Saturday, April 23


Here's what I had to say about the trip to Indy, whilst it was on:

So here's the news from the front: This has been a hella trip so far, and it only gets darker before it gets lighter. Here's how it's gone down. We left Wednesday night, a time that seems like a year ago to me now. My plan was to wake up really early Wed morning, so I was up from 2:30 am. I wanted to make sure I was good and tired by the time I finished work at 3 so that I could nap at home for at least 4 hours before we left. Cut to me tossing like a salad in the bed from 3:30 to 5 and getting basically no rest. Than we left for the big show and drove until 8 am to be in Indy and go to the hotel. Except that the hotel was closed, and we suddenly realized that we were now on central time and it was 7am, which was weird because nothing else in this band is central time.

That was as far as I got on Jason's super tiny laptop before it became clear that I will never own anything labeled "sub-notebook" in my life. Matt may have the fortitude and tiny, ladylike fingers to make his way on that thing, but I had to stop before I actually chucked it in the toilet to alleviate my miskeying frustration. So back to the what was happening, which I'll attempt to keep in the present tense right up til the end.

We discovered that Indiana doesn't believe in daylight savings time. As a result, we are screwed coming home by an extra hour when we can least afford it. The only thing to do was go find the convention center and get the lay of things. Thank god for that, because there were already about 3-5000 people waiting to get in. At Noon. First we had to wait in the will call to actually be allowed to line up to get in. I hiked over to the hotel across the way and got starbucks for everyone. (side note: Chantico? What the fuck is wrong with you people. Eat a chocolate bar) Jason passed out in the corner, our first casualty. By this point I had been awake for more than 30 hours, and the day was just starting. After that it was past ten, and time to get into the really big line. Which was supposedly going in at noon. At 12:30 we hiked out to get some lunch at one of these goyishe bagel places that has the blueberry bagels and the bacon on everything. We came back, and walked past what had now become a truly impressive group of people. I'm guessing that this was over a mile of lineup, about 3 people wide on average, so like 10,000 to 15,000 people. On a thursday morning.

The lines were being controlled with this orwellian metal locking system that was erected at crotch height and was consistently soaking wet, making for some fantastic feelings when traversing a series (more on this later). At about 2:30 we got inside and got into our next line, to go to the store and buy our exclusive stuff that can't be found anywhere but at the show, and of course on ebay. My intention all along was to finance my trip by reselling this stuff, but by 3:15 it was clear we weren't going to be buying anything this day. We went to see Warwick Davis show us his home movies from Return of the Jedi. Then I'm not sure what happened, but I know that at some point in the next hour it was decided that we should go back to the hotel, which is where we are now. Pizza has been ordered and eaten (and at 6:30, after you've been up and either working, driving or queing for more than 2 straight days pizza tastes pretty unbelievably good) and I have accidentally (emphasis on dentally) allowed Matt to brush his teeth with my cortisone cream. Which I managed to pack instead of toothpaste. Matt says his mouth is very tingly.

More about this whole trip when i return, and have rested and taken a suitable blogging break.

which I did

Wednesday, April 20

oh Lisa, that's a load of fresh creamery butter

I really have no plan for the next few days. Even though I've known I was making this trip for over six months, I still have only the barest idea what I'm doing once I get there. I posted earlier that I've never been a member of a fan club. I've also never attended a "con". Not a comic-con, not a technology fair, nothing. I suppose the film festival has some aspects in common with what I'm about to go through (the sleeplessness, the intense interactions, the bemused observation of humanity and its foibles.) In any case, the plan looks like it consists of glomming on to either Jason, Matt or Chad and just letting them steer the ship. I plan to take it free and easy, buy something unnecessary but cool for Max's room, and just enjoy eating the insane food portions available in a US restaurants (Denny's Breakfast Bowls?!?)

Tuesday, April 19


How would you know for sure. I mean, beyond any doubt how could you know? You all know what I mean, I mean look around, people. It's here. It's a dystopia, and we're living in it just as happy as can be. Want evidence? Okay, here's what I've got so far:

1) The US government, basically the government of the world (if it's not, why is the appointment of their ambassador to the UN a more important story than the appointment of the Secretary-General of the UN?) are lying to us, all the time. They've used a vague threat of something bad possibly happening to someone somewhere at the hands of shadowy terrorist groups as an excuse to enact enormous legislation that turned the US into the biggest police state in history, a place where 10,000 people can be arrested in one day.

2) More than half the people you meet are taking some sort of mood and personality altering drug just to stay within societal behavior norms. Ritalin, Paxil, Viagra, Zoloft, Booze, Cannabis, Prozac. If we're all drugged up, where are the real people we used to be? You know, the bitchy ones nobody got along with?

3) From public school on, the goal of education is career training, nothing more. A liberal arts background is something to be ridiculed as a complete waste of time. Nobody learns just to make themselves a better person, we've replaced learning with training, an odious concept designed to generate ever more efficient cogs in the gearbox of consumption.

4) The Graduate is only available in a non-anamorphic, letterboxed DVD. This alone makes our society broken, almost beyond repair.

5) Our government lied, stole our money, lied about stealing our money, used the money to kick back most of it to themselves, didn't actually buy any of the influence over Quebec that they were hoping for, and are still the only electable party in the land.

What if it is broke? How do we fix it?

Monday, April 18

half naked, yelling, angry under-medicated santa

A basically good weekend. We finally reached completion on the big super secret (which I am sure everyone already knows about, but all I'm asking is for them to pretend to be surprised.) It looks about 10-15 times better than I could have ever hoped, with almost every component I bought being both the right shape and size. I love it when a plan comes together. After this is all over I'll post a picture and maybe even follow Matt's lead and have a contest to give it away.

Took a nice walk through the Rouge River Valley on Sunday. I wanted more of a hike, but I'll take what I can get. Then we went to yorkdale to get the inside of the car cleaned out, and walked around checking out the changes to the mall. You have to hand it to yorkdale, man, they do not give up. The Eaton's store closes, and they spend the dollars to really up the ante there. It's impressive for sure. The apple store is still being constructed, but I did peek through a crack in the hoarding. It's not a flagship store, by any means, so there's still hope for something downtown.

What really surprises me is how sharp my recollection of the various stages of yorkdale development really is. I worked there in the eighties and nineties, and my mother worked there in various guises before me. Walking around I can pretty much pick out every major and minor update, what stores have moved, what used to be there (remember the Kresges?) and all the other things, too. I remember all three of the movie theatre incarnations. I remember when they put the first addition on, when the micro cooking store (my first real job) moved from beside the theatres and food court around to where ditinctive gifts is now. I remember the Pro Hardware, the Dominion, and by god I remember the buffet upstairs at Eaton's. I miss the ambrosia and stringy roast beef, man. and the little roasted potatoes... oh god, I'm tearing up here.

I saw Batman on opening weekend at Yorkdale, and I also saw Raising Arizona there. I got my bike stolen there. I worked there 3 different times. I won a spelling bee. Ate my first whistle dog. I'd love to say I lost my virginity, but you can't have everything.

Thursday, April 14

really... why?

In a kind of bizarre turn, the director most represented in my dvd collection after Hitchcock and Woody Allen turns out to be William Wyler, for no other reason than that he made my 3 favorite films of the 1930's, The Good Fairy, Dodsworth and Come and Get It. Plus I seem to have acquired a couple of proto noir and gangster pictures, The Letter and Dead End, just in the last couple of months.

There's no design to this, other than mere coincidence. Wyler doesn't really have a style, per se. He's not a hack, just a solid craftsman who approaches direction from the "artfully invisible" school. He also seems to be pretty keen on breaking down social barriers, tackling adultery, open marriage, prostitution, gang violence and vicious gossip. And that's all before 1939. His films all seem kind of refreshingly modern in their instincts, and I think that's the power they've got over an audience today. He also gets incredibly good performances and works consistently with actors, not movie stars. The leads in his films would for the most part be considered character types by everyone else. He trusts their ability to sell the scenes, not the movies for their success.

Monday, April 11

gagnez un biscuit

If you are a reader of the linked blogs, you already know what I did yesterday. That's the essential issue of two bloggers hanging out; who will report back first? If not, I'll fill you in.

I went on a big fat hike yesterday. I wanted to go last week, but I mean, come on... did you look outside last Sunday morning? I like to hike, but I prefer it in a non-apocalyptic weather environment.

This week was different. Sun so hot I got a burn, my earliest sunburn on record, on my neck, face and arms. There was still ice on the ground up there even with the sun beating down, and water rushing and frogs brek-a-keck kecking their little hearts out. We saw a beautiful 18 inch garter snake that made me wish I was a parselmouth, entered a tree and branch defined cavern of gauzy filtered light, and walked until we were more than glad to stop. A swiss cheese and tomato sandwich became the best tasting thing I have ever prepared. Ditto to the ice cold can of coke greedily consumed at the end of the day. Something about that super cold can, guzzled back hard until you feel the knitting needles on the back of your throat.

Saturday was an indoor day, I took a shift at work for a few hours, made damn fine use of the broiler with some gorgeous rib steaks and finished watching The Grifters with my sweetie. Andy called up about seeing Sin City, something I had mentioned to him earlier in the week, and I jumped out for a late late show. Too late for me as it turns out, as I nodded off during Hartigan's run at the farm and never quite came all the way back until the movie was over. I also got a little closer to finishing the project, and man it's starting to look good. Wait till you see it.

I'll post a link to something absolutely astounding now, by way of taking my leave:

Be sure to click on the "walking videos" link halfway down the page on the left. It will blow your mind.

Friday, April 8

pimp my byte

Get off the grift, Roy. You don't have the stomach for it.

Wow. It's very dusty in here. Creepy, almost. Hard to believe my last post was about freakin' Zathura, of all things. What was I thinking?

I'm back. Not that I went anywheres, just took a break from the horrific grinding pace of 1 to 2 posts per week I was maintaining there for a while. It's been four weeks since I was here. Not much has happened, but here's what's going on.

My super secret project has progressed to the point where it might just barely be finished in time. More on that in a later post, but I did want to publicly declare that I have in no way become completely pedestrian in my time away from the blog. I am working on something, dammit.

My car thought we crashed. Turns out when you move the passenger seat forwards as fast as you can, the car thinks you just crashed and turns on the warning light for the airbag. All of which is hilarious if you're just driving around and suddenly notice the airbag light is on. All I could think about was the airbag just suddenly firing off and breaking my jaw for no good reason.

I drove to hell and back. Or through hell, at any rate. Last week's super insane freezing rain-o-rama found me going to Cobourg and back to watch my dad play (what else) the dad in Brighton Beach Memoirs. There was a moment there, coming back at night (this is pre-DST) with the rain whipping us and the bus in the next lane sending up terrific amounts of spray, when I suddenly just could not see anything. Yup, 110k, passing lane, zero visibility for 3-5 seconds. That'll put cream in your coffee. (In this metaphor, the "coffee" is my underpants.)

The play was good, especially (what else) my dad, who seems to be the one elevating everyone else to their best work. When he's on stage, everything is ok, everyone is engaged, and what is happening seems real, immediate and true. Please, if there is a design to this universe (which I am sadly aware that there isn't) let him have a crack at a singing Gimli :)

Celebration is fast approaching. Less than 2 weeks until 4 not so young guys get in a station wagon and drive 1000 miles to be in a room with George Lucas and Peter Mayhew. My dream of this is that you'll all be able to see me on the tv, preferably in a two shot with Triumph, the insult comic dog. Also, we'll be trying to stop only at places completely filled with dirty truckers, for that authentic Middle America Stephen King nightmare feeling. I got my membership card in the mail this week, so I am an official card carrying member of the Star Wars fan club. My first, and only fan club membership ever.

My dvd collecting has turned singular, as I am focused with laser like precision on completion of my film noir section before turning my attention elsewhere. At last count I have over 40 noir titles, and By the time it is all over there should be more than 100.

That was why Sin City was such a great kick in the ass. For the first time in more than 2 years, a movie didn't just exceed what I thought it could be, it blew me completely away. Since the end of the real film noir era (and its discovery as an actual film genre) we've been in the midst of self conscious film noir. The great thing about noir was its truly organic development. It is simply a group of filmmakers and writers being hit in the collective unconscious by the war, the holocaust, the blacklist, and all the other parts of america's end of innocence. Once post war Europe was opened back up to american movies, critics there thought all these dark little detective and murder stories were being done in a coordinated way and gave them a name. Film Noir. Black, like the shadows at every turn. Check Paul Schrader's essay for the definitive say on the subject.

Since then, people have been trying to keep making them, but once it became conscious, it also became harder to pull off. Way, way harder. In the 50 years since we found out what noir was, there's been at least 3000 attempts to recapture the glory. There's been about 5 that worked, roughly one every ten years. Riffifi, in 1958 was Jules Dassin's last noir, and qualifies as conscious simply because it was made in France at the height of the discussion. Dassin is a bona fide noir auteur, with Brute Force, Thieves Highway, Naked City and Night and the City to his resume. Riffifi is the DNA of the heist film, writ large, and it's silent centre is the 30 plus minute heist played out in agonizing detail.

Touch of Evil is Orson Welles materpiece of corruption, and in my mind his best film, outdoing even Kane in its brilliance.

There isn't another noir worth a damn until 1972. It's Chinatown. Murder, incest, facial disfigurement, the Los Angeles water commission.

Body Heat. 1981. Double Indemnity with the gloves all the way off. Does anybody play big and dumb better than Bill Hurt? How about slinky and slimy better than Kathleen Turner. Uh uh, didn't think so.

The Grifters is maybe the best of them all, effortless, uncaring, black and right as rain. Watching it again last night I realized I had also forgotten all about Elmer Bernstein's score, maybe the best noir score I've ever heard. He out Bernard Herrmann's himself and makes the movie a classic from the get.

You can add Sin City to the list. Period. It belongs right up there, by not fighting its self consciousness, but revelling in it. Like Matt said, when 2 different bad guys get their equipment shot off in the first ten minutes, you're in for something special. And if you can't appreciate how truly cracking good that last statement signifies the movie to be, don't go, you won't get it.

I'm truly glad I got it.
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