Thursday, December 29, 2005

Book Quotient

So when I flew up to Vancity I had a couple of particularly boxy Christmas gifts in my bag, but when I fly down again to L-dot, I plan to have books filling up that space.

And not books on film, no. All you well-meaning people who gift me with heavy books on movies, thank you, god bless you, but the last thing I want to turn my attention to these days are books about movies. Blah blah blah movies. I want novels. I only watch movies to get things you can't put down in print (except in novels, stories, poems) anyway. I actually think we all do. And books called "Film School... In A Book!", well. Novelty, yes. But, not to get all braggy, I'm too busy taking classes from, uh, Oscar-winners to read that stuff right now. But the thought, is, yes, appreciated.

Also, I'm starting to think that my Big Plan of making myself Extremely Busy during the spring by taking Twelve Credits and working Two Jobs may actually be really stupid. It's true that being busy in L.A. equals being happy for me, but now that I think of it, being insane in L.A. equals behing unhappy for me.

Les holidays were fantastic. So many babies around.

My smaller small cousin has turned from a three-year-old boy who refused to speak and instead made rrnnnnnnnghhh sounds like Frankenstein and shoved people a lot into a six-and-a-half-year-old-boy that brings Christmas presents and spontaneously hugs and says "I love you" a lot. My less small small cousin is now eleven and reads more and is less shy now. I gave her a fantastic book a couple years ago called "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" about a girl who joins a band of pirates. Her teacher said it ws inappropriate to read in class. Her teacher is crazy.

I got a nice watch for Christmas. And the most incredible t-shirt ever. And a tea cosy.

I just had dinner with high school friends and no one could finish a story because everyone kept interrupting. We know each other too well to be formal, but not at all anymore because you never hear a complete tale. And I think to some degree we all kind of hate each other. The way you hate people who have witnessed you in all your ugly ducklingness and you them but you don't really talk about it. Weird. Though not unpleasant per se. I think we all still get together out of old loyalty, nostalgia, and curiosity.

It's rainy and the clouds make shapes.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Also, after reading pages from Jeremy's Feng Shui book I can't stop thinking about my colon. Merry Christmas!

The Oncoming Tide of Yule

A good gift, Christmas or otherwise, is something that you want but you wouldn't buy for yourself. Hence anything called a "gift store" is sure to be full of all kinds of mostly useless doohickeys. Now, luckily for anyone getting me a gift, there are currently a whole bunch of things that fit this category, including most meat products at the grocery store and more than one kind of cheese at a time. And, you know, shoes, haircuts, all those things that seem so expensive as to ultimately be unnecessry when you are spending a lot of money on tuition and not taking very much in in wages.

In the past week, I have discovered the new Marshall (Family) Plan of Christmas shopping. Go in the store, follow the person around, get them to try on things, consult with them over size, discuss which colour they like and then tell them to go find their mother. Meet up with them in five minutes carrying a bag with the name of the store you were both just in on it. Continue to the next store.

This is completely unsubtle and yet so brilliant I can't get over it. As my mother will eagerly attest, I'm a picky bugger to shop for, especially for clothes (cf: arguments over how fabric should behave when covering one's posterior, Summer 2005) and this just solves everthing so neatly.

And anyway, the thrill of opening the unknown is highly overrated. Like when I was in Japan and for Christmas I just wanted my mom to send me own belongings, rather than random new stuff. Anyway, my mom's penchant for hiding unwrapped presents under the bed of the person she's going to give them to often spoils that. This kind of shopping is smart in the same way premarital sex is smart. Both also fun to boot.

And if any of you still haven't got presents for people... give up and get them a donation to a charity already! At this point you're desperate and you'll just end up buying crap so you might as well buy shoes for kids in Pakistan instead.

World Vision
Red Cross
United Way
The Harvest Project

Friday, December 16, 2005

Model Children

On Tuesday, I spent more time at LAX (or, as Sarah calls it, the ninth circle of hell) than actually flying. I spent forty-five minutes in the bookstore alone. In the lounge groups of little kids were playing around, getting their ya-yas out before being confined in a cramped metal tube with lots of disapproving adults. One small girl started making the most amazingly loud noise of discontent. Howling that would have made Ginsberg proud. When I turned around to look at her she even seemed amazed at herself that that big noise was coming out of her small body. The family looked a wee embarrassed.

On the plane I sat next to the most wonderfully earnest kid. He was wearing an "Incredibles" jersy with a five on the back (which makes him the firey baby?) and was about 12. He said please and thank you and excuse me in his gravelly voice. He watched the nature channel (on the tv on the back of the seat in front of him) all the way north and kept pointing out things the animals were doing to his dad, who had no interest at all in that, or in the snow patterns visible out the window, which were also fascinating to the kid. At one point we were flying over some very cool-looking volcanic mountains with perfect cone tops covered with snow and I tapped him on the shoulder to look. He said he always thought volcanos were islands, we talked about Hawaii, looked out the window some more and then he said, "thank you for showing me that." I'll bet he has a lot of balsa wood dinosaur skeletons at home.

I went in to my mom's grade four classroom on Wednesday morning. I got to stamp all their day planners and hear a bunch of oral reports on sea life (the sea anemome is sometimes called a pincushion; great blue herons can fly 30 miles an hour for 15 miles) and chat about movie-making. They wanted to know what actually goes down when the film melts on the projector and how they do stop-motion animation. Looking at that classroom of happy little kids engaged in active learning with an excellent teacher, I again resolved to try and make a lot of money if at all possible, so my kids could have an education like that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Quick Tale of Shame

The other night I had to eat drive-through food because I didn't have any time to have a normal human meal and a homeless man called me "Supermom".

Yeah, I thought you'd like that.

Two Minutes for Travelling, Five Minutes for Holding

Hi. So tonight I tried hard to eat all the things in my fridge that will be rotten in three weeks time when I get back to LA. For dinner, I had: tomato soup, a hard-boiled egg, some spinach in an onion-garlic concoction, red peppers, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Ice cream. I packed in all these veggies while watching a screener of Wallace and Gromit, Were-Rabbit, which has a strong over-indulging-on-vegetables theme and also includes some really fantastic rabbits with pig noses who say "wheeee" and wave a lot and eat carrots vorasciously.

I should go on plane trips more often. The morass of my inability to motivate myself into any gear but putt-putt-yawwwwn has evaporated in the face of impending travel. I did my backlog of dishes, I tidied my room (finally), I packed, I took care of a bunch of bills, I wrote several emails I'd been meaning to write, I sorted through some files, I set up instructions for watering the plants and I generally was very orderly and organised. I think one of the things that is so damn satisfying about travel is that it's so orderly and easy (usually) to do all the things you need to do to pull everything off. Especially when travelling alone, I feel like a complete person, self-contained, on a clear trajectory through the world which offers up washrooms, notice boards, and lunch so that all my mundane needs are met. Travel in the Western world is an excercise in the beauty of infastructure.

The immense pleasure I get from being a good traveller is the same immense pleasure I have from having a well-ordered and small bedroom or office. It's so simple to know the right thing and do it.

Unlike everything else in life.

And the thought of all the people in Vancouver for me is such a warm thought. Yes, LA is full of people who delight me, but Vancouver is full of people that I've known since I used to be a union worker, since I used to write papers on Beowulf, since grade seven homeroom, since I was born. People who won't let me get away with bullshit, unless it's our own special brand of homegrown bullshit.

And there's also skiing, watching people watch hockey games, the trees in the damp cold and that ugly winter light.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Movies About Dancing

Doretta finished her thesis and handed it in. We here on the west coast are celebrating by making lemonade from concentrate and drinking the whole jug of it before bed, although that would amount to eighty percent of our total daily recommended carbs (it's the sugar, Jim) so maybe a couple glasses of lemonade and then water. In any case, sorry I wasn't there to make you lemonade from concentrate and take you out on daily walks while you were writing kid, hope the handcream-by-post made up for it.

This weekend, or I guess since Wednesday night, has been a hot-faced blur of flu. Today I hauled my carcass out of bed at 7:20 to go shoot my final directing class project. It's possible that being ill while having to direct is a good thing for me, because I have energy and focus for very few things, not including remembering the actors' (or their characters') names. So instead of making overly fussy, mega-specific comments as I usually do, I let my previous overly fussy, mega-specific comments from rehearsal percolate into good performances of a fantastic script from three decent actors. I should do this every time I have to direct something: rehearse in lucid sobriety, and shoot in the dreamy haze of fever and exhaustion. Anyway, more and more, I am convinced that the secret of working with actors is not unlike the secret of working with horses: be the master or get kicked. I've stopped trying to be nice and friendly with actors and now I just make sure they know it's my show. Which is itself often an act, but if there's anything an actor likes it's acting games.

Speaking of movies, and you'll forgive me because I don't often speak of movies, partly because nothing is more boring than someone who makes or studies movies and only talks about movies and also because movies aren't often all that interesting, I saw a fantastic movie that I would like to recommend called "That's The Way I Like It". If you love Singapore, and superhot pants from the 70s with the waistband around the bottom of the ribcage, and fairly convincing covers of the entire soundtrack of "Saturday Night Fever", and supermarkets in Asia called "Oriental Emporium", and lots and lots of hot disco, Netflix this film or get it from Videomatica, because it's very unlikely it will be in your neighbourhood DVD rack.

I also watched "Breakin'" and "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" tonight. Which somehow I never saw before. There was so much hotness that at times I felt like the guy in "Legend of the Lost Ark" whose face melts. How could I have missed these movies? Huge swaths of missing cultural understanding fell into place upon their viewing. "Bring It On"? "Zoolander"? Bow, BOW before the wonder that is the "Breakin'" films. Is the second one not set in Echo Park? Boogaloo Shrimp, why did you not tell me?

Friday, December 02, 2005


One thing you should all definately not do is go to job interview when you have a fever because you will ramble nonsensically and get sweaty and probably look completely terrible, not to mention infectious and all the crisp-shirt, nice-shoes and watch wearing in the world can't bail you out from coming across like a crazy person.

Although, one of my super-skills (besides finding clothes on sale) is keeping it all together in a sober-type way even when pretty drunk, especially in front of authority figures. So maybe it was not as bad as I think I remember. Oh dear.

I'm off to put my eyeballs in a cold glass of gingerale.