August 31, 2006

airport dinner -- los angeles

zaru soba with edamame. my how things have changed from the bad old
days of araserv.

movies you should see

i started writing this for suttonhoo, but decided to post it instead.

great films you should see, in no order:

* "strangers on a train"
i've seen everything hitchcock has done (including all the silents), except for 2 really obscure british propaganda war films. this is my favorite, and weirdly, it's relatively unknown. (as an aside, the merry-go-round scene at the end is not shot with special effects -- it is undercranked slightly.)

* "2001: a space odyssey"
kubrik's best film, which is saying a lot a lot. i won't say more because you've already seen it. (when the americans leave the russians at the hotel, there is an interchange between the two that is untranslated, they say:
"so, what do you think?"
"i think he's lying.")

* "fight club"
i consider this to be the second best film in my lifetime (next to 2001). who could imagine that brad pitt could pull off being a brash, bullying, prick?

* "casablanca"
probably the best paced film in cinema. rules despite mediocre acting by bogart.

* "metropolis"
the longest versions of this are the best. lang's version of the ring cycle are a very very close second, but much harder to find.

* intolerance
d.w. griffith manages to tell the story of christ *and* bring the kkk back to life. shot in single-tone -- super-cool.

* "videodrome"
cronenberg's best film (which is also saying a lot -- although
"history of violence" is in a deadheat for second), which essentially languishes in obscurity. debbie harry, brain tumors and overstimulated states of being. there is nothing more to want.

* "sanjuro"
kurosawa's follow-up to "yojimbo." noh theatre sensibilities and tohovision. as a piece, this is the best frame-for-frame composed movie i've ever seen. put a copy of this on my grave when i die.

* "gojira"
the original japanese print of "godzilla" (no raymond burr). far more than a man in a rubber suit, you see japan post world war ii but before the economic upturn. scenes of the american firebombing of tokyo are, unbelievably, cut into the film (an equivalent today would be to show the world trade center collapse as the result of monsters). great line cut from the american release (man is reading newspaper on subway), "how much do we have to put up with? nagasaki, black rain, and now this." filmed by inshiro honda, mr. kurosawa's right hand man.

* "hoop dreams"
in a way, similar to "28{/35/42} up," is this documentary of two inner-city chicago kids trying to make professional basketball (and one of them is bill gates(!)). turns of fate that are triumphant and wrenching.

* "the maltese falcon"
great film noir. huston, greenstreet and lorie are all making their debuts here. (my brother would tell you to watch "to have and have not" instead.)

* "the wizard of oz"
blah blah blah. if you're american, you've already seen it. i'll get you my pretty, AND YOUR MANGEY LITTLE DOG TOO!

* "apocalypse"
now whoa. whoa whoa whoa. never get out of the boat. absolutely goddamn right.

* "ameile" (or however the hell it's spelled -- i'm on my hiptop, i don't feel like referencing the web)
great story that moves right along. how can you NOT like a film that opens be following a flying bug in nearly first-person perspective, for several minutes no less, that then mashes into a windshield?

* "duck rock"
the video compiliation of malcom mcclaren's (former sex pistols manager) album of the same title. learn where paul simon get nearly all his "graceland" ideas. zulus on a time bomb (yeah, yeah, yeah).

* "the lost world" (the early silent one)
watch the guys who did "king kong" learn their craft. you can find this for a buck in lots of gas stations and 7-11's -- put down that slurpee,
pick up this movie.

* "star wars" (now known as "episode iv")
help me obi wan kanobe, before they turn this fricken franchise into a monstrosity and force me to watch muppets.

* "citizen kane"
to understand it, watch movies only made before 1940 for a month. then watch this. then watch anything after it for a month. "pulp fiction" is impossible without this film.

* "breathless"
jean-luc goddard both starts and ends new-wave cinema with this film. three words: un, believe, able.

haiku of the moment

deep in the city,
nature is where you find it ...
duck drinks from sprinkler

August 30, 2006

poem of the moment

i live in a town

where people don't make eye contact
as you walk down the street

except for the people
who stare but say nothing
as i speak and pass by

the future will be like this
just as cold and emotionless

except there will be more people

thought exercise of the moment

what would it be like to be a parsley farmer?

idea to remember for later

"the pumpkin rose festival." you hang lights in your windows at xmas
that look like oranges.

i dreamt about this last night -- complete with dream t.v. special about
it. the closing shot was this long pulling track shot of a snow laden
mountain valley at night filled with modern wood homes. all the houses
had orange lights in windows -- some had large oranges on their porches
like jack-o-lanterns.

it was breathtakingly beautiful.

and all i could think in the dream was how contrived the shot was
because some family would have to put up a few regular xmas lights in
addition to the oranges.

August 29, 2006

jean-jacques perrey -- san francisco

jello biafra -- san francisco

broken watermelon on blacktop -- santa clara

haiku of the moment

a dream remembered:
white sky with black tornadoes
viewed from a glass house

August 28, 2006

quote of the moment

"it should remind you of something you've never seen before."

-- richard taylor, video effects supervisor for "tron," describing how
good advances in art should make you feel

quote of the moment

"you gotta remember i came into this game an icon. it's not like i
started off from nobody and ended up and overnight success -- i was an
overnight success before i became a success overnight.

[laugh and pause]

yo, did i say that right?"

-- flavor flav

quote of the moment

"if you only look at the economic expansion of the last few years, all
the misery of the people is evaded or hidden. the current prosperity is
based in misery and it will collapse."

-- akira kurosawa, speaking on the meteoric economic rise of japan in
the '60's.

August 27, 2006

haiku of the moment

black and yellow load
cumbersome and tiring
ants move wasp body

street demarcation distorted by heat and wear -- santa clara

2 different roses -- sunnyvale

quote of the moment

"you're traveling through another dimension. a dimension not only of
sight and sound, but of mind. a journey into a wonderous land whose
boundaries are that of imagination. that's the sign post up ahead!
your next stop, the twilight zone!"

-- rod serling, weekly series introduction to "the twilight zone"

partial close-up of a bonsai crepe mytrle in berry and bloom -- santa rosa

taken with b1-67er's hiptop 3. (setting: lowlight/autoflash)

August 26, 2006

haiku of the moment

oingo boingo sounds
by my heart and by my hand
watching weird science

August 24, 2006

horror and stories

picking up where i left off, yonks ago ...

the first 13 people to register on the netflix site had been chosen to write a horror story. the original layout was that we must: write a story in ten minutes, use a prop that will be given, include a specific character that would be given, and use a specific opening line.

i practiced a little, just to get a feel for what 10 minutes was like (it's essentially four paragraphs) and had several discussions with friends ... i'd decided to go with humor instead of straight horror for multiple reasons, but was having trouble with concepts that i could think of that were uniformly "funny." i was nervous and a little edgy.

once they called everyone forward, they announced that the rules had changed. in addition to using a character by name we'd have to:

* we would have eight minutes to write instead of 10.

* we would have to incorporate a sound into the stories (that would be acted out).

* we would be given a closing line instead of an opening line.

* we needed to include an occupation.

the audience was then asked to come up with suggestions for all items, these were culled by an announcer. the stories would have to include:

* a duck

* the name "stanley" (the event was at the stanley hotel -- the place where stephen king wrote the shining [and the location of my wedding rehearsal dinner, weirdly])

* an occupation of plumber

* the sound of an elephant trumpeting

* a closing line of "and he one had one finger and it was green"

i fired up the hiptop to keep track of time and wrote a story in about 7:30. for some reason, as they read the elements, i decided to fall back on pure horror and do a re-working of a story i'd written in high school, but move it up a notch in the universal studios sense.

people then went up to the microphone and read their stories in front of a giant (and very cool) inflatable movie screen. overall i was surprised at how good all the stories were -- especially given the constraints. none were truly "bad" and as my traveling companion said later they all seemed to have their own strengths.

there were stories of dementia and ghouls, preditors and loss. the better stories had all very clearly been written, or at least thought about, ahead of time. in my eyes there were three stand outs -- a dementia story by a woman, an evil butler story by a guy who didn't look all there himself and the clear crowd favorite (and eventual winner) about a plumber who goes to check the pipes at the white house and ends up taking off george bush's skull.

stories were judged by a sophisticated applause-o-meter (a guy holding a pole with a highway cone on it). the audience were encouraged to root for one person only.

i read seventh and it's safe to say the response to my story was in the bottom three at the event. ten or 15 years ago, a public response to my writing like that would probably have driven me to suicide. today, thanks to the books, columns, articles and (maybe especially) this site, i just thought it was funny. after i read to no response i laughed and turned around to the people next to me in line and said, "there are terrible things that happen to you in life and then there is this."

no matter. if you weren't in the top three, you got the same prize as everyone else: a three months netflix subscription, a netflix lawn chair and a netflix soft 6-pack cooler. it was fun.

i encourage you to try the eight minute story yourself, when you're done, you can compare it mine below. i would then encourage you to go read it in front of a crowd of total strangers -- don't forget to enact the elephant sound.

stanley the plumber's day got much worse when he swerved to avoid the duck and hit the telephone pole.

next thing he knew he could hear [sound of elephant] his 3-year old son's favorite greeting.

"i'm sorry, son, you have to leave the room." it was an authoritative voice that was clearly a doctor.

stanley could hear the sound of cardiac machines, and suddenly one of them flatlined [sound of machine flat-lining].

but why, stanley wondered, i'm not dead! he could open his eyes eough to see around the room. nurses were preparing saws and awkward tools.

"why did the machines go off, doctor?" a not-so-shapely nurse asked.

"only way to clear the room." the doctor continued, "remember, these limbs will work best if severed while the plumber is still alive."

but this wasn't the worst news. he could see menace and hurt in the doctor's face. and he only had one finger, and it was green.

haiku of the moment

poor little pluto
the lame dog of mickey mouse
a planet no more

haiku of the moment

moments of stillness
linger with a tiny chill
season change coming

August 23, 2006

haiku of the moment

movies fill my life
not necessarily bad
hand me that remote

August 21, 2006

haiku of the moment

on a dull grey rock
there's a sudden color flash
a lizard scampers

haiku of the moment

a red desert bluff
looks over vast utah floor
simply biding time

haiku of the moment

the longest of drives
return you back to the start
leave you wanting more

quote of the moment

"you're playing against the best guys in the world and, you know, there
are times you're feeling more ordinary than you want to."

-- andre agassi, discussing his retirement from tennis

plastic forks on pavement -- sunnyvale

quote of the moment

"i don't know how to exist in the real world with you near."

-- text conversation seen in passing

August 20, 2006

quote of the moment

"well ... he's blond and has the most beautiful voice you've ever heard
in your life."

-- female flight attendant talking to a female airline passenger when
asked to describe the virtues of a (unknown to me) hollywood movie star

mile 1500 -- buffalo herd overlook, CO

quote of the moment

"if we could read the secret history of our enemies we would find in
each person's story enough suffering and sorrow there to disarm all

-- longfellow

August 19, 2006

mile 1400 -- vail, CO

mile 1300 -- parachute, CO

5 views of glen canyon in panorama -- glen canyon national recreation area, UT

4 parnoramic views -- hite overlook, glen canyon national recreation area, UT

juniper -- dead horse point state park, UT

rim overlook -- dead horse point state park, UT

mile 1200 -- big yellow cat ranch, UT

wall mural -- moab, UT

mile 1100 -- dead horse point state park, UT

"the giant behemoth" lobby card -- blanding, UT

italian "rodan" movie poster close-up -- blanding, UT

quote of the moment

"spawned in the ocean stalks the earth!

belching fire that blasts mighty cities into oblivion!

a gory goliath that lives to kill...kills to live!

diabolical demon of destruction...mightiest monster of them all --

-- "godzilla" lobby poster -- blanding, UT

"rodan" movie poster close-up -- blanding, UT

quote of the moment

"maddened mastodons FIGHT for savage women"

-- tag line, "two lost worlds/unknown island"

gorgo lobby card -- blanding, UT

for you, b1-67er.

mile 900 -- kane gulch, UT

"the searchers" -- outdoor showing, monument valley, UT

mile 800 -- mexican hat, UT

anazasi hieroglyphics -- natural bridges national monument, UT

silt flow pattern -- natural bridges national monument, UT

silt patterns -- natural bridges national monument, UT

mile 500 -- fry canyon, UT

stone -- natural bridges national monument, UT

quote of the moment

"spawned in the ocean stalks the earth!

belching fire that blasts mighty cities into oblivion!

a gory goliath that lives to kill...kills to live!

diabolical demon of destruction...mightiest monster of them all --

-- "godzilla" lobby poster -- blanding, UT

gorgo lobby card -- blanding, UT

for you, b1-67er.

"the searchers" -- monument valley, UT

mile 800 -- mexican hat, UT

anazasi hieroglyphics -- natural bridges national monument, UT

quote of the moment

"maddened mastodons FIGHT for savage women"

-- tag line, "two lost worlds/unknown island"

polish(?) gamera poster -- blanding, UT

pterorhynchus model -- blanding, UT

carnotaurus -- blanding, UT

dinosaur museum sign -- blanding, UT

360° panorama -- valley of the gods, UT