The Celtics game started at 3:00pm on this New Year's Eve. We headed out at 2:00pm, but traffic was really bad as people headed into the city for various festivities. We missed most of the first quarter. As predicted, it was a tight game, if only because the Celtics and Wizards are equally mediocre. Celtics 108, Wizards 103.
After waiting in the parking garage for about a half hour, we headed to nearby Brighton to see Carl's apartment. Carl was there, and Erin, and I got an electric guitar and another amp. Have to return it briefly tomorrow, but will have it back for Sunday practice. It seems lots of people Carl knows need guitar for shows they're playing.
In more detail than before, I pitched Carl on the Chinese Movie. Carl will have the lead role in the film within a film Jeremy is making. He's on board now, and we're going to shoot that film late Sunday night. That was the extent of the progress on that project today. Jeremy wasn't really game for anything else.
We got back to Franklin, unloaded into BMH and back into the car to pick up JAG at Jeremy's house. We played some more indoor basketball and football games, and I played a half game of NBA Live 2005, and failed miserably.
We went from there to Vincenzo's Trattoria in Bellingham. This new restaurant is trying desparately to be classy, but beyond the classy prices, there's not much substance, though JAG liked his dish.
We went back to BMH and I ran through the AS220 with Micah, noting the structure and dynamics of each song. We practiced a few of the songs Micah wants to play at Zeitgeist Gallery, but got a little too loud for Angie's taste and shut it down for the night.
Just now I put High School Sucked on a CD for the Random Kate video shoot tomorrow. We have four versions: normal, slow, fast, and super-fast. Each one has been time shifted to allow us to do some special effects. We'll shoot a scene with the slow version and speed it up, and so on, for some serious time bending effects.
I've got to get Jeremy motivated on the Chinese Movie project again. We're running out of days!
First, we went to the Franklin Public Library. Now, I am obligated to mention that sometime while Ben Franklin was still alive, they named this town after him. He was so flattered that he donated a collection of 160 books to the town. It was with those books that the first public library in America was started. They still have the books, on display, in the library.
The library is a decent enough looking granite, cube-like building near the center of town. Other than it's monlithic stature, there isn't much to say about from the outside. Inside, this place is spectacular. It's one of the nicest libraries I have ever been in, including the Boston Public Library and libraries at various universities. It is all wood-paneled with a great room with a huge fireplace, leather chairs, three stories high with murals around the whole room.
I actually asked, and was granted, permission to shoot. We headed up to the third floor to get some privacy, shot some scenes in the stacks, improvised a dolly from a library cart, shot some more, found some books on Chinese culture, and shot some more. Then, in looking for a good spot to shoot a first person interview segment, we stumbled onto this back hallway with a magnificent staircase and did it there. This was all for scene 2 of the movie.
Angie was hungry. Jeremy was hungry. Me, when I'm working, I can go all day without eating, as I did Tuesday. However, I must yeild to these little ones. So we had breakfast at James' Roadside Cafe. "Creative American Cuisine" they call it. I had a fancy omelet.
From there it was back downtown and a quick change (I can't say what, it's a suprise homage) to shoot scene 4, the movie theatre scene. We went into the Cinema Zeotrope, and, again, I took the bull by the horns, asked for the Manager, and for a few minutes to shoot scenes in an empty theater. No problem.
Another change, and out to the streets to shoot scene 3, location scouting. We roamed about and went in and out of local businesses with Jeremy looking for cool angles. We finally settled into a laundromat, which should be a familiar location to those that have seen the Cleary "Time Is My Crisis" video. There is just something about laudromats. They are bursting with untapped potential. So, we decided to use this laudromat to shoot Jeremy's film within the film, the abstract, metaphorical, voice-overed, subtitled masterwork. We'll probably shoot that on Saturday or Sunday.
We went back to BMH, busted out the guitar and practiced our Zeitgeist Gallery setlist. Definitely some loose ends that need to be fixed up.
We lost track of time, and had to rush out to meet Micah at Stop and Shop. We escorted him back to BMH and helped him settle in, and unload his drum kit and other gear into the basement. We got ready for the meeting early, and got dinner with mom and Darrell at Friendly's (no ice cream this time). Off to the meeting, and trying to stay awake after so many long days.
When we got back home, we converted the storage room to a practice room, and quietly (mom is in bed by eight, nine max) practiced quite a few songs with Micah on drums. He's taking us to new dimensions, he's really amazing! His anticipation and intuition are unmatched. I want to stuff him in a bag and drag him back to Phoenix with me.
Now, we heard that JAG's flight was delayed, with an expected arrival time of 1:30am, as if the original arrival at midnight wasn't bad enough. We got in the car and head out a little early to check out AS220 on the way, but took a wrong turn, and, frustrated, jumped right back on the highway and made it to the airport. There a little early, I shot footage for Chinese Movie scene 5, and confused a lot of people as to why exactly I was shooting their luggage.
We hit massive fog on the roads on the way home, and, desite this, we headed past our normal exit in search of late night sustainance for JAG. We got really goofy on the way, could barely see, and had to settle on McD's. Two double cheeseburgers always sounds like a good idea when you're ordering it, but anyway.
Here I am, it's 3:53am, just going to bed, and I already have my alarm set for 10:00am. Ugh! At least I have more than half of the movie shot, and three quarters of a band together and practicing. It's progress!
I headed from there to Norwood, MA to check out the Camera Company store. Wow, I haven't seen a place like this in the Phoenix area. All kinds of stuff for still and video photography, lighting rigs, color-correcting gels, tripods, all kinds of filters in all kinds of sizes, and lenses and cameras, of course. I was checking out wide angle lenses, thinking it would come in handy for the Random Kate video, but the ones that had that would fit my camera were only 0.7x wide angle factor. I was looking for at least 0.6x, preferably 0.5x, so I didn't bite. Real nice service, though.
When I got back to BMH, my grandparents were there. Grandma is up to get her hair done. So, we hung out and chatted for a while, and had some Lipton noodle soup for lunch. I expanded on my notes for the Chinese Movie.
Eventually, Jeremy and I cruised around to find wrapping materials for an anniversary gift. We got those and I expertly wrapped it. I'm one bad wrapper, yo! We also got some chocolates for everyone at the Green Mountain Chocolate Factory headquarters. Interesting, because there are no mountains, green or otherwise, in the vicinity.
Dinner with the family, then off to Jeremy's house. We cleaned up the place, and shot the interview portion of the first scene in the Chinese Movie. Molly came home, opened her gift, then we practiced TMINM's AS220 set acoustically. On second thought, Jeremy may need some help in remembering the lyrics to these songs. Even the first word of each verse might be enough to jog his memory. From now on, we're practicing with the lyric sheets handy.
We sped off from there to meet up with the Random Kate guys in Bridgewater. We met them at the Blue Star chinese restaurant, and headed over to Ben and Brittney's apartment. I got my first taste of the new album. It's phenomenal, they really took things to the next level. Lots of great surprises. I couldn't be more pleased. We knocked out the album design and got their ideas for the video. We may need that wide angle lens after all, but all in all everything is working out.
We headed home, it's very late, and we've got lot's to do tomorrow, including 75% of the Chinese Movie shooting, and picking up Micah and JAG.
Up early and out in service with Jeremy and Molly. The temperature was somewhere in the twenties. Bracing! We got a little something warm to drink at Meldiva, and I got to finally check out the place we were supposed to play our acoustic warm-up show. Nice place, hopefully we'll tape a scene there shortly.
We parted ways and headed over to Dean College to meet up with Jainie from the Facilities department. She had returned my pre-departure voicemail looking for a place to shoot the Random Kate video. Wow, what a contrast to all the high school staffers I have been talking to. She, and all the other Dean staff we ran into, just bent over backwards to accomodate us. It was like it was a done deal before we showed up, and we would only have to pick which buildings and rooms we'd like to use. And they did it in our budget, too!
While talking to Fran we noticed the office next door, with the name Vincent Bravoco. Hey, wait a minute, Vincent Bravoco was the long-time drummer for The Moon Is No More, was he not? Indeed! However, this turns out to be Vinnie "Rocko" Bravoco's father, who we had heard about for a long time, but only now got to meet. Is there any further doubt that this is the perfect place for the video?
Fran took us on a tour of the campus, in search of the perfect locations. We finally worked our way to the older buildings, and the Memorial Hall, with it's rich wood paneling, high ceilings, and neo-classical architecture will be the centerpiece to this video. Think of it as private school students go wild! We'll go tomorrow and sign the paperwork. No one will be around for us to bother or worry about, just the campus facilities staff to let us in and lock up afterwards. Sweet!
After that we head out for a half hour drive south to Best Buy in Attleboro, MA in search of a decent on-camera microphone. The web site reported that the store had two of the Sony ECM-MSD1 we were looking for, and so did the in-store computer, but there were none to be found. So, we headed out another half hour further away, fighting traffic and hunger all the way. This Best Buy, in Warwick, RI, did have the four microphones they reported to have in stock. Now there's a surprise. I had bet Angie that since the computer said they had four, they might have one, two max.
We got in the car and unpacked the mic on the way back. Not five minutes out, and probably with the Best Buy still in the rear view, we realized someone had absconded with the tiny battery that was supposed to be in the package. No matter, I was not turning around and fighting the insane, and inexplicable, mall traffic. We'd find a battery when we got back to the relative calm of Franklin. An hour later, we hit CVS and found a battery. Five bucks for this quarter-inch round piece of metal!
We headed over to Jeremy's to begin rolling on the Chinese Movie. It was like starting over, I had to sell Jeremy on the idea all over again. And it was his idea in the first place! Beyond not seeing the point, he doubted we would be able to pull it together in the tight schedule we have. He may be right, but we wore him down, and he was throwing out great ideas after not too long. However, he had a talk to write. So, I headed out to buy some refreshments (San Pelligrino Aranciata orange soda, Pepperidge Farms Mint Milano cookies, and Dole sliced Pineapple rounds (that's for the film!)). By the time I got back, prepped the equipment, and cleaned up the house's little details to get the look and lighting I wanted, Jeremy was almost done and ready to start shooting.
So, we shot about a half hour of footage, improvised some good things, and basically got Scene 1a shot. In tearing down, I realized that I hadn't turned on the power to the hard-won new microphone, so we have no audio for the footage. Fortunately, the audio is not as important for this scene, or I'd be jumping out a window after all we went through today. We worked out a rough schedule, and it looks like we can get most of the movie shot by the end of day on Thursday.
After this, we headed out to Bertucci's in Holliston, MA for some dinner. The waitress didn't speak English very well, and there were lots of mess-ups besides the food simply not being quite what it used to be. Time to scratch Bertucci's off the list of must-eat restaurants on our East Coast trips. We worked out some ideas for the Random Kate video while we ate, and put together a practice schedule for TMINM. Wow, is this going to be tight!
On the ride home, Jeremy pulled up some of the rarer TMINM songs on his iPod (with iRadio, or whatever the in-car radio broadcasting accessory is), and we all sang along loud. Good memories. Dropped Jeremy off at home, said good night to Molly, and it's off to BMH to turn in.
Let me break this down in case you didn't catch it: I didn't eat a thing until 9:00pm today. I had a beverage at 11:30am and 7:00pm, and that was the extent of it. I'm pretty punchy, and I feel burned out. I can only compare it how I felt after twelve hours in the Phoenix sun waiting in line for the Pumpkins surprise Machina show in 2000. Burned out!
I'm going to try to get some pictures up for future posts. Hey, Jer, when does that new digi cam of yours arrive? I guess I could take stills with my camera, if I got a memory card.
Random thought, you can make anything sound intelligent and important by using a learned (that's learn-ed) British accent. Try it, say "I'm spicy." (Warning: This may not work in Great Brittain and her various territories.)
Yikes... good night all.
Tomorrow is a big day. We've got limited time before it warms up and the snow melts. Got to get a lot done tomorrow.
The reality: We were awaken by the phone when Jeremy called at lunch break to see where we were. Check outside and the snow is here! I was so excited, I grabbed the camera and headed out to get some shots around the house, without the benefit of gloves, a coat. No accessories to speak of, really. After about fifteen minutes, Angie is yelling at me to get ready to go. OK, new plan.
We headed out. The roads were starting to get bad. Stopped at La Cantina for a mid-afternoon lunch. Chicken Parmigiana, as always. Off to the Assembly as it was ending. Saw all kinds of people I haven't seen for years. Lauren Buckman, Jon Clark, Jay Duval, Brian Perkins, Doug Capen, Rob Wells, Paul Gavin, and all their families, plus my family and the extended Praetsch family.
After that we headed to Wellesley to check in with Eric Liversage AKA Skippy, the other half of Cleary. We got his number from Jeremy, and caught up with him at CVS, where he's a Shift Supervisor. He was quite inked up and punked out, maybe even more than I expected. He's headed out to New York for a few days, but will be back in time for the shows. Can you say "surprise special guest appearance?"
By now the Pats game is starting, so it's back on the road, for what is normally a twenty minute drive back to Franklin. Except it's been snowing all day now, and the roads are getting really bad. It's twenty miles per hour, max, and the freeway is reduced to one big lane, for safety's sake. Even at that, we had to pull off twice to get ice off the wipers. Couldn't see a thing. Two hours later, we're back at Big Momma's House (BMH) to catch the last couple minutes of the game (it's OK, the games are on pristine FM radio out here), but we headed back out across town to Jeremy and Molly's place.
Jeremy and Molly has just done a 180 degree spin in traffic on the main road in Franklin, scratched their plans, and headed to the comfort of home. We watched bits of Nappy D. and JP3, played some indoor basketball and football, went back out for corn dogs and San Pelligrino Aranciata (what a combo!), and back to BMH. By now the snow is so thick we couldn't get up the driveway, and had to get out and shovel just to make it to garage.
Off to the computer to type it all up, click Publish Post, and...
Dinner at Big Momma's, hung out with Jeremy and Molly. Busted out the guitar and hopefully surprised Jeremy that I knew all of the songs on the setlist. I think he surprised himself in that he knew most of the lyrics. This is going to work.
It's cold, but no snow on the ground. It's coming soon!
It's day zero. Our clothes are packed. Our ride is arranged. I'm still getting together all the gear, and hoping I don't forget anything.
We are going to have way too much luggage. Three bags for clothes, probably two for equipment, plus an acoustic guitar. Oh, and a laptop case. Yikes!
Well, back to work.
TMINM fans, hold on to your heads, we have determined the setlists for the upcoming shows. We painstakingly reviewed our available songs and split them into two groups, older and newer.
At AS220, we'll play most of JLA straight through, with classics like Implode, Room 203, Part I, and Such Things to Such People in the mix.
01/03/05 AS220, Providence, RI
- A Homo Sapien's Mass of Flesh, Bone, and Muscle
- Come and Gone
- A Good Conscience Is One You Have Yet To Find
- Pity Versus Sympathy
- Last Resort, Part I
- Room 203, Part I
- Such Things to Such People
- It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part II
01/05/05 Zeitgeist Gallery, Cambridge, MA
- An Automobile's Mass of Rubber, Steel, and Plastic
- An Ambitious Attempt At Failure Before One's Birth
- Pitying Bowls of Saucy Lovelessness
- Standard Issue
- Heaven Express
- Quality Over Quantity
- A Common Path to a Common Problem
- The Substance of Nothing
- Anti-Global Rotation
My kingdom for an acoustic warm-up show.
It has been an immeasurable strugle to get this album done. Personal problems, marriages, equipment failure, illness, missing guest performers, voicemail and emails to the studio not returned, budget overruns, you name it, it happened to this album.
"So It Comes To This" is a punk rock album about school, girls, boredom with small town life, being an outsider, and other concerns. Typical? Hardly. I signed these guys because of their dedication to quality songwriting. These aren't your typical two-minute youthful punk songs.
Random Kate bring an array of styles to the table, referencing punk, ska, rock, hip-hop (Beastie Boys, not Jigga), and, more recently, a slice of emo, a little drama to mix it up. They write songs with a variety of parts and solid musicianship. They move a crowd like you wouldn't believe. That is why I'm proud to have them on 727 Records!
Even though I knew it had to get done, so we could shoot the video next week, I'm still surprised that it's finally over, based on all that has happened. From here we shoot a video, send it off for mastering, finish the design we started two years ago, and get it out there. I can't wait!
Are you desperately trying to promote your music and can't get the major zines to write a review? Review You appreciates your desperation! For "less than the cost of an average CD ($19.99, where do these guys shop, Virgin Megastore (I could obviously throw a link here, but I just can't support that)?)" they will guarantee a review by "professionals in the music industry" within two weeks, posted to their web site.
Man, what a scam! These guys are nothing special on the writing front. We're talking unoriginal gramatically faulty three-paragraph reviews here. Just another in the long line of people looking to take money from musical artists.
Brock, it would have been awesome if you could have come. Beyond being able to check out Boston and the surroundings, your input in terms of creativity and professionalism in the projects is going to be sorely missed. I'm going to really hustle to get all of this stuff done, as a tribute to you!
Here's what's on the lineup:
I booked two shows for The Moon Is No More. The venues are pretty cool, comparable to Modified and The Paper Heart. On January 3rd we're at AS220 in Providence playing with Quiet Life and Shumai. On January 5th we're at Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge, with Ship High In Transit opening for us. Jeremy has called a stop to booking any further shows, but there is always a chance Meldiva or Cafe Espresso will return my emails and we'll play an acoustic warm-up show.
Now, as you know, TMINM is basically a bi-costal recording project at this point. Getting a band together and practiced will be the biggest challenge. Jeremy has to warm up those pipes, and I've got to remember all these songs. Hopefully, Carl will have time to practice to join in on bass. We do have Micah on board to play drums (Vin is on lockdown, ya heard?!), but we'll have to get him and his gear off the Cape, and set up in Jer's house to practice.
It sounds like quite an undertaking, but I have supreme confidence in all of the band members abilities to pull it out. These aren't terribly complex songs, and these are some talented people. I mean that sincerely. I'm not sure if Jeremy's hesitancy to book shows and perform is a sign of a lack of self-confidence, but I know the guy who wrote these 39 songs in a matter of days can come through with other miracles.
Other issues involve getting the proper instruments together. Will I have to bring everything out with me? Can we round up gear from friends? Will Jer's downstairs neighbors be bothered by the practicing? Can we find a violin for a breathtaking live performance of Standard Issue?
The two shows will work well. We have about 40-45 minutes set time at each show. I'm going to check out the bands playing at AS220 and try to come up with something appropriate. That may mean leaving the weirder material for the Zeitgeist show. An acoustic show would have been very cool for some of the songs. The ideal situation would be to play all of the finished material over the course of three shows. An album a show, even.
Understanding all of the challenges above, and the general insanity of trying to pull this off while on vacation, and promoting a band that barely exists in reality, I really want to document as best as possible this whole endeavor. Brock would have done an excellent job with this, getting inside people's heads and finding the right story angles. It'll be tough for me, as an insider, to capture the drama, but I'll do my best. Gabe is providing the B-camera (thanks, Gabe!) for close-ups during performances and anything else Angie can dig up.
TMINM Music Video
If we can come up with a good concept and find the time, it would be great to do a music video or two, so we have something to put on the forthcoming release. This is a lower priority project.
Random Kate Music Video
Random Kate is mixing their album on Wednesday, and we'll be shooting a video for the song "High School Sucked (Locker Blues)," a high energy super-fast punk song with a Beasties Boys-esque rap breakdown at the end. The location will likely be the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School, if we can secure it. They're putting out a call to their fans to show up for the video. Hopefully, there won't be any damage. I'm envisioning classroom, cafeteria, and hallway hijinx, with the classroom being turned into a mosh pit by the end of the song. I see the drum kit up ont he teachers desk, and the band members up on desks, wired up to amps on other desks.
Also, I'm putting together some timing effects for the hallway. Picture a shot down the hallway, lockers to each side. We'll have song at 50%, Gabe walking directly at the camera, lip synching. The extras will be milling about at full speed. On playback, we'll double the speed so it matches the vocals, and everyone is moving at the speed of light, all the sudden. Reverse that with Gabe moving normal and everyone else at half speed. We'll see what we can do. I've got Jeremy on board as a co-Director, and he always has soe interesting angles.
Then there is the movie I'd like to make about Jeremy, as an grand visionary Director trying to make a film in Chinese with English-speaking actors, or some such nonsense. The possibilities are endless. Translating the script (based on Sans Hands?) by hand to Chinese, casting, scouting locations, getting a crew together, talking to the local movie theater manager about screening, all that good stuff. And the whole movie is really a tribute to Wong Kar-Wai, with subtle homages throughout. Got to brainstorm some more on this one.
Have I left anything out? Rebecca Kinkead has an exhibition opening while we are there. We'll be sure to check that out. There's brunch on New Year's Day, jamming with the Debue crew, time on the Cape with grandma and grandpa, hunting down the "man-child" Skippy, and maybe a Random Kate show. I'm starting to think the 20 blank tapes I bought won't be enough!
While I try to get my act together, enjoy this review of Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl. In the words of the self-proclaimed "editor, publisher, la dee dah," "It took some time, but it glows."
Hey! They made the front page (and the top of the front page, no less): http://www.moregoatthangoose.com/
Here's the review: http://www.moregoatthangoose.com/cds/cds.php?cd=00008
Now you don't have an excuse to come and visit.
Be sure to jump on this today if you want to get these savings. These deals never seem to last more than 24 hours.
I won't divulge any details, and can only provide the fuzzed out image of an anonymous crew member depicted above. What I can say is that this is a legendary film in the making. Excellent concept and writing, well executed, creative composition and angles, and a few shots that will drop your jaw, or at least bring a smile to the face.
The film is solid in its own right. One only wonders what further heights could have been reached with the original screenplay (pre-censorship) and the original location (pre-railings).
I can't wait to see the finished product. Congrats Brock!
Angie and I flew out Saturday morning, October 23, 2004, from Phoenix to San Jose. We managed to pack everything into a carry-in this time. No waiting, I love it. We went to the hotel and unpacked. We were hoping this was the same hotel we stayed at last year, where some of the bands were staying (we bumped into Chris Carrabba on our way in one day), but it wasn't.
The Saturday show doesn't start until 5 PM, so we headed into San Jose to get some dinner. We stopped at Cafecito to see if we could talk to someone about getting Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl a show there towards the end of their tour. Jeremy wasn't in.
We walked around and chose Original Joe's, an Italian restaurant. Man, this place was a trip. It looked like it had been a pretty swanky place fifty years ago. By today's standards, it wasn't as impressive. It looked like an odd amalgam of wood paneled elegance and a truck stop. Everyone was in tuxes, but the booths were Formica tops with vinyl seats. The food wasn't anything special, but they sure charged as though it was! We ate it all up, though, packing it in so we wouldn't have to buy the pricey concessions at the amphitheatre.
We rolled up to Shoreline an hour early, so no long wait getting parked. It was already drizzling, and we staked out a spot on the lawn where we could see the screens and the stage. Just so I don't have to go blow by blow on the weather the whole day... It rained almost all day. It would break from time to time, long enough to get the ponchos off and the blanket out, only to start raining again. It cleared up for good when Paul McCartney came on around midnight. Not that it was any relief, since it was freezing cold by then and had been most of the day.
Neil Always starts the show off with a few songs, and this year was no different. Sugar Mountain, Do I Have To Come Right Out and Say It?, and Field of Opportunity. Some years he only plays one song, so three is always a treat.
Tegan & Sara are a sister act from Canada. They write simple songs, very girl power, catchy. They have played Bridge School before. I like their stuff, though it always seems incomplete somehow.
Eddie Vedder was next with Soon Forget, Better Man, You've Got to Hide You're Love Away [Beatles], and Masters of War [Dylan], the protest song he's been playing around lately. Eddie was awesome as usual. I think it's amazing the feeling he injects into the songs. We commented later about how 14 years later, he still has the exact same grunts and gasps on songs like Evenflow. Histrionics to some, but elements of the songs to any Pearl Jam fan. Good set, way too short, though he was a late addition. Pearl Jam has played every Bridge School every other year for over a decade now, so getting Eddie in between was a bonus.
Los Lonely Boys from the Austin, TX area were next. Angie had picked up their CD many months ago at Stinkweeds, based on the sticker that said they were Willie Nelson's favorite local band. That, too, may have been a carry-over from our newfound respect for Willie after last years benefit. Since then, this band of three brothers had broken it big on the radio, and deservedly so, as they are first-class musicians, great songwriters, and nice guys. Their songs are a tad too commercial for my taste, but they were fun to listen to, and they certainly won over all those present who had not yet been exposed, with songs like Heaven, Hollywood, Senorita, and an a capella rendition of More Than Love.
Sonic Youth took the stage next. They are a band that I enjoy when I hear them, but have never gotten really into. Their lone radio hit, if it was that, was 1995's Diamond Sea. Hard to believe they've been around for over 20 years now. "Youth" seems hardly the word to describe them anymore, but they are true to themselves, at any rate. Well, I loved their set. Angie ated it. I thought they did an awesome job playing their songs acoustic, since they usually trade in distortion and feedback. The songs were beautiful, actually. I want to go get some more of their albums to go with "Washing Machine" and "A Thousand Leaves".
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals were next. I knew we were in for a good time when they rolled out the percussion setup with all sorts of things to bang on and a Jamaican flag draped across. The set was a great combination of soul blues and reggae, with Ben on slide guitar and those passionate vocals. Songs like People Lead and With My Own Two Hands/War were moving, and Burn One Down was a favorite with the Bay area crowd. Not that they needed any encouragement.
Red Hot Chili Peppers were next, and for the first time ever they sounded really good in all respects to me. Kiedes' vocals had always been a sticking point at past performances. Too many really bad notes from a "professional" singer. If I wanted to hear that, I could see The Moon Is No More, and it would cost a lot less. Maybe it was John Frusciante's harmonies smoothing Anthony out, but it sounded good. The Lotta Love and Brandi (You're A Fine Girl) covers were curious, but fun.
Tony Bennett was next. The high point of his set, to me, was just watching and hearing a solid jazz band in action for the first time since Earl Klugh in Boston a couple years ago. These guys were incredibly talented, and, like any good jazz band, each player got his solo through the course of the set. Tony's songs are enjoyable, but all set up so he can mug and get applause after each and every line. He's a showman, all right, but it's not my slice of cake.
Neil was on next. He (or him and Crazy Horse, or him and CSN, or him and Friends & Family) usually closes out the show. This year he deferred to Sir Paul, as he did a few years ago when The Who was in town. He opened with Pocahontas, one of my favorite songs, and went into Harvest Moon (our wedding song) with Eddie and Peggi backing him up, to which we danced, despite the cold and rain. Six more songs, all strong, but I'm always wishing for more songs from my favorite two albums, "Harvest" and "After The Gold Rush."
Sir Paul came on, and everyone stood up. He kicked right into Drive My Car, and it was on! He played 13 songs in all, mostly Beatles covers, a full range of songs, and it was like I would imagine seeing the Beatles would have been like. Some of the highlights were In Spite of All the Danger, a pre-Beatles song, Blackbird, Here Today, a song he wrote after John was killed, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, a Neil cover with Neil, Michelle, Yesterday, Get Back, Let It Be, and Lady Madonna. Who am I kidding? They were all highlights. Hey Jude closed out the show, as more and more of the performers came on stage to sing along with the audience.
Despite the rain, it was one of the best days in my Bridge School experience. No Smashing Pumpkins, no Pearl Jam, just a solid lineup of great bands playing great songs. Everything it was cracked up to be, and worth every cent of the $38 lawn tickets. The show ended at 1 AM on the dot, but it 2:30 before we were back to the hotel, after fighting the parking lot logjam.
Sunday we woke up and headed up to San Francisco. Almost no traffic coming or going, which was great. Even on Sunday's I've been jammed up in San Fran in the past. We went to the North Beach neighborhood, parked (way up a hill), and walked around, checking out the menus for something tasty. We walked all the way from the park at the West end to City Lights bookstore on the East. We read some poetry (I read Ginsburg), and I looked and looked for something unique to bring back as a gift for Carl, since this is where lots of beat generation history was made. Surprisingly, they have done very little to capitalize on this, in terms of souvenirs. I would normally praise their rejection of commercialism, except that I was actually in the market for a souvenir that day. Sorry, Carl.
We ate at Mona Lisa. I had the Penne Arrabbiata, which is a spicy tomato sauce, with hot peppers, capers, and olives. Great stuff.
We headed out to catch the 2 PM start of the show. We ended up being a little late, and missing Tegan & Sara and Eddie. I won't go into a lot detail about the Sunday show, except that it was great because we had actual seats, could see the stage a little closer, and it was warm and dry. Otherwise, it was a little disappointing that more of the bands didn't change their setlist from Saturday. In the past, most bands switched things up, in acknowledgement of the many people that come for both days. This year, Eddie and Ben Harper were the only ones to change it up appreciably. No surprise there, we know who the real artists are!
A great weekend, can't wait to do it next year!
The other films demonstrated that there are a lot of creative people making films in Phoenix. I tend to always see the effort and creativity that goes into the work, even if the end result is not stellar. Bearing that in mind, I liked about 75% of the films screened. "Manscare" stood out as the most memorable film of the evening, a close-up night-vision of sheer terror in the face of banal activities, such as making coffee, and opening the fridge, with a highly original piano score. This film was totally unexpected and instantly lovable. "The Netherbeast of Berm-Tech Industries" won the competition, and was indeed the best directed, written, and acted piece of the night.
The other films showed a lot of creativity in the selection and composition of shots, overall looks, and others complex editing, some of them packing in scores to hundreds of shots in the three-minute format. It really brought into perspective areas that we need to improve on in the future, which I'll touch on later.
I got to catch (and Tivo) the piece that was done on the Arizona News Channel. Yes, there were John and I standing in line, and I walked behind an interview. Having been there to see what was behind the news coverage highlights just how out of touch and watered down local news really is. On the up side, they showed clips of a few films, and I was struck by the image quality of them all. The projector in the theatre really mangled the images, resizing and causing all sorts of weird banding effects. At times it didn't seem the films were even running at full frame rate.
OK, so on to some constructive self-criticism. That's self-crticism, because even though this was Gabe's movie, I was there for the duration and could have provided more constructive input throughout. I'm sure Gabe can take it in the best way. We can only get better at this by being honest with ourselves. Seeing our film side-by-side with others highlighted areas we can improve in. So, here goes.
- Look - The look of The Glove Box was the absence of any kind of look. We shot with the goal of getting the best possible pictures, consistent and lit as well as we could. Other than that, it was pretty straightforward, no special effects or filters. I think we achieved what we set out for, the finished product looks very good, the look is consistent, just not very interesting. There is a lot of room for creativity, and most of the other films did indeed have unique looks that had to be planned out and thoughtfully executed.
- Shot Selection - Again, we stayed fairly conservative in this regard. The shots we did told the story effectively, but nothing really jumps out as very agressive, creative, mind-blowing, etc. The time lapse got a decent reaction, but it was subtle enough that you might not have noticed it. Perhaps it could have been accentuated by a sound effect? The slow zoom back and forth between Gabe and The Glove Box was nice and the switch to handheld for the climactic scene were effective, but very subtle.
- Editing - The editing was very natural. The performance flowed and was consistent from shot to shot, such as the interior car scenes. However, the editing wasn't really out of the ordinary or agressive. The "Homocide: Life on the Streets" homage during the first scene, in which Gabe pulls the door handle a number of times from a number of angles was actually so fast, I don't know that anyone could catch what was going on. The final scene with Gabe in the car was timed and executed well, and that was probably the most important scene. The rest of the film could have been better, but only with more source material to work with, which would have require much additional forethought to shoot.
- Wardrobe - This is one of those areas where attention to detail can really set the production apart and create that elusive suspension of disbelief. In this case, I think if we had stuck to our guns and had Gabe dressed up in a real smart looking shirt and tie, very go-getter executive type, it would have been a very different production. Guys in t-shirts are a dime a dozen, sorry Gabe.
- Locations - Another key area. Some of the other films stood out because of the interesting locations or the lengths they must have gone to get a shot. The dunes in "Tempus Fugit", the lake in "I'm Dead", the carnival in "Lost Dreams" come to mind. Much like the last point, people's livingrooms, cars, and parking lots are a dime a dozen. When we do get to an good location, across from the airport, the whole scene is more interesting. Our parking lot was good for what we wanted to do, but if there were other things going on in the distance, it could have been a lot better.
- Music - We had some good music, and it fit well and enhanced the film. However, it wasn't a score per se, so didn't really hit all the points we would have wanted it to in a perfect world. The switch halfway through from one style to another seems a little drastic in retrospect. Maybe we could have faded up The Casket Lottery song a little slower.
- Acting - I saved the best for last. Gabe's acting is probably what stands out the most. Having just a single line of dialogue, he uses subtle physical acting throughout to convey the mounting frustration and tension. It's a thing of beauty. He pounds a glove box like no one else.
Don't get me wrong, I'm really pleased with our film. I just wanted to illustrate that there is room to improve and really kick it up a notch on a lot of fronts. If we do this again, and I hope we do (we should each direct a short for the Spring challenge!), we should really be open to collaborating and encouraging each other to make every shot, every cut, every stitch of clothing, and every prop, the best it can be. Let's get crazy!
My first exposure to baseball was the 1986 World Series and Bill Buckner's gaffe. I am shaped from the start by haunting memories of tragic failure. I am not unique in this; it is how generation upon generation of New England youth came up.
That is how, during game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees, I sat quiet and motionless as the Red Sox won, without celebration. And again, how I was silent and frozen last night during game 4 of the World Series, as the Red Sox completed a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. I just couldn't get excited about it.
It was great to see fans parading around carrying "We Forgive Bill Buckner" banners. It was, in a way, a victory that made all those tragedies seem OK. So, why can't I fully enjoy it? Becaused I still feel that somehow, someway, the Red Sox will find a way to blow this one.
They're going North and back down the coast and taking far longer than most bands would take on the same route. This is not without reason. They're passing over the big cities, like SLC, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in favor of more frequent stops in between where real people can connect to their really good music. They have a good grassroots vibe going with fans and friends made on the last tour helping promote this one.
We hope you check them out, buy their album, and introduce yourself. Here's the route:
10/23/04 SAT The Grind Coffee House Cedar City, UT
10/25/04 MON Royal Palace Spanish Fork, UT
10/27/04 WED Starry Night Provo, UT
10/28/04 THU Common Ground McCall, ID
10/29/04 FRI Quarter Moon Books Missoula, MT
10/31/04 SUN B-Side Spokane, WA
11/02/04 TUE Grant's Brewery and Pub Yakima, WA
11/03/04 WED Toad Mountain Coffee Bellingham, WA
11/03/04 WED Backstage Lounge Vancouver, BC
11/04/04 THU The Meow Meow Portland, OR
11/05/04 FRI Interzone Corvallis, OR
11/06/04 SAT Intaba's Corvallis, OR
11/07/04 SUN Sam Bond's Garage Eugene, OR
11/08/04 MON The Mobius Ashland, OR
11/09/04 TUE Six Rivers Brewery McKinleyville, CA
11/12/04 FRI Scolari's Office San Diego, CA
11/13/04 SAT The Paper Heart Phoenix, AZ
The one really bad year was 2000, when it rained basically the whole weekend. The entire lawn was quickly stripped of all grass and topsoil, and became a very steep mudslide. You wouldn't want to sit it the stuff, but standing wasn't exactly easy, either. Entire sections of people would fall in one big grasping, fumbling cascade of humanity. They handed out garbage bags at the door as makeshift ponchos, but the water seemed to get inside, somehow. It was steamy and miserable and cold and eight hours long, and yet I remember the bands vividly: CSNY, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, Dave Mathews Band, Foo Fighters and Tegan & Sara. It's almost as though the physical memory is disconnected from the musical memory.
I'll be back Monday and let you know how it went. Just confirmed, Eddie Vedder has joined the lineup.
While mixing the audio, I was afraid the film wasn't going to come across as interesting and frieghtening as we would have liked. In the end, it all came together. I even get tense and jump at the right parts, even though I know they're coming.
The first pass was to clean up the audio from the shoot. I ended up not using much of the original audio at all, as it was rather noisy, didn't match levels from cut to cut, and often had chatter from the crew. I mostly used field recordings we did last Saturday on my DAT deck, mostly ambient soundtracks of starting the car, stopping the car, driving the car, driving on the freeway, slowing down, car stopped with the windows closed, with the windows open, car off with the windows open and closed, etc. At this point it was nice and clean, but not very interesting, and with very little mood.
The second pass was to add sound effects to give our antagonist a little personality. I won't divulge what we used to achieve this, maybe someone can guess after they see it. This added some interest and tension, but the raw sound effects on the cleaned up basic tracks weren't all that convincing.
The final pass was to add music. This was the icing on the cake, and brought it all together. I was able to use the intro to Fatigo's "Spicy Nova" for the first half of the film, just over a minute of instrumental jazzy, bossa nova that could easily be the theme song to a sixties sitcom. I see a young woman in a big city tossing her hat into the air. The light, playful air of this song is a good counterpoint to the building tension of the film. Quite by accident, there were a number of changes that matched up with visual cues.
Gabe got permission from The Casket Lottery to use one of their songs, and wisely chose "Getting By" a creepy, sinister little number. We cut this song up into some key parts and used them to punctuate the action.
The world premiere is Thursday, October 28 at 7:00pm at Valley Art Theatre in Tempe, AZ. It looks like this theatre seats only 150 people. I hope we don't have another 48-Hour Film Contest screening debacle where some people get shut out.
As we speak, my workstation is on its 14th hour of rendering out a 24fps filmic version of The Glove Box. It should be done by the time I get home. We'll see if looks any good and possibly use it for a DVD release. Thanks to Panasonic, the footage looks absolutely amazing, and should lend itself well to the further processing.
Thanks to Angie, Brock, and John for their input and hard work, and to the bands for contributing their music.
Turning our attention to music through technology for a moment, I was deep in thought this evening, reaching way back into my long-term memory to pull out something I thought could be special. I had one of those Google Desktop Search moments; you know you've seen something on your computer screen before and you have to track it back down. Unfortunately, this occurred before the invention of Google Desktop Search, so that doesn't do me much good.
So I just reverted to the classic Google search and found exactly what I needed. You see, 12 Brothers has been sitting stagnant for a while and its anybodies guess when Joshua will actually complete the music or stir up some motivation to begin the 12 man, cross country recording project. Thus, its time to move on.
This project, which I assume will become another EP (as yet unnamed, but you can probably guess what I'm leaning towards), is in the extremely preliminary stages. I'm not even sure if it will come to fruition. For the time being it will have to be just research, research, research.
I don't want to give it all away, but I'll leave you with the juicy tidbits below. Enjoy!
The last two games have been perhaps the most thrilling baseball games that I have had the privilege to witness. Of course, my heart has stopped beating so they may also be the last games that I ever see.
Two games. 25 innings. Over 10 hours! Game 5, clocking in at 5:49, was the longest game in baseball's postseason history. It was uncanny watching game 5, because it was practically a mirror image of game 4. The Yankees take a 4-3 lead. The Red Sox make a move in the late innings to tie it. They have a perfect chance to win and blow it. Ortiz proves he's perhaps the clutchest hitter in the league right now.
But you know what? I'm sick of these "We still believe" signs. I, for one, will be honest. I do not believe. The only thing that I believe in is the fact that this team will break your heart once more. In my mind they are only prolonging the suffering by taking the Yankees deep in this series. They're just toying with the good folks of Boston; setting them up for more emotional injury.
Let's face it, losing in 6 games is harder to take then losing in 5. Why? Because they've given you new hope and then they dash it. Losing in 7 obviously is worse then losing in 6. Frankly, what could be worse? The only thing I can think of is having to watch Mr. "Who's Your Manny?" at the plate for another crucial at bat, with that look on his face like its batting practice.
Hey, Manny! These games count, you know!
But then there's Ortiz, who now owns Boston fans to greater extent than any New England athlete since Larry Legend. Big Papi! I knew it was only a matter of time before the Sox fans would come up with something clever to counter their counterparts' "Who's - your - dad - dy? - clap - clap - clap clap clap" chants. For an Ortiz at bat we got "Who's your Papi?" Of course, there were others, like the "Who's your dealer?" chants for Sheffield, referencing those Balco suspicions. I was waiting to hear the "Je - ter - has - AIDS - clap - clap - clap clap clap" chant, but I guess they leave that one just for the t-shirts (I swear I'm not making this up).
So now the Red Sox season rests on the ankle of Curt Schilling. Why don't I have that warm, fuzzy feeling?
The box is by Motorola and its rented from Comcast. Because I already had a high definition cable box the price increase is only about $8/month. Not only is TiVo an extra $13 more a month, but I'd have to buy their high-def DVR (rather than renting), and from what I last heard the price was hovering around the $1000 range. I don't have that kind of spare cash to lay down in one shot.
Again, it does what I want it to do. I have basic needs. Plain and simple, I just wanted a way to record high-definition programming. Comcast provides a pretty easy to use interface, though its not laid out in the best possible way. You can pause live TV, do the instant replay, the whole bit.
There are a few drawbacks. For one thing, when you set up a recurring recording it doesn't understand when things get pre-empted. I had set it up to record Pardon the Interruption on ESPN HD every weekday at 5:30 p.m. Too bad the next day ESPN nixed PTI for a round of golf. What happens to the DVR? I get the entire 4 hours of golf recorded for me. Great!
Also, there no dual tuner, so you can't record one thing and watch another or record two things at once. I'm told that TiVo can do this. On the flip-side, at least you can record something and watch something else off your DVR. Or, something that I do frequently, record something and start tuning in before its over. All you have to do is start viewing the program from the beginning while it finishes recording it. This can really cut down on the time spent on a program, too, since you can fast forward through the commercials and watch an hour program in 45 minutes.
There's four speeds of fast forwarding, which is very nice. At first I thought it was irritating, but then I realized the benefit of the slow fast forward (oxymoron?). For instance, I watched the entire Patriots game on Sunday in about 45 minutes. I had a great system. FF when the Patriots are on offense; FF2 when the Pats are playing D; FF4 through commercials, halftime, possession changes, etc., etc., and so on.
Again, its flaws are minor and don't make much of a difference. The only real complaint that I have is space. You can only record about 9 1/2 hours of HD programming (as opposed to about 100 hours of regular def). This is a severe limitation. I've already run into issues where I want to record a movie and I have to clean house on my hard drive. Its a pain and highlights the need for a standard HD DVD format to be brought to market at a reasonable price. DVR is your short-term memory and DVD is for the long haul.
The true test of the DVR, though, like anything, is how Darrell reacts to it. Let's just say that it was love at first sight. He was ready to get on the phone and order his own after one quick demo.
Anyway, I have Gattaca in beautiful widescreen HD sitting on my DVR box right now. I'll save it on there for when Joshua and Angie come out. There's nothing like seeing extreme close-ups of body matter falling to the ground in glorious 1080i.
Just returned from the first day of shooting The Glove Box, our entry into the Phoenix Film Project Fall 2004 Film Challenge. Gabe wrote the excellent screenplay, under pressure when no one else was feeling particularly creative. I'm serving as the cinematographer, and Brock as a creative consultant, since he has numerous film commitments for school (he's already in high demand). Angie and John were the all-around crew for the day, keeping equipment at the ready and holding reflectors for fill light. Jeremy contributed a few ideas long-distance. The hooligans were played by honest-to-goodness real life hooligans!
I couldn't wait to see the footage, so we watched it a few minutes ago. Good news, it looks great! The colors are vibrant, and overall it looks very slick. The ND filter came in very handy in the bright afternoon sun (I could have even used a much more powerful one if I had it available, I'll add it to the list of things I need to buy). We got some jumbo silver windshield covers and used them for fill light, to great effect. Many of the in-car shots would not have been usable without the added light, and the fill light was just enough to cut down the contrast of the in-car light and the bright sky.
The cameras manual controls were also used to great effect, and resulted in three distinct looks to match the three main sections of the screenplay. With the exposure locked for the duration of a each section, the visuals stay very consistent and professional-looking. The first section is predominantly in the mid-afternoon, with lots of blue sky from inside and outside the vehicle. The second sections is late afternoon, with beautiful golden sunlight and long shadows. I also turned the sharpness down (to reduce DV jagged edges) for this section, and we moved to mostly handheld to add drama (note we didn't use handheld throughout, so it stands out and serves it purpose when it appears). The final section is at night, and the lights we used were a very pure white, making the night look almost black and white.
We shot a lot of coverage and we should have more than enough footage to make all the aspects of Gabe's vision come to life. We even took a stab at an admitedly ambitious concept, one that took hours to pull off and will result in mere seconds of visuals in the final cut, but should really set this production apart.
Gabe's acting was subtle and superb. He handled freeway and city driving duting while simultaneously doing primarily physical acting. He even did some high speed stunt driving! He came away with a few battle scars, only flesh wounds.
We got more than expected from our impromptu hooligans. Much more. That could be a post in and of itself.
I recently received one myself and signed up. Finally, I can return the favor. I have five invitations that I can send out (I had six, but had to hook Joshua up ahead of time). Just let me know if you want one.
This will be a first-come, first-served basis, though I do reserve the right to reject anyone. What can I say? I love power.
Let me offer a warning first, though. Gmail is not all that its cracked up to be. I had heard grand experiences from Gmail users about how it would change the way that you use e-mail. In fact, its pedestal was so high that it almost had no chance. Granted, it does have some nice features which improve upon what you've come to expect from Yahoo! and the rest. But this is not world-shattering type of stuff, people; this is, "Oh, that's kind of cool, but this kind of just looks like Yahoo! Mail did four years ago" kind of stuff.
Of course, the 1GB feature does trump everything else, if you have a need for that sort of thing. Beware WAP users, as I have yet to find a tried and true provider of WAP access to my Gmail account (though here's one that looks pretty shady, if you're into that sort of thing). Google certainly doesn't offer one.
Visit e-Scrabble to get an idea of what I'm talking about. You just set up a game with four e-mail addresses and then everyone throws in their word when they get a chance. This could take years to finish!
I hold a certain fondness for games that take a long time to complete. For instance, myself and Gavin playing a best-of-seven series of one-on-one basketball that lasted the entire summer of '95 (or was it '96? Either way, this is something that I really need to write about at some point). Another example: I recall when Carl and I played a game of Monopoly that must have lasted a week. Risk holds that same attraction. There's something to be said for knowing that you must invest a significant portion of time. It makes the pay-off all the sweeter.
Its like when you sit down with the Sports Night DVD box set and try to watch all of the episodes in chronological order. You know this is going to take a couple weeks, but ultimately, you know you'll be a better person for having done it. This is practically the same thing.
If you miss out this time maybe we can work you in for the next game. Maybe we could work out a "winner stays" rule like playground basketball.
So, who's in? Bottom line: I'm taking the first three people who e-mail me (you know my address). No excuses.
We have already had discussions regarding how Manoj films stand up on multiple viewings so I will try not to rehash that. You all know how I stand. I just wanted to mention that in some ways I actually enjoyed it even more the second time around. While the scares were definitely lessened since I knew the timing and outcome going in, there was more opportunity to simply enjoy the story for what it is. My mind was active, searching for any little clue that would give away the eventual ending. Here are a few things that I picked up on or appreciated even more the second time around.
- "The animals!" I finally caught this line for myself. This is when they discover that Noah had the costume. Of course, Noah was the one who had done the killing at the wedding.
- Which leads right into the wedding. Indeed, you do not see any shots of Noah during the dance scenes. He's absent because he's gallivanting around as the creature.
- Which leads right into the visit where the creatures mark all the doors with red. It was interesting to see that Noah and Ivy are playing hide and seek just prior to this happening. As such, we get to see a shot of Noah hiding in the closet. Of course, he's right before Ivy's eyes and she doesn't know he's there. Originally, I had thought that this was just a shot to provide some comic relief. However, upon further inspection, I feel that its important that Manoj included this. It helps us to easily identify that this particular intrusion by the creatures is not Noah's doing. It makes a lot of sense in retrospect.
- Perhaps my most satisfying revelation was in the scene where Elder Walker tells his wife that he wants to leave the village to retrieve medicine for Lucius. On my first viewing it seemed that the wife was seriously over playing this scene, as she utters over and over again "You made an oath! You made an oath!" It goes hand in hand with my major (and only?) complaint for The Spanish Prisoner in the scene at the airport where the mother whines "You've got your dirty fingerprints all over your book. Your fingerprints are all over the book." In both cases it feels like the director is just stretching it a little too much, trying to clue the audience in to an important detail. However, at least in the case of The Village, it became apparent that the character wasn't trying to tell the audience this tidbit of information. She was trying to tell her husband. She was saying, without explicitly stating, that she approved of sending Ivy to the towns. The reaction of the two characters as they cry and fall into each others arms further confirms my suspicions. Just another exquisite slice of subtlety from Manoj.
Bottom line? If you haven't returned to The Village, I recommend it. The Village is waiting for you with baited breath.
This is the 25th Anniversary Edition of Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend, which seems odd since the original film was released in 1991. Apparently, they are commemorating 1979, the year that Larry joined the Boston Celtics and the NBA. Of course, that doesn't make much sense, since this in-depth films covers much more than the professional years of Larry Legend. No, it goes way back, to his childhood, his failure at Indiana University, his re-birth at ISU, etc., etc., and so on. None of this makes much of a difference, though, since it matters little what flimsy excuse the distributor had for this re-release. The point is: the moment we've been waiting for with baited breath has arrived. This is a good thing; this is a great thing; in the way of basketball films, this is the only thing you need.
Let us begin with the venue, the Coolidge Corner Theater located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America. I'm not sure who designed this place, but apparently they decided that there was no need to actually face the street. That made it somewhat hard to find. It was a relief to finally get inside and pay for my ticket.
My limp paper ticket stub directed me to "Theater 3," and my ticketing agent instructed me to go upstairs. How this room could be called "Theater 3" perplexes me. In fact, I could only see one other theater and this room that I had entered was properly named the "Video Screening Room."
Video indeed. I had read about this room online so I the room was not a complete shock, but it definitely went beyond what I had expected. There 45 seats arranged into 6 rows with one aisle down the middle. The screen was probably 8', though I'm not good at estimating these things. You were really on top of it, though.
The speaker system? Just a Bose surround sound setup like you would expect to find in someone's living room. The tiniest little speakers that seemed like they could fit in the palm of your hand. I say surround sound, but in fact I could only see the two small speakers in the rear of the room attached to the ceiling. I'm only assuming that there were more. The subwoofer just sat randomly at the front of the room, beneath the screen. It was almost calling out ... "Have you plugged me in yet?"
At least there was air conditioning. I can be sure of this fact because the air conditioner sat right before our eyes. It was dangling out of the window on the left wall like it would dangle out of anyone's bedroom window in their house. Now, if only someone had turned it on.
I looked towards the rear of the room to try to determine the location of the projection room. But there was none. Looking up I could see projectionist for our film was an InFocus ScreenPlay projector (forgive, I forget the model number). On their Web site they list this as perfect for home theater. Well ... good thing I was at home.
But all of this made perfect sense in the context of the movie that I was about to see. Jandek, a musical artist from the Houston, Texas area is all about minimalism. Absorbing his music is all about taking in something a little off-kilter and perhaps enduring something painful, but at the same time worthwhile. Jandek is (for the most part) a loner, generally recording a single instrument accompanied by voice, all by himself in what everyone assumes is an empty room. His anonymity is his heaviest attraction.
As I looked over the crowd I saw the types of people who could very well be Jandek, if I didn't know any better. Nearly everyone in the room was disconnected. Loners abounded. Hey, I was a loner myself for this experience. Maybe I am Jandek. You know its going to be a special movie when the seating arrangement from side to side always seemed to be occupied, empty, occupied, empty, occupied, empty. There were buffer seats as far as the eye could see.
And the feel of the room just added to that experience. We weren't going to viewing this movie in a conventional way or with the regular comforts.
Of course, the one thing that was somewhat shocking in context of all that was the stadium seating that we were treated to. In fact, the chairs and seating setup probably was the most expensive part of the entire theater.
When 9:30 p.m. rolled around an employee entered the room and opened a closet (a CLOSET!) near the front. Inside was the technical setup. The receiver, projector remote control, and the Sony DVD player (yes, we were just watching the DVD, sans special features). She struggled with the remote and finally got the thing to start.
The movie begins with rocks crashing against waves. There's silence. The employee is still fidgeting with the remote, trying to figure out how to get some sound out of those Bose speakers.
Meanwhile, a group of three women, who had been sitting across the aisle from me since I had entered, got up and began to leave. Apparently they were hold-overs from the movie that had just ended. Two of them quickly and quietly exited, not wanting to disturb the viewing audience. If only the third had the same respect for the people in the room. Instead she loudly starts talking as she moseys on down the aisle.
"Our movie didn't have crashing waves! What's this? We didn't get this?" All said in a sarcastic tone, as if anyone present cared. Then she stops at the closet and begins talking with the employee. "What's this movie called?! (interrobang omitted) What is this movie all about?" The employee is trying to quiet her and lead her out as she can see the disturbance that is beginning. I swear if this had continued any longer they may have had a riot on their hands. The tension of the audience was palpable.
Finally, once the woman has left someone from the back row shouts out "Can you just start the movie over?" The employee was very obliging and did just that, allowing us to experience the waves and crashing rocks once again, this time accompanied by the grating voice of one January D.
The story of Jandek has been told many a time, and in much better fashion then I could possibly recount here. So I won't even attempt it. In short, Jandek is a man in a room somewhere in Texas making what some would call music on a creaky recorder. He has released more than 35 albums in about 25 years. No one knows who he is and it seems that not many people care. Jandek On Corwood is his story, told through interviews with music critics, fans, and record store owners.
The film is excellent, plain and simple, but its definitely not for everyone. For one thing, Jandek provides the constant soundtrack, and as was mentioned earlier, some will find that this alone makes it unpalatable. If they could just grin and bear it they would be in for quite a treat. The story is too good to be ignored. There is so much mystery wrapped up in this solitary creature that you can't help but be sucked in.
It helps us examine some of his lyrics, his songs, his story. It takes us through the cover art of his records and the existence of his company, Corwood Industries (bonus link for those in the Houston area). In the end, we are left with no more true picture of who this man is than before we entered the theater, but we get the feeling that that's the way it should be. If we knew who Jandek was, we probably wouldn't care.
The film ends with an excellent audio-only 10 minute interview with the man himself, recorded in 1985. This was probably my favorite part, because it finally lets us connect with Jandek, at least as much as we probably ever will.
One thing that impressed me with this film was the humor that the director was able to interject. It just wasn't something that I expected from a documentary on a subject such as this. Yet it was present throughout. I actually laughed out loud more times watching this than I have watching many of Hollywood's purported "comedies."
As I told the director of this film in an e-mail conversation, "The kids'll love it."