Monday, November 27, 2006

It was nice talking to you

The title above was the last thing the automated operator at T-Mobile said to me as I finished paying my account for the month. There's a sense where I understand the urge on the part of a company to create the feeling of human contact, but it comes off as a bit patronizing as well. There is little doubt in my mind that I was talking to a machine, especially considering that very few people misunderstand the difference between "eighty" and "eighteen" to the point that I have to say "eighty-one" just to move forward in the conversation.

The whole situation poses a dilemma. I really, really like the fact that I can hop on the phone and pay a bill or conduct any number of simple business transactions without actually having to bother a human being, but the fact is that such convenience carries with it a certain alienation. I generally try to be polite to machines (I always tell the gas pump, for instance, that I do not want a receipt), perhaps hoping on some level that when the machines rise up, I will be on the protected rolls.

What I guess I'm getting at is that I would prefer that a machine not be set up to represent anything else--the voice on T-Mobile is a nicely euphonious woman's voice with inflections and pacing that varies from vaguely seductive to comically robotic. I am certainly always aware that I am talking to an interactive menu that may seem friendly, but it is never a friend, and really cannot be mistaken as such.

As we move forward into an age where it is increasingly possible to simulate real social interactions in a kind of stripped-down commercially oriented Turing Test, I think that my actual human interactions become more, not less, important. Many of us interact with living people through interfaces that resemble the ones that we use to talk to computers, so it's really easy to blur the line between them. Ultimately, some kind of infrastructural designation seems called for--a way to require a machine to report "I am, in fact, a machine, and this interaction is, at best, a lifelike simulation of human contact."

In the meantime, I have to wonder if the T-Mobile voice has any admirers out there...

Monday, September 25, 2006

"You Suck."

Maybe this is catharsis. I'm surely not proud to admit this to the well of the internet, to the handful of people who have probably stopped checking this because it's been so long since an update, or to the people who pop by here for a brief second before realizing that there is no real sandwich machine, but like picking a scab or standing on a sore leg to hope the pain dulls, away I go.

I got fired. They didn't actually use the words, "You suck." Hell, they didn't even use the words, "Your fired." They phrase it like a favor, "We're letting you go." Really? I get to go? Where am I going, is it cool? No, it's a one way ticket to Shametown, population, me.

It's not as drastic as it would have been in my pre-freelance world. It was only a job I would have had for 10 days, and I already had worked two of the days. But I really could have used the money from the remaining eight, and even if it was temporary it's still a blow to the mighty pride.

I've done all the usual things. Rationalized-it was a disorganized shoot anyway, and now I'm saved the bother. I'm not worthless, I turned down three other jobs to take this one (that stings a bit, since I would really be working right now...), I have another job coming up on the 3rd, I'll be fine. They'll be worse off now than if they kept me, it was my first time as an official grip and I was bound to be out of my element, etc.

I've blamed it on them-of course I don't know where all your equipment is, you didn't give me a call time, contact info, or location. I had to hunt you down on the first day. We didn't have time to move the equipment to my van much less do an inventory. So yeah, on the first couple of days it's going to take me a while to find shit. You have bigger problems than me, I'm not the reason you're behind schedule.

But the reality is, a more experienced grip would still have been faster. On some level they where right. And there the nerve ending attached to pride starts to twinge. And it hits even harder when it's my 'real job,' not some Joe Job I could give a shit about while working my way through college.

But these things happen. I keep telling myself I can't live and die by one job. Maybe if I say it enough times I'll believe it again.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I Dare You Not To Listen

I double dog dare you to see this and not listen to a sample or two. At least own up to the one you did. For me it was Alligator ass.

EDIT: Ah, you all missed out. Apparently the site that I linked to has been torn down in favor of a new one, but on this one you can't listen to the songs. It's really too bad.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Home Depot in Emeryville Sucks

I wanted to let Sous' post sit on top for a bit before I did this, but the Home Depot in Emeryville on Emry Ave. sucks. It may be the worst hardware store on Earth. Now this isn't just, "I went in for some screws and a sander and someone was rude." No, sir. I've worked retail for far too many years and understand that sometimes it's just a bad time. But for a week and a half I went to the Home Depot in Emeryville at least once if not twice a day. Every journey was a symphony of frustration.

First, finding someone to help you is like playing wack-a-mole. Except when you actually wack that mole it doesn't tell you that it's not his or her department and then shine you on about how he'll call someone to help you. Only two out of five times (I had to go there enough for this to be a reduced ratio-and I actually kept track) would they actually make any announcement and absolutely zero times would that help come. Place on top of this the complete and total disengagement of the employees. Though to be fair, there was one doddering old man who seemed to care but was too far off the rails to really be able to help-but by depth of comparison he was a fountain of information.

The shelves are a complete shambles, marked poorly and inaccurately, and they are completely understocked. If you have a project larger than fixing a cabinet door, forget it. For a store of its size it has shockingly little. By the end of my job despite the additional distance I would go to OSH on Ashby in Berkeley first, just to avoid frustration.

Do not go to the Home Depot in Emeryville. It is nearly the worst retail place on Earth. And I used to work at a record store.

Why am I bothering, since only one reader I know about is in the Bay Area? Because thanks to sitemeter I know that we can be a bit of a Google trap, and hopefully I can warn off an innocent Googler looking for a hardware store in Emeryville and save him the hard ship of going to the worst one ever-the horrible Home Depot in Emeryville.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I am Sous Rature's Class Rage

People who know me might not be surprised that I saw The Devil Wears Prada the other day, as I had a gap in my schedule of about three hours, and none of the films that I was actually anticipating this summer had been released yet. I was prepared for a fair-to-middling “chick flick”; what I was not prepared for, however, was for a barely containable class rage to rear up in my consciousness even as I sat in the movie theater.

A little background is necessary here. First off, my family is basically lower middle class as far back as I can trace. I often joke with friends that my forebears probably carried the luggage off the Mayflower. At the same time, I come from a long line of educators, artists, and lovers of reading. It was no surprise to anyone in my family that I studied literature when I went to college; I had said as much when I was in the seventh grade, and I have an aunt who went the same way. Most of the men in my family, though, are tradesmen of one kind or another—printers, mechanics, truck drivers, technicians. All through my childhood, I witnessed adults struggling to support their families; my stepfather mowed lawns in the day and worked as the night janitor at a high school while he went to welding school. What this meant for me was that whatever I was going to do, it had to be, foremost, a trade that could support me.

Teaching English seemed like a reasonable way to go, and there are ways in which my time as a literature student (twelve years) was incredibly important, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything; however, there were a few difficulties. First, literature is not typically a discipline for the masses, and I continuously felt out of place among my peers. I was surrounded by people who immediately clarified the meaning of the word dilettante. These were people who had opinions about wine and could use the word lover in a conversation without it seeming entirely ridiculous. My tastes are a bit different, and if my love for popular culture generally and television specifically made me a little bit the odd John, my scientific leaning were tantamount to declaring myself the enemy. For many of them, I was the Morlock in the garden of the Eloi.

What made this worse is that I love art and literature and much of what is put in the “high culture” box. This stuff meant a lot to me, and I was often the wide-eyed innocent; to me, they often felt like the couple in Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” or extras in The Great Gatsby. It often felt to me that all of what we were doing mattered more to me than it did to them, even as they were “to the manor born.” It took me a long time to figure out why Jude the Obscure got me so angry, but years later, I realized that it hit a little too close to home. I was smart enough to get into the party, but once I was there, there was no reward other than the discomfort of literally and figuratively not knowing what fork to eat with.

Going to England for a year served to further define things. England is an openly class-driven society, and I could clearly see where my allegiances lay. Further, I am not particularly an Anglophile, but my enthusiasm often overshadowed that of other exchange students (particularly those from New York), who seemed more interested in not appearing interested. What it really seemed like was that these people were (1) practicing not being impressed, and (2) setting up contacts for future shopping expeditions later in their lives. I had a great time in England, and I think my experience was probably richer and more personally meaningful than it was for many of these people; at the same time, it was my first (and so far only) trip out of the country, and it proved nearly ruinous financially. I loved Europe, and I always grind my teeth a bit when I hear people talk so casually about popping over the Atlantic when it is just a couple steps shy of a lunar landing for me.

My moviegoing experience of a few weeks back shouldn’t have been a shock for me, but it was. I have some dimensions of my personality that I wish I could change, but, barring that, at least I can be honest about them. Seeing this film about the transformation of a basically down-to-earth character into a fashionista brought up my bile in a way that I hadn’t seen in myself since that time I accidentally watched Paris Hilton abuse Burger King employees on The Simple Life. I can only call it class rage, and it is one of the only instances where my thoughts actually take a violent turn. I can understand the spirit of the French Revolution when Barbara Bush talks so callously about the displaced poor, when well-heeled people don’t get what’s going on at intermission of Ibsen’s A Doll House. Whether I like it or not, I feel like I have more right to the great things of our culture because they actually mean something to me, because they were not my birthright, because I pursued them, because they weren’t a given for me.

This is a self-esteem issue too, though. Every now and again, I get the sensation that I am a barely restrained Liza Doolittle at the garden party, and my discourse on art, philosophy, and culture is only shades different from KoKo’s attachment to a kitten. I’d like to get over it, but I’m not sure I ever will.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Artistic Process

This sums up nicely a feeling I have about the process of artistic acceptance, among other things. There doesn't seem to be anything on deck for writer/director Jeff Hopkins, but I hope there will be soon. It's a good little film even without the personal relevance.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why Teach Critical Reading?

Here's a good reason. This is an anti-abortion blogger who apparently wasn't able to figure out that The Onion was a satirical newspaper. Now, I'm like the millionth blogger I think to make fun of this, he even had to post a response to all the other chattering horde on the internet that still fails to realize the schtick of The Onion.

But since an English teacher (theoretical) co-authors this blog and another occasionally visits it I thought it a relevant justification for the work they do. She must think Swift is the father of the pro-choice movement...

Side note: Blogspot spell check doesn't recognize "Blogger" and "blog"??? What the...

Update: This isn't the first time this has happened.

Monday, July 10, 2006

That's One Way to Deal With Criticism

Challenge them to a boxing match.

That's right. Uwe Boll, director of such universally panned video game to movie adaptations as House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark, the former of which (being the only Boll I've seen) achieves connection to the game by actually splicing in screen shots of the game during a climactic(?) last fight, has decided to challenge his five harshest critics to a boxing match:

"I'm fed up with people slamming my films on the Internet without see them. Many journalists make value judgments on my films based on the opinions of one or two thousand Internet voices. Half of those opinions come from people who've never watched my films. I have been told that BloodRayne has a very bad IMDb rating but how many of those votes of zero were made before the movie appeared in theatres."

I can certainly understand that level of frustration. I mean when your a filmmaker that has a website dedicated to petitioning you to stop making films or calling you the antichrist, it can get to you. I'm reminded of the ending of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back where they spend their royalty money giving internet forum haters a beat down. But as Banky says in that film:
That's what the internet is for. Slandering others anonymously. Stopping the flick isn't gonna stop that.

And really, if the rest of his movies are anything like House of the Dead, he does have a lot to answer for. But then, I guess he is. Though he's no fool, there are parameters-

To be eligible only critics who have posted on the internet or who have written in magazines / newspapers at least two extremely negative articles in the year 2005 will be considered. Critics of 2006 will not be considered. Please submit proof of your negative reviews & comments via e-mail to:

All challengers must be healthy males, weighing between 140 lbs. and 190 lbs. You will require to be physically examined by a doctor and sign the necessary release forms for liability, etc. You will not be paid nor entitle to any residuals or fees. Your transportation & hotel costs will be paid.

The following posters to the IMDb have earned the right to be placed on the list of the most extreme anti-Boll critics and therefore eligible to enter the contest for being picked to be an extra/stand-in in Postal and physically box Dr. Uwe Boll.


You will surely not want to miss this, so keep checking back on IGN for more!

I looked up a Headhuner004 quote, here, where he lists a bunch of anti-Boll movies.

He could just make better movies, but everyone deals with things their own way...

This Guy Really Hates Walls...

Roger Waters has graffiti the Israeli Wall. It's part of a larger campaign, and probably more news worthy is the concert and organization. But it's Waters, and a Wall.

Imagine in ten years time when he'll be in America with a whole new wall to graffiti...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

No Pictures, Please

Having been the Easter Bunny, I totally understand this.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Now That's What I'm Talking About

As a geeky little kid H. P. Lovecraft was one of those things that was 'in my orbit,' so to speak. I was into role-playing games, and there was a role-playing game that I think I remember trying, or at least creating a character in. I had a complete volume of short stories that I read a few of. People who where into some of the things that I was into where into Lovecraft and Cthulhu. I would be a poser, though, to say that I was that into it.

But the movie that's been made I'm all about. Why? Because the filmmakers have decided to not only set it in the time period of the original story, but they have filmed it as if it was filmed in 1925-including being silent and only 47 minutes long. Looks like it's not going to be on a screen anywhere near me, the DVD is definatly on the list.

This is something that really intrigues me about modern filmmaking that really can only come about as a medium matures. Here the method of the filming is part of the narrative. The mise en scene has always been important in film, but this degree, not only what's on the film but how it was filmed, creates a new level of the narrative for the audience to interact with because the audience has an awareness of the medium. We're seeing this become more prominent, as with another film that uses this very technique, The Saddest Music in the World, the in the blending of documentary, narrative, and surrealist styles in the adaptation of American Splendor, or in the recent biopic of The Notorious Bettie Page that depicted the period of Page's life by emulating the film-stock of the photographs that she was taking at the time (grainy black and white in New York at the film clubs, over saturated color in Miami with Bunny Yeager). There are more examples, such as the super-genre love notes of Tarantino's Kill Bill and Conran's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. It inspires me as an aspiring film maker and engages me as an active audience member.

I can only hope that Cthulhu and it's ilk are harbringers of things to come. Bravo.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's Good to be Remembered

I grew up competing against, if for only a few years, a top level athlete. I don't want to mention his name so as not to end up trapping someone in a Google search because for some reason that would make me feel silly. Most the people who actually read this and aren't just passing through looking for an actual sandwich machine (I'm stunned at how often that's searched for, not to mention how many of those people actually click here ever so briefly...) already know who I'm talking about.

By complete randomness, I ended up working a Food Network show where I met him again as an adult. Now I remember him because of who he is, but there was no reason for him to remember me. And he didn't. What did surprise me was that his dad remembered me. I mean really remembered me. He described my dad, my grandpa (I couldn't even do that...), my number, a lot. Apparently I'm in a video they have of that time as well. He even said I was good, which I think was polite but gave me a warm fuzzy anyway.

All in all it was pretty cool. Meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but cool anyway. He was a pretty nice guy, too. Though in the situation that was to be expected, people always say that as if they expect 'celebrities' to be kicking puppies...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My Tenuous Connection to a Disney Film

As should surprise no one, I saw the movie Cars. If you're a fan of the automobile (even if you know it's ultimately a destructive relationship) than there is a well of references, as well as a faithful extension of the "Little Cabbie" cartoons that I like so much. All in all it's better than any movie with, no kidding, ten writing credits should be. The opening short, One Man Band is worth the price of admission.

But even cooler, I have a degrees of separation connection that I will stretch to make.

On of the back drops of for the film is a place called "Cadillac Ridge," which is a reference to Cadillac Ranch in Texas where an artists group called Ant Farm buried a series of Cadillacs nose first in the ground in a row. A key member of Ant Farm is Chip Lord, head of the UCSC Film and Digital Media department. (I had to change the link because I realized the one I used was for his personal info for UCSC students...on this one be sure to check out his movie map project using Bullitt. Badass...)

It's almost like seeing someone you know in a movie. Almost...

Because Maybe I Secretly Wish My Name Started with a B...

...but probably not. Anyway, following Incertus' lead I installed a sitemeter on this site so I could obsessively look at who glances at this page for less than a second in their search for something else or to see if for some reason we actually made an entry.

For those readers who were looking for sous rature, but not the Sous Rature who so rarely posts, and anyone else who is maybe strolling through the "next blog" button tour, I invite you to check out their adventures. The only thing I can add is how creepy it is to know so much about those people who where looking for an actual sandwich machine...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Fight Back and the Era of Infomercials.

I miss Fight Back. You all remember that show, it was like a proto-type Mythbusters that challenged the claims made in advertising. The show ran for 18 seasons and was amazingly popular. Somethings I didn't know, but found out at Fight For instance, the number of claims that where true was pretty amazing, according to the history page:
One of its most popular features was the commercial challenges, which were entertaining as well as informative. The challenges included products being dropped from a helicopter, or being smashed with wrecking balls, to test claims of strength ... the popular "Timex Watch" challenges (which were all successful, by the way) ... durability tests featuring "Geeta the Elephant," a series regular from the Los Angeles Zoo, who tested the strength of products ranging from roof tiles to water beds. David recalls that 95% of all challenges proved the companies' claims, but the 5% failure rate sent worried manufacturers into a panic.

Originally I was going to lament the passing of such a show, but .86 seconds on the internet and it turns out that David Horowitz is going strong and giving consumer news on the internet. But as with most things it's not done to fulfill my lazy direct needs. Also, to parallel the eventual disappearance of that show and the change in advertising regulation that created the beast we know as the infomercial.

I don't have a remote for my TV and sometimes I just let the thing drift into infomercial because I get involved with something else or I'm just outside the door having a cigar and don't want to come in just to click through all the channels to see if there is anything on. There are a lot of vague, result and testimonial oriented programming on that promises that I'll be rich and beautiful as long as I call before the infomercial is over.

Thing is, I'm a naturally curious cat. I want to know how these systems are supposed to work. Now, I am the son of a real estate developer-you can't convince me that it's a good way to make money in your spare time. I don't buy the 'get rich quick' idea, I just want to know how they think it works and why it doesn't, explained simply by people who tried it and then buttressed by an expert.

Now I think that there is some sort of copyright deal that disallows such a thorough review of the product, after all if someone explained to me how it was supposed to work and the kinks in its system I wouldn't need to buy the systems. But I don't want to buy the systems, I want someone else to do it and satisfy my curiosity.

I want my own personal Horowitz that I can send off to tell me why I can't really get a house for $455 or earn $15,000 in my underwear, or is it a tape worm that causes people to lose 45 pounds in one month?

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Altman Effect

I had to make a decision today that kind of amused me, between seeing the new Pixar movie Cars, which actually is something I had intrigued me, a take on the anthropomorphic taxi and airplane cartoons (Like where the bomber gives birth to a jet, and you're thinkin' "She got a little on the side. She's got a little 'Space Fever,' if you know what I mean...goin' for those hot new NASA boys...I digress...), or An Inconvenient Truth, about how, among other things, cars are going to kill us all. So to speak.

I ultimately decided that a lone man in his 30s, smelling of cigar, who drove up in a van...with tinted windows on a Sunday afternoon to a kids movie was inviting trouble. So I saw An Inconvinient Truth.

But Incertus said all that needed to be said about that.

So I'm going to talk about why I'm never sure if I've seen a good movie or not when I watch an Altman film. I'm going to work this out with all of you, well by the time you read this I'll have already done it, you would have just followed how I did it. But anyway...

I saw A Prairie Home Companion. I should say that I am a long time fan of Garrison Keillor, from back when entirely by accident I came across a broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. I was delighted the day he asked me to get out of the way during a book signing.

But this A Prairie Home Companion is much more of an Altman movie than it is anything else. It made me think a bit about Altman's style of story telling. In theory he is a 'proof of concept' for me and Sous Rature in that we tend to write character based ensemble pieces. But Altman, as is easily imagined, has a style all his own that I honestly don't know how I feel about.

There isn't a real sense of ending, or completion to an Altman film. He is perhaps the only filmmaker of the 70s auteur crowd that has retained that aspect of his filmmaking. Jarmusch does a bit of that, too. Though the movie has a kind of definitive ending it undermines that both in how it is set up and in the denouement.

I think that the thing that is the hardest to get around, and probably a barrier for other audience members is that his characters have very little internal life. This might seem like a natural thing for film, but it really isn't. When a character is alone, or doing something that they don't think at least others are seeing that is films way of providing an internal life for the character. While Altman doesn't abandon that all together it is far more spartan. You are an observer with no particular special privilege. You are flipping channels through the evening in these peoples lives and are left to piece it together yourself. Peoples reactions and emotions, their outbursts, can seem unmotivated and a little confusing. But it is because we are accustom to the special privilege that audiences have. Altman robs you of that.

While it would seem that this would separate the audience from his films, and no doubt it does for some, I think it has the opposite effect in that your reactions to the characters, their unmotivated outbursts or behaviors holds the same curiosity as would if it happened literally right in front of you. You are reacting as the undressed member of the crowd, the guy no one remembers inviting going from room to room nursing that one beer. The quality, the elusive reason that you think you've seen a good movie but aren't sure with Altman, is in this needle he threads with things that aren't supposed to work.

He has too many characters, no internal life, and conventional wisdom is that you can't make a film of someone's party interesting unless you are there. By giving us only the privilege that we would have as audience at that party, that's exactly what Altman films-a party that you are at. It's a different kind of filmmaking and takes a bit of getting used to.

There are weaknesses, and they don't neccisarily come from Linzie Lohan. Some of the actors, particularly and most noticably Virginia Madson, have a hard time. I don't know if it was being starstruck with author and director or what, but there are lines that you can almost tell the actor feels is corny or doesn't work but trudges through them anyway. Madson in particular gives the movie the feel of a community theater rendition of Our Town. But the interplay between Streep and Tomlin. For that matter, most of the pairings. And while it's frustrating when that style of storytelling steamrolls over a favorite bit (messing with the sound effect guy, for instance) it's about the only way this story could have been told.

One last note is the way Kiellor depicts himself, through the various stories about how he got into radio and his reactions (or lack there of) to what goes on around him. He is always at the tail end of a story that he gives you no reason to believe but want to hear anyway. He has the narrative of an observer with the characteristic of someone that does not notice those around him accept as audience. He doesn't care that the show will end because for him the show never ends. It's an interesting way for an artist to portray himself. And again, fits well into the style.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Pet Image Principle

I do a lot of Google image searches-not that kind (well...), just for various reasons I've had to look up images for a lot of things. One of the things that I noticed in doing this is that there a threshold: If a search has enough pages there is an almost certainty that one or more of those images will be a picture of someone's pet.

This image of someone's pet birds came up for 'motherfucker.'


So far today, on 666-

The first The Sipmsons of today, Homer predicts the apocalypse. The first thing that came up on my iTunes when I hit random? The Damnation of Faust by Phillip Johnston, from the album Merry Frolics of Satan album. Which I recommend. I was going to watch The Omen but by the time logistics where worked out, the urge passed.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Full Year, Full Circle

It hasn't been a year yet, and it's going to be a dodgy couple of months, but when I do hit the 1 year mark as a freelance crew worker, it will be the same way I began this experiment, as truck PA for the Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca. I have to say that I had sent the e-mail to the producer in the hopes that he would put me on the motorcycle races, but being hired back is just as good. Anyway, I think the motorcycle events already passed.

The "M" job went to the intern that was doing it as I suspected it would. As a consultation they say they've been passing on my number to LA productions looking for crew in the area, though I haven't gotten any calls from that. It doesn't matter, I'm still a fan of the show. And who knows what will happen. I also did not get the permanent gig at PBS, though again they say they'll call when they need some freelance help. I had the sense that was the direction they where headed in the interview. That's what I get for avoiding light hang in my theater time.

I love the Historics. After all I've done it's still my favorite job, and not just because they pay the best. It's a weekend hanging out with my brother (who works for them as a spotter) and watching gorgeous vintage racing cars, more than a few driven by the drivers that made the cars famous. This year's theme is the Trans Am racing series (for those who don't know, the car Trans Am gets it's name from the series, it's not a race of only Trans Ams). After those two defeats, the difficulty I've had in trying to move closer to the work and the frustration of taking a job that makes it harder for me to find work that pays enough to support me vs. not taking the job and risking not working at all, finding out that I get to go back to where I started is great.

It's still a little early for me to do any sort of 'retrospective' of this year of the experiment, like I said, June and July are going to be pretty dodgy and I may have screwed myself out of a good movie job by taking a underpaying one, but I'm going to be that touch happier going towards it.

Added P.S.- And I'm not going to let it bother me at all that I just found out they apparently had already contacted my brother last week about coming back but only contacted me after I e-mailed them.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ecto 1 is For Sale!

If I where some sort of loaded collector type it's probably no surprise that one of the things I'd collect would be movie and TV cars. Which makes fantasy me excited by finding out that Ecto 1 is for sale! For a 'mere' $149,998.00. Who needs a Lamborghini when you got a car that busts ghosts?

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Swag Count

One of the things that I hated about leaving jobs like the record store or the movie theater was the free access to movies and cds. It was an access that got me into movies I would never have watched if I didn't work there or music I wouldn't have even known about. (Never in a million years would I have noticed two of my favorite bands, The Cherry Poppin' Daddies and Sex Mob.

I was feeling sorry for myself and my cut of swag gravy train when I realized I was unloading swag from my van.

So to alleviate my lust for free stuff, I thought I'd run down the swag count from my current profession. So far, I have gotten:

Various collections of snack foods including bags of candy, bread, peanut butter, crackers, and on one occasion two giant bags of Chips Ahoy. Unfortunately, Chips Ahoy is kinda nasty.

A van load full of lumber. This actually isn't the first time I've been offered lumber, just the first time I actually accepted it. I was feeling a little lost during the Trading Spaces shoot and wanted to be as accommodating as I could be and taking the wood seemed like it would help. Besides, even though I'm not 'handy' my roommates are. They don't seem to know what to do with the lumber either, though.

Two crates full of cleaning supplies. Some of that stuff I didn't even know existed. Those who know how I live aren't surprised by that...

Voltage Detector. Oddly enough, that thing has come in really handy. And no one expects a PA to whip one out.

Two pairs of gloves. Also, very handy. These where given to me after two weeks as a grip without gloves-that's carrying and setting up stands and mounting lights that are sometimes very hot. I didn't know I was going to be a grip nor did I have any idea how to be one. Now it's my only credit on

T-Shirt and hat from the Speed Channel. This is actually the only swag type item I've received, and that was on the first go.

I was kinda hoping to score a pair of boots from the ad, but ah well.

It's not a bag of cds every week, but it'll do.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Other Me

Confession, of a sort. I am, to a small degree, an identity thief. So to speak.

Here's the story-

Safeway has those club cards, or whatzits, you know the deal. I had applied for one a long time ago, and a slightly shorter time ago I lost that card. That's pretty common-they let you put your phone number in lieu of the card.

Here's where it gets tricky. I used to not have a phone. None what so ever. It was a bill I couldn't and didn't want to maintain. I didn't care. I did have phone numbers fleetingly-I'd get a pager for a couple of months or move into a place that had a phone or whatnot. But when I lived by myself I had a phone for a very short period of time before I didn't. Though that didn't stop my phone from ringing one day asking me to take a survey. As an exchange for taking the survey I asked the guy what number he dialed. Until the phone company killed the line all together, I had a phone number. I couldn't call out without a calling card, but people could call me.

So fast forward again to the Safeway Card. I knew I had one a long time ago but didn't know which number I had given-I often give long since dead phone numbers on things for several reasons, some good, some bad. So, at the register with only enough to cover the sale price but not enough time on my break to create a new card I started entering numbers that I had until one worked. The phantom number worked.

I figured that was the number I gave and started using it when I bought stuff at Safeway. That is, until the cashier stumbled through trying to pronounce the name she thought I had. Turns out that the phantom number had been reassigned to someone who also had a Safeway card. Rather than getting a new one I just decided to reassure my checker that how ever they decided to pronounce the name was indeed correct and bail.

But as I used my last five bucks (and 'borrowed' Safeway Card) today I looked down at the receipt-sometimes I try to make a go at pronouncing my benefactors name-and looked at the buying stats. It seems that my alter ego likes the Safeway sandwiches and occasions the Safeway Starbucks.

I've eaten a fair share of sandwiches at Safeway, but not common enough for me to care about the sandwich club deal, so I've never noticed. But I wonder if my 'card buddy' does-does he notice that he got to the free sandwich faster than he should? Does he even notice? Maybe he's as cavalier about the sandwiches, too. Maybe he, too, doesn't notice. I wonder what the marketing for him looks like, do I skew him-him me?

I think I might start tracking my grocery doppleganger. I don't mind that my shopping reaps him some awards, it seems a fair exchange for me not having to fill out a new form and remember what phone number I gave.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Trading Spaces

Right, we have this thing.

I've been gone for a while and haven't had internet for a while. I just wrapped (well, last week-I'm lazy, okay?) on Trading Spaces. Now, for the most part I don't actually post what show I specifically worked on until it airs because of these things I sign that tell me not to-but Trading Spaces had the name one the side of their truck. What a relief to not have to lie and tell people, "We're doing a documentary."

I'm finding that often the more I'm paid the less that I do. I'm sure that people will tell me that's the way the rest of the world is. That just makes me wonder why everyone kept telling me that laziness wasn't good...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Stupid Lego...

This won't make much sense or be much of a post, but...

The Lego constantly breaking down wouldn't be so irritating if it wasn't consistently breaking parts that Veronica doesn't even have...

Just when movies caught up with reality shows, reality shows took a giant leap forward. If I hadn't taken the Bunny job it'd be even worse. I'd feel bad about littering the world with reality shows if it wasn't for the tenancy for the ones I work on not to air...

On the plus side I've hit the 'magic' (even if it's only magic to me) 10th paid gig. Now I'm two away from 10 paid gigs where the term 'paid' isn't euphamistic...

Monday, April 17, 2006


Sometimes, I have a very juvenile sense of humor, which is why I want this movie poster:

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

One Career Goal Down...

I done got me a page on
As a grip, no less. Granted, it's for a movie no one is likely to see, but I never made that qualifier...

Now I need a 'written by' and a 'directed by' step at a time...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sandwich Idea & Random Notes

A website for cell phones that lets users rate and comment on specific business, like "This Jack in the Box is stingy with the dipping sauce, this Cheveron won't give directions without having to buy a map (the instance that brought this on). Users can either log on and find a place that has good comments to do what they need on the road or check to avoid places that has stingy or just ass policies or employees. Or, if they're pissed off, tell someone about it. I think a lot of places don't give a shit about 'return business' because most of their business is transient. They can be dicks because by the time you find out you've already spent your money and you're gone. Franchises are supposed to curb this by offering a same 'standard' everywhere, but like a lot of things, that's a total sham. This is a way to punish the piss-poor and reward the cool.

It's raining like crazy right now. It has been for a long time. While I appreciate the readiness of the PG & E, but the trucks just waiting out front somehow not comforting.

The big gray Hum-Vee that lives around here is driving around in the rain, perhaps looking for situations that require a giant truck. Perhaps he's hoping it will be someone in a hybrid so he can use up that lecture he's been saving up...

Thank You Easter Bunny!

So one of the things I'm finding about my new life is that occasionally I'm free to take an 'off topic' job. In this case, I'm making a sort of return to one of the best jobs I ever had. I'm a children's character-this time the Easter Bunny at the Tanfranan Mall in San Bruno.

It's not quite like my old Ninja Turtle job. I'm a lot more anchored, I don't have any magic tricks or parachutes and I don't get to use the raspy surfer voice. (Which is good, because apparently I can't do that anymore without coughing.)

I gotta say, I like working with kids again. It may be influenced a bit by the fact that I know that on the 14th I don't have to do it anymore and I can go back to crew work, but what the heck. I'm having fun so far, but it is only the second day.

Sous Rature will point out that kids are just like adults, they have the same chance of being cool or little jerks-and the little jerks don't have the empathy thing really developed yet. But I have had a chance to revisit some things.

I wonder what adults the kids will make. What of the shy ones, that have to be coaxed into shaking my hand or 'petting' my 'paw.' What about the ones that want to be older, too cool to acknowledge the bunny. What about the little girl who couldn't stop waving, laughing and dancing, but didn't want me any closer than three feet? (probably has a good sense of smell, it was day two for that costume...) Or the one who wouldn't leave my side? What about the screamers, the starers? What about the caretakers, the older sisters who would step in and attempt to calm a fussy brother on my knee?

It's interesting to see how often the photo is for the parents versus how often it's for the kids. I sympathize with the kids, I've never been able to fake the smile either.

I don't ever remember 'believing' in the mall Santa or Easter Bunny, or Mickey Mouse at Disneyland or Bugs Bunny at Great America...I knew it was a dude in a suit, I just didn't care. When we go to a play we know that the actors aren't really a couple of arguing college professors (though, sometimes they are, but you get the idea). When the kids see me they don't look into the eyes of my giant bunny head, they look at the screen in the mouth. They know that mouths shouldn't have screens in them and eyes should blink, they just don't care. It's not the Easter Bunny, it's a dude playing the Easter Bunny for them.

For adults, the world revolves around their kids, but I think it's hard to imagine that kids don't always see that and when they find things that are just for them, especially in the mall where they don't want to try on that cute outfit a fifth time, they're thrilled. They don't know 'suspension of dis-belief,' the nature of performance and space, the role of audience and art. They do know that the man or woman in the giant bunny costume is waving at them. Specifically.

Maybe the criers think I'm real. Maybe they know I'm not and have decided that a man in a giant bunny suit is not to be trusted.

So far few mallrats have opted for a bunny photo, I'm prohibitively expensive. I await the prank, I can only hope it's good.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Some Stray Thoughts Inspired by Recent Personal Events

First, I give my traditional apology for being out of circulation for an excessive amount of time. My reasons will become clear in this post.

On Friday, March 10, at 5:17 PM PST, my cousin Wendy Valdez (nee Jiminez) died. The specific circumstances are not important at the moment, and I will not go into the details. Suffice it to say that it was a shock that affected my entire family and a number of friends profoundly. Wendy will be missed by all who knew her.

I have lived a life that has shielded me from mortality for the most part except for the last few years, and not with the intervention of overprotective parents. My family is long lived, and my friends have been lucky. This has not meant that I haven't contemplated death, both my own and those of the people around me. My cousin Jeff (Wendy's brother) and I have been discussing the matter since we were old enough to understand the concept. When we were teenagers, we swapped our desires as what we would like done with our remains. At the time, I had two alternatives, presented here in order of preference:

1) My body should be cooked up and served at my memorial service.
2) Barring that, it should be carted into the mountains, unembalmed, and left in a shallow grave, subject to the natural forces of decay.

In subsequent years, I have rethought both, but the essence is the same. Cannibalism has its own complications--medically, socially, and emotionally (for some people)--so that's a wash. Option 2 is out for various legal reasons.

However, I have since formed strong feelings about the matter that I am much better able to articulate.

A traditional burial has numerous problems. It involves embalming, which is a largely outdated practice. It takes a body out of the natural cycle of decay for a very long time. It invokes additional expenses that I see as unnecessary--my family doesn't need to go to extraordinary expense simply to memorialize me; I'm gone, they're alive, and I'm not going to know the difference; my family could use the money more than I can.

Cremation is the option that a lot of people in my position take. It's cheap; it's easy to imbue the death with the necessary significance by spreading the ashes in some meaningful place. Virtually every atheist I know opts for this path, and I can see the reasons. However, I have a major philosophical objection to the whole process.

The chemical processes associated with all living things produce a lot of complex organic molecules. This is, in some ways, the work of life. We build proteins, amino acids, ATP, sugars; all of these things are transferrable, in whole or in part, to the various bacterial and animal life that are the forces of decay. Cremation reduces all of this complexity down to a pile of relatively common molecules (mostly carbon) and two things that are relatively plentiful in the universe: heat and light. Heat is the ultimate destination of all the energy there is--it's the end product of entropy, and, if many cosmologists are correct about the value of the cosmological constant, where everything is ultimately going to end up. Why help it along? Why not rage against the dying of the light? Nothing cheats death forever, but we can at least contribute the the team's effort--help the cause of life hang on just a little longer.

But how? It seems like lawmakers and the mortuary industry conspire against such an end. The answer for me (barring an "accident" transporting my body by private airplane over impenetrable wilderness or international waters), is the Body Farm
, a forensic anthropology lab that essentially gathers data on the process of natural decay in order to facilitate criminal investigations and further the sciences of physical anthropology and archaeology. This has the added bonus of contributing to the body of scientific knowledge in a field that I know and respect (my mother is trained as an archaeologist, which is where I lost a lot of my squeamishness about human remains).

Anyway, it's all food for thought--and worms.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Job Search

I wish I could say I've been busy.

Anyway, being a freelancer has meant that I'm pretty much always looking for a job. But you all know that. But I don't know if you know exactly how amusing it can be.

One of the biggest pain in the asses is the amount of people willing to do my job for free and the number of people looking to not pay people like me. As you can imagine this leads to some frustration when you see under 'compensation' things like:Copy, Credit, Meal. Which leads to posts like this guy's:

Skilled DP & editor with gear, a couple of awards & broadcast credit seeking landlord, health insurance provider, car insurance company, utility company, grocery store, etc who accept "exposure," "screen credit," or "DVD copies," as legal tender. Don't miss the opportunity to provide these services to me, since one of these ridiculous, poorly thought out projects by some pathetic "idea person" wannabe trying to sucker me out of services (since they apparently can't be bothered to learn these skills themselves) is bound to pan out! Think of the bragging rights possibilities!

Under compensation? " Basking in the sunshine of my love. "

You also get to see things like this every once in a while:

Sexy Backups ltd is looking for females with a small buttocks problem interested in modeling our amazing new low rise padded boyshorts. The photos are for our website. When you wear Sexy Backups they look exactly like normal low rise boyshorts so it will not look like you are wearing padded panties. There is nothing else like Sexy Backups in the world. They are a new invention.

Or this:

Outie Bellybutton Models -- If you have an "Outie," please read this

Girls... Ladies... Women... Ages 12 to 32...

If you have an "Outie" bellybutton, please respond for paid modeling gig.

No modeling experience necessary. Amateurs and first-timers are encouraged.

Under 18 will require permission of parent or guardian, of course.

All ethnicities welcome.

This is NOT an "adult" job.

Thank you.

Sometimes I want to call just to have these people show me the finished product.

At least one goal has been accomplished, my work (or at least the search) is interesting...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sandwich Idea

Boot chains. Sort of, like a cage for motorcycle boots. Racing boots have little studs on the outside of their boots, I think a little metal cage for the soul of a riding boot would be handy, certainly lengthen the life of your footwear, which can take a beating on a motorcycle. I suppose that you could put a little flint in there or something so you can drag your feet and make sparks. But really, it's for boot life.

This might already exist, I just didn't know how to look for it.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Reality Political Cartoon

Symbols Run Amok.

One of the things that I did a lot as a dramaturg for other playwrights was to find meanings of plays or, if they lacked it, make one up. The latter was my favorite, especially when you saw the author suddenly decide that, indeed, that is what he meant-or does now. (Just as often, just for disclosure, I'd get the "what the hell play did you just read" look.)

So if I read too much into this eagle thing, it's because I used to have to.

Complacency, entitlement-
a feeding program that for nearly three decades has drawn hundreds of eagles to feast each winter on handouts of herring, halibut and salmon.

the national symbol of the United States ... has become a chronic troublemaker. The big birds of prey, as large as 12 pounds with maximum wingspans of 7 feet, electrocute themselves on power lines, gouge each other's eyes out and make themselves sick by snacking at the town dump. They also eat the occasional cat and small dog.

From another another source...
Sucker for the photo-op-
If you've seen close up photographs of bald eagles with fish in their beaks, odds are they were taken in the Homer area.

Leaving options limited-
"I've interviewed several people that said, 'I've handled my problem after my chicken coop was raided several times by eagles,' " Bailey said. "I said, 'How's that?' [and they said] 'Well, with a twenty-two.' "

Interestingly enough, the Fox News report excludes the impact of the Eagles on that town.

Just puttin' it out there.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Et tu, Lambo?

Lamborghini has moved onto the retro world with it's new concept Muira. I'm not entirely opposed to the retro designs of cars, anything to put some distance between now and the designs of the eighties and nineties.

But where are the Colin Chapmans, the Harley Earls (as a footnote to that, Buick ain't foolin' no one-this was not being done by the ghost of the guy who gave us this) Where are the Dr. Ferdinand Porsches, the Enzo Ferraris? (Incertus had reminded me a bit ago about an ad from childhood that asked, "Why does every Ferrari that leaves the factory do it on Goodyear Eagle tires? Because Mr. Ferrari wants it that way." With Enzo getting out of a pristine Ferrari. The man had presence.)

Each of those designers had a personal aesthetic, something about the way they designed their cars that let you know, that is a Lotus, that car is a Porsche. Be it an attachment to aircooled engines hanging off the back of the car, 12 cylinder engines, light weight, an affinity for the 'rocket age,' these where cars with a stamp on them, something that made their cars their own. The Jagaur E-Type is in both The Smithsonian and the New York Museum of Modern Art. Even a remake of that car (which supposed to be Jaguar XK-R) wouldn't be able to do that.) It doesn't seem likely that cars today are going to have that impact.

That's not to say that there aren't some interesting cars out there with distinct looks. The big grill look is in, with Chrysler, Volkswagen, and Audi being the most notable fans. But even that is throwback. There is the new Pontiac Solstice and the Saturn Sky, and even some of the new retros are kinda cool.

But we don't have that one passionate designer that considers engineering a car at least in part an art form. Maybe it's just the change in the nature of the car company, the shade tree days of Colin Chapman's Lotus overwhelmed by the merger riddled mass market. No one designer has the control of a Harley Earl, no one aesthetic survives the marketing department unless it's something that theoretically has worked before. (I sometimes get the impression that the manufacturers think it was the silhouette that made their cars a classic.)

It's hard to call for an independent in a industry like automobiles. Even my preference for the little guy would have to take into consideration where I'm going to get those parts. (a question I easily forget to ask when buying vintage cars, so hey...) And it's not like Earl was working for a cottage shop. But it would be nice if all the creativity wasn't focused in after market and hot rod shops.

Unfortunately I have no ability to influence the industry since often I can't buy the magazines these cars are I'll just bitch about it here...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Remember when I talked on and on about how you might see me for scant seconds on a UPN reality show where I was part of a crew that was filmed getting a party started? Psyche! So the show didn't actually make it to the episode I worked on. Making it so far two reality shows I've worked on that have never aired and one that I just finished. Now the last one isn't likely to get cancelled so unceremoniously, but the episode itself could end up being bagged. I'm not into the show enough to keep track of when it will air and neither me nor my vans will be in it, so I don't care.

One of these days I'll work on something people will watch...("M" is still up in the air, the bad news is that right now they have an intern doing the that's not great...)

There is a chance that The Lego will beat Veronica to the big screen, but we all know who the real star is, so it's all good.

I was going to post more pontification, but this was just too funny, to me at least, that I had to put it up.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Why Unicorns Would Be Dicks

We've all seen those damn posters and sticker, with the unicorn jumping over a rainbow or being ridden by a maiden or whatever. For the most part unicorns are benign creatures of good and kindness. I call bullshit. Here's why.

Let's look at some of the creatures that live today that if they existed only as stories, we'd think they where magical.

Peacocks-If these birds didn't exist, we'd think they where crazy magic, what with their colorful fan of feathers and such. We grew up in a town that had a park that had free roaming peacocks. What anyone would tell you who has encountered a free roaming peacock is that peacocks are jerks. They are mean-spirited birds who don't car if you have bread crumbs or not, they are going to charge and peck you. Kinda scary when you're four and about as tall as they are.

Pandas-Also an animal that could be magical. Vicious bastards. (As a side note, the panda is in the symbol for the World Wildlife Foundation. I think that there should have been a square off-Someone from the WWF vs. a Panda. Quality)

Koala-Little jerks.


All I'm saying is that horn is for something, and it isn't to hold your donuts. All the animals that would be all magical if they didn't exist are assmunches. It only stands to reason that the unicorn would be one, too.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Don't Park in Cars With Boys!

Another from, asking Are You Popular? Like all good cheesy ephemeral films, there is a lot of unintended subtext. "Maybe they'll bring home another couple. That could be fun." Is Jenny's popularity because "...she is as interested in girls as she is boys?" Makes you long for a pair of robots and a dude trapped in a satellite.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Network Debut...

There could be a debate over whether or not I had intentionally forgotten to post about this or if it really was just something that I never got around to. But the episodes where not aired in the order that they where filmed and now if I don't post about it I really will just being purposefully coy. For some reason gratuitous plugging (if it really can be called that) seems less poserish than intentional coyness, so here it is.

A show I worked on will air next week on UPN, which is only the second thing I've worked on to actually be seen by anyone. The movies are in post-production and at least one of them is likely to never be seen by anybody, and the other show I have no idea what's going on. The documentaries are doing what documentaries do, struggle. But the soul crushing giant machine that is reality television, that monster can't be stopped (except of course the one I did that never aired...)

I call this one the Network Debut because I'm actually in it. I know this because I saw myself in the promo that was on right before The Simpsons. They filmed the crew doing all kinds of things, and so for a brief second you see me running all over an art gallery laying contact board. Yay.

I was actually filmed a lot, but I don't know how much of that will be used. I did my level best to not be interesting every time the camera was near me, but who knows.

So if by next Tuesday you just can't muster up the interest in the 20th hour of figure skating and for some reason feel like watching a reality show on the fractional chance that I'll flash by ever so briefly, tune into UPN's Let's Get This Party Started at 9pm. For those who know what I look like it will be pretty freakin' easy to pick me out. If for some reason there are readers who don't know what I look like think of it as a game to figure out which is me. I pretty much don't look like anyone else on the crew. That's the only hint you get.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

How to Fake Being a Sports Fan When You Really Just Don't Care

I had that conversation today, the one I have stored up with variations for those situations where it's more convenient to fake the funk than to explain that for some reason I just never developed an interest in sports. Maybe it was because I sucked at all the popular sports, maybe it was because my dad sucked at explaining things. Who knows.

(There is a caveat, I love racing. Love it. But I can't even really hang with other race fans for the most part. I'm not the biggest fan of NASCAR but find myself often in the unenviable position of defending it, because for all the rest of its faults it is close racing-and that's the sport, the racing-not the spectacle. Well, for me...)

But since racing isn't often the topic of conversation (and never when it comes to sports cars) I'm left to feign the interest.

Women get a pass in this category. Women, for good or for bad, are not expected to be sports fans, so if they pick a team in a seemingly random fashion it's expected. If the woman is, as is the case with many of the women I know, an actual sports fan she is like a godsend to the sporting male.

But for a dude, the first sign that you're posing you're worse off than if you had just admitted that you aren't a sports fan, because they just wasted precious seconds conversing with you as if you where worth the trouble. So as a dude you have to carefully build your lie. Here are some helpful tips that I use to stall the conversation so that I'm not labeled "unclean" by the traveling crews or whatnot-

Root, Root Root, For the Home Team

This seems pretty obvious, sort of a 'when in Rome' kinda idea. But here's the thing-if you're rooting for the team of the town you're living in it can seem a little poserish, it certainly will raise suspicions...and dangerous follow-up questions.

But a lot of us don't live in the same place we where born. You can pick a team that would be from a town you used to live near. For basketball, I am a Kings fan because they came to Sacramento while I still lived there. Easy explanation, no questions. Failing that, a parent's home town. Family legacies are an easy explanation. Which brings me to my next one-

Blame It On Someone Else

The afore mentioned parent, some environmental influence like a school organization that was dominated by fans of one team, whatever. I've found that a lot of 'real' sports fans have come to their teams this way, so it actually seems pretty believable.

For that, I am an A's fan. The high school band was dominated by A's fans, as was the record store I worked at. I am a 49ers fan because my dad was an avid fan. Even before when they sucked the fist time...which brings me to my best one-

No One Questions a Loser

Even legit fans of teams that are good have to defend themselves, and the fake sports fan doesn't want to have to do that. But when you're a fan of a team that has only won five games in the last two season, no one questions you. They express sympathy, maybe they'll console you-even feed you a few lines that you can use later about how the team can turn itself around. But if you're a fan of a team that sucks you can sometimes even come off a more of a fan than others. It's like a dream. The worst thing that ever happened to my world of deception was the Kings turning things around. As I understand it they're back on that downward slope, which puts me back on easy street ("Man, you guys where right there, then fell apart..." "Yeah, bit of a heart break. Just give us a few years, we'll be back.' ah, the 'we,' as if I would have any effect on the outcome of the game...)

Hatin' is the Key to happiness

Once you've found the team you're going to pretend to be a fan of, you have to find out who the rival is. Usually it's the cross town team, sometimes it's not. Sometimes they don't have a clear rival, which means you have to come up with team to hate. Hating a team is almost as vital as liking one. For me, it's the Raiders. I've sold tickets to too many Raiders games to like that team. Knuckledraggers comin' in wanting those $15 50 Yard line tickets that exist in thier head...

Disliking the fans, maybe a coach, maybe just remembering a criticism that some loud yay-hoo said on the radio or some channel you flipped by, hating another team puts that icing on the cake to make you look like a fan.

Now, you're still going to encounter questions and maybe even people will want to have an actual discussion with you. Here you're going to have to step up a little. First, once you've picked the team and the reason you have to make that the conversation. Don't know what they've been up to? You've been busy. Or just agree-sports fans don't so much ask an opinion as tell you thiers. Agree, or use the alternate opinion someone else gave last time as a rebuttal. Then you have to drift the conversation to something tangential, or let the other sports fans in the room take the ball. Before you know it, you're invited to the after work beers. Which, if you don't drink, brings up it's own issues...

There, never say we never did anything for ya...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Proposed New Laws

If you botch parallel parking more than two or three times, you have to give the spot up to the next person.

It is possible to have your horn privileges revoked.

There should be a picture of a zipper on every "merge" sign.

Creation of a 'tourist lane' in areas with lots of tourists.


For what it's worth, the Dodge Caravan is the most functional minivan, the Buick Lacrosse at the very least has a more powerful feel and better appointment than the Pontiac G6, the new Malibu Classic feel more plasticy than my old Malibu Classic, and they won't let me drive the Mini. Bastards.

This would be a lot more interesting if it weren't for the confidentiality agreement I had to sign. Another benefit to working film or documentaries, I can actually talk about what I'm doing. Though with all this "I'd tell ya, but I'd have to kill ya" nonsense now makes me chuckle when I listen to Nancy Sinatra's Last of the Secret Agents, which is a song I just discovered. I'll make a separate entry about the sudden fascination with Nancy when I don't have to get up early to drive a van full of lighting equipment. (Curses, I wanted to work in camera or sound...the lighting person seems sour, the sound person was a fellow Banana Slug...How in the hell do so many Slugs get work? Vocationally UCSC wasn't the greatest school...)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Obligatory response to virtual stimuli

Four jobs I've had:

1) Standardized test grader for K-12 students (trust me--standardized tests mean nothing)
2) Textbook reader for blind university students
3) Pewter figurine finisher (the only job to result in scarring)
4) Freelance in-home tutor in London, England

Four movies I'd like to see over and over (I really have to include those films that I actually have watched over and over):

1) The Royal Tennenbaums
2) The Straight Story

3) Young Frankenstein
4) Crash (not the Lynch one)

Four places I've lived:

1) Folsom (and not ashamed of it)
2) London
3) Sacramento
4) San Francisco

Four TV shows I like to watch

1) Scrubs
2) Arrested Development
3) Daily Show/Colbert Report (using the Walrus option here)
4) Deadwood

Four websites I visit daily (I gotta cheat this a little--I only visit the first one daily)

1) Hotmail (kinda cheezy--I know)
2) The Onion (when it updates)
3) Wells Fargo (I love that I can obsessively know exactly when my rent check clears)
4) IMDB (I don't have to buy those giant Moviehound books anymore)

Four places I'd rather be:

1) Between my ears
2) London (not an anglophile, not a snob, but that is one cool place)
3) Flotsam
4) Portugal (although this is purely a theoretical interest as yet)

Four People to tag:

I have to bow out of this one, as I am currently living within a closed reference loop within the blogosphere.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Mr. DeMille is not ready for you, Veronica

First, I don't really want to bump Sour Rature's essay from the top-please read it, it's new and actually the essay we where talking about when we decided to do this, it's just below this post, which is actually inane.

Veronica's moment in the spotlight (aside from in my work) will have to wait, though she almost had a chance-

I am a professional photographer looking to rent an older volkswagen bus or van for a photo shoot next week. I only need it for an afternoon. It needs to be clean and look nice as it's going to be a prop for an outdoorsy lifestyle shoot near muir beach. If you or anyone you know is interested, please respond. We'll take good care of it I promise.


Sorry girl. I'm working on it, I swear. You'll be a star someday.

Look to the skies--the baby spinach greens are wilting!!

Let me get a little bit Andy Rooney for a second here and gripe about the trivial. As it turns out, I am a sucker when it comes to the whole there’s-something-on-your-shirt gag. You know, the one that starts with the aforementioned phrase and ends with the victim’s nose getting tweaked. Why is this? For two reasons:

1) I generally trust people (yes, I said that I was a cynic before, but that is not by inclination, but through years of thinking about it too much).

2) I’d rather not walk around with something actually on my shirt and not know it because I didn’t want to fall for a joke that is probably about ten minutes younger than the
invention of the shirt.

The upshot of it is that, although I am not dim, I am fairly easily fooled under the right circumstances. Another example would be the two-for-flinching “joke.” This one actually bugs me a little more for (once again) two reasons:

1) It actually punishes the instinct for self-preservation that I happen to value a great deal, mostly because it is very likely to preserve my self.

2) It hurts.

I was in my neighborhood Safeway the other night (I tend to do most of my grocery shopping between midnight and 1:00 AM), and fell prey to an unintentional version of the above. While I was in the produce section, I heard a thunderclap and caught a flicker of light out of the corner of my eye. I looked up, only to discover that there was not, in fact a thunderstorm taking place within the confines of an upscale neighborhood supermarket--just a bare supermarket ceiling. The only saving grace to this is that further investigation confirmed that I am not the only person fooled by this phenomenon.

It turns out that the modern (post-modern) supermarket uses this sound-and-light show to signify that the vegetables are about to be misted by the automatic system, and that shoppers who wish to avoid getting slightly damp should move away from the peeled baby carrots. This system has supplanted the clearly artificial beeping sound that was previously used to signify this event, which in turn replaced the long-reigning guy-saying-hey-get-away-from-the-overly-dry-vegetables-lest-ye-be-doused method.

Rooniness aside, let me get to the Roland Barthes side of this whole thing.

The reactions of supermarket shoppers to a thunderstorm simulation are pretty typical. Hear thunder, look for rain. It’s a signifier that’s probably been with us for at least as long as there have been mammals (how’s that for an untestable hypothesis!), and it serves a pretty useful purpose. Now, I don’t think that the board of Safeway is sitting in some bunker in Colorado rubbing its collective hands together at the prospect of undermining a basic human reaction and further removing us from a world that has anything to do with the actual natural world, but it is certainly interesting in a kind of huh—look at that kind of way.

My First

My internet connection is pissing me off again, so maybe this will get posted now or maybe I'll try later. (there are times that it doesn't piss me, uh,...when I'm not on the internet...I guess...anyway, I digress...)

Incertus used to do these things before he finally crumbled the blog wall on me and I'd usually respond, clogging up his comments section. Now, for the first time, I get to do this in my own blog. I get to play in the reindeer games! Yay for me!

I don't know what it's called, but it looks like some standard fare. Four questions, etc. Here goes.

Four Jobs You've Had:
1. Ninja Turtle. Best job ever, dress up like a ninja turtle, go to parties with kids. How many jobs are there where your hugged when you show up?
2. Projectionist. Also a pretty good job. Spent most of the time entertaining myself because it was pretty easy. That was the "Captain Sedentary & Stationary Lad" era job, so it also has that slackery warm spot for me.
3. Ticket Clerk at a non-profit box office. Where I started to mockingly say, "What's the point of donating to a charity if I don't get something?"
4. Record store clerk and buyer of small things. The Hub became my hub. The bay area would have just been a place I stayed where it not for that place.

Four Movies You'd Like to See over and over:
1. Salesman. Many are called, few are chosen.
2. Metropolis. These hands!!!
3. A Straight Story. Fucking gorgous. Goddamn.
4. Smoke. "...measure the weight of smoke. I know, I know. You might as well try and measure the weight of the soul..."

Four Places You've Lived:
1. Folsom, Ca. Get it out. Feel better?
2. Union City, Ca. Donnoso! Ah...highs and lows.
3. The house of the dude who six months prior tried to steal my bus./Projection booth 5/and my bus. I thought I'd lump the oddballs together as one crappy ride...with great stories.
4. Santa Cruz, Ca. Mecca for slackers.

Four TV shows you like to watch:
1. The Simpsons. Still funny, I don't care what you neighbobs say.
2. Arrested Development. You hear that, you show canceling bastards??? You still have War at fucking Home but no Arrested Development? You make me sick...
3. Daily Show/Colbert Report. Genius. I was one of the first on the Jon train, back when we was on MTV and then syndicated.
4. My Name is Earl. Damn fine show with some Smith alumnus. Quality.
(honorable mention for a show that starts with M. and better f'n hire me...)

Four Websites I Visit Daily:
1. Glutton for punishment.
2. Gotta find the work.
3. Gotta find the better paying, less crazy work.
4. Cause I can play Nuke War anytime I want. And I just won a Nuke War tournament there, yay me.

Four Places I'd Rather Be:
1. Doing my own stuff instead of reality shows.
2. Amsterdam.
3. On the water.
4. Canada.

Four people to tag with this:
1. Incertus (Ha ha! Now I get to do it...)
2. uhh...Amy (I don't go to any blogs but you all and the guy who did this...)
3. Sous Rature, if he feels so inclined.
4. Uhh...Noam Chomsky. Cause if it turned up on his blog how funny would that be?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

We don't swim in your toilet (much)

An open letter to the boomer generation--

Why I am a cynic

I grew up in the reflected glory and painfully frank disillusionment beamed in through Uncle TeeVee mostly because staying up to watch Cheers or Thirtysomething (I remember a romantic comedy called Duet that ran around the time I was 11 (it was (I hope) never syndicated), or listen to semi-hippies (who now, in my memory, are about the same age as the friends that I have now (how could someone my age have been a fount of certainty for anyone (but I still thought so in my memory)) sit around and converse (I can read tarot cards for no particular reason, and have a photograph of my aura somewhere), were both prefereable to going to bed, where the light necessary for reading would be detected and commanded out (but I knew your preference for character drama and comedy were compelling even then (and the documentaries, Monty Python, Dr. Who (certainly not Star Trek), and filmed surgeries), and so they became interesting).

The epic of a living generation was broadcast nightly for the consumption of any innocent child who was inclined to pay attention at an early age. I saw The Graduate, Dr. Strangelove, The Wall, 2001, Roman Holiday, Father Goose, ET, The Empire Strikes Back, On Golden Pond, Barbarella----

Hold On

A brief word about Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda, for me is an entirely unique kind of temporally compressed amalgam of several impressions of a single person with an extensively varied public image that all entered my consciousness fairly concurrently. It only took the length of an interview or a movie to transform Henry Fonda's daughter, finally able to interact with her father onscreen in a way that may never have occured offscreen, into Barbarella. To wrench me from Barefoot in the Park to footage of Hanoi Jane. And now the wife of an entertainment tycoon. This isn't Madonna; these were'nt drastic changes for the people that actually lived through these phases as they happened; there was a lot of living in which anyone could be expected to do a lot of changing between subversive political activist to the founder of the exercise video Renaissance that got rid of the highly sedate yoga instructors and perverted cameramen that dominated the exercise show circuit up into the eighties.

Getting back to business---

What it comes down to is the fact that when I was in junior high school, I was pretty aware that I would find college shocking, that I would become an idealist in college, be disillusioned by the compromises that I had made, become increasingly alarmed at where my life is in comparison to where I had imagined it to be in the time that I will then envision as the only time in my life where I was really alive, and finally settle into a kind of vague second mortgage middle aged liberalism where people who really want to discuss politics make me uneasy, but I vote for the green party (sometimes, for local offices only) and donate to charity (ACLU membership lapsed) and begin to understand when people start talking about family values and building more prisons.

Why did I swallow the coping myth of a generation that wasn't my own? Why is my generation so fucked up?

Because you, all of you, forced your children to watch while you engaged in self obsessed, masturbatory, alienated psychoanalysis crosses with a 12-step repressed memory morality---

In front of your children!!!

Back to "Reality"

I'm back to whoring my self for reality television. Not as a contestant, naturally. I once again have no idea what the show is. I know it's in its third season and they just ordered some new episodes for the mid-season. I really just hope it's not a mean-spirited one. For whatever else Reality Television is responsible for, it has generated a lot more work for freelancers. That doesn't mean I'm about to watch it, but that doesn't make me much different than the other people who crew these things.

This will fill the time between now (well, two days from now) and when M. (the show that I dare not speak its name) gets back to me. Which I hope is to tell me that I'm soo totally hired. (actually, the person doing the hiring is Australian, so while she won't say it that way it amuses me to think she might...) So for the next week or two continue to sacrifice those chickens and goats. Turns out it's not a 'till April' gig, it's a year long one. On a show I watch anyway. Happy dance.


After a really long time of not working, I'm overwhelmed with it. Well, not overwhelmed. That'd be sweet. But I'm as close as I've gotten in a while. I have my much anticipated interview with M. (I daren't speak its name. Please sacrifice you chickens or whatever you've got, I really want that damn job) tomorrow. And apparently another one for a gig I can't remember. All I know is it's for 14 days, which can't be bad. Another gig called, but they wanted to know if I could be their back-up guy. That's cool in principle, I guess. But overall I could do without people calling me to say, "Just wanted to let you know I probably won't be hiring you."

Really this is just to get everyone to do whatever voodoo ritual they have, because I really want that M. job. Super bad.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Mr. Snuffalupagous

Not so much a full-blown post here, but rather a confirmation that, contrary to all prior appearances, there are, in fact, two contributors to this blog. I will be making a full entry here as soon as time allows (likely Tuesday afternoon). More to come then...

Sous Rature

Parents, Use 'The Bomb' To Get Your Kids To Clean Up

So you may or may not have noticed the link to That site contains the Prelinger Archives, which is the Library of Congress' collection of ephemeral films-instructional and industrial films that time forgot. It's a real gold mine, so every once in a while I think I'll just pull up some of the films that I think are quality nuggets.

This one is pretty cool. The House in the Middle, a short film that contends that one of the ways that you can survive a nuclear attack is to have a clean house. Ha! Now that is a parental threat, eh? "Clean your room. Do you want our house to be consumed in fire after a nuclear attack?" Just helping out the parents out there.

The American Idol Effect

American Idol is back in full swing. I can't say I've ever watched a full episode of it myself, and the bulk of what I have seen is in this early stage of the show, when they go from town to town auditioning anyone with a day off work to become the 'next American Idol.' Supposedly this is the hook, that you watch to see the god-awful singers get told they're god-awful and then end up watching the drama as the singers you saw as one of the herd work their way to the final competition.

But it's the god-awful ones that make me twitch. Not because they're god-awful, but because when they come out of the room where they've finally been told they're god-awful they have friends and family there comforting them and telling them that, "No, they're crazy-you're wonderful. How could they not see it?"

When I worked at the record store every once in a while we'd get consigned CD of someone who had to have had the support of people that should have known better. While there is an Ed Wood-kind of joy that comes from Elijah Mahumbia or Blitzenhammer I'm a little scared by this phenomenon.

Friends lie. It can't be that they don't hear how bad these singers are, they lie. For a while I was the best saxophonist no one had heard. There where plenty of people who where ready to sell my playing to others, who would then sell my playing to still others. I don't know that they think they're lying, per se. They where just taking everyone's word for it. Even though no one had heard me play. They want me to be good. I want my friends who are artists to be good. We want to be encouraging, and that's not a bad thing necessarily. But where the line is drawn is difficult.

Even when I was doing dramaturgy at the college and would get handed a play that was god-awful I couldn't tell the person, "Sweet crap dude, why'd you give this to people to read? What's wrong with you?" I'd have to find the good in it somewhere. ("Well, it does contain sentences. That's good") I'd have to encourage them to keep trying even though they probably shouldn't. My professor started to comment on my ability to pull meaning out of my ass for some god-awful plays. I couldn't be Simon to them. Face to face with someone it's hard to find that line between being an ass and lying and saying that there is something there.

It seems a little shallow, a little insecure, but there is a desire to gain the admiration of strangers. It's not because I want to be famous, or that I need the adulation of the masses, but because honestly, even if people aren't as mean spirited as Simon, they are more prone to that kind of honest appraisal of someone's work that they don't have to face. Even if it's in the form of a rejection letter or a horrible opening weekend. Granted, I'm not going to listen to the first hundred or so rejection letters and will say right now that I will blame the bad opening weekend on everything from the weather to a grand conspiracy.

There would be something to be said about performing art in a vacuum, to have my own little studio in the middle of nowhere where I made movies for me and a select few. But I would always wonder if I was that god-awful singer auditioning on American Idol, listening to friends who are too much my friends to say, "Seriously. Stop doing this immediately and learn a trade."