Top 10 of 2005

Of no particular genre, these were my best moments of the past year.

1. The SUV ad in TA91: Never mind that it's cheap, indulgent and about to be one-upped by a scene in "Southland Tales." Still the most satisying piece of moviemaking I did this year because it's wrong in just the right way.
2. "The 40 Year Old Virgin": If there was another worthwhile American movie that came out this year, I dare anyone to name it. I'm sure there were some good movies made in other countries that we'll see in 2007 or whatever.
3. Kanye West at the Hurricane Katrina benefit: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." At last someone on TV says something that is indisputably true. We used to have people who said shit like that in large public forums all the time. In a time when speaking up for the oppressed is being forced out of fashion, it was better late than never.
4. Winning 100K in one shift for the first time at work: Not that I get to keep any of it, but it was still a thrill.
5. Fell in and out of love a couple times: Painful but gratifying to know that the emotions still work.
6. Bought some mutual funds: No big whoop, but it was a mini-epiphany to finally take responsibility for making my own money grow. And they're doing great so far. At this rate, I'll be able to save $50,000 by the time that $50,000 will be worth what $10,000 is worth now. Anyway, short of buying a house that I can't afford and don't need, it's all I can do at the moment.
7. Turned 30: WTF.
8. DJed at the dayshift Xmas party. This was just pure fun. If you've never been at a private party with a bunch of 30-40something Asian card dealers, you haven't really lived. I got to play this ridiculous Korean pop song for Yunah and "Blasphemous Rumors" for my boss. Big rush.
9. Got a Prius: the perfect LA car, which, according to the media, affords "non-class-specific status" (because movies stars and regular hippies alike drive them) and also "gives the appearance of caring about the environment." (because obviously if you actually cared about the environment, you'd ride a damn bike)
10. Murtha denouncing the war in Iraq: Another minor moment of outspoken courage in a year when most, including myself, did less thant we could to fight the gigantic fraud that is the current U.S. administration. Of course, it's not our job to tend to such overwhelming crimes. It is Murtha's job, and he's one of the only people who seems to be doing his job with the interests of the real working majority of American people close to his heart.

overheard at the table

Tonight this pleasant-enough drunk Armenian guy kept repeating to himself and to basically everyone on the table:

"Do you have a problem? Because if you don't have a problem I can give you a problem, no problem."

and also:

"Do you have a problem? Because if you have a problem I have no problem."

The guy was clearly some kind of drunken genius, because in these simple paired mantras he perfectly captured everything one needs to know about the gambling addict's worldview with respect to other people. I guess that's why they call them "problem" gamblers.

moment of completion

Well, that TA91 business isn't done yet, but I just finished a video short. I kind of like it. I don't know if anyone else will.

....on another note, has anyone noticed how easy it is to make a President Bush headline? I think the form goes like this: "Bush [insert strong active verb here] [some totally generic statement / some flatly ridiculous claim]." I think this is why every time I check the news blurbs it's something like:

"Bush vows war is winnable"
"President asserts liberals weaken resolve"
"Bush attacks critics who are all gay"
"Bush demands peace in the near future"
"Bush declares tomorrow to be after today" case the point is not clear, it seems to me that someone is working really hard to keep up the President's appearance as someone who Does Strong Things. Maybe it's just good journalism to use all those powerful verbs, but they sort of distract from the fact that Bush never really does anything that relates to the regular people who read this news, except, of course, send them to their deaths. I'm sure the President IS really active in his off-camera time, making deals, hustling on behalf of the elite, consolidating power, etc, but they never write about that. Instead we get crap like "Bush defends intelligence" which not only leaves out the information that made it a news story in the first place, but is so coyly inconsequential you can't really form an opinion about it. It's like, Bush defended what? A human right? An underserved minority? No, no. He defended a statement. In fact, he demanded, asserted, and bitch-slapped that statement up and down the block. What's it gonna do? It's a statement.

another really great movie: "Girl 6"

Most people seem to hate "Girl 6." It's one of those movies that gets one star in the back of TV Guide. I'm not sure why. It's definitely a little pretentious, and you can argue about how much Spike Lee has to say about women's liberation from the phone sex industry. But the script is by Suzan Lori-Parks, who is one of those playwrights too daringly crazy to write any kind of proper cookie-cutter screenplay. It's beautifully shot, as most Spike Lee movies are, with a particularly, appropriately sensual palette of saturated colors and music-video compositions. It does that thing which pretty much only Spike Lee bothers to do anymore, which is show people of different races and classes co-existing in a world where they have to interact despite their beefs, because they're mainly working-class and don't live on Wisteria Lane. And there are many a piercing moment; the obvious ones such as when Judy the aspiring actress has to strip naked for an audition, or the lyrically beautiful shot of phones falling around a kissing couple on a New York street. But where some movies would satisfy themselves with a few such easy, manipulative images, the movie also has powerful intertwined themes; one of the most resonant to me is that feeling you get of being addicted to your job which is making you a whore. I'm sure a lot of people are in touch with this feeling, but for whatever reason it's one of Spike Lee's most reviled movies. And yet it has a soundtrack of classic Prince, for god's sake. The acting's all solid and none of the dialogue is embarrassing.
...It does suffer from a few too many subthemes crammed into one flick, and for that reason I chalk up its general critical and popular rejection to the David Lynch Rule (there's surely a much better name for this rule but I can't spend the time to find it). That is, people hate things that seem "weird" unless they're by David Lynch, who for some reason owns the only Weird Brand in cinema. People expect Spike Lee to be agitprop and indie, but they don't expect him to be subtextual and floaty and of all things, pro-feminist. So, because it does a few unexpected things, it's Just Bad.
....Did I mention that people are idiots? People are idiots.

you never know until you try giving them $29.95

I think it's true that you never know until you try. That is why I can say now that I know that sucks. Before I just thought that, but I didn't really know.

Sigh. It's cold. I know, I'm in Southern California, but it is.