happy halloween

OK. I finally figured out what my next short film is going to be about. And when I say film, I mean of course digital video. I wouldn't know a film camera if it hit me in the nose. But the DVX100 can do anything with the right coaxing. Those people who say that HDV will fast replace mini-DV are a bit cracked, IMHO. Anything HD is more expensive and labor-intensive in the editing process than regular DV. And if you want expensive and labor-intensive, you should just use film, duh. Anyway, the movie.
....It's going to be a bit....arty. Also edgy, quirky, passionate, gritty, and "compulsively watchable."
....It's Halloween. I'm in a better mood. So alert the media, already.

breaking new ground

There must be a way for me to get what I want just by whining about it.

It's against common sense, of course, but SO IS EVERYTHING ELSE THESE DAYS. Our pop culture regularly rewards people for being dumb, slutty, mean and mediocre....I think it's all in how flagrantly you display your human failing.


Not backpedaling from that one. Totally not backing off.

southland tales

I think it's a bit funny that Richard Kelly's next movie is going to be called "Southland Tales," and is purported to be a sci-fi non-traditional musical which features a parody of hypersexualized car commercials.

It's funny because I wrote a play called "Southland," and a non-traditional musical called "Vapor Tales," and they're the two pieces of which I'm most proud, so if I were smart I'd combine them into one script called "Southland Tales," but I obviously can't do that now. Also, one of TA91's centerpieces is a parody of hypersexualized car commericals.

Now, that'd all be Whatever, if it weren't for that I'm a huge huge fan of Kelly's first movie, "Donnie Darko." I loved it in that intimate way that you love cult movies or bands that they feel are speaking directly to you, voicing something that you thought would not be voiced. I actually saw Donnie smile at me, right at me! (Giggle!)

It's just a funny feeling you get when you feel that you have some kind of distinctive aesthetic/perspective and then you see someone who seems to have a very similar perspective get all famous and adulated and stuff.

I'm not delusional enough to think it's a case of plagarism; I think most cases of alleged plagarism just result from the zeitgeist, with people having the same inspirations separately, as a result of floating around in the same soup of culture and influences. I like to think that if I have some artistic affinity with Richard Kelly, it's not a bad thing.

By the way, I also invented "The Matrix." Ask anyone in my theater company. Damn it.

renewed TA91 satisfaction

Just finished another pass on my movie. I shouldn't call it editing now, but I did do a lot of work on titles, music and color effects. It's kind of awesome now. This movie is like a recipe for soup that I keep making over and over with basically the same ingredients. Sometimes it's a really good batch, and sometimes it only seems good because it's food on your plate. But having said that, I made a really good pot of TA91 this time.

Also, I just read this headline that said something like "Unions Want A Piece of the Podcast Pie"....the "Pie" being the profits Disney and Apple are making off their podcasts. Now, it's not like I have something against Disney or podcasts or anything like that (except maybe a vague loathing), but I just need to point out that saying "unions want a piece of the pie" is almost the same as saying "people want to be paid when they work" except that the former is in that retarded ownership-society language that makes us think unions are just some other player in the game of corporate fatcats fighting over money. Except Lest We Ever Forget, the unions represent the people who worked to make the pie, and Disney represents the people who, yknow, sit at their desks and plot ways to grab all the money. Yes it's true. Disgruntled employees stealing your profits every day in the form of their salaries. It's a scandal and an outrage.

Sideways (the best independent film of whatever year it was, by me)


Two dudes sit around getting sloshed, in a remarkable portrait of middle-aged sensitivity and angst. Nearby, a filmmaker eats from a cheese plate.

MILES: Glug, glug. Not drinking any fucking Merlot.

JACK: Balls! Buddy, you're like my penis. I don't know how to say it exactly, but you evoke my dick.

MILES: Why won't she call? I'm so money, baby. I'm going to pour grape juice all over myself.

Miles does this. Jack whips it out. A film critic laps grape juice off of Miles' toes.

FILM CRITIC: Amazing! Hilarious! How do you feel about accusations of elitist yuppieism leveled against your film?

JACK: If you want to see a movie about people with no fucking phone, go rent "Raising Fucking Victor Vargas."

MILES: I know grapes. Actually, I know about grapes which serve as a metaphor for me. I learned how to make metaphors for my suffering in Dramatic Writing 101. That's what separates this film from standard Hollywood fare like "Cold Mountain" or "Swingers."

JACK: Plus the fact that I'm not just an actor, but a washed-up actor.


Two female fantasy figures approach, also sloshed.

STEPHANIE: I need to be spanked!

FILM CRITIC: That's the best line of dialogue ever written!

MAYA: Miles. Miles Miles Miles Miles Miles. Miles Miles Miles, Miles Miles. Release me, Miles.

MILES: I Hate It When People Pay Attention To Me. STILL not drinking any fucking Merlot.

JACK: Hey look. Some interesting fat people.


FILM CRITIC: That's the truest sentiment a filmmaker has ever captured in an original vision such as this one! I was sort of afraid to say anything about the abortion movie and the one that dealt with teenage sexuality, but this is a yarn that I can unabashedly hail as ....****....exhilarating....a delight! Much more penetrating than "Cats."

JACK: I once penetrated a cat.

MILES: I sure hope someone notices that I'm the best actor ever.

MAYA: Don't give up, Miles. Keep at it. Stay the course. Someday you'll have a track record, and then no one will care what you do next. Least of all me.

MILES: You're so non-judgemental, aligned with my interests, available and photogenic! Your physical beauty must be a sign that I can be redeemed. Going to run away now.

Miles runs away. Stephanie clobbers Jack with a bowling ball.

MAYA: Who wants a beer?

psyching self up

wondrous, withering and replenishing,
approaching and imaginary,
within the realm of possibility,
true and trying, present and anticipatory,
a halo, an idea, a change in aspect,
a non-existent reason to live,
a reason to run,
a hand full of watermelon seeds,
at the end of the world, at want for nothing
but a device which might
witness and record this light.

more fees, please

It's funny how you can pay $10 to get a really decent car wash, or $2 to get a Vietnamese sandwich, both of which involve some physical labor and care. And then you can pay $99.95 to your web domain registration company to do, basically, nothing. put dibs on some web address that is already your name or a word you made up....give me a break.

2nd acts and American lives, yadda yadda

There's this axiom around the entertainment industry that you never get the second chance to make a first impression. The thinking is, if you're an aspiring filmmaker, you should make your first shot your best shot, because people are very quick to develop lasting opinions about you based on the first thing they see, and you don't want the stigma of "that guy who made that one awful movie."
...While this is true to some degree, because people can be very inflexible in their first impressions, I don't think it's any kind of principle to get hung up on or live your life by. Of course, I don't think you should NOT try to make your first film your best film, because who knows, you could die tomorrow. But in terms of having a successful "career" (and I use the term despite the nauseatingly anti-artistic taste it creates in my mouth), I don't think it's any kind of dire situation if it happens that your first film isn't wonderfully received, and the simple reason is this: Kid Rock.
....Kid Rock is currently a talentless suck-ass rich and famous rock/rap star. But before that he was just a talentless suck-ass white rapper, and everybody knew it. That is, everbody who was pop-culture-attuned enough to know that there were some white guys trying to cash in on the hip-hop bandwagon by making miserably dinky records back in the 1980nothings. He was an unpopular joke, a guy whose name would be forever associated with some of the most worthless music ever made by humans.
....And then....in the 90's....everyone forgot about it! Kid even got a "Best New Artist" award at some kind of crackpot recording industry function. His music was still lame, of course, but now it was lame and LOUD and POPULAR. It was as if a collective popular amnesia struck, and no one called him on the fact that he had already had one shot and blown it by creating music of awesome feebleness.
...So that should give everybody hope. Even if you're really really bad in a public way, sometimes the public forgets about it and gives you a second chance to be just as awful, except the second time they reward you with an ex-Baywatch actress. Imagine if he had come back the second time with a record that was really good? Now that would have been something.

just a fantasy, picture in a magazine

I was watching "Before Sunset" today and thinking about male fantasies. Not just the typical "I never thought this would happen to me, with two cheerleaders, in an ice cream truck" kind of fantasies, but the kind that are articulated in a subtle way in the majority of films, TV, and literature, which have always been of course totally male-dominated arenas. The fantasy in "Before Sunset" is something along the lines of, "A self-involved leering geek meets a really smart socially conscious woman who flirtatiously pours her heart out to him for hours while he replies with banal small talk." Julie Delpy's character is a kind of muse who inspires men with her wit and openness, but it's hard to see whether she gets any inspiration in return.
...I'm guilty of this too. Most movies and books are written by men, most "really strong female characters" are written by men, and men tend to use their artistic license to create an idealized female character from time to time, someone to foil, transform, or otherwise reward the male subject, whether by helpful wisdom, charming eccentricity, or sheer babeliciousness. As hetero-male fantasists, we indulge the option to create that woman who we'd really like to meet and hang out with who would maybe save our soul in the process. So we get characters like Buffy, or Clarice Starling, or the Bride, or pretty much anyone Lucy Liu has ever played. Characters who may be loved by women and men alike, and whose only fault is that they may be just a little too awesome.
...So my question is, what is a typically female fantasy? If you watch enough softcore HBO specials, you might get the idea that most females fantasize about barbarians and whips and chains and wolf masks and stuff. The skeptic in me thinks this is just women internalizing the society-imposed passive/submissive role, which is not dissimilar from the male fantasy expressed in "Before Sunset," that is, You Won't Have To Do Too Much. The Fantasy Object will be so cool she will take care of all the conversation and sexual initiation for you. Basically, at heart, neither gender wants to work too hard, which is cool.
...Or I could be wrong. I mean, I really don't know. It's easy to find a few examples of female-authored fantasy figures in books or movies, and just as easy to find in them some embarrassing concession to the male gaze. Is it only possible for a woman to get to an authorship position if she embraces the female chauvinist pig within her? Or is Ethan Hawke REALLY the ultimate babe that every modern woman secretly dreams about and it's just my problem that I can't see it?
(....this is the part where the blogger arrogantly poses a big open-ended question, with the blind presumption that the blog has some sort of readership, and that readership will feel so stimulated by the blogger's deep thoughts that they will have no recourse but to respond.)

we're all in this gridlock together

So I'm about to park my car behind Spaceland to go drink beer and see Earlimart (in that exact order) and this black convertible pulls up behind me, and the driver waves for my attention. I roll down my window, pretty sure that this guy is going to berate me somehow for my bad/slow driving. (It's my experience that middle-aged guys in sports cars frequently feel the need to educate you on the fact that the speed limit is merely a guideline, not a rule, and should be matched or exceeded whenever possible because, yknow, they've got places to be) Anyhoo, it wasn't that. He says to me, "Hey! Did you know that there's going to be a law that Priuses can drive in the carpool lane? You could drive alone in the carpool lane!"
...I said, "Oh, really? Great." And he drives on.
...I have heard about this law. It's not setting my world on fire exactly because my daily commute doesn't have a carpool lane, and I already drive pretty slow as I mentioned, so the occasional opportunities to use a carpool lane don't have a big effect on my driving time. But it's fascinating that a total stranger in a sports car felt compelled to tell me about this just because he saw me driving a Prius. At first I paranoically assumed it was, in fact, some sort of veiled criticism on my driving (I'm a little bit self-conscious about the driving, can you tell?) along the lines of, "Y'know, they made it a law that you can have your own lane apart from us normal speeding people, y'damn hippie." But that didn't really make sense, so I then attributed it to the general good nature and community feeling of people in the Silverlake area. But it still didn't explain why a Totally Random Guy would stop me, on the street, at night, just to edify me on a trivial piece of traffic law regarding my car.
....Then it hit me: it's not trivial at all. For many LA people, it's a Major Thing. In this city, most of us spend a good chunk if not half our waking day in our cars. Long, deep and meaningful conversations can be held which entirely consist of giving driving directions (there are a lot of irritating and misleading conversations to be had in LA, but there is nothing sexier than someone giving you EXACTLY the right directions for how to get somewhere). So it's a significant matter, which needs to be communicated. Wouldn't you flag down a stranger to say, "Hey, aliens from space just landed in Echo Park," or "Hey, someone just found a cure for cancer!" For LA people, I think, a free pass to drive in the carpool lane is potentially that important. Because after all, we're talking about MY CAR.

10 assorted thoughts

1. That "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" movie was really entertaining and should become a long-lasting franchise. Not because it was such a good movie, but because dodgeball is such a Wonderful, Wonderful Game. 2. I don't know why I didn't get this before, but the War on Terrorism is like a wannabe 21st Century version of the Cold War on Communism. 3. Whenever DirectTV service goes down, a message appears on the screen saying "all satellite signals are subject to interference from the sun." Which really lets them off the hook, because, yknow, you can't complain about the Sun. 4. Sinead O'Connor was great. Great songs, great voice, and great at not being a bimbo. And just a slightly more compelling personality than, say, Gwen Stefani. What did Sinead do that was so bad, anyway? Suggest that the Pope might be a big-ass force for evil? Could we all just live in the current century and realize that that is allowed? 5. There is a new New Balance commercial that says you should do sports for love, not money, and of course you should do it for love in New Balance shoes. But I do like the commercial, just 'cause it's such a darn hopeful sentiment. 6. Many forms of happiness can be found at www.retrojunk.com. 7. I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow night. But it's Friday, and I don't have to work. I really should do something. 8. I've become much better at talking to new people at a time when I meet fewer new people than I ever have at any other period of my life. What's up with that? 9. One of the most difficult things that regular people must do on a daily basis is put up with the behavior of rich people. 10. My name is totally Domino Harvey, I am totally a bounty hunter.

santa ana

I was going to bed in my gloomy way last night, caught in that stillborn pre-dawn hour when it feels like nothing is moving, everything on TV is paid programming, and you're just as asleep being awake as you would be actually sleeping. Various feelings of overwork and underachievement nagged at me as I tried to muster up metabolically sufficient excuse to call it another day. (I'm the kind of guy who reasons, if all your days at work are more or less the same, couldn't you just repeat Tuesday indefinitely until something in your routine changes? and thus not suffer the wasting effects of time's passage)
....Then in the dark I could hear the Santa Ana wind coming through the crack in my window. I could hear it rustling around in my room, jostling the door, trying to run through the house. The motion and sound of that wind brought me such a strong feeling of comfort (probably enhanced by the Tylenol PM), just the tactile sensation of movement in the stillness, as well as the formidable presence of Mother Nature, who has been so hard on us lately, but also provides us, elementally, with everything we need.