Friday, December 31, 2004

One thing that is always brought back to me when I get to live with my parents for a while is how much I love reading a decent daily newspaper. The Globe and Mail is no Guardian, but it is, at least, a fairly reliable and intelligently written (save Leah McLaren (fluffhead, but not even endearingly so) and Margaret Wente (deranged)) publication. I've been reading it online while in LA, but the online version doesn't have all the comment and random tidbit stories, as well, the online version doesn't spread out all over my kitchen table quite so well.

I don't know whether I am more or less happy at having the daily paper in the wake of the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, however. Participating in this event as a weepy-faced newsprint fiend leaves me feeling like yet another victim/perpetrator of our strange modern mediated kind of life.

On a somewhat related note, the Canadian government is matching donations by Canadians dollar for dollar. The kind of cash that's been pouring in from around the world is going to make the difference between a lot of people getting drowned and a whole lot of people dying from disease. Hey, more people died in the flu of 1918 than in the four years of war that lead up to it.

My dad and I were looking at the stats of people killed in natural disasters. The highest recorded number was over 3 million in a landslide in China in 1931. What was shocking was that this number doesn't come close to some of the massacres that we humans have practised on ourselves.

On a completely unrelated note:
I was in the Sally Ann looking for tapes for the car when I came across a cassette that warped my tender mind. The tape was called "I Hope You Find Jesus This Christmas" and the cover art was a photo of a plastic doll (with a clearly visible neck joint) swaddled in a yellow blanket with a empty cigarette pack, open, lying across its lap. Superimposed over this is a 1980s happy, reverant kind of man with a shag, looking down at the Christ child... or the empty pack of smokes, it's hard to tell. Anyway, pretty unbelievable, in all senses of the word. Didn't buy it; went home with Billy Joel's "An Innocent Man" instead.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Click Here to Send Money to Tsunami Victims

Hello Dear Readers.

Please donate to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to aid the relief effort in Asia.

They need your cash.


Friday, December 24, 2004

The Social Post (and some other stuff)

What more joy is there in the world than spending time with the other humans who know and love you? Really, pretty much everything pales in comparison.

These past four months have felt like a few weeks to me, but at the same time, certain things are creaky enough that I can tell it's been a while. All the same, some things just slip back into their old comfortable patterns, and this feels best of all.

Have been a perpetual guest at Janey's, stayed up obscenely late over tea with Doretta, done some writing brainstorming and riffed off some Archie comic jokes with Jeremy. The other night I saw Tobias, who I haven't seen in years. I can't remember how many. He seemed taller and I had forgotten what a happy giggly person he is. I finally heard him DJ something (after having been the kind of bad friend that, for years, never comes to your show) and it was great. Doretta and I fell asleep watching "M" (only cause it was 2:30 in the a.m) and the next night, I had the delight of sitting next to her as we watched "A Series of Unfortunate Events" unfold on the screen. She has this great, loud, assertive laugh that I think pisses everyone else in the room off and I get a lot delight out of this, and laugh loudly along with her. I love people who laugh loudly in theatres (Sarah! Genevieve! Alex!), it makes the movie ten times more fun. So this movie has been getting crap reviews, but just go see it anyway. Don't expect anything from the script, just go for Jim Carey calling the baby a "hideous primate" and saying "ba-na-na" to it.

Last week my mom had a party to go to on the same night her grade four class was singing in the Christmas concert, so I got to stand in for her. I like kids, and I think they're really funny, but trying to keep thirty grade fours quiet backstage when I don't know their names is less fun. One of the other teachers was obviously at the end of a very long term. She announced to the children that she was the "Noise Nazi" and that if they knew anything about Nazis, they knew that meant she had no tolerance for noise. Then she proceeded to buttonhole any child (even sweet nerdy quiet children) who even looked like make some sort of sound. This whole procedure left me particularly open-mouthed at an event that was unabashedly Christmas-fied and that contained not the slightest hint of any knowledge that not everyone digs on Christmas.

Anyway. Another shocking recent development is that I think my reading mojo is back. It vanished a year and a half ago (about the time when I quit my boring, get-a-lot-of-reading-done job), perhaps on account of upsetting myself by reading Coetze's "Waiting for the Barbarians" at work and feeling like I was being tortured? In any case, literary world, I'm back, having polished off Eden Robinson's "Monkey Beach" off in a week. Great book. My belief in the power of the written word has been resparked. Especially upon reading a letter that a distant friend posted on her blog about the advent of her sister's death three years ago. It contained so many details that are, well, cliches of the this kind of story, yet she managed to write about them with such a beautiful clarity and intimacy. Tragic and personal and utterly inspiring.

The Skiing Post

It's been two weeks since I got back to Vancouver. As Keanu would say, "whoa." Time flies when you are bunking in with your parents. Let me seperate the times into seperate posts. That way I can be verbose without actually seeming to be too very very verbose. You know?

Last weekend we did the annual family hole-up at Whistler, usually practised over Thanksgiving, but delayed for my sake this year. Drinks were drunk, board games were played and the eating was rich, sweet, fatty and non-stop. The mountains were open for skiing too, so I got to test out my weak little spaghetti legs (I went for a grand total of 4 runs the whole time I was in LA- that's one a month, to the day!) on the slopes for the first time in two years. The first day was pretty good, depsite the dearth of snow. It was a lot like spring skiing, actually, complete with rain down in the village. My legs held up pretty well and my new parabolic skies kept me from looking like too much of an idiot. I have to say, that for a couple of people on the north side of 55, my parents are damn fine skiers. Very in control, which is more than can be said for other members of the family (I spent much of the day trying not to cut off my mom as she made her measured turns down the hill).

On the second day, I went up with my brother Steve. He's a very good skier, so I was looking forward to the day for the speed, the fun, and the learning that comes with skiing with someone better than you. On the chair on way up the top half of the mountain we began to notice that a fair number of snowboarders were downloading their way off the mountain. One of them howled "beware the iccccccce" at us as his chair passed ours. Sure enough, we stopped chatting and listened to the skiing going on below us and all that we could hear was "scraaaaape. scraaaaape." Yikes. Turns out it had rained all the way up the top that night and then cold cold winds blew over it, scouring off any last remants of snow, a la praire dust bowl. Steve's girlfriend Sarah, who works on the mountain, and a ski patrol guy both said to us that the conditions of the day were the worst they had seen in ten years. They also said that this is what skiing back east is like. It was like skiing down the inside of a crusted over freezer.

About halfway through the day, as we were battling our way down another slick slope, hoping there were some scraps of snow on the bottom to stop on, it occured to me that if I fell going this fast on this kind of surface it would more or less be akin to being tossed out of a moving car onto cement. A steep cement hill, to be precise.

But no, no one died, at least no one I know (ski patrol guy said there were a lot of broken wrists that day) although Steve almost dropped a pole over some hostile-looking open creek bed.

Uh, skiing is so fun. So, so fun. Even in crap conditions. Dear Mom and Dad, thanks for teaching me to ski when I was small. I no longer feel stuck and start to cry at the top of steep hills.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Runaway Production

The first sign I was heading back from whence I came was how hungry I was on the Air Canada flight, on account of how they don't feed you anything. Yeah, sure, it's a two and change hour flight, and they did give me the whole can of pop (yes, pop) and not just the little plastic cupful, but come on, food and movies are the soma that makes you forget about how little leg room you have.

From the plane, Vancouver looked the way it almost always does in the winter: wet, dark, overcast, dour. God, it's great to be back. I never feel quite right about dry pavement.

I've never been away somewhere and come home for the holidays, so despite the elite training I have received on the topic from countless movies about this rite of passage, I'm ill-prepared for just how sweet it feels. So much happiness and joy to be home, to see everyone, to go to all the parties.

And how I love Vancouver. Really, it's a great place. It's a city, but a small city, so really, it feels like a town. I can walk down the street and see people I know, I can find common ground with strangers, I can watch the news and the story after the leading story (salvation army volunteers getting robbed of their donation buckets in malls) is about a good samaritan returning a wad of cash she found in the gutter. I love Vancouverites too. They are so unselfconsciously weird. There's a certain kind of average non-conformity that you sometimes see around here that I have never seen in a similar way in LA.

So yeah, I'm home for a bit. If you want to call me, I'm at my parents' house in WV. Let's hang out.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Ring O' Fire

I live on the second story of an old wooden house, so I frequently feel earthquakes up here, especially while sitting on a chair or lying in my bed. Other Angelinos have called me a liar, but really, I feel them. I think life in Japan honed my personal seismograph.

Anyway, there was one just now.

Today, while napping the post-final-exam late morning away, I feel like I felt at least two, but that could have been my addled brain.

I really like feeling little earthquakes. It makes me think of the tension released. It's so... Tori Amos? (sorry, that was cheesy)

Today was our last day of production class. Our teacher Gary wished us well and said, "and I love all of you" Ahhh, it was so great. I love everyone in our class too. My fondness for them shocks me sometimes.

So the kindergarten of first term is over. No more gluing macaroni to construction paper and calling it art, now I have to do things with actual film, like the medium. Just like the title of the degree.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Good Vibrations (I'm Talking 'Bout)

This post is dedicated to my bike.

Ahhhh, my bike, I love it so. I don't ride it so much these days as class runs after dark and I don't bike after dark (or walk--don't worry mom, I wheedle rides home out of classmates).

I bought my bike for sixty clams at the bike store on Vermont. I saw it one day out front, only ten dollars more than the crappy-looking bike next to it. Back when I was eight and my mom decided we could get a cat, we went to the SPCA and met a nice cat and left and my mom said if he was still there the next day, we'd get him. I remember being utterly frozen with anxiety that he would be gone, but the next day he was still there and we took him home. Getting my bike was a lot like that. It was still there the next day, so I bought it.

My bike is blue. It's an old Huffy beach cruiser, which means it has those nice wide handlebars and a big wide seat with springs and pedal brakes. It has a chain guard that says "Good Vibrations" in white scrawled script. Very California. I even have a basket on the front for groceries. And it's a girl's bike, so I can ride it with a skirt and also mount and dismount it with relative grace and ease. The seat is fairly low too, which helps with the simultaneously-braking-and-putting-foot-out-to-avoid-tipping-over problem.

In the first few weeks of ownership, both tires popped, both times when I wasn't even on the bike. The lady at the bike shop was very apologetic about it, especially when I came in for the second tire. She gave me a deal and did a speedy job on the inner tubes.

Things I can do on my bike without falling over include: answer my phone from inside my bag, button my coat, have a brief conversation with the crossing guard, ride off small curbs and over that massive upheaval of pavement just west of the Zemeckis centre.

Last week I finally collided with something on my bike. I say finally because I have long expected to collide with something, what with all the mingling with foot traffic I do, especially on campus. Of course, I collided with another bike, although we were amidst much foot traffic. This has bent the frame of the front wheel a little, which now wobbles in an endearing way, though does not rub on the frame.

I get a deep sense of contentment riding my bike very slowly next to a friend who is walking, especially between campus and the Zemeckis centre. There is no better wake-up feeling than feeling the air of the morning blow through my wet hair on the way to school. I feel like the coolest person in the world when I coast, standing on one side of the bike, up the small ridge of pavement to my driveway and step off to a walking pace right before the gate.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Long Live the Internets

All hail the information superhighway.

Yes, when I get asked what I want to do when I grow up, it's so hard to articulate an answer. Perhaps it's the fault of those pre-fab lists of professions. What I really want to do when I grow up is stuff like this.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Pining for the Fjords

So the other day I was washing some cutlery and I managed to give myself a big horrible cut on the inside of my finger. It's pretty ghastly. It bled a lot and I had to sit with my hand above my heart for a fairly long time before I even went to bandage it (a whole bunch of gauze and some bright yellow gaffer tape because I don't have any medical tape). Y'all are lucky I don't have a digital camera (and have not yet figured out how to upload photos).

The best thing about this is that I'd go and get stitches if this happened in Canada. As it is, I can't afford the deductible, so I'll just have a scar to remind me of the importance of universal health care.

Luckily, I have a heavily annotated BC Health Guide to assure me that a scar is the worst that's going to happen with it. Thanks Gordon Campbell!

Monday, November 29, 2004


So on Thursday I got to go to the O.C. Just like on TV, folks. Actually Josh Schwartz is a USC grad, or, in another way of putting it, part of the USC mafia that runs the show(s).

It was nice out there. The air was clearer and the ocean was visible and the streets have nature-themed names.

I was there for American Thanksgiving with Ms. Lebo and her family. I really love Thanksgiving. It's so secular and the central theme of the giving of thanks is so scarce in Western culture. Granted, it's got some sketchy roots (the pilgrims killed all the First Nations people, whaaaaa?), but the overall tone of family get-together for feasting and all-round appreciation of our daily bounty makes me feel warm all over. I was very sad to miss my own family's Thanksgiving this year, although the surprise of a dinner at Geoffrey's on the night of Canadian Thanksgiving did make me feel considerably better about being unable to defend my long-reigning Balderdash champion title. Anyway, surely Mom will make the broccoli casserole for Christmas?

But off to the O.C. for the warm family feelings of someone else's family! (or: feeling affection without also feeling slightly irritated!)

Sarah's aunt Susie is pretty awesome. When I met her for the first time last month, she told me that she'd been reading this here blog, which caused me to have a brief out-of-body experience in which I considered for the first time that people other than those who put up with me on a daily basis might actually read this stuff. When we got to her house, she had pages from mine and Sarah's blog printed out and up on the fridge. I feel famous already.

The highlights from the day include: the food (well, obviously. and of course the smell of the cooking turkey. and the pecan pie for dessert, which I evidentally enjoyed a lot, as I found little bits of it stuck to my shirt later), the setting (charmingly mismatched glassware, endearing hand-made placecards, a garden I'd give my eyeteeth for), the games (frisbee, in which I accidentally hit the smallest member of the party in the mouth and made her cry, daisy-chain making, in which I got to assist young Miss Katie, and picture bingo, in which the aforementioned youngest member of the party, Miss Lily, was told to call certain winning pictures by her grandfather or she'd be "in big trouble"), and of course, the people.

It gets the pump primed for all the partying and holidaying of December, this Thanksgiving at the end of November, doesn't it? I'm only too happy to make like Captain Torrance and bring it on.

Friday, November 26, 2004


Check this out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Market Instability

So yesterday the house I live in got sold. Yikes. I'm not really sure what this means yet. I'm really hoping it doesn't mean I have to move, because quite apart from the intense suckiness of trying to find somewhere to live and moving, I really don't want to leave where I live. I've discovered I've become very attached to it and its funny little details: roses along the driveway to the back of the house, the birds that nest above my closet and sing through the window in the morning, the farmers' market down the street on Wednesday afternoons.

But then, maybe with that hard-hitting Canadian dollar, I could afford somewhere good. Who knows what will happen with that. Like my dad says, "Nobody."

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Smog Show

Oh, Smog. Why do I love you so? The moroseness? The spaciness? The frequent references to horses and the country? Waiting through chord progressions to hear the end of the sentence?

The first time I saw Smog, he was an angry man, hating the crowd. At the end of the set, he leaned into the mike to say "Go Home" and then stalked offstage, despite the earnest appreciation of the crowd. Oh Vancouver indie rockers and their clear-cut cultural norms of what you do and do not do at shows.

The second time I saw Bill Calahan, he was downright chipper, making jokes about the ATM that was right next to the stage and most significantly, making prolonged eye contact with individual audience members (including, at one shocking point, me) and content with the rapt reverence of the people listening. Because really, Smog is all about listening and people who are not listening closely miss it. I think this is why he sings such slow, drawn-out lyrics of such........

........undulating beauty.

Last night we saw Smog at Spaceland in Silverlake. I don't like LA indie kids all that much. Too exuberant or something. I'm used to Canadian indie kids who are clinically depressed (it's a big part of the national identity, that) and somber with small pockets of potential happiness secreted about their persons.

So anyway, I don't think Bill likes LA very much, which is fine because, between you and me and the fencepost, there's a lot to hate. He played all new stuff and then four good ol' songs. In that order. Kind of rude, perhaps, but we let the artist have his way. At one point he said, "we're getting ready to record an album, so we're practicing." Some of the new songs are pretty killer. In particular, the song about the well and the song about the country (of course) and a song about "show me the colts". The bassist looked like Shelley Duvall and was a weird and captivating limp noodle with a beat throughout. The drummer had been salvaged from the galley of a 18th century mercantile ship and looked like Dean Paul Gibson. He played the drums with a loosey goosey flair and looked like he would have preferred to play standing up so he could dance properly.

The most significant moment of the evening was when Bill said, "This is an eight show tour... ...and you're the best audience so far." Then he started to say something else, which I'm pretty sure was, "And we've got seven more shows after this." But he was drowned out by self-congratulatory cheering. Which was perfect.

Whatever. I think the man gets a lot of fuel out of being misunderstood. Also, he was sporting a pale fifteen-year-old's moustache.

Judy May Be A Punk, But Robyn Is A Filmmaker

The good times abound.

I shot the last of my final project yesterday, a slightly sad moment, but also relieving. I'm pretty happy with what I've got on that one. More and more, heading into a shoot is like having my skull in a tourniquet, but once the camera starts rolling and the actors start making really strange and wonderful choices with my material, I fall in love with both my story (again) and with the idea of making movies. It's a wonderful feeling.

On Saturday I helped out on Mr. Jordan Innes's shoot. Yeah, it's a rock opera, set in snowy woods. I hope I'm not giving too much away by saying that, but the footage is as or more awesome then you can imagine. Let's just say there's a lot of really gloppy fake blood involved. And yes, we did shoot in real snow, up in Big Bear park in San Bernadino county. The air up there was shockingly clear and clean. And cold, as it turned out. And I was the only person on the shoot wearing boots.

When I get back to Vancity (December 12, if you want to know), I really want to go into my mom's grade four class and talk with them about movies. I mean, I love visiting my mom's classes anyway, and I love chatting with anklebiters about topics of interest, but the thought of talking about movies with a class of them makes me so excited. I'm planning out a little curriculum in my head already. Please, mom?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Crazy from the Crazy

Now this is why I read the news.

David Lee Roth continues to outdo himself. Hey, he does more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.

(By the way, if you haven't already, here's a must-read.)


I think the worst part about being sick is being tired all the time and staying home too much and generally feeling like your head is going to explode. I've been pacing around my house like a caged animal for the past week or so (or it feels like the past week: maybe it's only been four days), wadded up tissue everywhere, awash with tea and palpating my lymph nodes.

Plus, and let's be honest, I've been trying to write and I'm heading into another shoot, which also creates the caged-animal feeling. A combination of panic and procrastination. Somehow, I often emerge on the other side of this with stuff that I'm pretty happy with, but is the misery of going through this, uh, creative process worth what I produce? Sometimes yes, sometimes, perhaps no.

The other weird side of this is that I've been ravenously hungry the past two days. Eating everything in sight and while eating, wondering what else I have around that is edible. Surely this is not healthy, maybe I've been eating very little over the previous few days? I don't remember.

Don't worry, I'll have the day from hell tomorrow, culminating in the bulk of my shooting, and then the fever will break and things will settle down into the studious lull of editing. But now I must go and sharpen the 30 pencils I bought today so they are all ready for action on set tomorrow night.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Tart and Tiny

So earlier this evening I was in Ralph's getting some brown sugar and I was standing at the 10 items or less checkout.

The first thing you need to understand is that this neighbourhood is an odd and, I think, uncomfortable mix of poor people who are mostly not white and rich college kids who are mostly white. We all meet at Ralph's, which has "USC Trojans" banners hanging from the ceiling and security guards at the doors.

It's homecoming this weekend, which involves football and a lot of people walking around in USC clothing and I think alumni? It smells like drunkenness and charcoal briquettes and Ralph's was chock-full of frat kids buying vats of margarita mix and black and Latino families buying groceries.

So I'm standing in line with my 69 cent box of brown sugar, sort of absently looking around at the crowd. In front of me is this mom with two little kids who are small explorers and then a man buying lots of bottled water (that's something else: everyone drinks bottled water here. Everyone. I thought that just pretentious actresses did that). The little boy is tiny, like he just stopped being a baby, like knee-high to a grasshopper. He's walking around by my feet with a little plastic tube of candy in hand. I was prepared to see the traditional beg-for-candy-at-the-checkout move from this tiny child, but no, instead he starts pull up the hem of his shirt, revealing a tiny pocket in his tiny sweatpants. In goes the tube of candy and he trots out after his mom, who has paid for the groceries and is leaving.

The moment that I realise that this baby boy has stolen some candy, I look away, right into the eyes of the man in front of me in line, who gives me this intense look that says, "Don't say anything." And really, I wouldn't, because jeez, the kid is practically an infant. And plus, I'm the rich white college kid and they are the poor black family, so really, it's completely out of my league to say anything. A strange moment, mostly because of the man and the way he looked at me. It was a fixative, his gaze; he knew exactly what I saw because he had seen it too and he had already anticipated what I might do about it and was preventing it by nailing me to the floor with this look. It was a personal request on his part, but at the same time it was made along the political lines of him being black and local like the little family and me being white and privileged. Saddening, because it was a connect that only served to highlight our disconnect.

And then the moment passed and we each bought our food and went off into our own worlds.

Friday, November 12, 2004

I Love Trash

Who knew, but you can buy cheap VHS tapes of very recent movies in thrift stores here in LA. Here's a clue as to why: they come in almost blank boxes that say the name of the movie, and "For Your Consideration" and "Not for Distribution or Resale." Screeners, gentle reader.

So yeah. Genius. And I got a raw silk cardigan for three bucks. Me and Randy Newman, we love LA.

Bang Bang Bang

The last week has been a little Chaplin-esqe.

First, I get a black eye. It's kind of entertaining: I wake up every morning wondering what it will look like. It went from a light purple wash, to a darker, angrier purple right over the inside corner of my eyelid. Then the yellow started, right up to my eyebrow. An alarming canary yellow for a few days, fading out now to more of an old newspaper yellow. Will it turn green next? Isn't yellow the last stop for the bile of bruising? The good thing is that this aurora borealis light show is above my eyelid only, so, while I have been getting some weird looks from people, I think they are more of the "wow, you have some strange asymmetrical eyeshadow choices" variety, rather than, "oooh, your boyfriend do that?" Stella Kowalski I am not.

Then, on Monday night I went to drive to another all-killer-no-filler Fistful of Nothing show and whoops! where's my car? I park on the street, so I wandered around a bit thinking that maybe I parked it down the block and forgot? Then I wondered if recent blows to head (see above) have disturbed my brain in such a way that it would cause me to forget, like, giving the car away or something? Then I started to have to seriously consider that it was stolen. I stayed calm and logical, and was already wondering how much money I would get for it from insurance and if that would allow me to buy another nice old Volvo when the policewoman on the phone says, yep, looks like the Department of Transport has your car.

Well, yippee, but what the hell'd they tow it for? Because the plates still shout "foreigner"? Because it was broken into and they didn't want to leave it on the street?

According to the cryptic note on the ticket, I somehow managed to park my car blocking someone's driveway? What? Why would I do this? The Pixies have asked it before and I'll ask it again: Where is my mind? Not looking out for driveways, apparently. The lead singer of Fistful of Nothing kindly gave me a ride to get my car out of hock (nothing like picking up your car from the tow lot with a black eye; a classy feeling) and gave me a pat on the back when we learned how much the final bill was. I paid two weeks rent to get it back, and we drove home, my car and me. I know you're not supposed to feel emotional connections to big hunks of machinery, but I [heart] my car and I'm glad it wasn't hurt.

Also, I think I'm getting sick, despite guzzling vitamin juice and hearty soup. But that makes three, so the run should be over.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

You Should See The Other Guy

Yesterday I got my first black eye ever. I am so excited. It keeps changing colour. This morning it was a light purple wash over my eyelid. Then this red blotch showed up, and now there's a blue-ish arc developing in a sort of semi-circle above my eyelid. I wish I had the camera this weekend.

I got the black eye from knocking skulls with Brooke at BJ's birthday party. Knocking skulls very hard, I might add. The back of her heard collided with my forehead just over my left eyebrow. Later, the birthday boy dumped a creamer on my head, but only after I drizzled a bit on his head, but then, he antognized me into doing it, so really, we're both equally to blame.

Add this to the list of tramautic things to happen here.

Thing one was getting rear-ended with Sarah at a stoplight back in August. This spacy woman just drove right into us without stopping. It was so loud and so big and jolting and scary. My sunglasses flew right off my face. Although I didn't admit to myself at the time, it made me scared of the world, and particularly, of LA, for several weeks.

Thing two involved going to see a show at the Malibu Beach Inn in September, after which we (Brooke, Sarah, TJ, Jordan, and me) decided to go across the street to the beach. Then we decided to go swimming. It was around 2:30 in the morning. Later that morning, Brooke was out on the pier we had been splashing around next to and everyone is looking over the railing into the water and oh, what are they looking at? Oh, sharks. Little sharks (5 feet) but still. I swam with sharks, folks. In the dark. Remind you of the beginning of any movies?

The moral of the story is that none of this killed me and therefore it all makes me stronger. Right? Right. Now I make it all into movies!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

World Gone Wrong

On Tuesday morning I was walking to school and the parking lot at Ralph's was full of US Sheriffs with fatigues and bullet-proof vests and machine guns sitting in 15-seater passenger vans. Going off to vote, no doubt.

It's a sad day in Mudville, and it's only going to get sadder.

On the upside, my crazy film idea worked. It made people in class talk about ideas: immensely gratifying. Now that I have a firmer harness on how to make people feel things using film, I think I will start thinking about how to make the world a less sad place.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Royal Canadian Mint is coming out with a poppy quarter for Remembrance Day that has a red centre! Wowee zowee.

I'm going to put one under my pillow and make a wish for America for voting day tomorrow. Roommate Caesar predicts that guns will be fired into the air and people will swarm the streets. I predict that six of one will equal half a dozen of another.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Another Head Birth

Brooke showed me this magazine spread on the seven steps of being a director. Step one: purchase a rubik's cube. Step two: jumble it up. Step three: get on a roller coaster and attempt to solve the rubik's cube over the course of the ride while everyone watches. Repeat step three until complete. It went on from there.

I finished shooting film three the night before last and Jebus if the metaphor above ain't damn accurate. Every shooting cycle for these films is traumatic and stressful. It's a full moon to my werewolf. The adage of 'all that matters is what gets on film' (or in my case, DV tape) is correct, but man, getting that stuff on film, it's like rolling a boulder up a mountain (well, actually, my reference there is slightly off, because maybe if there was footage of Sysiphus getting to the top he wouldn't have to roll the boulder up every day?).

Anyway, the process of figuring out where your legs need to take you to so that you can point your magic movie box at something or someone so that eventually it might add together with something else and mean something is, yeah, a mountain.

For this past film, I had other stuff in the can from the weekend, but I was pretty sure a bunch of Terrence Mallick shots wouldn't get this project off the ground alone, so the bulk of my story I shot on Wednesday night with two actors. Whatever could have gone wrong that day more or less did, from the time I woke up (4:30) onwards (and I was whistling in the dark with no real plot or story for my actors; just a situation) but somehow, when it came time to shoot, everything fell together into one beautiful, nine-minute take in which the world sang in harmony for my camera.

Now I just need to wipe the ambiotic fluid off this screaming infant of a film and blanket it up into a bundle and put a little hat on it.

So that in three weeks I can do it again.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Fall On My Sword

Oh crap. It's raining like a mofo right now. And it's supposed to keep raining, and raining and raining, well into tomorrow night, which is when I want to shoot a movie outside.

Hmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Damn, what am I going to do?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Mom, Mail Me Some Sweaters

I got a pamphlet from my bank, a SoCal bank, that suggests I should "think bigger this holiday season and upgrade the heating system to protect against bitter California winters."

Yes, I know. I laughed a lot at that too. However, it actually has been a bit chilly here these days, or maybe I'm just exhausted and being tired all the time has brought on the shivers.

On Friday I stayed up all night with my trusty crew filming things: railroad tracks, power stations, electrical poles against the light-polluted sky. Then we drove out to the hills of Malibu to film the sunrise. We had breakfast in the Valley at the most awesome diner ever. All the waitresses looked like they'd been beat around the head with whiskey bottles all night and then put some eyeliner on and came in to work. I had pancakes that arrived with, I swear to god, at least 3/4 of a cup of margarine skating around on top of them.

My next film is a bit of a crazy experiment for me, compared to the first two. I've been more than a little disorganised throughout the planning and exucution of it. This is intentional because I want the film to spring up from what I managed to gather, rather than having a very clear cut gathering plan. I don't really sew with patterns anymore, or cook with recipes often, so why not shoot without a clear script? I will never end up shooting exactly what I envision, so I'm trying to detach myself from trying to capture something intentional and specific and instead be delighted at what turns up.

Continuing the exhaustion thread, I got four hours of sleep during the day on Saturday and then forced Jordan to give me a ride to Sarah's pumpkin carving night of festivity. Much fun was had and I think some incriminating photos were taken. You'd have to check with Sarah, though. Good times, better company. TJ and I carved a brilliant Gollum pumpkin. Brilliant.

Then, last night, because the film I'm making is set at a train station in the middle of the night, I went to a train station in the middle of the night. Clay, production manager extrodinaire, got us in with his trademark earnest sweet-talkin' and I got a bunch of shots of, uh, ties and rails and benches. (And I had yet another moment of panic that this haphazard way of filming is doomed for failure) Plus, I really thought were going to get arrested and sent to Guantanomo Bay. The place was deserted and Clay was rocking some incredible Buddy Holly glasses, that with his beard and handlebar moustache, make him less than inconspicuous. But we managed to get out unscathed.

And now I think I'm going to bed. Cause the heat just switched on. Brilliant. Night.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


Very perfectly, it is raining right now. I am excited at the prospect of going to bed in a few minutes and falling asleep listening to the rain.

It's been an autumnal weekend.

After a fun but excruciatingly busy week involving shooting movies (or, well, one movie: TJ's) up at a horse ranch in Malibu all weekend (with all the dust you would expect in such a venture in hair, nose, etc.) then mad mad mad editing frenzy of trying to edit my own movie into a kind of shape for Thursday while hurdling one midterm on Tuesday and a second one on Thursday, this weekend I've allowed myself to unwind (unravel?) a little. (Actually, the active kind of unwinding took place Thursday night singing karaoke at a dive bar in Silverlake called the Smog Cutter while being berated by a smart-assed, foul-mouthed lady by the name of Sunshine)

So I got to run all the kinds of errands that are fun to run for oneself this weekend: buying groceries, washing the soild inch of grime and dust off my car, laundry, sleeping in, making muffins, watching movies (yes, watching movies counts as an errand--I'm in movie school!).

Best of all, it's been a little chilly this weekend; there's a bit of a nip in the air. When I went to school to watch a movie this morning, it was rife with the collegiate celebrations of parents' weekend/football game. Not a fall thing I'm used to, but very much like something out of the back of Martha Stewart Living. The library smelled like bonfire during my entire viewing of 'In The Mood For Love'. The house across the street from mine (the one with all the little doggies) has great Halloween decor on the porch.

And now, oh blessings from the sky, it is raining. I can't wait to go outside tomorrow and see what this world looks like with slightly less dust.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Hello Navel

I'm getting better at churning out ideas for things to film. Good ideas, too. For a while, this was the hardest thing ever: come with an idea! make it a good idea! okay, good, now: shoot it! now!
But the most common thing to blurt out to yourself or others these days in Cinema-Television Production class is, "that's a film".

Stories about how you broke certain bones, friends who get attacked by knife-wielding maniacs, who said what in the bread aisle at Ralph's (oh Ralph's, knowing you now makes me understand The Big Lebowski that much better). It all adds up to movies.

It's getting a little obsessive for me. Can I make a film based on the Smog song "River Guard"? Can I shoot a non-sensical story based on what happened today as I was biking home at dusk (I rode past two people on bikes talking about how biking to and from school was their favorite part of the day and one person said, "I love riding my bike" and I said, "Me too".)? How about a mockumentary? Oooooooh lemme at it.

I'd shoot a movie about Derrida getting a haircut, but someone already did that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Ongoing observations include:

1) Most freeway entrances are controlled by stoplights during rush hour. There's a light that turns green every few seconds and one car goes at a time. So, you know, there aren't big globby clots of traffic flow on the freeway. Oh wait, there are anyway. How totally mad crazy would it be without those things? The good thing is that everything is usually moving so slowly anyway that you don't really have to worry about going from zero to eighty on just a few yards of asphalt.

(notice how I said "yards" there? did you like that? that reminds me that I probably should note down kilometer to mile conversion for my dashboard so that I can figure out how fast I am going. alternatively, I could just stick to driving in LA. traffic and I would never need to know.)

2) There's a handy thing in my shower that allows you to turn the water on and off without changing the temperature. Genius. They should have these everywhere.

To depart from the stated topic, or maybe not, you decide: I really don't have an accent-- everyone else does. I have been enduring some razing lately for saying "sorry" too much (and for saying "sorry" instead of "sahrry") and also for my pronounciation of the word that means the opposite of "in". You know what I'm talking about (oops). It's good-natured razing, but it's starting to give me a complex, nonetheless. Anyway, discovering cultural divides is always a little shocking: don't people know that "elastic band" is another way of saying "rubber band"? Or that a Caesar is a Bloody Mary? Or that "phone" can be a verb?

So many moments of surprising foreigner-ness; unexpected.

Oh, and that's "ash-falt".

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

L.A. Moment

Read the Onion's "News In Brief" No. 5 this week for a description of where I do all my grocery shopping.

And yes, I could see that happening at the La Brea and 3rd TJ's because at least half of the people there are shopping for more than food, if you know what I mean.

Jeez, and this summer there was an Onion "News In Brief" about the USC film school grad working at a video store. Are they following me?

Your Local Recycling Program

A couple weeks ago, someone put a loveseat out on the sidewalk on West Adams. It's possible that it was a fully functional loveseat at first, but by the time I saw it, it had been pulled apart into pieces and stacked up in a pile.
The next day, some of the pieces were gone and the pile had diminished slightly. The day after that, all the upolstery fabric was gone, leaving the yellow foam exposed. The day after that, some one had wiped their very dirty hands on the yellow foam, leaving small streaky handprints. The day after that, the pile had dimished again. I'm hoping someone will start in on the foam, leaving just the frame of the thing. Then maybe the frame will get pulled apart, leaving just a stack of random couch bones.
Is it one person revisting this couch over and over again, or is it a variety of people, getting their specific needs filled with what the couch provides?
Damn, the more I think about this, the more it sounds like my next film.
And a note the city's recycling program: you are supposed to throw anything recyclable into your big black bin and they come and pick it up, but they don't need you to seperate anything. Does this mean that they have some method of picking apart the mess of can, bottles, paper, newspaper, plastic containers and everything else at the recycling plant? How do they do it? Or does it all, actually, just go in the garbage?
Discovering love and practical uses for old things is still my favorite form of recycling. The couch person (people?) inspire me.

Friday, September 24, 2004

An Open Letter to LA Drivers

Dear L.A. Drivers,

Let me start off by acknowledging your special situation as drivers in this particular city. We all know that the transit system sucks (the fact that it advertises itself by urging us to "travel smart" is just another instance of hilarity in advertising). We also all know that this city is a weird conglomeration of districts with no clear center and getting from any one to any other necessitates the car. City planners thought they had created the city of the future with all those freeways but all it has meant is gridlock; I think it's pretty clear to everybody that there are just too many of us.

L.A. Drivers, I admire your mad skills when it comes to maneuvering your way around town. I thought I was a pretty good city driver back in Vancouver, but some of you leave me speechless with your bobbing, your weaving, your floating, your stinging. It's the stinging I'd like to discuss.

L.A. Drivers, I know it's a thrill to find an empty freeway, and I certainly can sympathize with the desire to whip around those beautifully engineered and banked curves. But a good driver is more than someone who can floor it; a good driver knows how to get through the traffic system in a way that supports that system. This means that sometimes you have to slow down. Sometimes you even have to stop. And signals: those things are more than just decoration, they serve to communicate to other people just exactly what it is you plan to do from your position, say, in the middle of oncoming traffic. Do I need to bring up the massive dents in your cars, L.A. Drivers? We've all seen them. What do you think those are from?

Please take these gentle suggestions into consideration.

Yours truly,


P.S. You have great left turns!
P.P.S. I know some of you are totally insane. Please avoid white Volvo station wagons from the eighties.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Modern Piracy

This first semester of film school is sort of boot camp situation. The idea is to get us to be on a constant cycle of pumping out little movies. On any given week, I'll be either in pre-production (writing, casting, getting locations), shooting, or editing, or, worst case scenario but likely, some combination of all three.

This brings up the problem of trying to write something that is decent enough to shoot. Anyone who enjoys a random sampling of the movies that get made these days knows that this is easier said than done.

Most of the time, I write stuff based entirely on small ridiculous details. I wanted to write something that involved a man putting on chapstick (because it's so great to watch: the action of applying chapstick is exactly like applying lipstick, and some men seem completely self-conscious about this fact, but others seem to just not know where their lips are) and this turned into a non-dialogue seven-pager about something totally different. So I'm searching for these little twigs, these little hooks to get me going.

I received a gem of a book for my birthday. I had admired it many a time at Michael's house and he somehow convinced his roommate to part with it: Modern Pirates by one Stanley Rogers, pub'd 1939. It's all about mishaps on the high seas in modern (ie- 1800 onwards) times. You'd think there were more things to worry about in 1939 than publishing books on swashbuckling that use the word "coolie" without quotation marks, but apparently not.

The true value of this book lies not in reading it through, but in flipping it open at random and reading one or two sentences at a time. Check it out:

"Wheeling round and looking aft he saw a sight that froze his blood. Captain Wilkins, with his shirt spotted with blood, had sunk on his knees on the deck."

"He probably could not swim, for he threw up his hands and went down without reappearing again. This man knew the penalty for piracy was death, and he had evidently preferred to take this way out rather than face inevitable execution."

"As the head rolled on the deck it was the signal for a general attack on everyone on board."

So, yes, highly dramatic, brilliant (in the British sense) writing, dastardly schemes and bitter betrayals and all. I think cornstarch and red food colouring is the key to fake blood, but checking up on that is my next step.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Crazy From The Heat (with apologies to David Lee Roth)

On the weekend, I had the thrills and chills (and sunburns) of shooting my first short.

The absolute best part was when one of my actors started eating this meal and I was set up for the shot, and got the shot, but he just kept eating, and eating and he was eating so well, you know, it was such brilliant eating that I just kept rolling and grabbed the camera off the tripod and just kept shooting and he kept eating and I kept rolling and it was like, you know, so kind of cheesy, so cliched student film, but I tell you, he ate the hell out of that meal.

Also: there is some sort of AA meeting place on Catalina and West Adams. I drove past it the other night and it was alight with fluorescent glow and astroturf and evangelical amplified voices and folding chairs and believers. The sign says "Sobriedad" and the doors are like shutters, like half-way-up-the-doorway swinging doors with wooden slats, like, well, like saloon doors really, and isn't this part of the problem?

On Sunday I'm going to buy a bag of cherries and ride my bike down to the Zemeckis building across the street from the Shrine Theatre and watch Susan Lucci walk the red carpet, wanna come?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

My Neighbourhood and Other Animals

So the first thing you need to understand is that I live in South Central LA. I feel like it is "techincally" South Central because I am only just south of the #10 freeway (it lulls me to sleep at night), but nonetheless, sketchiness abounds in the blocks around my lopsided old green and white house.

I spend a lot of time in my room, because 1) I just moved here and don't really have much of a life beyond school, 2) I have a lot of reading to do and 3) I like my room. It's so freaking hot here that all available windows are always open, in my house and everyone else's (except, of course, for those lucky bastards with a/c) and this results in a lot of interesting ambient noise.

As I write this, I can hear the latino hip hop (heavy on the bass) of a passing car, distant children screaming at the tops of their lungs, overhead jets, car alarms, and the freeway.

Maybe it's just because I'm taking a brilliant class in film sound from Tom Holman, but I feel the need to list and categorize the ambient noise of my neighbourhood.

First up are the dogs. When I have the back door open and the windows in my room, the noise comes in in stereo. Across the street live three little hilarious dogs and two big scary dogs. The three little dogs hold frequent, frantic conferences that involve running in circles and propping their stumpy little legs up on the chain link to bark at nothing. Sometimes all five dogs get going at once, but that usually means that the neighbourhood kids are dancing around on the other side of the fence, taunting them.

The kids. This street is all about kids riding double on bikes, kids on horrifically small and loud mini motorcycles, kids running up and down and across and all over the street and screaming, all the time, screaming. Very possibly there is a non-stop tag game going on here.

The kids, of course, draw the ice cream and candy trucks, of which there are three that make constant rounds, each singing a tinny tune more pedophilic than the last (one actually starts its tune with hyper happy cartoon voice that says "hello!")

But it's a happy place. For the past two Saturday nights there have been big happy loud house parties that involve some kind of Spanish polka and dance music. Last night I heard the unmistakeable strains of "Achy Breaky Heart" in Spanish and last week the house across the street (not the one with the dogs, next door, right beside the one that was on fire two weeks ago) had some song playing that sampled the X-files theme song. This, with the frequent car alarms, backfiring engines, and helicopters overhead at midnight, makes for aural landscape that makes me feel truly part of the district, even when I don't want to be.

Oh, and someone down the block got a rooster last week.