MARCH 2002

Sunday, March 31, 2002
I got a late-night phone call from the gas company the other night. They told me that there was a slight gas leak at the meter on the house next door, and that if we stepped out on our porch or driveway and smelled gas, it was no big deal and that they'd be by in a day or two to fix it. So now it's all fixed, but when I went outside earlier to go pick up a pizza, I thought I maybe kind of smelled gas and was a little afraid to start my car. All I could think of was the opening scene in Casino, where Robert Deniro starts his car and it explodes, and you see a dummy of him flying through the air and all the flames and that cryptic voice-over, and then later you find out that he put a sheet of metal under the driver's seat so that he wouldn't die if the car exploded.

But the car started without incident, and I made it okay. Other than that, mellow day.

Saturday, March 30, 2002
I don't know if informercials are looking slicker or television shows are looking more thrown together, but I watched 15 minutes of a program this morning, and I still don't know if it was a regular tv show or an infomercial.

Why I love college radio stations: The other morning, as I was driving in to work, the local college station was playing a cut from that Parappa the Rappa video game.

Thursday, March 28, 2002
It's been slow at work the past few days, what with the pre-Easter holidays and kids being off from school and all, so we've been amusing ourselves with Muffin Films, a funny series of Flash animations about muffins. Now: Lots of people spend lots of time making lots of Flash animations because they like to do it, they're bored, it's beats working, or whatever, but the author of Muffin Films actually created the site as her project for her master's degree. Totally fucking brilliant. I studied for like a year for my MA comps, and she gets her degree by noodling around with some silly stories about muffins. Somehow, I feel stupid.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Just got back from a John Hiatt show. I'm not a fan, really, and never actually sat down and listened to his stuff, but it was a good show. He's a little too Springsteen-y for my taste, but is one hell of a guitar player and an impressive performer.

So help me out here: I heard a song in a restaurant the other night (which may or may not have been a sushi bar...okay, so it was) that was about being in love with David Duchovony. The chorus went something like, "David Duchovony, why won't you love me, why won't you love me, why won't you love me." Anyone know who sings this? It was silly but in a fun, catchy way.

Monday, March 25, 2002
The East Lansing Film Festival was okay -- kind of small but still decent. They were borrowing one of our projectors, so we showed up a few hours early so they could set everything up. But the guy we had to deal with was such an incompetent idiot that I nearly lost it. He kept asking us where we wanted the projector, like we were in charge, even though we explained to him about a dozen times that we didn't care where he used it, that he could put it in any theatre he needed it, that it was his festival, that we weren't screening anything, and that we were asked to bring the damn thing because, presumably, it was needed somewhere. Finally after about twenty minutes of this, I just looked at him and told him I was going to get breakfast and he should put it in a theatre that didn't have a projector. I still think he was confused. I am constantly amazed that people like that hold down jobs with responsibility. This man desperately needed a spine, and maybe a helmet too.

Today's humbling incident: Got in a fight with a frozen pizza and lost. My advice to you is that if you buy a frozen pizza and it's split in half before you cook it, stick a piece of foil or something under it.

Saturday, March 23, 2002
10GB iPod: Because 1000 songs might not be enough. And there's a new engraving option, too, which is cheesy, but I guess somewhat practical. "Happy graduation, precious! Here's a $500 gadget so you can listen to those Linkin Park songs you love so much!" My stars.

Going to the East Lansing Film Festival tomorrow. Yes, another film festival in another reasonably small Michigan college town. And yes, we're going for sushi after the screenings (provided the sushi bar is open on Sundays, which it had goddamn better be). From what I hear, the East Lansing Film Festival is a lot less pretentious than the Ann Arbor one, so hopefully that means less bad "experimental" crap. And one of my students got his short accepted into the "Student Films" category, know...good for him and all.

Why why why why why?

Wednesday, March 20, 2002
Have you had those Cadbury Mini Eggs? I'm not talking about the Creme Eggs -- I used to love those but lately they're way too sweet and sugary. No, I mean the little solid chocolate eggs with the thin candy shell. They come in a purple bag and are kind of like an M&M on steroids, only better because it's Cadbury chocolate. I swear, I wait all year for spring so I can get some, and I don't even celebrate Easter. What I do love more than Mini Eggs, though, is Cadbury Flake. Mini Eggs are widely available, but Flake is only distributed in Europe and is imported by very few American vendors, so perhaps I like it so much because it's so elusive. Still, if you ever find yourself face to face with one, know.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002
Fun Flash animation: Odd Todd. Takes a while to load on a dial-up, but funny and relevant. Especially if you've just been laid off. Which I have not. But it's still funny.

Picked up the new Neil Finn CD (7 Worlds Collide) the other day. You know -- Neil Finn. Of Crowded House fame? That guy. Anyway, it's live and the songs are good, but there are a million "special" guest appearances, and for my taste, there is way too much Eddie Vedder on the disc. I'm sorry, but I just don't think the guy can carry a tune, especially when he's on the mic next to Neil Finn. The CD does, however, contain a stunning acoustic guitar and Hammond version of "Don't Dream it's Over," a beautiful song that has sadly been relegated to the late-night hours of adult contemporary radio. To paraphrase an overused proverb, don't judge a tune by the radio frequency that carries it. Or something like that.

Monday, March 18, 2002
Went back to the Ann Arbor Film Festival yesterday and saw a premiere of a feature-length film called The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. Jodie Foster was in it, as was Kieran Culkin (you know...Macaulay's little brother). It was a little slow, but there was some cool animation in it and some really pretty shots. Overall, very decent, although I'm not sure how well it will do in a wide theatrical release, or if it will even have a theatrical release wider than New York and Los Angeles.

Also saw The Hudsucker Proxy the other day (not at the film festival). Highly recommended; good-weird Coen brothers characters, funny plot, and the ever vanglorious Tim Robbins.

So the flying dog thing in The NeverEnding Story is named Falcor. (Credit, props etc. to Alie.)

Thursday, March 14, 2002
So the Ann Arbor Film Festival was kind of artsy. We saw the seven o'clock screening yesterday, and of the dozen or so short pieces they showed, I really liked only one (a documentary piece on an elderly immigrant couple) and sort of liked two others (this animation thing and this silent black and white job with some cool shots), but that's about it. The biggest weird art-loser film was this one called "Silence," which consisted of 13 minutes of a blurry blue and white wash with a humming-sort of soundtrack. One of the guys I work with and I sat in the balcony and made fun of it for its entire duration, but after the screening, we met up with another guy we work with, who declared it brilliant. I guess there's no accounting for taste. I sure as hell didn't get it. On the super-plus side of the trip, I had what might be the best sushi ever. Which, when I seriously think about it, is the real reason I went. I can take or leave foundation-funded art films, but I'll travel a hundred miles for a killer spicy tuna roll.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002
Going to the Ann Arbor Film Festival today (another perk from my job). I've never been to one of these things, so I hope the films will be good and not a bunch of dopey art cliches. I don't know if I can watch some shirtless guy drinking coffee and staring at himself in the mirror for three hours.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Last night I was in the studio recording with a friend's band until almost midnight. The studio owners had their dog loose in the place, which usually bothers me, but this dog was actually very nice and cute. It looked like the big flying dog thing in The NeverEnding Story, only at about 1/20th scale. What's the name of that flying dog thing, anyway? We couldn't remember.

Sunday, March 10, 2002
Had an interesting time shooting a video during a youth string competition yesterday. The performers were all under the age of 20, and they were all unnaturally good violinists. It was kind of like the Olympics (my friend pointed out more specifically that it was like figure skating) in that they were all very young, very obsessive about their playing, overly precocious, and kind of weird.

Professional Cheese Racing. Yes, cheese. Racing. Professionally. When I hear about things like this, it makes me wonder if I somehow missed my calling.

Thursday, March 7, 2002
Telling sign of a good freelance client: Invoice 'em on Monday, get the check in the mail on Thursday. God, that so rules.

Wednesday, March 6, 2002
Watched Smoke Signals today. I don't get what the big deal is about Sherman Alexie. I read one of his books (Reservation Blues) and thought it was bad -- sub-par storyline and sub-sub-par writing. I understand that Alexie is Native American, and he's writing about Native American issues, and there aren't that many Native Americans doing that, but come on! There must be better Native American writers than Alexie who are more deserving of this kind of attention. Smoke Signals was so unbelievably contrived. The dialogue was forced, the entire premise of the movie was weak and mostly served to bring certain Indian stereotypes to light, which is fine, but don't do it under such lame auspices. I sort of had high hopes for the movie, since it got good reviews and all, but in the back of my mind I was aware of how weak Alexie's book was, so I should have known better, hindsight being 20/20 and all.

Monday, March 4, 2002
Best part of my job? When we should have a snow day but don't, and it's really slow, and I get to spend my morning watching a movie. Today I watched The War Room, a documentary about the 1992 Clinton campaign. It's rough, which I liked, and it's an interesting account of the strategy planning that goes on behind the scenes of a presidential campaign. What especially got me was how many people were involved in getting Clinton elected, and how little Clinton appeared in the film. At first the marionette analogy came to mind (he's just a puppet, etc.), but then I started to wonder if the filmmakers left Clinton out on purpose. Either way, I now have a lot more respect for James Carville, who comes off looking great, and a little less for George Stephanopolous, who comes off a little smarmy. Then again, it was ten years ago. Good flick though.

Sunday, March 3, 2002
I live in the middle of nowhere. Well, it's not exactly nowhere, but Kalamazoo is less than a booming metropolis. So in a town like this, the best place to get sushi is at the local upscale supermarket (I think I've mentioned this before). It used to be that I'd go and get a couple of spicy tuna rolls and be done with it. But now the AFC counter at the store is expanding! They've got squid salad and all this cool seaweedy stuff, and they've always had cups of miso soup, but I never noticed until lately, so what used to be a nine dollar dinner now costs me fiften or twenty. But still, no matter how much I spend here, it always tastes better in New York or at Miki in Ann Arbor.

Saturday, March 2, 2002
God, I am so unmotivtated right now.

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