blue-screen compositing. i found out i'll need to buy a judo gi for my judo class, am hoping i can find another good art project for my mfa course, and am already staying at school until 10, working on homework.
until the computer froze.
at least i've got some good text friends to keep me company.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

phase two

i was in sitting in "rendering and shading" this morning, again dressed up in a vest for the first day of school while my eccentric turkish teacher was talking about how light refracts off of different objects. as he was noting the scattering properties of feathers, i thought about how cool kevin (the bird) looked in up and of how perfectly they had captured the way feathers shimmer in the light.

what's noteworthy is that i'm usually not that interested in materials and textures but i had no problem remembering the look of that film. and that's because it was such a beautiful story: the characters and their adventures were what i fell i love with and, because of that, i wanted to notice everything about their world. i started paying attention to even the little things that i normally wouldn't care about and found it more fascinating than i ever imagined.


while i don't regret my decision, when i'm reading american cinematographer i still sometimes think of what it would be like to be a big director of photography.

Monday, January 16, 2012

my life in pictures

on my way home from the austin airport, i got a call to work on a commercial in moab this week. i still occasionally get calls for work and am always sad when i have to turn them down (got offered to pull focus on a sharon stone movie in november), but i agreed to do this one because the cinematographer is a guy i've actually heard of. in fact, he's won an academy award (for seabiscuit) and has shot huge films like the rock, armageddon, and transformers (say what you want about the directing quality of those but it's pretty dang impressive from a cinematography standpoint.)
sadly, they decided to go with someone from l.a. instead (and i later found out i wasn't the only one they dropped), which (even more sadly) means i have to go to school tomorrow instead of jetting off to go work on some big-a shoot.

so as my film career continues to fade (at least until i graduate, can't find a job, and start calling camera assistants around utah again), i wanted to look back at all of the people i had the chance to cross paths with while getting paid to do so.

found out he was in full metal jacket.
so, i'm two degrees from stanley kubrick. : D

that's daniel, not alec. although, i accidentally
called him alec once. he corrected me and was
(thankfully) very cool about it.

*he wasn't filming that day but did come to set.

this kid drove me nuts....

and i've home taught will ferrell's cousin.

just the mac on the right.

but one of my favorite connections is....

i've worked with this guy...

who worked with this guy...

who worked with her. <3

Sunday, January 15, 2012


in my sunday school lesson today, i managed to talk about the tree of life, the tree of life, and the artist. thank you. : )

this morning, someone on facebook posted about a talk by elder scott, adding the question, "in your life, what are the experiences and truths you have learned that make up principles you live by that govern your life?"

i've talked about this a few times before here, but i think it's a very good question. for me, a sort of paradigm shift happened when i heard elder maxwell's final's conference talk, where he shared stories from his life. his lesson of "never go back to the hotel" is a defining characteristic of who i am, and i began to realize that i could find such principles and lessons from stories in my own life. that summer i learned to "just keep clapping."

it seemed i was recently talking with someone about this subject, about looking in our own lives for examples and lessons. but rather than share another personal experience that i've learned from, i want to share two simple stories that have stuck with me, that i have continually mulled over as i've walked the long and winding road.

the first comes from, i think, a book of stories that my brother had when we were younger. i remember that he often had a lot of books that made you think, such as the eleventh hour. this story may have come from a book that was a collection of riddles, although i don't remember for certain.

two coal miners were returning home from work on day. one's face was black with soot, while the other's face was clean. the looked at each other, then the one with the clean face went and washed his face, while the miner with the dirty face did not.

the answer to the puzzle here is that the miner with the clean face looked at his friend and assumed that, since his friend's face was dirty, his must be, too. likewise, the man with the dirty face presumed that his face was clean, just like his friend's. but the lesson is one that has echoed with me as i've gone through life, trying to see where my faults are and working to improve them. sometimes i've wondered if i'm trying to clean areas of my life that are already clean, yet missing the messier spots. it gets bigger the more you think about it.

the second story is one that my mother told to me one night when she and i were sitting at the table. it was an seemingly mundane moment, but, again, the lesson of the story has taken root in me.

a man and a woman had been married for many years. each night before they went to sleep, they would each have a slice of bread. and each night, the man would pull the crust from his slice and give it to his wife. 
one night, after having had enough of this, the wife asked in frustration, "why do you keep giving me the crusts? i can't stand the crusts!"
in hurt surprise, the man softly replied, "i give you the crusts because it's my favorite part."

as i continue learn about how to work with people, particularly those closest to me, i try to remember this story.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


same same but different
and so my break draws to a close.

it was a good break. a great break, actually. and pretty much what i needed. had i been hanging around in one spot for the four-plus weeks, i likely would have gone batty. but i've been very fortunate to have been able to move around some. i went from texas to utah to minnesota and then back again, even finding time for a day in colorado in there.

what was interesting about this was that texas, utah, and minnesota represent significant eras of my life, and moving between them was like moving through those stages of my life. in moorhead my mom was happy to be making breakfast for her kids again, my brother and i still play the same card games we did fifteen years ago, and i went to a moorhead spuds high school hockey game one night. afterward, i took the long way out and walked through my old high school, seeing a flood of memories on the stairs and down the hallways. i couldn't remember where any of my lockers were, but i still knew where my sophomore year girlfriend's locker was.

i spent new year's down in minneapolis, enjoying all that a big city has to offer, from excellent local restaurants to the independent theaters. we tried to go clubbing one night but apparently everyone was waiting for new year's eve, as there was no one there on dec. 30. that was ok; the 80s room was apparently gone, anyway.
we considered going out again the next night if our new year's eve plans fizzled out, but that wasn't a problem. i celebrated 2012 pretty much the same way i did 1997: with my high school friends, drinking a ton of pop, and laughing til it hurt.

still the same
i stayed in minnesota longer than i planned, which, by simple logic, meant i had less time in utah. still, i managed to see (just about) everyone i wanted to see while i was there, doing pretty much all of my favorite things with all of the right people: movies, mario kart, himalayan food, photography, cafe rio, making mistakes, the ihop gang, righting my wrongs, talking movies with my old film professors. it worked out great.

and now, i'm somehow back in texas again. kindly, school starts on tuesday, offering the chance to ease back into life before the hurricane starts again.

listening to a lot of arcade fire and the laurie jayne mixes today.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

: *

thanks to leithal's due diligence, i've been informed that today is (the third annual) "kiss a ginger day."

and i was thinking about this movie just yesterday...

"be whatever you like, you're my redhead!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

x and y

while i was in minnesota last week, going through an old box of books, i came across one of my favorites: "from the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler." i grabbed it and read it on the plane back to utah. near the end of the book, the eponymous old lady says something that stood out to me.

"'no,' i answered. 'i don't agree with that. i think you should learn, or course, and some days you must learn a great deal. but you should also have days wen you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. and you can feel it happen inside of you. if you never take times out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. you can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. it's hollow.'"

my plane is boarding.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

weight loss

the more i look at it, the less i like it. but i think it can be cleaned up without too much effort.

Monday, January 09, 2012


oddly, i couldn't find the english version of this commercial.
still, you get the idea.

today went well.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


today was a rough day. "unsettling" is perhaps the word i would use to describe my morning, and that uncomfortable feeling stayed with me throughout the day. even an afternoon of photography and dessert didn't change much. (although the warm dessert was silence-inducing amazing and the photography was looking good)

this evening i went to the broadway theater with emily. people asked us why we were drivng all the way to salt lake to see a movie we could see at any of the megaplex's from here to there. and that is (one reason of many) why i love emily: she gets it. she understands the love of cinema.

standing the broadway theater lobby, buying concessions and surrounded by posters for upcoming movies that were worth seeing, sharing it with a friend who mutually appreciated it: that was my happy place for the moment. tonight was what i needed.

as long as i'm venting, i would just like to say that the environment in which this following picture was taken irritated me deeply.

this picture is poorly framed because
 someone else has invaded our room...


that is all.
thank you.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

flavors of the weeks

i'm not one to get into political arguments, but ever since my "citizenship in the nation" merit badge, i've believed that it's important to be involved in one's politics to some degree. and i've begun following politics more and more as i've gotten older. during the intense 2008 elections, i did what i could to read the articles and watch the debates. but i've never paid as much attention to the races for the candidacy as i have this season. part of me wishes i would have, because i'm really curious if every round is like this or if this race has been an amazing/embarrassing catastrophe.

i consider myself somewhere in the political middle and i tend to lean towards the right, although i voted for obama. i'm not particularly displeased with him but if the republicans can put up a better option, i may vote red. strangely, the republican party has been like a girl on the rebound, grabbing candidate after candidate and getting bored with them after a few weeks.

michelle bachman won the iowa straw poll this summer, an award which meant that, if the republican party were cthulhu, she will be the first to be eaten. she pushed far to the right wing, speaking to please the evangelical bases and weirding out the rest. she hasn't been heard from since her victory in ames, iowa.

that was ok, because on the day of the straw poll, texas governor rick perry announced his candidacy and immediately the party loved this good lookin' cowboy. he shot to the top of the polls and was in the debates front and center, placed next to the perennial leader, mitt romney. like the hunky high school jock, perry couldn't hold up under the pressure of being asked questions and burned out in so many miraculous ways that i can't pick my favorite.
1. this one
2. new hampshire (perry starts at 5:02 on there. and for the record, this one is my favorite)
3. and.... um.....

ok, i can understand them all flocking around perry. sure, he was george w. bush 2 (and that's "squared", not "two") and there are a lot of republicans that really get into that. but they had sense enough to think there might be someone better out there. what's fascinating is that they just moved down the line in the debate queue and grabbed the next guy they could find. that guy was herman cain.

i was rather incredulous when i found out that cain was leading the polls. the romney-perry battles made sense: the cool kid against the smart kid. and it was a little awkward watching the remaining six stumpers at the debates, since they all seemed to be there for decoration, hoping to make this look like a competitive race. but when they grabbed herman cain, someone who, a few weeks earlier, had me wondering why he was even trying to run, this began to get kind of embarrassing.

good for him for getting a chance but that's only worthwhile if you're qualified and just need the chance to be heard. he fell apart under foreign policy questions and then had plenty of harassment scandals and decided to drop out of his presidential run by quoting the pokemon movie.

this has me wondering where the republicans would go next. simple: they went to the end of the line and grabbed newt gingrich. dag. at this point, they'll go with anyone to the homecoming dance, including the kid who graduated a few years ago but is still hanging around for some weird reason.

all this time, jon huntsman has been working hard to campaign in new hampshire, passing up the first caucus (today, in iowa) and hoping to win the next state. it kept him out of the media spotlight which, with the way things have been going, is an ok strategy, i suppose.

by now, i'm sure tim pawlenty was a little frustrated. he dropped out after coming in third in the iowa straw poll, feeling that that showed his support wasn't where it needed to be. the republicans have gone far lower than third place already.

ron paul's numbers have been consistent and consistently growing and he's done great in the debates, sticking to his beliefs and speaking openly and honestly. the republican core doesn't like him, in part because he plays by his rules, not theirs. i really like him, but i don't think he has the tact needed to be the head representative of our country. but i'd be proud to vote for him as the representative of my state.

what's odd is that they've been looking for someone to beat mitt romney. that's the guy that everyone else in their party likes, the guy who's numbers have been consistent throughout the running, while everyone else has skyrocketed and exploded. it really makes no sense; he's qualified, sensible, and performs excellently in the debates. but the whole last six months have been a search for anyone other than him. while the far right is frantically looking for any alternative, the truth is that romney could easily grab some of the right plus the moderates and even some of the moderate left who voted for obama last time but aren't decided on him for round two yet.

proving that this race is so crazy it can't be made up, newt faded in less than a month and now, as the first official caucusing is happening in iowa, rick santorum is actually getting his turn. he's been ignored and pushed to the sides for the last four months and luckily got his three weeks of fame right before the music stopped.

my wild hope is that the extreme right wing, who have been acting like the cheerleader of the republican teen girl squad, will break off and nominate a tea party candidate, thereby freeing the rest of the party to do what they really want to do but have gone along with the bossy ones. i think that, as the states go through their individual caucusing, casting their votes rather than what the red zealots are shouting, mitt will solidly come to the front. romney can take the mid-right and the moderates and give obama a real challenge this summer.
otherwise, the president and his campaign staff are going to have a comfortable coast through 2012 and into their second term.

so, iowa, i'll check in with you later tonight. for now, i'm off to a hockey game.

editor's note: we acknowledge that our citations are almost exclusively from the daily show. after following their coverage all summer, we feel that they are more accurate and unbiased than any of the major news channels. besides, after long day at the viz lab, we really appreciate the endorphins.

Monday, January 02, 2012

bizarre love triangle

you know those weekends when you have a really great date idea and you know who you want to ask out, then you meet another really awesome girl and you wish you could ask her out for this date, too?

that's how my cinematic love life is.
in case you haven't noticed, i'm fascinated by the tree of life. when i saw it, it was love at first sight. and not because it had flashy explosions or big gun fights. it was smart. it was insightful. and yet it was captivatingly graceful. everything about it was beautiful. and it left me wanting to be a better man. i was happy to find out that, six months later, my feelings for it were just as strong. best movie of the year.

then i started hearing about some movie called the artist. i'd heard it was silent but didn't know much beyond that. still, that was good enough for me.

yes, the artist is a silent film, but that isn't a gimmick. rather, it's like the edgar wright and simon pegg movies: not only is hot fuzz a great homage to the buddy cop genre, it's also a great buddy cop movie. not only is the artist an impeccable silent film, it's also a great film.

similar to singin' in the rain, the movie follows a silent movie star through the terrible transition into the sound era. which, if you think about it, is an ironic setting for a silent movie. and that's part of what makes the movie fun: while it looks and feels in every way like it was shot on the lot next to a murnau picture, it gently reminds us that it knows what it really is. the movie opens in a movie screening, where the audience is watching the hero being interrogated by evil scientists. "i'll never talk!" he declares in the inter titles. the orchestral music builds through the final climactic moments then ends when the movie does, leaving the screen smirkingly silent as the audience erupts into applause.

as i said, the artist is a perfectly recreated silent film. so much, in fact, that it was a little strange to see modern actors like john goodman in there. like the silent era, language was irrelevant, so the director and leads are french, while several of the supporting characters are recognizable american (and british) actors, all filmed in hollywood. the acting is broad and expressive but never lampooning or silly. the full-frame camera work is as technically and artistically advanced as it was in 1927, while the big orchestral score carries the emotion but never steals it. and the costumes, hair, and makeup are savory.

all of that would make it a remarkable exercise if that was all it was. but the filmmakers know that we still watch silents because they are good and timeless stories. and wrapped underneath the black and white images and beautiful costumes is a great love story: the big hollywood silent star, the aspiring girl. share a brief time together when she's a featured extra in one of his movies. when talkies come around he becomes antiquated. she becomes the next big thing. there's drama! excitement! danger! and romance! sitting in the theater, it's easy to understand how audiences started to fall in love with their larger than life stars 80 years ago.

this is how to fall in
love at the movies
the scene where she's looking through his dressing room and finds his tuxedo coat is the most enchanting falling in love moment i've seen since wall-e first sees e.v.e. flying around his city.

in just about any other year (2010, i'm looking back at you) this would have easily been the best movie of the year. in fact, i'm falling for it as i write this. but no, the tree of life is my true love of 2011.

still, i really want to see the artist again....

Sunday, January 01, 2012

my 2011

What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before? 

rode on a private jet, drove across america, successfully conquered moguls and double blacks, swam 25m underwater, got one of the most seriously awesome hugs in history, played on stage with my favorite band, learned to rock climb, got into tiffs and/or scuffles with at least four of my best friends (and then worked things out within a week each time), hiked the arizona desert in august, and drove to the houston airport (and back) without my gps.

and i learned how to do some digital compositing and made this:

Did you keep your new years' resolutions? 
some of them.

What are some of your resolutions for 2012?
  • to do better at school. specifically, to effectively utilize my time when i am at school, instead of spending all of my time being "busy." the goal is that that will lead to me producing some work that i can really be proud of. 
  • to create and follow a budget. 
  • to learn some about auto mechanics. 
  • and to be strong in character. like lehi counseled his sons, to arise from the dust and be a man. 
Did anyone close to you get married? 
my brother.

Did anyone close to you give birth? 
a couple of friends, but i haven't seen said offspring (i'm looking at you, laurie jayne).

Did anyone close to you die? 
pete and meghan's 3-year old son. that was a sad morning.

What countries did you visit? 
all four sides of the u.s.

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? 
someone to look forward to at the end of the day.

What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 
april 30 was a very happy day for me. i prefer not to go into why right now.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? 
getting a C in 654.

What was your biggest failure? 
my date in san antonio.

though i kind of want to go with that cat in the parking lot that one night and all that happened thereafter. i didn't realize it until later, but that was not my finest hour.

Did you suffer illness or injury? 
i think i stayed physically healthy this year.

What was the best thing you bought? 
layne's box of chicken fingers and the steve jobs biography on my phone.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? 
right at the end of the year, one of the saddest and most unexpected things i never would have imagined, but out of respect for those involved, i won't go into detail here.

Where did most of your money go? 
to texas a&m.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
the second week of july.

What song will always remind you of 2012? 
"friday" by rebecca black. i genuinely love that song.
also, billy joel's "she's always a woman" and a handful of songs from tally hall's "good & evil."

but if i were to choose just one song, it would be "(antichrist television blues)" by arcade fire. that is everything i have felt this past year condensed into five minutes of primal cathartic exegesis. it's my favorite song of this chapter in my life, up there with "best imitation of myself" and "spring and a storm." 

Compared to this time last year, are you: much happier, richer, nicer? 
still in school, so i'm not yet any richer.
i think i'm nicer, although my sarcasm and prickliness seem to come more often that i'd like.
i am happier, though.

What do you wish you'd done more of? 
quality work towards my portfolio and demo reel.

What do you wish you'd done less of? 
spending my time and energy fretting about how busy i was, instead of actually getting things done.

How did you spend Christmas? 
genuinely enjoying my family in minnesota, even without any snow.

Did you fall in love in 2011?
i came close.

What was your favorite TV program? 
ever since bin laden was killed, i've been hooked on the daily show.

What was the best book you read this year? 
steve jobs by walter isaacson.

What did you want and get? 
long hair.

What were your favorite films of this year? 
tree of life. as soon as i saw it this summer, i knew that was the best movie of the year.

then, a few days ago, i saw the artist. that's a solid second place and not too far behind tree of life.

What were your least favorite films of this year? 
i didn't have time to waste on lousy movies.

What were your favorite albums of this year? 
i just wrote about all the good music that came out this year in the previous post.
r.e.m.'s swan song was excellent.
we finally got a sophomore release from tally hall and were not disappointed.
and coldplay continued to keep up their (more or less) perfect record.
but since you know about all of them, i'm going to list quiet company's "we are all where we belong." 

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 
in the philosophy of "go big or go home," my big plans fell through, so i kept things low key this year; a hamburger and a japanese movie with a friend. i'm now 32.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? 
a cinnamon roll.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? 
"awakening": i'm realizing that i want to put more sensible thought into my fashion sense. and i'm working at it.

What kept you sane? 
my other half.

Who did you miss? 

Who was the best new person (people) you met? 
some really great artists at disney.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. 
that i would rather take the difficult road with deep valleys and great joys along the way than the smooth and mundane path.

What are you most excited for in 2012? 
once again, the things that i never would have imagined would happen. each year has brought really cool things. and i don't just mean those "mushy, meaningful little moments" kind of stuff. i mean things like, "i drove across america" or "i flew in a private jet." so, let's see what the next trip around the sun has to offer.
mostly, though, i'm just looking forward to 2013.

What are you least excited for in 2012? 
if the mayans are actually right about the end of the world on dec. 21, 2012. i won't even be out of grad school.