Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Great Divide

Being back in Canada is a little weird. It's great to be home, but never have I been more cringingly aware of certain vowel sounds in the Canadian tongue.

Never, too, have I felt more irritated at the socialist structure of things in Canada, in which it seems impossible to do anything unless you have spent three years "paying your dues" in order to qualify for the great priviledge of doing any job slightly more elevated than working in a call center.

So, still unemployed. Not counting tutoring gigs and freelance work. Spent yesterday flooding downtown's many ESL schools with resumes. I did a lot of sneaking into office buildings by sticking my foot in the door after someone left and then looking at the building directory for any listing that included the words "college" "international" "pacific" "english" "language" or "institute" and then trying to look as professional as possible (a challenge, as it's been hot and all the pavement-pounding and stair-climbing made me sweaty) while smiling big and handing them my resume, which includes a grand total of zero lies. The best ESL school name is "Eurocentres". Can you learn Euro-Trash-Talking there?

At one place, they made write a test. I pulled out all the stops with words like "transitive verb". Maybe they'll give me a job.

In the meantime, enjoy this tidbit I found in The Georgia Straight:

[Andrew Van Slee on the way young people are prepared for a career in film]:

"You're told to take a flag course... [seven years later] you a production assistant or a line producer, and then the production manager, and then you're making movies. The process stifiles creativity. Great, talented filmmakers end up standing out in the rain directing traffic because that's how they're told they have to do it."

Kinda makes you a self-hating Canadian.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Still Unemployed

Last night I saw "Sahara" or "Crest Whitestrips: The Movie". Despite the efforts of many nefarious Africans intent on making the world uninhabitable for their fellow citizens (which is what all Africans do, all the time), Matthew McConaughey just kept living, Steve Zahn just kept the lovable stoner act up (what is he, pushing 40? (tm)) and Penelope Cruz just kept being Penelope Cruz (beautiful to point of being weird-looking).

Sadly, none of the 800 screenwriters they had attached to the project could come up with any good dialogue, but people saying dumb things and MM posturing as the Messiah kept us rolling in the aisles when we weren't falling asleep. The film was another upstanding example of a giant movie with a huge budget and a shitty script and a lot of naive and offensive ideas about anyplace that's not America. Maybe that's why comedy is so hard-- because crap like this is providing us with so many laughs that it makes for some tough competition in the giggles market.

I also drank a total of 3 beers while walking around West Van and downtown. For some reason that felt much more illicit than walking through the city streets smoking a joint. Probably because of all the seats the Marijuana Party won a couple weeks ago.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Singing In The Almost Constant Drizzle

What better kind of holiday is there than Victoria Day? No obligation to really celebrate anything because, really, what are we going to do? Cover all tables with giant tablecloths lest their legs show and suggest human legs and what's between them? Wear corsets? Get syphilis from a whore? No, no, gentle Canadians, it's called May 2-4 for a reason. Nothing to do but chill-ax and enjoy the onset of summer.

Today Jeremy and I wandered around the green slopes of West Van and out onto the Dundarave Pier where we tried to continue our conversation but I was having a hard time paying full attention because I forgot how Vancouver looks in the summer, which is really really beautiful. No really, like really really really beautiful. The ocean and the trees are such dark colours of green and blue that when the sun finally hits them you could look at them all day and still see new colours. Soon it will be warm enought to swim, or warm enough to swim without feeling like your chest is going to seize up into a massive heart attack.

In other Vancouver news (and I may be getting paid cash-money to write that in the near future, I'll keep you posted), I went by MEC the other day and replaced my missing Nalgene bottle and also my falling-apart backpack. Though the backpack is practical, I'm starting to feel too old for it, so I went for a messenger bag. It's cheap, well-made, could look more or less professional and bad for my back. All the Grouse Grinders in the store were delightful, as was noting the "outdoor sports" area of town on Broadway that has grown up around the MEC store. All it needs now is a Scientology Center (Church? Landing Site?).

Thursday, May 19, 2005


When I first saw Rushmore, I was, like, mesmerized and I kept renting it and watched it maybe three or four times in a four month span. Then I got the soundtrack and listened to that, and you can confirm this with my roommates of the time, every day for the space of at least two months. Then my own obsessiveness started to scare me and I laid off.

And then I started to be aware of the cult of Wes Anderson and after throwing out some Bottle Rocket references and feeling cool, I began to feel like a bit of poseur for, you know, all of it. Including the fact that the sullen male teenaged factor at Frontier Video in WV would refuse to talk to you unless you rented a Wes Anderson film. Right.

Anyway, there are a lot of movies that I haven't seen and there are a lot of movies that I have seen that I need to see again now that I know more about movies. In short, my film cultural capital is pauvre especially now that my understanding about how film works is so very different than it was, say, a year ago. Now I watch movies and say things like "the foley was really melodramatic" and I'm not even making fun of myself. Well, maybe a little.

Anyway, I watched Rushmore again the other day, and damn if that isn't as good of a movie as I always thought it was. So quick and dirty, gets in late and out early, such great shots and compositions, such surprising and brilliant lines of dialogue. Most impressive, it all looks so intentional. Which seems all but impossible, right? How can you be that intentional and have it all work out? I really don't think you can. Movie Magic.

"Yeah, well I wrote and directed a hit play, so I'm not sweating it either."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Nerd Joy

The real reason I moved back to Vancouver for the summer is so I can live in WV and have access to the crackerjack library here. West Van is full of crumbly old people who read A LOT and have, often, lots of money which they then will to the library when they die. Or they, you know, split the cash between their cat and the library. Either way, the library has enough cash and circulation to make it freaking awesome.

When I was writing my thesis, the downtown library had one copy of this book I used a lot and it was in the reference section. The West Van library had three copies and you could take them all out.

It was at the West Van library that I got my copy of David Lee Roth's "Crazy From the Heat" for a single shining dollar. Hardcover. Stamped and dewy decimaled, but never put into circulation.

The person who buys the music at the West Van Library is a brilliant maniac. They seem to love Maria McKee and Joni Mitchell, but hot damn if the Hidden Cameras' first album isn't in the rack there, along with two Smog albums and some early White Stripes.

And the movie section. Brilliant. Today I picked up the Criterion "Yojimbo" and "Princess Mononoke" and "Badlands".

It was also in the West Van library that I got to see Dougie Coupland read (because it's his hometown library too) and where Jeremy and I found the most disturbing illustrated copy of "A Modest Proposal" that you could ever wish to have nightmares about.


Monday, May 16, 2005

I, Five

California is a really long state.

I knew this before, but never does it hit home like it does when you are at the bottom of it trying to get to the top.

Doretta and I set sail from LA on Wednesday at 3. We had all we needed for the trip: pita chips, lots of music, maps, a flat of bottled water, trashy magazines and a burning desire to get ourselves north of the 49th. My if-not-trusty-than-at-least-good-looking Volvo has no air conditioning, so one of the challenges of the trip was staying alert in what is, during the deadly 3pm to 7pm stretch, a very hot car.

But despite gusty winds, hot days, the smell of cow shit, cel phones on roam, incredibly salty Round Table pizza, semis with three trailers (C trains?), shocking glimpses of overcrowded cattle farms, scary roadside rusty metal sculpture and the fatalities of several thousand bugs, we did, indeed, make it home.

Doretta gets mad props for being a superstar DJ, for Doretta-dancing in her seat, for encouraging me to consume caffeine (which I normally never do), for agreeing to keep driving even when it got really late, for being smart enough to slink down in the front seat in order for me to successfully smuggle her into the HoJo's so we could get the single occupancy rate, for her beautiful squeegee work, for talking to me when I got tired and for singing along to Stephen Malkmus as we entered the fair city of Vancouver (a nuclear weapons-free zone).

Observations include: gee, Portland is a really lovely kind of place. and: what is wrong with Canadian border guards? Guy asks us how long we've been in the States and we're like "since January" and then he asks if either of us are bringing over $200 worth of stuff with us. What the hell kind of question is this? A: isn't the limit, like, $500 after 48 hours? and B: running shoes + headphones + a pack of gum = more than $200, n'est ce pas? Well, lying at the Peace Arch crossing is a time-honoured tradition for Vancouverites, maybe he was just trying to welcome us home.

But ah, kilometers. Ah, trees and ocean smells. Ah, loonies. Ah, Lions Gate Bridge. Ah, the green. Ah, the gentle constant rain, like Milton's Eden. Ah, me lovely friends. Ah, me ma, me pa, me bro. Ah, home.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Home Safe

Got all the way back to Sinclair Street safe and sound. Thrilling details of the road to follow.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005




Ready to go.

Found a lot of stuff I didn't know were in my room while packing. Mostly feathers from my bedding and lots and lots of dust. Too bad there's no vaccuum in this house that works (i.e., doesn't light itself on fire when you turn it on).

It's so strange that the year is over now. I didn't have any kind of mental projection for this stage in the process.

I feel sad about it.

But I'll have three days of driving to mull it over.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Almost Unhooking the Computer

Moving is like writing papers: the pain persists until your are finally, indelibly, out of the house and whatever you missed doing you can't fix now. The moving of my house, like the writing of the critical studies paper last month, really shouldn't be that difficult. I haven't lived here for very long and I don't have that much stuff and I'm leaving lots of it for my subletter anyway. It still is more or less sucky, though.

But, holy shit, by tomorrow I'll be leaving LA.

Good thing Dorrie's here to be my cheerleader and personal assistant.

Oh, and House of Wax sucks, except for the Paris Hilton sextape jokes and moments you've already seen in the trailer. The Dome at the Arclight is cool however, almost as cool as my dear black-eyeing, sushi-buying pal Alex.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Things I Can't Stop Doing

#1: Getting massive parking tickets
#2: This
#3: Skipping sleeping, eating and bathing for things related to USC movies. My god, isn't it rest time yet?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

It Wouldn't Be LA Without Famous People

Re: what I said earlier about more serious film postings and less rambling about nightlife: screw that.

James Iha, spotted tonight at our favorite dive bar, the Smogcutter. Accidentally elbowed me in the arm at one point. Had an entourage of cute indie rocker girls. Sang a song (the Who?) that was not "Bullet With Butterfly Wings". First time I've been in a karaoke bar with someone whose song is actually one of the options in the book.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

So Much Cute

Originally uploaded by r-stop.

Here it is folks, my 508 class. I think everyone looks a little wacky and overtired in this picture. But so lovable.

Boring Chitchat About Clothes, Or: Homework Due Tomorrow

Socks: I got these two pairs of socks last summer, that, at the time, I bought because I thought they were so ugly they were hot. They are very comfortable and sporty and have padded heels and go well with low-top Chucks and it's gotten to the point where I want to wear them every day and so I almost do, or at least I wear them two days before I wash them. I know socks are high on the list of things you are supposed to change everyday, but these socks are so damn ugly, by which I mean awesome, that I can't help myself. Sorry if they stink, folks; they're too cosy-feeling to resist.

Jeans: There are many ways to chart how the first year of movie school has taken its toll on my peers and me. Some people have gotten noticably chubbier, some people have gotten very thin. Some people have gotten many more white hairs (me) and some people's hair has fallen out. But everyone's jeans have gotten destroyed. I got new jeans within two weeks of moving here and I don't really like them so I try to wear them as little as possible, but they are still getting thin and shreddred and white in spots at a seemingly much faster rate than any other jeans I've ever owned. It's as if film school causes premature aging in pants. Witness the knee-holes and disintegrating hemlines of my fellow 508-ers and you'll see what I mean.

Unrelated to Clothes, but Still Mentioning Hair: Tonight, saw Angels of Light with Akron/Family. The theme of the evening was sitting: everyone was sitting, including all the people making music. That was fine, cause, you know, standing through a set I'm not super-duper invested in at shows makes me feel old because of how much my knees hurt afterwards. Still, the room would have had considerably more energy if we were standing and could clump excitedly around the stage, but hey. For some reason I felt really happy to be in a room with a bunch of people, under whatever circumstances. I guess I haven't realised the degree to which I've been in my own strange segregated-from-humanity world. But the band, the band was pretty great and hilarious to watch. You Pony readers know how much I love me some hippie, and everyone in the band had a beard and looked like your dad circa 1977. There were plastic flowers on the amps and a papier mache fish in a glass display box. The music came from the usual suspects (guitar, bass, drums) but also plastic kazoos and a xylophone and a necklace of bells. The seriousness with which the kazoo-kind of music was made was very entertaining, as was the constant guitar tuning of the most jesus-looking of the band members and the other band members' palpabably dwindling patience with it: "Zack's a great tuner" [Zack bobs head and smiles and tunes] Guitar: Dwinnnn dwooooooon, dwinnnn dwoooeeenn

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Love the Band, Hate the Fans

Today I was talking to a TA of mine who continually mixes me up with this other person in the class and when I pointed out that, yet again, she had done this, she said something along the lines of "you guys look the same, i don't know, brown hair, all-American girl..."

So now I'm having a crisis in which I want to start dying my hair bright red and orange again.

What the fuck? The only all-American thing I'm interested in is the Neko Case song.

After I told her that I was not, in fact, American, she told me about being in Barbados and realising that the rest of the world actually likes Canada; that it's only America that has this odd, resentful, disdainful attitude towards Canada. Where's Rick Mercer when you need him?