Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Why We Are Friends

Christmas eve. Jeremy and I on the gravel field at the high school, splitting off to go to our respective parental homes.

Me: Have fun at church tonight.

Jeremy: Yeah.

Me: Say hi to the baby Jesus for me.

Jeremy: I'll give him a kick in the nuts for you.

Parents When You Are 30: The Nutshell Version

My mom and I are washing lettuce.

Mom: I like your hair.

Me: Thanks.

Mom: Are you going to get it cut soon?

Me: I just got it cut.

Mom: Oh.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Overall Dampness

Today I was talking to Melisa at the travel agency that books my boss's flights. She's Melisa with one s, because as she says, she's simple person and she only needs one. We were having computer problems and she said, "It's probably the rain." And the thing is, it probably was. Rain is probably why my email wasn't working and why I had to shut down and restart. LA completely loses it shit in the rain. It cracks me right up. I think it's because it washes the dirt off and the dirt is what holds everything together.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Road Test

Last week I had to take a road test to get my California license. The guy who gave me the test was so very, very nice. Now think about it, did you ever take a road test from someone who wasn't very, very nice? As we started driving around the blocks in Santa Monica, he talked about how he just gotten out of surgery. For what? For being smooshed in a car by a young driver making a freaked-out left turn. The car accident thing was something that I had already made a note to bring up during the drive, and he had lots of stories. He said they lost a guy last year. What do you call killing your tester during your drive? I call it Taking The Bus For The Rest Of Your Life.

Driving around was kind of fun. I just drove like a little old person-- really slow and deliberate and chilled. Nothing like the lack of urgency when you are not really going anywhere.

The first driving test I took was ten years ago. I was still something of an uncoordinated turner, prompting my tester to ask if I played any sports, maybe? Cause it's just hand-eye coordination, and no reason for you to make weird yawning turns through intersections. At one point, some people walked in front of my car, against their light and the tester had to hit the brake on his side of the car. He said, "They are wrong, you know, but you still have to stop". I'm still kind of amazed he didn't fail me for that. I would have failed me for that.

This driving test was more conversation than testing. We got on, as they say, like a house on fire, and except for occasional breaks for him to tell me to change lanes or turn left, it was a purely social event. He showed me the weird bump in his wrist from the accident. I called another driver an asshole under my breath. He expressed apoplectic shock that I was twenty-nine, which was nice.

License arrives in a week. Maybe I will stick around in California after all.

Walla Walla Hey Hey

This morning I drove to Glendale to do some ADR for the movie I worked on this summer. I wasn't in the movie and ADRing my own lines; we were there to create the situationally appropriate background walla for the scenes. Party scene, bus scene, sex club scene.

In the case of the sex club scene, I don't think I've ever been in a weirder job situation: stand in a semi-circle with 9 other people and make sex club background noise into the microphone. And it was a long section too. A good three or so minutes of time to fill with moaning and ad libbing dominatrix talk. Plus sometimes someone would say something pretty awesome and it was hard not to audibly laugh in response. "Use your thumb" "Don't touch that!" "I'm a filthy pig and I need to spanked!", etc.

In the bus scene, we recorded the sound of the Asian and Hispanic characters running away from the FBI agents shouting, "La Migra! INS!" The funniest pass we did all day was for the white people left behind on the bus, "What the dickens? I'll be late for my canasta game!"

Comedian

In the DVD library at work, someone filed "Dancer In The Dark" in the comedy section.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Other Twelve Hours

It's hard these days to think of things that don't involve work about which to blog. How's this:

The weather is delightful. My favorite kind: sun, clear so that colors jump, a wind to keep things fresh, and a nip in the air that makes you prefer standing in the sunshine.

I sat at a traffic light in my car beside a homeless man on the sidewalk having an involved conversation with the air the other day. He was saying something to his air companion about the sidewalk, the people walking by. It was convincing, his conversation. It really looked like someone ought to be standing there having it with him. He looked content and relaxed. I guess it's not stressful to talk to imaginary people because you always know what they are going to say.

I hit my head on the underside of a marble table today and it didn't even hurt. I started thinking about all the blows to the head I've received as a film student: there were a lot. Black eye at BJ's birthday in first year from clunking heads with Brooke. A barn door falling off a light onto my head on Preston DeFrancis' thesis film. I even hit my on the head of the tripod during Mr. Sadman pickups last week. I think my head is getting harder: each hit hurts less.

I AD'd a day of pickups for Mr. Sadman last week. Mr. Sadman is a feature about a Saddam double who comes to LA circa 1990. The actor looks quite a bit like the man himself. Dress him up in the outfit with the beret and aviators and all and the effect is pretty great. He's from Iraq (he met Saddam before he left for America) and currently teaches American military personnel Arabic and Iraqi culture. Being on set for one day is great because it reminds you how weird and fun being on set can be without the exhaustion to make you crabby. When we were set up on the sidewalk with our tiny crew and our Saddam lookalike, some middle-aged ladies walked past to get to their Prius. They asked us what we were shooting and Cindy told them and they said, "an Independent?" and Cindy said yes and they said, "Alright!" and the one held a fist up in the air. Whenever people come up to you while you're shooting and ask you what are you making, you should tell them, "A mayonnaise commercial". I heard this from an AC and have used it a couple times. It has the same effect as the teachers turning on the overhead fluorescent lights to clear out the gym at the end of a high school dance. That is, it brings quiet to the space quickly and with maximum efficiency.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cubicle Glory

I got my very own cubicle today. It has walls, and a shredder and file drawers in which to stash chocolate reserves. It has a nice lamp and a irritating neighbours with loud, nasal voices. It has a trash can and poker chips. It's great for posing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Folk Wisdom

Last week I took two cab rides. Usually I like talking to cab drivers, but for both of the rides I was looking forward to sitting quietly in the back on the super-squishy cab seats that you know are filthy and watching the scenery. Scenery-watching is something one gets to do very little of in this city. We're all steering something usually. I wonder if fewer drivers and more passengers, just as state of travel, would change how we look at the city and make the city feel different. Most of the shapes that make up this city are very ugly; it's the crannies and the pockets where you find the beauty.

Anyway, both cab drivers were from Armenia and they cracked open the door of conversation with the thin wedge of one question.

The first cabbie asked me if I drank coffee (it was 7am). I said no, and the verbal heavens opened. He talked long about the evils of caffeine and at barely an interjection from me, jumped quickly into the topic of how to eat foods properly (no liquids with your meals and fruit only on an empty stomach) which is an easy slide into the medical industry. It was amazing how much mileage he got from my responses. I probably put forward thoughts and responses at the rate of one every five minutes. I would say he was quite happy to keep talking except for how generally disgruntled his tone was throughout.

The second cabbie asked me why I got my car repaired so far away from my house, which is a question I was asking myself at the time. That took us through old cars, foreign cars, to being foreign. This seemed to be the nucleus of his conversational mojo. We took some brief detours through the cabbie strike at city hall (they didn't want to have to wear uniforms) but mostly we stayed on the main route of leaving Armenia in 1992 and coming to America. The best part about this story was his immigration story: After the fall of the Soviet Union, it was not longer almost impossible to leave the country, but the US subsequently made it much more difficult to emigrate in. The old reasons to flee didn't hold water anymore so when he pleaded his case, he did it on the basis that he was a communist and he was persecuted in his homeland by people who hated communism (having recently escaped it). And it worked and he got in.

That part of the story made up for the loss of two quiet car rides looking out the window.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Overheard in Target Yesterday

Kid to dad: But there's no limit, you didn't say a limit, so I can get something worth a hundred bucks!

Dad: Uh...

Mom: There's a limit, there's a limit, tell her the limit.

(Toy section)

. . . . .

Mom: I'm not spending all the money I made yesterday. I'm just not.

(Toy section, next aisle over)

. . . . .

[CRASH!splinter!tinkle!]

Kid: waaaaAAAAA!

(Clock aisle)

. . . . .

Despite this, shopping for things to deck the halls with was really fun. There's a doc coming out called WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY (great title) about consumerism during Christmas. I'm hoping it takes a more interesting tack than "Wow, Christmas is supposed to be about the spirit and we turn it into a chaotic buy-, eat- and drink-fest." Because I think people need a time of year in which to go slightly insane and eat too much. And anyway, the Christians just moved the date of Christmas to bump a pagan festival so they could make people pick Jesus over their own pantheon. As a result, I have no qualms not mentioning Christ except in pretty songs during Christmas. I also have no qualms about buying, eating and drinking more than I otherwise would.

Of course, it is only November at this point.

I also think it's completely normal for people who would not describe themselves as Christian to celebrate Christmas or otherwise get down with the tinsel and hors d'oeuvres and nog and tree. I don't think of myself as particularly Christian and I don't think you have to be to enjoy raising a glass to how good the year has been.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Volvo Odyssey

The week before last, I was supposed to take my road test to get my California driver's license. That's right: I get to show that I know how to signal and shoulder-check and parallel park. This is because I don't have a license from another state already. My British friend Claire told me that during her road test the examiner spent the whole time talking about his kids and showed her pictures of them while she was driving. Was that part of the test? I guess not: she looked at them and still passed. It is kind of comical to think of being examined on your driving skills in Los Angeles. How hard can it be to pass? Can you drive really fast on the freeway? Yes: pass. My favorite LA driving move, is the blinker signaling one direction and then the car turning in the opposite direction. Along with people in neck braces and mattresses on the side of the freeway, a sign of my California home.

But I didn't take my road test, because my car's brake lights weren't working. Come January, my car will be 20 years old. I'm seriously considering throwing it a party when it turns 21. Taking it to Vegas maybe. It's a Volvo, the old kind, the kind that shows up as a character's car in a certain kind of movie more than any other car. In fact, my car has been in a lot of movies, from the first thing I ever made for school, to other people's shorts, to the 546 I produced, to the feature I worked on this summer. It's a famous car.

And because I love my car so much, I stand by it during the tough times. This year, I've probably dropped 2 grand on repairing it and getting it shipshape for registering it in California. I do this because I still see many Volvos of the same age and older on the road, and a lot of the parts that I'm currently replacing are original. This is my car's tough year. This is its return of Saturn year (the planet, not the car). The bureaucratic process of getting the car registered in California has taken six months of appointments and paperwork and repairs. I just got the plates in the mail last weekend, and it's now officially a California car. Too bad the California plates are so boring and cheesy.

Anyway, just got it back from repairs: the brake lights are working, it has new spark plugs and new fuel filters and changed oil and topped up washer fluid. And the back compartment continues to be maggot-free.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Current Obsession



I've known this song for a long time, but only the Rod Stewart version. I liked that enough to put on an album I made for my mom of all songs about trains (next up this Christmas: album of songs about planes). Suddenly I've decided to listen my way through all the Tom Waits tracks I have on my computer, and I get this revelation.

Ah, this is how this song is supposed to be: deranged and messy, howled at the moon. "They're just thorns without the rose/Be careful of them in the dark"

Wonderful.

No Country for Old Men

Last night I saw No Country for Old Men and I'm still thinking about it. I'll probably be thinking about it all week. Everyone I know who has seen this movie has seen it twice. I'll probably make my way back to the theatre sometime this holiday week.

But this movie has one of the best endings of a movie that I've ever seen. For one, there's nothing like a cut to black for a bold ending. It seems like a minor thing, but the psychology of a fade versus a cut is very different, especially for the last frame of picture. The first Pirates movie has a great ending that uses this (an ending, I would argue, that did as much to secure the subsequent sequels as the overall fun of the preceeding hundred-and-something minutes). In fact, the cut to black in both these movies seems to point out the greatness of the ending. Like the editors throw in that hard cut while yelling "BOOM, howdya like me now?" in their heads. The New World has a very good ending. Eyes Wide Shut has a very good ending. Brokeback Mountain has a spectacular ending.

And No Country. Well, I don't want to be spoiling anything for anyone, but when a filmmaker manages to find a moment so telling that it cuts right to the heart of the matter and encompasses all that has come before in a deft flick of the wrist, and then places that moment on screen, right when the film is leaving you alone with your thoughts, that can be called a masterpiece of the medium. I think anyone who loves movies is looking for that moment-- when you get dropped down again in your world and realize you are in a different place than you were when you started.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Skin Glue

My recent domestic mystery is what the hell do I keep slicing the fingers of my left hand open on every morning? This is still happening. Investigations of the shower door and the bathroom mirror have proved fruitless. It's something small, razor sharp (I don't notice the cuts until a couple of minutes after it's happened) and something I touch after I get out of the shower (because if it was before the soap would sting).

This is like in high school when Katie's dad was so persnickety about his computer and what you were and weren't allowed to do on it that Katie and I programmed it to make a weird sound every time he hit the "Z" key but with a ten-minute delay. I'm sure I'll be on the other side of learning not to antagonize smart teenagers at some later point in my life, but right now, I still think it's pretty brilliantly annoying.

Having razor cuts on the pads of my fingers is not brilliant, however, it's just annoying. Especially when I spend all day typing things. Bandaids are big and clumsy and make me look like a cutter.

Luckily Rite-Aid sells "Liquid Skin", which paints on and is weird, but oh so handy. My personal arsenal on my desk at work now: tissues for uncontrollable snot problems, lip balm for mouth-breathing, and liquid skin for my open wounds.

I Am A Horrible Person

And here's why:

Yesterday I went to see a free movie, which necessitated standing in line for a while. Andy and I had hoped to eat some enormous pancakes beforehand, but our plans were foiled by the insane popularity of the Griddle Cafe on Sunday mornings. It was a restaurant absurdity rarely sighted in LA in which the number of people sitting and eating was evenly matched by the number of people standing and waiting.

Anyway, Andy parked near a bagel place and I parked near the theatre, so I waited in line and he got some breakfast carbs. So I'm standing, waiting in line with all these other people who are on the Creative Screenwriting mailing list and this guy lines up behind me and starts chatting me up. Normally I find this flattering, and even if I don't find the person attractive, the encounter is kind of interesting or at the very least entertaining. This guy was deeply unattractive and also deeply uninteresting and also deeply awkward. At one point he asked me if I was "an artiste of sorts" (that's pronounced "ar-TEEST") and at another point gave his reason for moving to LA as being something that happened due to "the winds of fate".

I gave what I thought were pretty clear social clues that I was no longer interested in talking to him, like turning away for long stretches of time and giving terse answers. I'm too much of a chickenshit to be super jerky and make a fake phone call or just tell him I didn't want to talk to him. But he was impermeable to any hint that the conversation was not fun for me. We were not talking about anything interesting, he kept asking me personal questions, and we were stuck in a line. At one point, we heard a car crash down the street and I thought, "Thank Christ, a diversion!" But he was not to be deterred.

Maybe it was Sunday morning crabbiness or the lack of pancakes, but I found myself getting increasingly annoyed at him and not just because he wouldn't let me out of the conversation, but because I was out of his league. Which is a terrible thing to say, and classist, and materialistic and superficial and completely true. I was offended that he thought he could chat me up.

But it's true, right? People pair with people who match their level of desirability. My psych textbook chose to illustrate this with photos of Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, and Rhea Pearlman and Danny DeVito. This is a central concern in casting characters who are couples: would you believe that these two people are together? I know real life couples in which one person is considerably better-looking than the other and I wonder about the dynamic between them. When the cluster of attractive traits is imbalanced, it's weird.

This is why you can decide not to like someone because they have shitty taste in music.

I guess I should maybe call this post, "I Am A Superficial, Though Realistic, Person"

The story ended with the line starting to move and me waiting at the theatre door for Andy while my dogged companion went to score a great seat. Andy showed up a few minutes later with bagels, narrowly missing being introduced as my husband.

The movie was good. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly". Dude gets paralyzed and his ex-wife who he had never actually ended up marrying stays by his side even though he is grotesque. He had a great personality, though.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bang vs Whimper

I saw American Gangster this weekend. It was great. It's satisfying to see a 20th century period movie in which the plot isn't "WOOOOOO BELLBOTTOMS!!!! Remember those!???" and "HA HA- REMEMBER HOW MUCH BETTER WEED AND MUSIC WERE THEN?" Basically, I'm sick of boomer-themed nostalgia for a golden era. Forest Gump being the worst offender. I think I picked this up from reading too many old MAD magazines from the late 70s when I was a kid. They were great (the "Quoth the Reagan" pisstake stays in the memory) but I think they warped my brian on the topic of hippies and yuppies and 60s nostalgia in general. In American Gangster, you see those polyester shirts and they look kind of cool but you can also imagine how bad the armpits smell. There is a "what's a microwave?" scene, but everyone gets to make a mistake. But all round, a great movie, wonderful performances, and those delicious scenes wherein inevitable consequences manifest in surprising ways. Great script. And a couple of scenes that don't necessarily have much to do with the plot per se, but that chill you to the bone.

Saw that Saturday night. Sunday morning in the park saw a great period costume involving handweights, a visor and those rubber suits people used to wear to dehydrate themselves/lower their weight.

Sunday afternoon, caught Richard Kelly's Southland Tales at school. Here's what's good: the Rock, throughout (why is the Rock sexy? Because he's so cheesy and he knows it and loves it?), Cheri Oteri and Amy Poehler yelling at each other, Justin Timberlake's music video lip-sync to "All These Things That I've Done" (FUCKING AMAZING), what happens right before and during the Pixies, a digital ad for SUVs, fog, casting Sarah Michelle Gellar as a porn star, Wallace Shawn (obviously), and John Larroquette (obviously).

What's bad? The rest of it. And think about it: there's a lot of stuff in this movie. So most of it is shit. Nonsensical poo, folks. I know that dashes your Darko hopes, but it's true.

Kat says she saw Richard Kelly at the gym once and that she thinks he's insane. This seems fair, as observing someone at the gym seems like a pretty good way to ascertain their degree of sanity. She says she thinks he's a nerd cum jock cum artboy, which would surely make anyone crazy.

This is sad. Donnie Darko was, I thought, a pretty exciting movie. But I'm starting to think it was a masterpiece best attributed to some producers and editors. The director's cut of this movie takes mystery and tension and gives you boring answers that you end up not caring about. Richard! Dude! Just direct music videos! You were magic at capturing strange 80s nostalgia and millenium tension in the same beat and you brought back Tears For Fears like nobody's business. And Patrick Swayze!

The Rolling Stones didn't quite say that you can't always make what you want, but perhaps they should have and I would add: and you shouldn't get to.

"Reality Ends Here" Ends Here

I spent the last few days at the American Film Market, which is where the most movies get bought and sold every year. And yet people don't know about it like they way they've heard of Cannes or Toronto or Berlin or, to a lesser degree, Sundance. This is because there is no pretense of artistic merit at AFM-- it's just pure, unadulterated commerce. What people want to watch, they will buy. Or at least what people think other people want to watch, they will buy. It's pretty refreshing, in a way. Not that I've been to lots of film festivals, but I feel like I'm already tired hearing about movies that everyone got excited about because everyone else got excited about because they hit enough hip targets to make people think they should get excited about it. Sure, there are some cool movies that come out of festivals. But there are some stupid-ass, pretentious, snore-fest, indy darlings that are crap, too.

This is something that never really got taught in film school, except in writing and pitch classes. If no one wants to pay money to see your movie, don't make it. My parents clip a lot of newspaper articles on films for me, because they are dear like that, and there's this one that's all about Jack Valenti's advice for aspiring filmmakers. His point #1: Make movies that people want to see. And his point #2: Don't make movies people don't want to see. That's it. Seems simple, and it's not as simple as it seems, but it's not rocket science either (speaking of boring movies that are indy darlings). Whatever qualms I have about entering the corporate end of things instead of being able to persue ADing or writing full time are quelled when I realize that my new job is basically the complicated, reality flipside of everything I got taught at USC.

Hey Mickey


Last weekend my friend Rhonda brought her kid Zara to Disneyland and I met up with them. We did this two years ago too, and I had kind of a personality renaissance and realized I could be one of those people who really likes Disneyland and still be okay with myself. I've been a couple times since, with Phil, as a pre-production bonding experiment before 546 (smartest producing move we made) and with my parents (rained, cold, boulder malfunctioned in the Temple of Doom), and with Katie (sunny and fun) but what I learned is that no day in Disneyland can compare with the day you spend there with a little kid.

I think I talked before about how much more fun each ride is when it involves a child shrieking, "I want to sit with Robyn!!!" while you're in line. But really, a kid adds fun to the entire day. For example:

INT. BATHROOM - DAY

I enter.

Zara: Do you have to go to the bathroom?

Me: Yes

Zara: Why?

Me: (thinking) Uh, same reason anyone has to go to the bathroom. And because I drank a lot of water in the car on the way over.

Zara: Oh.

No adult is going to have this conversation with you. It's too weird.


Rhonda refers to these as "Zara's Nanny McPhee teeth".

Even people's kids you don't know are spectacularly hilarious. When we were in the Tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room drinking pineapple floats and giving ourselves type 2 diabetes, a little boy got so freaked out at the plastic singing parrots that he wouldn't stop screaming and trying to burrow into his mother's chest. They eventually left, but not before I ceded him the point that the robotic parrots with their national identities (florid, Parisian Pierre; jovial, Irish Michael; terse, German Fritz; and the ringmaster Jose) are kind of morose and weird. Maybe he was freaked out by the intense 50s-ness of the room. I always think a little Sambo's going to jump out and start dancing and that would be received as very droll and delightful and we'd all chuckle and then go have a Mai Tai on the veranda.

And no one has a voracious appetite for spinny rides that make you want to hurl like a little kid. This can be both good and bad. I'm looking forward to her getting a voracious appetite for roller coasters.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Time For Bed

I know I'm so overtired that I'm squinting, but I just saw that 1) tomorrow's weather forecast is for 34 C and "smoke" and 2) the deputy mayor of Delhi was killed by being attacked by monkeys on his balcony. Que?

A Navel Gaze on Navel Gazing

I was talking to Katie the other night about a whole bunch of stuff and she brought up a forum she had watched or read on media heavies weighing in on the issue of blogs and their extreme dibilitating shock that anyone with a Dell on dial-up can hang a shingle on the "I've Got Something To Say" street of media-making. This is so stupid it barely merits discussion, but hey, I'm newly re-enamoured of posting again, so here goes.

Of course media heavies hate bloggers. They subscribe to the idea of their own journalism as high culture and have enduring faith in the passive voice and its invisible author. They believe in an objective, factual reality for god's sake. But who turns to a blog for late-breaking national news? That's not the point of blogs, the point is commentary. And first person perspective. And ideas and reflections that will not make it into the newspaper. I don't think I've ever seen a blog in which the writer tries to sit in for a newspaper or other media source. There are certainly many that discuss the same things that traditional media sources discuss, but more often they are reflecting facts and originating opinions and ideas. The blogs that do report are telling stories about tiny, weird, specialized news-- the microscopic interest nuggets that would never see play in a mainstream publication.

Blogs are about curating a series of ideas and observations for a community of whoever is willing to show up. Like Homi K. Baba, asshole theorist, I too write for an audience of about six people in the world. If a loyal CNN watcher doesn't want to read about my toenails or my ideas about what the people at the DMV who are making me take a road test can go do to themselves, they can move on. Or flag my blog for being inappropriate.

But if they like my collection, they can stay a while and browse.

I am still super excited about that.

Lunchtime Thought

A vinegar-rich greek salad may not be the smartest lunch option when you have a tiny cut in the corner of your mouth.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Funny Ha Ha

A little while ago Greg wrote a blog entry about how "women aren't funny." Apart from being absurdly reductionist, not to mention other things ending with "-ist", this assertion has caused the idea of what is funny and what isn't to bounce around in my head for the last week or so. I watched the end of "She's the Man" on TV again and laughed at Amanda Bynes (cf: debutante luncheon in which she eats a drumstick like a neandrathal and excuses herself by getting up and saying "Ladies." out the corner of her meat-filled mouth and stomping away). I re-read the 2nd Bridget Jones book (cf: describing a fussy toddler as "writhing like a deportee" and the scene where this kid sneezes snot all over himself and his sister reacts by vomiting on Bridget's head). These things were funny to the point of making me laugh loudly while alone, which is a pretty high level of funniness. (Also: it seems like I'm way into gross humor?) A lot of the stuff on icanhazcheezburger makes me laugh, especially this one.

But there's a lot of stuff out there manufactured to be funny that isn't. When discussing the humor issue, Greg asked me to name funny women that we knew and then we tried to name anyone funny that we knew. We couldn't really name anyone. I think this is for several reasons, the most significant being that real life is pretty different from entertainment. There are people I know who consider themselves funny, and they are sometimes, but they are also really annoying sometimes. For someone to be funny all the time, in real life, I think they'd have to be kind of an idiot and not really your friend. Who's consistently funny? The rotund, heavy-breathing accountant at the real estate company I used to work for, but not because he was meaning to be. Also: the drug-addled hippies I used to sell ferry boat tickets to who would get out of their VW buses without putting it in park first and be rummaging in the back while it was putt-putting away from the booth. But these people are funny because they are not real people to me, which is part of what makes things funny in an entertainment context. The famous Mel Brooks quote on tragedy vs. comedy is that when I walk down the street and fall into a manhole, it's tragedy, but when you do it, it's comedy.

Last night I saw a sketch comedy show, some of which wasn't very funny (perhaps partly,in a tragically ironic twist, because of the desperate strain on the part of some performers to be funny). The best part of one act's shtick was a Lewis and Clark skit in which the Clark guy eats a sandwich that was obviously pranked by his comedy partner and full of rocks or possibly cat litter. Sadly, he did not capitalize on this genuinely funny (and real) problem, not even with a throwaway line, but ditched the sandwich and moved on with the script. A comedy tragedy.

So people trying to be funny = not funny. People trying to be funny all the time = not funny. People falling into manholes = funny. More on this difficult equation later.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Things and Other Things

I've never used Coca Cola to clean my toilet, but I plan to at some point and when I do, I will report my findings on this blog. I like using things for purposes other than their original, or especially, marketed, intent. I like cleaning things with white vinegar. I worked with this woman once who had a story about using the toothpaste treatment on a zit while selling tickets for the boat at work and the zit having this insane reaction but it was a rush and she had to just keep selling cars with a burbling pustule on her face. Yeah, gross, but still: toothpaste on zits! When your nose is peeling, rip off the dead skin with scotch tape! Pennies in the bottom of the tulip vase! Clear nailpolish to halt runs in your nylons! The other day I gave myself a razor cut on my fingertip and when it kept opening and refused to heal shut, I fused it closed with clear nailpolish. Only because I didn't have any crazy glue. It worked, though. I won't deny that the most exciting aspect of Back To The Future to me is not time travel, or flying cars, or Bon Jovi walkman blasts, or Marty's suspenders, or even when Cripin Glover's hand clenches into a fist, it's a car that cuisinarts garbage into fuel! How totally subversive is that! I remember seeing the movie for the first time and the To Be Continued letters made me think about all the plotlines yet to come on garbage fuel. Sadly, that plot point never really paid off. Though, to be truthful, I think the floating skateboards distracted me from missing it too much.

The B is for Bullshit

Today I spent a fair amount of time at a BMW dealership and repair outfit in Santa Monica. I already had a strong suspicion that luxury cars are fucking bullshit and today was a strong vote of confidence in that resolution. I mean, if you are paying thousands and thousands of extra dollars for a fancy car, shouldn't the fancy-car makers strive to provide you with a fancy experience? I mean, obviously, instead of just purporting to provide you with a fancy experience. I don't need a flat screen and the most insane coffee machine in the world in the waiting room. I'd far rather have someone give me a straight answer and try and help me when I say things like, "I need to leave here with this car in the next ten minutes or I will lose my job." There's this cliche that people in the film business are flaky, but here's the thing: they get stuff done and they get it done quickly and correctly. Movie-making may not be the most honorable occupation in the world, but it beats overpriced incompetence and manufactured obselesence.

Smog Report

My internet connection is cranky like a wet cat and it's been refusing to load pages owned by Google. So I've been storing up posts in my cheeks, waiting for the day when the wireless fuckwittage would stop. And lo, dear readers, it was today.

The Friday before last I went to see Bill Callahan play at the Echoplex. The Echoplex is located underneath the Echo and is found by wandering around until a bunch of people halfway up an alley alert you to its location. This is the third time I've gone to see Bill by myself and it's become something of an aesthetic excursion. As I have found in myself a certain kind of glee in underdressing for social occasions, I have also located a satisfaction for going to shows by myself and observing people and talking to no one. Maybe this is not glee/satisfaction at the act itself, but rather my comfort in what used to stress me out when I was a self-conscious teenager. I can recall spending part of my lunch hour in the bathroom stall in middle school because I had no one to hang out with and was too embarrassed to be seen in the hall sitting by myself. Also, there's a certain kind of mystique that you manufacture when you do something socially antagonistic. In any case, it's interesting.

The show was good. Bill was dressed all gentlemanly, and his band was too. For some reason, he always shows up with the most lovable drummers--strange hippie men who look like they could be jovial galley slaves or chubby tantric sex instructors. The guy this year was pretty dear: womanly bum, drummed standing up, had all sorts of weird instruments that he would twist around and start fiddling with, and thanked us for our applause with a little namaste bow. Some idiotic girls in the audience talked during the set, which always makes me want to KILL people, but the serious nerds outnumbered the scenesters and other people told them to shut up so I didn't have to. When Bill played River Guard, as he always does, it because very quiet in the room and we all listened very closely like small children hearing a story they've heard a thousand times before. I liked the show very much, though it didn't move me as much as when he plays all by himself. The genius of Bill Callahan is particularly in the notes he doesn't play, or the spaces he leaves between the ones he does. It's a relevation each time, like that moment in university when my sexist and unbathed professor of philosophy pointed out that what makes a room a room is perhaps more the absence of material that allows for the space, rather than the material that confines it.

Whoa. Then we all smoked a dube in the blackberry bushes and played some frisbee.

In other news, tonight driving home it occurs to me that the opening of Rain On Lens 1 is kind of totally ripped off as score for Babel. Maybe Inarritu liked the film reference?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Crushing.

This morning I'm wondering what the world would be like if we all married our first crushes at nineteen or whatever, like people did 60 years ago. Not that everyone did this, but I think a lot of people managed to, or at least managed to settle down when they were still in the wet-behind-the-ears stages of ecstatic, euphanistic, giddy love. The crushes I had in high school had an intensity that I don't think I could ever rival at this point in my life. Of course, high school crushes, at least for me, were based upon never talking to the object of the crush, but only sighting them from afar on Thursday morning when they got off the bus near where I walked to get to school and if I timed it perfectly, then I could maybe get one fire-tinged instant of eye contact--enough of a interaction to live on for the rest of the week.


Hardly the fodder of a solid and happy marriage, but still-- if your early feeling for the person were bound up in all those hot-blooded, magical feelings, maybe you could go back to that spot later in life, or at least raise a glass to it now and again.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Measure Twice, Cut Once

I've been on a cooking and baking kick ever since we had A Little Fall Weather (which is as atmospheric, if not more, to me as A Little Night Music). I figure I ought to capitalize on this hankering and make a bunch of stuff when I'm in the mood for it because it's not every night I'm willing to pre-grill the tofu so it stays firm and slightly crispy in the curry. Last night I made cookies and the kind of butter I get, that is from Ireland and has a cute little clover on it, has weight markings, but not volume markings on the label. How much trouble would it be for them to print up those little markings on the wrapper that say half cup, quarter cup, all that? Instead, this kind of butter has tablespoon markings. (You can tell by the way I'm carping about this that the lack of cup markings steered me wrong, poor workmen blaming their tools, etc) And lo, the lack of cup markings on the label steered me wrong and I screwed up the math and ended up putting twice as much butter as needed in the cookies. Twice as much. More butter than flour.

I didn't realize that I had done this until I took them out of the oven and they had fused into one giant monster cookie and were dripping of the sheet and burning on the bottom of the oven. I let their soupy mass cool and then spent a long time prying the crumbling remains from the sheet.

They are very tasty, though. Following the rule that "fat makes things taste better". It does, o it does.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

P and P Again

The 2005 Pride and Prejudice was on last night. This version of the story is significant for several things: the dirtyness and sweatiness of the country folk, Keira Knightly's god-awful dresses/how god-awful Keira Knightly looks in most of her dresses, the progression of time sequence when she's on the swing in the yard and most especially, the sequence after the Darcy proposal when she's in Charlotte's house walking from room to room in the dimness. There's a progression of time in this sequence in which KK as EB looks in the mirror as afternoon turns to evening turns to night which is just spectacular. I also like Jena Malone's Lydia Bennet, who I want to punch in the face even more than Julia Sawalha's Lydia. Donald Sutherland has some wonderful moments too. Cinematography is quite moody and evocative, which is usually, though not always, appropriate for the scene.

Otherwise, it does not hold a candle to the BBC version. Casting talented, trained actors and directing them to create performances that sound the depths of the complexity of the text, people! Ignore it at your peril!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Petrichor

I'm in a coffee shop down the street waiting for the rain. I don't quite believe that it will actually rain. To that end, I don't have a jacket with me or an umbrella and am wearing sandals. The last few days have been beautiful bright fall days with a coda of coolness to remind us to snuggle up and make soup, because winter's coming. I had forgotten LA was capable of anything other than endless summer and I'm so happy to put away my tank tops and re-embrace the collared and sweatered contents of my wardrobe.

This past year has been a dry one and the year before that was dry as well. I've heard rumours that this is year two of a ten-year drought. I hope not. The first year I lived here was a winter of torrential rain (there's mostly no other kind in this place). The streets became rivers, billboards peeled, and the dry hills sprung into an Irish kind of green. Neko Case is correct when she tells you LA is beautiful when it rains.

So I'm keeping a weather eye on the palm trees growing in the Post Office parking lot across the street and smelling the breeze for clues.

And it just started raining.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Women In Art



I love paintings.

The Vast Wasteland

I hate the television for a number of reasons. One: I haven't had TV for the whole time I've been in LA, until last March when I moved in with Rebecca. Two: movie school can sometimes take away the appetite for watching anything because the thought of looking at all that work is exhausting. Three: TV is mostly crap. Four: TV is an assault on the senses that my crotchety old self can rarely abide. Five: DVDs and online episodes. And finally Six, the most visceral reason: the deaf old lady upstairs and her volume button in the middle of the night/at the crack of dawn.

No, I stick to movies. And my Netflix list is long and filled with many good-for-me films from long lists of recommended viewing. I put other things in there too. I haven't seen any of the Die Hard movies, so those are on my own list of recommended viewing, and there are some things that come out that I'm not willing to pay to see on the big screen. For the most part, though, I've set myself a dubiously entertaining schedule of a lot of older, slower, foreigner, blacker and whiter movies. Not that they're not great films. A lot of them are Great Films. They're just hard to sit down to after a long day. I've been watching a lot of them in multiple sittings, which is doubtless less rewarding than watching the whole thing straight through, but hey, I'm watching them, so shut up.

The other night I decided to click through the TV channels and see what movies were on there. I saw the end of Just Friends, which is predictable, though Ryan Reynolds and Anna Faris are super funny. And I caught the end of Just Like Heaven, the Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo RomCom starring San Francisco and ghosts. I just watched Mr. Ruffalo in My Life Without Me, and was impressed with his ability to turn banal writing and apparently absent direction into a pretty nuanced and credible performance. I hope he got paid a lot of money to do this Heaven movie, though, because it is one of the worst bad movies I have ever watched part of. The writing was poo, the acting (sorry Reese) was at times like watching a middle school play (but then, what are you going to do with such terrible writing?), the sets and the lighting looked faker than Britney Spears' current weave.

Here's my thought, though: this movie got MADE. People looked at this shitty, schmaltzy, predictable, surface-value script and said: let's make it! Mark and Reese wanted to make it. People wanted to lay money down to make it. And now people want to rent it. It's middling in the Netflix Top 100 Rentals In Your Area.

All this points to me cracking open my RomCom notebook and trying to have more ideas today. Because if you can write something that simplistic and get paid for it? That would be Just Like Heaven.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Across The Universe - Trailer

Come Together

I saw Across The Universe last night. I have a big enormous heart with an arrow through it for Julie Taymor and her movies. So anything she makes, I am game for. Across The Universe, however, is the story of The Sixties, which I typically don't have a big heart for, let alone an arrow. I'm not 57, and I refuse to ride the coattails of another generation's nostalgia. The trailer's proliferation of sweet-sixties moments were excused by the explosion of crazy imagery at the end, cut on the beat of Hey Jude. Hard to resist, that.

I did have certain late-60s Beatles tracks as an important part of my childhood, however out-of-cultural-context they may have been in the early eighties. As a little kid, I had a murky belief that my cousin Jeb was Paul McCartney (he has a resemblence and introduced Yellow Submarine to our household when I was 8 or 9). When John said that I wasn't going to make it with anyone anyhow carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, I had to figure out who he was talking about. I was 12 or 13 when I found out that Lucy in her diamond sky was a drug reference.

I was seated next to a B.O.-tinged old hippy with a white goatee--what better way to see the show?

The movie will no doubt be torn a new one by critics with my same distaste for movies about coming-of-age forty years after it happened. Those people missed what happened onscreen. The old hippy next to me cried, so did I. I was struck by the beauty of watching someone simply sing a beautiful song. The Beatles wrote some extraordinary songs, and in this movie, they are fresh and heartfelt in narrative context. Add this to Taymor's visionary mise-en-scene and understanding of the thrill of visuals, and it's a feast. When it was all over, the hippy next to me asked me if I liked it and I said yes and he said he liked it too.

A while ago Doretta and I talked about how she had grown up listening to a certain Beatles compilation album (the Red album 1962-66) and I had grown up to a later grouping of songs (the Blue album 1967-70) and as a result she was more into pop and I was more into rock/folk. At the time, I didn't really buy into the idea that one album's worth of music could shape my current tastes so specifically, but I've since changed my mind.

The most exciting thing the film was walking out of the theatre and feeling like a movie can change the way you see the world. It's easy to forget that hauling shot bags or writing production reports or reading another crappy script. But it's true.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Downside of Little Old Ladies

Today, I will admit to you, was a day I spent reading, mostly. I felt guilty about not getting more done, but escaped the guilt by reading, see how that works? Anyway, it was my mom's fault. She sent me a 500-page novel that was very absorbing and then three days ago scolded me for not reading it. So I finished it today.

When I woke up (having falling asleep reading last night) I went into the living room to read. I was sitting on the couch when someone knocks quietly on the door. I have a policy of not answering the door when I am in my pyjamas and I'm not expecting someone. Especially in the middle of the day. My Protestant work ethic based shame is strong. So I sit tight and don't answer. They knock again. And again. I'm starting to feel creeped out. And then this little voice says, "Robyn?"

So I answer it. It's my next door neighbor, this 70-something woman who is friendly but always has an earful ready about the way people park out back or how the city never asked her if she wanted a tree planted outside her window. She tells me that she's going away for a couple days and I should help myself to her LA Times. I try to act nonchalant in my pyjamas at eleven in the morning.

How did she know I was home! And how did she know I was in the living room! The curtains were mostly closed! Was she around our side of the house peeking through them? Creepy! I miss living on the second floor.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Moving Violations

Today while running a tiny fly hit me in the eye. I found it later and dug it out. I'll keep you posted on whether I go blind. Yesterday while running I was attacked by a wee chiuaua. While I was dancing around trying not to step on it and its tiny fierce teeth, I had the fleeting thought to squash it. And then little kids came to get it and I didn't.

Once while biking a bug flew in my mouth and straight down my throat. And once while walking in the woods at dusk a bat flew straight into my chest.

It's good to know animals can be idiots too.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Gastro-Intestinal Path To Enlightenment

So Katie came to town and man, did she get a good plateful of LA deliciousness: dolphins at Little Zuma, stumbling upon movie sets with recognizable actors, Disneyland, riding bikes on the Venice boardwalk, witnessing car accidents and calling 911, extreme and unbearable heat, camping out in movie theatres and watching several movies in a row to avoid unbearable heat, Mulholland Drive, Sunset Strip, Melrose Ave and only the briefest, long-distance glimpses of the Valley, impromtu BBQs in grassy backyards, film cast and crew wrap parties, drunken karaoke, and some hours in a coffee shops where everyone is writing a screenplay on their laptop.

Part and parcel of all this was some serious LA eating: Pink's the day she arrived (I had a heart-burn-wrenching spicy polish with chili, cheese, and three strips of bacon in a tortilla, she had a foot-long jalapeno dog with chili and saukraut), quickly followed by Pinkberry and when we got home that night, a dinner of popcorn and frozen, chocolate-covered bananas. And whiskey tonics. We ate at El Coyote, El Cholo, Loteria, Swinger's, bought pie from Du-par's, had more Pinkberry, had frozen chocolate-covered bananas in Disneyland (and meat on a stick in Adventureland), made pancakes, ate barbeque at picnic benches, drank poolside cocktails in our bathing suits at the Avalon Hotel and Irish car bombs at Tom Bergen's. And then had more Pinkberry.

Last month I did the Master Cleanse, which is the state of shutting down your digestive tract by only feeding it a concoction of water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and grade B maple syrup, with intermitant gluggings of salt water to flush away all the evil stuff that gets sloughed off. I read a whole book on it before I did it, so I was reasonably assured that it 1) wouldn't kill me and 2) it might have some health benefits. It was a weird experience, totally turning off food. For one, it totally changed my schedule. Making food for myself and then making time to eat it takes up a lot of time, it turns out. Not to mention buying groceries and managing the whole do-I-have-enough-milk-for-tomorrow thing. But it also made some things a little awkward. When I got to campus early, killing time by getting a tea was no longer an option. Meeting people for dinner didn't work so well. I wasn't ever hungry per se. I did miss food a bit at the beginning, but that was soon replaced by an aesthetic smugness (which can sustain me for quite a while). I did have to make sure I had a bottle of The Concoction with me at all times, otherwise a serious fatigue and inner hollowness would set in that didn't feel quite right.

By day four (of ten prescribed days), I was watching Abel Gance's Napoleon at LACMA and decided to throw in the towel. It's not that I was watching a four-hour-long silent film from 1927 because the film is actually mesmerizing. It's more that I felt that the encroaching dizzyness and the skinnyness were better suited to some shopoholic fashionista anorexic that I was not. I had some delicious broth and a heavenly glass of orange juice that evening.

What did I learn from all of this? That food is spectacular. And also that I can go through phases of monkish discipline and emerge with wisdom. A wisdom that can support chasing a meal of the most insane hotdog ever with ice cream, popcorn and chocolate.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Springtime for Kitties

The heat wave has finally popped. The best indication of this is that the cats are running around chasing each other again and trying to jump up on my lap again and accidentally cover me with fur and hit me in the face with their tails/asses again. The cats were worrisome during this heat wave. They would just lay on the floor in the living room or the hall, despondent. Sometimes they'd lay directly across from each other and look into each other's despondent eyes. They could not, unlike us humans, Google LA public pools or ride their bikes up to Pinkberry. They couldn't even go to work in a freezing cold office all day. Nope, they just lay around like pools of fur.



We tried to cool them down. We put ice cubes in their water bowls a lot. I tried to make them comfortable with the cold packs from the freezer (too weird, they got scared). We moved the fan into the hallway during the day to circulate the air. Once, I picked OJ up and opened the freezer and held him up to it.

But the best solution is just for it to be LESS HOT. And lo it is. And Pig is blithely getting fur all over my shirt right now.

Books Are Cool

Henry David Thoreau has been credited with saying that, "Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries". This has got to be true, even if you not are living pond-side and eating weeds. Here's the thing: swap out the word "money" for the words "air conditioning" and it still works. Wahoo!

I've spent some quality time with Katie in libraries lately, enjoying the temperate climes and the studious atmosphere. Except for surprising a homeless woman unpacking her entire kit in the bathroom, it's been unremarkable and productive. Viva libraries! Especially those within biking distance of your house on mornings when you it's so hot you can hardly put your brain in enough order to leave the house.

It's brought me to finally suceed in several days' worth of the three hours or three good pages discipline.

The maggot situation is holding steady, by the way.

And now, for all my Southland readers:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Some Nerve

Today I had a knock on the door from some Jesus people with Jesus pamphelets. One woman in a big hat was talking to me while some other women in big hats milled around behind her, knocking on my neighbors' doors. At the time, I said very little, because I didn't want to get stuck in conversation, but it really did piss me off.

The neighborhood I live in is Jewish. A lot of the people who live here have lived here for many years and a lot of the people that live here are Hasidic. My apartment has kosher labels over the sink and Mezuzahs at the doorways. My neighbors are all Jewish women aged 80 and up. My upstairs neighbor was in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. Women on the sidewalk speak in Yiddish to their kids and men on the sidewalk wear giant round fur hats and long black coats in the middle of summer and prayer shawls on holy days. Do you think they want to come to your meeting about Christ? I think it's pretty clear they've made up their minds on the religion question.

Man, why is Christianity the only religion that has consistantly hit me up, via strangers, for conversion? It's super-obnoxious.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rudyard Kipling and Maggots

So I've been thinking a lot about maggots lately. Mostly because I've been encountering them a lot (kitchen garbage, inside the compartment in the trunk of my car) and they are food for thought, pardon the expression. I heard that the medical community is bringing maggots back into medicine, because the magic of maggots is that they will only eat the dead flesh, making them excellent friends in the fight against gangrene and other similar infections.

I've also been thinking about Getting Older recently, or more accurately, Growing Up. I turned 29 this week and had a great party and was at my friend Andy's 29th last night at which someone asked me what words of advice on being 29 I had to dole out to Andy, having a three-day jump on the experience. Is 29 one of the big ones? I know 30 is a big one, but knowing me, I'll spend so much time thinking about turning 30 that when it actually happens it won't feel like a big deal. The best description I have for 29 so far is that you have an ongoing T-minus 365 days countdown going to finish up all your 20s bullshit. Because there are a number of things that you can't do in your 30s. Pigtails. Throwing up from drinking. Accidentally making out with people. And then there's a whole litany of things that you can't do north of 30 that I never have done nor do I plan to regret not doing. Cocaine. Sex with unnamed strangers. Tube tops.

But I've also found myself thinking about things along pretty different lines these days and by these days I mean the past few weeks. It's a combination of being finally done with school (in the sense that for the first time this summer I'm not spending five days a week on campus) and having had a series of unfortunate events occur in a short period of time. In fact, so many shitty things have been happening, that it has brought me into this strange zone where I feel really zen about it and at the same time am totally ready for whatever is coming down the pipe. Like I'm doing my best karate beckon to the fates. Like when Paul Simon sings about the Boxer leaving, but the Fighter still remains? I'm the Fighter.

I've also internalized some Kipling and build my days around filling each unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run.

Pile all this on a birthday and 29 is a windsprint. It's eating the dead flesh. It helps me meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Lights Are On

Dear Reading Public, I think I may be back. Hard to say. Currently there is something unhappy between my computer and my ISP that makes it not want to load any Blogger pages. Or any Goggle pages. It's not a happy situation. Anyway, addiction to Facebook has somewhat supplanted addiction to blogging. Anyone else find that? Internet narcissism: what will fill the caverous hole in my soul next?

What shall I tell you about? The mystery of the totaled car smack in the middle of a park with no roadways? My summer of strange sunburns? The many weddings I have attended? That I'm a foley genuis but a mixing failure? That I've been going to screenings of kid's movies from the eighties a lot lately? That I finished school?

Okay, so I finished school. Not even part-way finished: I took my last class, TAed my last epic screening, worked my last shift at SPO. I still have keys to the doors of Lucas on my keyring (that is kind of magical, metaphorically speaking) but I'm done. It's scary and liberating at the same time, to be in LA without the safety net of school attendence as an excuse. The best and scariest thing about starting school was the feeling of a new environment with new rules and structures to understand and learn to navigate (and eventually master-- hence the name of the degree?). The best and scariest thing about leaving school is the same thing. Looks like I'm still good at up-talking myself.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Open Letter to Brendan

Dear Brendan,

I finally saw Hot Fuzz a couple of days ago. I can see why you liked it so much. I liked it very much. Plus the main guy looks a little like you and I dare say is a little like you as well. The movie is splendidly crafted storytelling, which is always pleasurable. Most importantly, it attacks genres that have become worn and flips them inside out so they are fun again. It's a kind of writing that makes me think my English degree is worthwhile. Truly a movie that addresses the intelligence and film literacy of its audience and shares joke after joke after joke with them based on that literacy. I also like how they've identified a number of genres as being part of the same continuum (instead of discreetly pigeon-holing them), rather like Jack Black's elaborate flow chart of rock in School of Rock.

Also, swans are funny.

Today I read in Variety that Spielberg and Peter Jackson are working on a motion-capture version of Tintin for a series of three movies. So: animated but only in the same sense that Gollum was animated, otherwise they want him to look like a real guy. But a Herge guy. Crazy.

Your friend,
Robyn

A Tiny Mystery

Also: check out how my months are in french! How did that happen?

Update: They've gone back to english. C'est dommage.

Learning To Love You More

Encouraging banners. For everyone!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Legends of the Call

Today I'm covering the desk for an independent producer. She gets some funny calls sometimes, mostly just people off the street who want to know things about the films she's doing so they can get jobs. Today I checked the voicemail and there was the most incredible message from this woman calling, "regarding Brad Pitt".

She lays her story out like this: I saw him in a movie about the seven deadly sins and thought he was a handsome man. I feel like I've known him for a long time, which may or may not be due to my psychic abilities. I don't know if he's still with his main woman, who screwed over his previous girlfriend, and I have some concerns re: screwing her over because she may be physically stronger than me. But I did want to call and say hello and also mention that I've been bulimic for 30 years. Despite this, I still feel that we are all created equal in god's eyes and I really would like to just talk to Brad and hear his voice. Additionally, I'd like to inquire as to whether Brad is interested in New Hampshire gals.

She sums up her case thusly: "And, well... Brad Pitt! Bye Brad."

I should mention that this office has nothing whatsoever to do with Brad Pitt.

Triple-Dog Dare

Across from the office in Beverly Hills: a store called Rhomboid Sax. I dare anyone to find a store with a more eighties name.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Two Brilliant Ideas

Idea #1
A t-shirt for the show Lost that is just a t-shirt, with the neck stretched out a la Dave Williams (kid from middle school, you had to be there) and a darkened area around the neck. The show is all about necksweat, and I believe the public wants a piece of the action.

Idea #2
Get yourself sent to jail for several weeks and use the time to write a screenplay. Maybe Paris will emerge with 100 pages of brilliant writing!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sacking Up

The other day in the park, I ran past some forty-year-old stoners. I heard one say to the other, "It is sunny. In the park." And lo, it was. Later, a kid on his bike ate it on the pavement. He was in the middle of getting up when I went up and asked if he was okay and he keeled over and went, "Uuuugh!" clutching his stomach. He was about 13. Then a shrill mom-type came up and shrieked, "Is your mother here? Is your father here?" Kid then ceased the groaning and got a hold of himself. Man, adolesence is confusing: be a baby? be a man? Hard to know.

Lately, I have alternating feelings of dread and joy about things that should more or less be joyful. Running hot and cold, I think they call it. The MFA hood for the graduating gown is really cool-looking.

I've just realized I've been saying "Helvetica" wrong my entire life. Add it to the list of words that I say ridiculously wrong.

Staying up really late to write or edit is stupid, and yet gives me a clarity and a tunnel vision I can only describe as my personal anxieties stepping aside to let my brain get down to work. If only I could do this during normal working hours, it'd be better for my work and my eyes. And I could reasonably contemplate doing creative work for a living. Goes back to the be a baby question, I think. And the answer is no.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Running Tip

Wear your shorts, but don't shave your legs. It will encourage you to keep running until it gets dark or you go home.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Overcast

Hello Blog Readers. I didn't forget about you, I just got busy. Not "got busy" got busy, just busy. I was moving, yes, moving again. I like my new apartment a whole lot. Maybe it will be sunnier this weekend and I'll treat you to a photo essay on my new apartment. To whet your appetite: there's a fresco on the landing of ye olde cottage in the depth of winter. I really like the new place a lot. For one thing, the fridge isn't four feet away from my bed and for another I can hang my clothes on the line to dry. And wash my car. Yesterday I discovered that two doors down and across the street is a fantastic park with lots of paths. This is the year I teach myself to run on cement.

On Friday I attended the Worst Writing Class in the history of the world. No one threw scat at anyone's head in a literal way, but some people stared at other people with their eyes bugged out in a "let's take this outside" kind of way and let the silence linger. It's not often you get to sit in a tiny seminar room on the 6th floor and have your peers issue a non-verbal invitation to the teacher to rumble. At one point, the guy across from me goes, "What does it matter? It's all bullshit anyway. What do you think you're making? Profundity? I can tell you it's not".

Then I went out with Becky and Brooke and we sat at a table and drank a lot.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Moved

Last week, when I was putting over a thousand dollars on my Mastercard at the Volvo repair place, I mentioned to the guy behind the counter that I was moving this week. A disembodied voice from somewhere in the back yelled out, "It never ends!!!" Disembodied voice, you are right. Moving is the suck. Except that I love my new apartment so much I could cry. Last night I had a meeting that went very late and when I drove up to my house at 11:45 at night, straight into the driveway a mere two paces from the backdoor, I was overcome with happiness. And then I was greeted by cheerful little cats at the door.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

No Jacket Required.

Okay, it's not Halloween or anywhere near it, but random Google searches can yield some gold, GOLD.

Here it is, friends, the best Halloween costume I have ever seen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Adventures of Pee Wee Proportions


Today at Trader Joe's I bought some stuff and chortled to the woman in line with me when the woman in front of us said to the cashier, "Thanks Ryan, you did a really good job." The lesson there being never have a job where you have to wear a nametag because you might find your name included in a sentence like that. So I was talking about when I had a job on the tourist-riddled streets of Vancouver for which I had to wear a nametag and people would say weird things to me, Robyn, and it was silly and then I told the story about how being accosted by Tom Green while on the sidewalk with my nametag on. And then I had a moment where I see the other person's eyes watching me talk and I know they are thinking, "Wow, in Canada everyone knows each other and runs into each other on the street all the time. She probably chats to Celine Dion at the grocery store" Which isn't quite how it goes down. Canada has a small POPULATION but a large LAND MASS. Mostly we run into prairie dogs and bear scat on the street.

Then I went out and got in my car and when I tried to start it, it made sounds like it was going to explode. And it didn't want to move even though it was now blocking the throughway of the Trader Joe's parking lot--a parking lot already filled with a lot of frustration and rage without my station wagon sealing it off right in the middle. I managed to get it over to another spot and then my brother's brilliant Christmas gift of renewing my AAA membership really swung into action as I couldn't get it to start. It would ignite, but hitting the gas had no effect whatsoever.

So I called AAA and then took the perishable groceries back to the store. When returning them, I was helped by this hipster guy who has taken things to some extremes. Trader Joe's seems to kind of generally be staffed by cool people and the Silverlake Trader Joe's is kind of off the hook sometimes. This guy was very happy and friendly and had a mustache that was waxed into curled tips. He also had a tattoo of a Tim Burton drawing on the inside of his forearm. "Hey," I say, "is that 'Jimmy The Hideous Penguin Boy?'" "Yes, it is," says he. "I once wrote a paper on that poem," I say. A poem, it should be noted, that goes like this: "My name is Jimmy, but my friends call me Jimmy The Hideous Penguin Boy". And then the picture: horrible little lumpen creature with indentations for eyes slouched against a red-and-white striped background (circus tent? US flag?).

"How long was your paper?" he asks. "And what was it about?" And then I admitted that it was around four pages long and it was basically a paper that comes out of being in the third year of your English degree and knowing you could write a twenty page paper on one word, such is your ability to take a linguistic piece of work and pull it and stretch and roll around on the floor with it. Then he pointed to his tattoo and said something about George Bush. Then I went back to my car.

So I did block the parking lot after all with a giant flatbed tow truck. The tow guy was super nice as we tried to work out the various problems of how to get my car on the truck and then what to do with it once we got it there. In the cab of the truck on the way to Zen Volvo I started a conversation that I got lost in when I couldn't really understand what he was saying but I acted like I did when I didn't want to say, "What? What?" over and over again.

Luckily I had spent the afternoon helping Mo shoot in a backyard in the Valley that smelt overpoweringly of dog shit and featured a bone the size of a yule log and an antler lying around on the grass. In thirty-three/ninety-one degree heat. So I had an instant favour to call in and Mo came and picked me up and the sky was all softly purple and pink with silhouettes of palm trees like some kind of postcard with "L.A.!" scrawled in pink neon writing across it and we stopped at a 7-11 for juice.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Keeping It Separate

Tonight when I went down to run at the track at school there was a woman and a security guy in a uniform sitting behind a table blocking the entrance to the field. I had to sign in to go in. I asked her about it and she said in a closed mouth kind of way that they had had security problems. I was trying to figure out if that meant someone had hurt people or if someone had hurt property. She finally admitted that there had been some theft (what can you steal from a track? garbage cans?) and also concern with students being able to have enough room for their games on the field. Usually the field is super busy with pick up games of soccer and tons of people making their way around the track in various forms and speeds. A lot of the people using the track were not students but people from the surrounding neighbourhood playing with their friends or walking with their kids. It was crowded at times (and some people displayed some very poor track ettiquette) but in a cheerful way. Little kids jumping on the high jump mats, big fat moms walking another lap, teenagers getting some of that testosterone out on the soccer pitch. It felt like a big, safe, well-lit community park.

I don't know if the sign-in thing is meant to shut out people who aren't students. I think it probably is. Tonight, except for some teeny tiny little kids learning how to pass the baton from their coach, it seemed to be all students and it was pretty empty. USC has all these ways that it tries to help people from the immediate neighbourhood: scholarships, magnet schools, etc. I think there's got to be a lot of problems involved with having a very big and very wealthy school taking up a big swath of your community and creeping outwards every day. I hate the idea that the neighbourhood people got kicked out because, more or less, they were making too much use of the space.

Once at UBC I saw a woman chase this tiny old lady with a big bag of pop cans out of the Student Union Building. The can collector people at UBC were almost always older asian people who were very quiet and circumspect. They never seemed to be after anything but cans. So this woman chases away the can lady, who finally abandons her bag of cans and flees. And then the woman grabs the bag of cans and marches back inside the building. What? They're still gonna get recycled! Just let the can lady have them--she worked hard for them. And at the very least, the can people on campus show the students what being industrious looks like.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Time Personified


This little dude is one month older than my film school career. He can talk and everything. Can my film degree chat with me about what playdough colours we like the most and then twenty minutes later remember the one I liked and hand it to me? No, it can't. Is my film degree the cutest ever? No, it is not. Though I do imagine that if I were to pose with my film degree for a photo, it might make this face.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

One More Thing

I won a poker game the other night. I felt like clasping my hands over my head in a cartoon-like manner but didn't because if you win a poker game it means everyone else just lost a poker game. Still, wooooooo!

Team Zissou: Nordic Edition

Some skiing happened this weekend.

I've never driven too far east of LA. Turns out that's where the old west is. Or was. We even saw tumbleweed.



It takes about 5 hours to drive to Mammoth, which is a ski hill. After miles and miles of sage and plains with hills in the distance I was curious to see where the vertical rise comes in. It turns out the name is very apt: Mammoth is a ridge that lumbers along the windswept plains. It gets steep at the spine, which is also where the wind likes to scour you like a brillo pad, but mostly it ambles out lengthwise. This makes for lots and lots of chairs next to each other, and also makes it tough to end up where you want to, because just because you are above a ski lodge does not necessarily mean skiing downhill will get you there.

We bunked in a double double-bed room, all six of us. Six of us, and a lot of Coors Light and a Back to the Future marathon on TV. Fortunately, I grew up with an older brother, so I'm more likely to find farting funny than infuriating. This came in handy on the trip, as being give or take 10,000 feet above sea level and drinking lots of beer took its toll on everyone.

Being 10,000 feet above sea level took its toll on the skiing too. On Saturday I'd have to stop because I was out of breath, which usually never happens because the lactic burn will kick in well before. Later that day and on Sunday I got better at not panting so much (not dignified) and more into feeling like my legs were going to burst into flames.



The most important thing about the weekend was that the snow conditions were very good. Light, dry without being arid, and lots of it. Saturday was California sunny and even warm once you got moving fast. Sunday was an insane blizzard in which you fought to not be blown over and at the end of the day were surprised not to find snow in your navel, but whatever, the snow was still good. No fresh tracks to speak of, but a lot of snow to push around on some nice steep moguls, which is all I really ask for.

The best thing about lots of snow is how much no-consequence falling over you can do. I even bailed in the parking lot and landed on my face... in a nice soft pile of snow.

We drove down in the friscilating dusklight, with a lot of good music in the car.



Many thanks to Miss Sarah for organizing the trip. It would not have been possible to know in December how much I would need a weekend of having fun and laughing at stuff and skiing and eating and drinking beer at this point, but lo, I did, and lo, there it was.

Movin' On Up

Although my conscious brain won't acknowledge it, it's entirely possible that I've decided to move because my fridge won't stop making a weird ongoing noise. This is mostly relevant because my fridge sits more or less right next to the door to my room which is right next to my desk, which is where I sit when I'm trying to have ideas or otherwise get my life organised into some kind of palpable shape.

I do love my apartment, but it's small, so small, and where I am moving will be so much bigger and will also, yes, have a dining room and the thought of sitting at a dining room table to do work is deeply exciting. Also a parking spot. Wow, a parking spot. I could come home at 3 in the morning with a bunch of stuff to unload and it would be FINE. Imagine that.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Heathcliff (is in my lungs)

I was sick last week with bronchitis. Nurse Sarah called it a newborn virus, which means you hope it happens to you before you turn two. I guess when you are two, your schedule is a lot more flexible and people are less likely to yell at you for getting behind in your responsbilities because all you do is take naps all day. Anyway, take naps all day is all I did, for days. It got boring even while it was still necessary. I didn't realise how dopey I was until I tried to read and couldn't understand the plot. It was an Edith Wharton book, so not that much to understand: young lady who is not quite destitute but almost is willful and refuses to let her heart be constrained by the poverty of her circumstances. Later this weekend it made more sense. Except for the end, but I think that was the fault of Wharton, not me. I was reading "Summer" and I've previously read "The House of Mirth", but what's with ending every story with your heroine falling into a hazy kind of stupor in which she, to her own incredulity, does exactly what she's been fighting against the whole book? Canonical chops and critical praise notwithstanding, I don't know if I feel up to reading more Wharton if I know I'm going to spend the last twenty pages of the book going, "Noooooooooooo. Ugh."

I guess I'll just clutch my handkerchief to my lips and utter another TB-like cough (upper respitory track infections are so romantic) and swallow my bad-smelling antibiotics. And try not to get impregnated by tepid youths who would love me for all eternity if they weren't accidentally sort of, whoops, engaged to someone else. If I've learned nothing else from Wharton, I've learned that. I wish she had called one of her books "Why Buy The Cow?"

Cough cough cough cough cough cough.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Eagles

Last weekend my friend Katie's younger sister Emily died in a hostel fire in Punta Arenas on the southern tip of Chile. She was backpacking with her friend Lauren and they were about set off for adventures in Patagonia. She was 25. Both of them were quickly identified because they had gone to sleep lying on their passports and the passports were undamaged, so we know they died of smoke inhalation. They just went to sleep and never woke up.

I spent some days this past week up in Vancouver with Katie and her family. It's hard to know how to write about this thing: it is too big to fit my arms around. I was really scared to go to Katie's house because her house is so much like my house. I spent a lot of time over there when we were in high school (it's only a walk through the top of the park and then one more block) and I know where the mugs are and the plates and the spoons. This turned out to be helpful. I tried to bring everything I could think to: music and novels and the BBC Pride and Prejudice. Every day felt really really different than the day before, and different stuff happened. Katie's mom always thought I looked more like Em than Katie did, so I was trying to be careful. Sometimes Kate and I talked about Em, sometimes we talked about calling people and arrangements and sometimes we talked about silly stuff like re-enacting The Taming of the Shrew with cabbage patch kids for English class in grade 12.

People brought or sent a lot of food over, which was helpful. Especially vegetables, salad, fruit, and dishes to reheat. A lot of the food was wonderful comfort food, but made one feel a bit sluggish.

People brought or sent a lot of flowers. They were appreciated but let me dole out some advice: if you'd like to send flowers, ask the family while on the phone with them to see if they'd rather have the money sent to a fund or if they'd rather the flowers came later and were plants. Please don't send formal, funereal bouquets, they are depressing. If you are going to send a bouquet, let it be colourful and cheering and come in its own vase. If they are stuck into those green foamy things they wilt quickly and that's the last thing you want. In fact, though it may seem humble, a living plant may be the best kind of thing to send. But ask first, especially if it's a couple days in.

I felt happy to know the family well enough that I could just hang around and be another person in the house. I think sometimes the tendency is for people to stay away in a time of grief, but the Longworths wanted people around and they wanted to talk about their funny kid and see pictures of her grinning away or see all the cool stuff that she made and even hear stories about how she duped her dad into think the Liquor Board of Ontario charges on his visa were for the university bookstore. Fortunately Em went lots and lots of places and took armloads of great photos, in almost every one of which she is grinning a huge and joyful grin. She made lots of stuff, including a beautiful knit blanket for her sister for a wedding present. Katie cuddled under that a lot.

I knew Em a bit when we were growing up, but got to know her as an adult this spring at Katie's wedding. I had a fantastic time at the wedding. The whole thing felt so uncontrived and genuine. Miss Emily was a big part of that: she's kind of a fun expert. After the dinner, most of the guests went to bed, but Em and her friend Lucia and a handful of Katie's friends and I stayed up and danced and drank until super late. It was the most fun I had had in a long time and I remember being really thankful to Katie and her sister for such a joyful time.

Last week Katie and I went for walks and runs in Lighthouse Park, which is basically a forest on the sea full of little rocky trails. The reward of all the hills and valleys is to get to the shore and see out across Burrand Inlet, out to Point Grey and see and hear all the life around you. Katie kept seeing eagles, every day. Eagles flying in to roost in the snags, or in the reflection of the pond in my front yard, wheeling overhead, quite close and low. Once we were standing on a high rock face and an eagle flew from a tree top near our heads out to the sea. When my grandma died, my mom kept seeing ravens and finding raven feathers--huge black wing-feathers lying across her path as she stepped out the back door. Katie said yesterday she and her husband Brendan were standing on a rock by the sea and two eagles flew in over the water to roost right above their heads.



You can look at Em's travel blog here and her friend Lauren's travel blog here . The family will be holding a celebration for Em on February 17th in Vancouver. You can email emilys.celebration -at- gmail.com for more info. The family is accepting donations in lieu of flowers for a fund for beginning teachers in East Van and they are accepting cards via a friend--please be in touch with me if you need this information.


Hangover Twin!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sorry For Touching Your Soup Can



There's this guy in my writing class who really wants to name his pirate epic "Black Flag". We keep telling him not to because of the band, but he persists. I keep thinking of him and Henry Rollins having a fight over it. Rollins would win.

Many people not from Vancouver, BC, Canada have not heard of Nardwuar the Human Serviette, which is a shame because he's great (early stuff is the best). Perhaps his brand of gonzo works best in a limited locality, although Nardwuar worldwide sounds kind of like a planet I'd like to live on.

Once Doretta and I went to a Peaches show back when it was really hard to get "The Teaches of Peaches" in North America, even though she's Canadian. CiTR had it and Doretta played it a lot on her show and we'd bop around in the studio while it was playing. Anyway, the show was great and Dorrie said I should do an on-air review of it, but I had to work during her show, so I did the review over the phone from the pay parking booth in scenic Horseshoe Bay. The show was great, one of the best shows I've ever been to. It was Peaches, a piece of shit electronic backbeat, her wearing aviators and a moustache and doing a strip show that ended in hot pants with pubes poking out the sides. And then her opening act rushing on stage and them spitting fake blood on each other's chests. Killer. I did the review over the phone and forgot parts of it and said "oh, yeah, I forgot this one part" a lot.

Anyway, Dorrie said she passed Nardwuar in the hallway that day and he said the review was the best review he'd ever heard. When Dorrie told me this it was like I breached another plateau of cool. Nardwuar loves me? I love him!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dear Doretta,

On the first day of my advanced directing class, the teacher was wearing socks with little planet earths on them and spaceships flying up into the space and words "Love It Or Leave It" floated in the darkened void over the whole scene.

If socks are any indication (and you and I both feel, I know, that socks are an indication) I'm going to like this class.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

So Famous

The best thing about stopping by the production office where I interned this summer is the assistant saying to someone on his cel phone, "I gotta go, Robyn's here" and the person on the phone saying, "Robin Wright Penn?"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Murderers

I read The Lovely Bones start to finish this weekend.

I can't figure out why flags are flying at half-mast around here.

The Pickton trial has started. When he first got caught and they started combing through the pig farm for all those dead women, it was on the news all the time. I remember being delerious from shift work-caused exhaustion in the middle of the dark Canadian winter and getting very very upset about all of it. Unconsolably upset. Being unconsolably upset felt better than just sitting around reading newspaper articles about how one man killed 49 women that no one cared about because it was decided they were just drug-addicted whores who missing due to their own mischief. 49 people is a lot of people.

I hate murderes but I still don't believe in the death penalty.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Nights When I Love My Neighbourhood

Last night Becky and I were leaving the Good Luck bar (a bar full of chinoiserie that I've always hated until last night when I realised that this guy I know from school works there, so now it feels tacky in a friendly kind of way). Our self-described Elijah Wood look-alike friend was having a birthday party and the evening involved a lot of horsing around and silliness. None of the silliness could have prepared us for what we met upon stepping out onto the sidewalk, however.

We're walking up the street when this guy walks out from the parking lot with straggley hair and a blue overcoat (hipster? homeless? a little hard to tell) and asks us, with the exact tonal intonation that Cher from Clueless would use to find out if you know where her super-cute plaid mini is, "Um, do you guys have a crack pipe?" He may have even cocked his head to the side and wrinkled his nose up.

It was so cute, and so fucked up. He was so sweet about it that I almost did a little pocket patting, just to make him think that I would totally, totally give him my crack pipe if I had it on me, but shit, I didn't and sorry 'bout that. Then, as we walked towards Becky's car, my drunkeness took over and I laughed hysterically.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Best of 2006

Here's what I did on New Years.

First this:



Which was part of a chocolate fondue, sponsored by hunks of chocolate from Tey-has:



They came wrapped in red ribbons:



And then it was late and I got sleepy.



Extra special thanks to Ayesha and Zena, hostesses with panache, who sadly do not appear in any of these photos, but are lovely beyond words nonetheless.