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 archive.org. 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."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thanks for the Welcome!

Incertus, which is the first blog I ever read, and until recently the only blog I would read more than once, and the person who planted the blog seed in my head (and really is this blogs God Uncle) has given this blog a warm welcome and introduction.

Which has included a kind visit from Amy Letter, which continues the tradition of making me want things (though I've wanted an outside firepot fireplace thingy, you have managed to reinforce that, cause it does look cozy).

Industrial Disease, which would be the final nail in the coffin of resistance to this idea, has also provided a kind introduction and welcome-which led Mike M. finding this, which couldn't be cooler.

Thank you all. I'll try not to post in exhaustion and illness driven hallucination as much and stick more to the essay idea as much as I can.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A lot all at once.

That was a lot all at once. Probably ill concieved since I can barely stay awake, but there it is.

Someone's a sucker bitch. I'll let you guess who....

The Two Vialest Things You Can Ask

A store clerk, at least. No thing can create such contempt, such a look of disdain and disgust as asking a clerk if you could use the bathroom or get some change. The horror, the occasional scoff. I imagine that I could better be recieved if I walked in with a bloody crow bar, almost out of breath, and said, "Hey, I just beat someone stupid with this here crowbar. You got towel I could borrow?" then if you asked for change or to use the bathroom.

Now, having been a clerk that works at a store that didn't have a public bathroom and had drawers that didn't open without purchase I can sort of understand. I mean really, I didn't want your smelly asses in my sanctum sanctorum, but I was never disdainful and always knew exactly where they could go to relieve their needs or call their cell phones from a payphone so that the owners know where it was. Because the Key Fob hasn't been invented

I'll grant that in my analogy it could be argued that the clerk is hedging his bets so that he won't be the next person smacked stupid with a crowbar. But I'm almost at the point where that clerk should be hedging his bets so I won't pee all over the damn counter.

Last Bit About the Boats

And it's not even about the boats, really.

Apparently, the residents of Sausalito have a universal method of dealing with unwanted people sleeping in their vans in front of their places. They garden. Every morning I awoke to someone violently weeding next to me or trimming a tree on top of me. Kind of a weird passive aggressive pact they have, I guess...

Matters of Perspective

This last bit was the smallest crew I have worked with since my first documentary internship. I was sort of revelling in the tiny simplicity of this shoot in comparison to the large and hectic reality shows.

I was basking in the tinyness of the production when, while the 24' foot jib operator was getting his shot a single cameraman with a DVX-100A showed up firing off footage for an ESPN promo and left before we even managed a jib move with our @$65,000 Sony HD camera. The best part was he knew the jib man and the camera man knew someone he knew.

There's small and then small. But the guy with the pro-sumer camera was working for a network with a lot more subscribers. All matters of perspective, I guess.

Sandwich Idea

A key fob that will activate your cell phone's ringer. At 4am in a Sausalito parking lot, that would have been really handy.

(Incidentally, since we're not likely to get a sandwich feel free to use the comment section to rate an idea by assigning it a sandwich)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Coolest Politician Name

Oh, and one more thing while I race my computers battery-

Whatever his policies and beliefs may be, Joe Nation is the coolest name I've ever heard for a politician....

Northern California Coolness

Living in NorCal is cool for a number of reasons, I'm only going to list the ones relevent to the moment-
1-It's the middle of winter and I'm sleeping in my van. Without a space heater-and totally getting away with it. Ha ha...

2-I just pulled into a random parking lot and there where four wireless signals to choose from. Albeit one of them kept redirecting me to a page where I could buy a yacht...ah, gentrification...

Working small crews on a show I don't have to be embarrassed about doing is pretty cool. And I want to live on a boat more than ever. Though they call them 'floating homes' out here...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Gone 'till Friday

I'm off to Sausalito, to interview people about floating houses for another show I'll never see.

Hopefully my collaborator will keep things going.

For all two people who even know this exists...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Machine

The mind, as is often pointed out, is a funny thing. One cannot always insist that it work only on things that are relevant or useful to ones situation. Occasionally the self-motivated little bastard will haul off and solve a problem or come up with a solution to something that has nothing to do with what you're doing or aspiring to do.

The problem is, sometimes, these are good damn ideas. But that doesn't mean you want to spend the rest of your damn life developing and pursuing the realization of that idea. We can't all live the lives of Franklin, Edison, or Popeil. Nor would we want to. The idea of having to draft Billy Mays to hock our product makes me shoot upright in the middle of the night screaming. Well, not screaming. Or waking up. Or...look, we just don't want to do it.

Sometimes it's just an idea that would be cool. We just want it to exist and we're not that interested in the potential profits or pitfalls of it existing. This is not to say that we oppose those who do patent or get wealthy off their ideas-hell, more power to 'em. We just have other things we want to do with our life.

So, the proposal is this-The Sandwich Machine. From a discussion we determined that it would be great if there were just a machine that we could go to, give it our ideas, and based on the merit of those ideas it would give us a sandwich. That's all. We're not asking for much. Just a sandwich. If the owner of the machine got rich off our ideas maybe s/he'd be compelled to send us another, better sandwich.

And so that is the premise here. We are collaborators who occasionally come up with ideas that don't fit the career goal of our collaboration. Sometimes there are worthy discussions (we think) that get lost in the ether as idle away the time we really should be spending on our sellable (hopefully) creative works. It is an exercise as well as a chance, like most blogs, to connect people we know that don't live near each other anymore (including us). And hopefully to keep those we know up to date on our works and their production.

And, if you find some of this useful, perhaps you can send us a sandwich now and then. My favorite is Chicken Parmesan.