Twelve Brothers. One Passion.

For those of you who decided to download the Larry Bird: A Day In The Life movie, you may have noticed something if you were sneaky. In the same directory out on the 727 Records site was a small MP3 file entitled 12bros-business.mp3. Perhaps you downloaded this and were intrigued about its contents (I want to know who the other male voice belongs to). Allow me to give you but a taste ...

I came up with the concept of the 12 Brothers EP while doing some weekly reading that I tend to do. I happened upon a particular story, one that is very familiar and that I had read many times before. But this time it struck me in a way that it hadn't before. The deeper feeling and implications lying beneath the surface events got me thinking about a way to bring this story to a musical outlet.

After a few days of thinking over the events of the story and doing some dreaded research I quickly began to jot down the first song. It flowed so smoothly and everything was clicking. Keep in mind that it has been quite some time since I have done anything creative at all. The songs that make up the Schoolyard EP were the result of my last creative burst and that feels like years ago.

Over the course of the next few days I penned three more songs (for a total of four) and felt that the story was pretty well covered, though it was missing one element. No problem. I just dipped into the vault and decided the corner-piece of the EP would be a cover of Bad Larry's Anti-Global Rotation. It was remarkable to see how well this song would fit in with the rest. A few minor lyrical changes later and voilĂ . Like Nextel, I was done.

Although some have called into question the quality of the lyrics (Angie?) and the content of the story, I have an overwhelming sense of pride in the final product. Perhaps one day it will actually get made and you will all get to hear it.

That's where Joshua comes in. It was a pleasant surprise to hear some audio notes on the song Business, and I was very pleased with Joshua's guitar work and melody. Now its time for Joshua to roll out the rest. Granted, I know he's extremely busy with Jeffrey L. Allen right now (he is, right?), but it would still be great to let some demos loose for the world to judge. How about it, Joshua?

In the meantime, I leave you with some minor excerpts from my 12 Brothers.txt file.


12 Brothers



Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. Chapter Listing

3. Characters

4. Tag Line

5. Moral

6. Story

7. Lyrics




This album is based on a true story.

12 Brothers is a story of jealousy, betrayal, and redemption within the family arrangement. It is ultimately a tale of the long, difficult journey from disloyalty to forgiveness.

The lyrics for this album were written by Jeremy Provost and are subject to change at a moment's notice.


Chapter Listing


1. Inheritance

2. Business

3. Sunsets

4. Investment

5. Balance




It is important to be familiar with the characters that make up this story and how they connect to each other.

Narrator This is the omnipotent storyteller that guides us through our story.

Father This is the proud father of the 12 brothers.

Son This is our protagonist.

Brothers This is the collective of the remaining 11 brothers.

Mothers This is the collective of all the different women that were mother's to the 12 brothers.

Boss The son's boss at his new found job outside the family business.


Tag Line


Twelve brothers. One passion.




Forgive and be forgiven.





Hopefully that has whet your appetite.


American Cinematographer

I just subscribed to American Cinematographer magazine, and I suggest that you do, too. It's got pretty pictures, you know you want to. Do it now! Do it... do it.

Napoleon Conquers The Zeotrope

"I told you so. I knew it would happen and I told you so."

Those are the words that I would utter to the owner of the
Zeotrope if only I had the chance. Of course, now that I think about it, I actually didn't tell him/her so. But I told lots of other people. About now you may be wondering "What is the Zeotrope? And what didn't you tell its owner?" Allow me to explain, and in doing so I will weave in my take on Napoleon Dynamite.

The Zeotrope is a small theater in Franklin, Massachusetts. Its located in the downtown area, right between a Chinese restaurant and The Concrete Wave, a little skateboard shop. This is the type of the movie theater that harkens back to the old days. It actually has a little marquee out front with signs that they change by hand. Up the old ladder they go, switching around little black letters. On Friday, August 20th, 2004 they made the wise decision of arranging 16 letters in the form of Napoleon Dynamite.

The Zeotrope is not a true dollar theater like they used to have in better days, but it is about as close as you will get in today's nine-dollar-movie craze. $4 for a night flick; $3 for a matinee or a kiddie. Their best gimmick is "2-For-2sdays," where you scrounge up a date and they'll let you both get in for the $4 price. My apologies to the lonely-hearts.

Many would call this theater ghetto. And to a degree they would be right. For instance, someone at the Zeotrope felt that it was noteworthy enough to post on their Web site that they have cup holders. Cup holders! This isn't a 1969 Chevy. They all have cup holders now. Then why are
people so passionate about it? Because it places itself in direct opposition to the multiplex experience. Its unashamedly different. And for that we love it.

Ever since I've moved to Franklin there have been rumors that the 'Trope, as its affectionately called, would be torn down to build condos or apartments. This would be like tearing out a Newbury Comics to put in a parking garage. Its blasphemous.
Save the Zeo'.
Allow me to guide you through your movie-going experience. Worry not about your ticket price or snacks. This one's on me ...

You walk down the sidewalk in Franklin towards downtown. You pass by The Rome Restaurant and Mel Diva. Maybe you stop at Mel Diva. Its a flourishing coffee house that has everything you could want. We are not talking about a bland Starbucks rip-off. This place has character. Its alive with moving bodies, fresh ideas, and hot beverage action. Collected artwork, a collections of various pieces of furniture (from regular table and chairs to comfortable sofa and loveseat), and free wireless internet (free!) draw you in and the drinks keep you there. You order an iced Milky Way, featuring milk, chocolate, and caramel, topped off with fluffy whipped cream. You might stick around and play one of the many board games that lie around the place. Mancala, chess, backgammon, whatever fits your fancy.

Finally, you've had your fill and you make your way out to the Zeotrope to enjoy your show. Undoubtedly, you have plans on sneaking in some food or beverage for later consumption. It won't be hard to get in with it. Put it in your pocket or your pants or your purse or your sweater-pant-shorts. The one person that guards the door will never notice. Of course, you could save yourself the trouble and just buy your food there. Like the tickets, the price is not exorbitant. Not to say that its cheap, but you can afford $2 for a Barq's root beer, $2.50 for a popcorn, and $2 for a box of Sour Patch Kids; it won't break the bank.

You will notice the ticket that you hold in your hand, ripped from the time it was given to you. Not that employees have ever checked tickets before. You could literally walk right in off the street and go sit down. Not one person would question you. The ticket that you hold, however, is distinctive in that it says nothing about the theater number, time, or movie that you will be watching presently. It is from one of those generic ticket rolls that you would see at a carnival. In fact, you can (and the Zeotrope probably does) purchase these very same tickets at Staples for around $10 for a roll of thousands.

You easily find your way to one of the three theaters that the Zeotrope holds within its bowels. There was a day, long ago, when all three of these made up one theater, with a large screen. But one theater will draw in fans of one movie and three theaters will draw in fans of three movies, or so the principle of construction goes. Of course, judging from the typical attendance on a week or weekend night show the utter frailty of "if you build it they will come." Yes, "they" will come, but sometimes "they" is just a handful of singles with nothing more consequential to do than watch a second-run movie in an empty auditorium.

As you enter your theater the first thing you might notice is the screen. It seems a million miles away. Its not, its just really small. You're not used to this having only been to Regal Bellingham 14, but this is probably the thing that you'll get over the fastest. All it means is that you sit closer. The closer ones sits to something the larger it appears. When you go to the RB14 you sit in the back; when you go to the Zeotrope you sit in the front. That's all there is to it.

If you happened to glance towards either wall on your way down the center aisle (there is only one aisle) you would notice the pedestrian speakers hanging and dipping downward towards the seats. These are of the non-commercial 1970s style, the type that Gina would have (and possibly still does have) or that you would find on ebay for $1.50. Large, boxy, covered in real wood and putting out audio of a very poor quality. This would bother you, except for the fact that you only paid $2 for your ticket so you get over it rather quickly.

As you go to sit down you'll probably grieve the lack of stadium seating. It would be impossible in this small space. It is never to be. At least there is a slight downward slant to the floor to allow you to peer over the head of the patron in the row in front of you. But wait! We're talking about the Zeotrope: there is no patron in front of you.

The downward slant of the floor leads us to another charming aspect of the Zeotrope and it is, believe it or not, this: the sideward slant of the floor. Yes, as you sit upright in your seat, the floor beneath you (and with it your chair) tilt to the right about 15 degrees. While this does not initially seem to be much of a nuisance it will gradually grate on you as the film moves through the reel and the pain moves through your neck. Consider it a battle wound.

The lights go down the projector starts. Thank goodness you arrived when you did because there's no previews at the Zeotrope. How could they possibly preview films? They don't even know if or when they would receive them. No point in advertising for their bigger brothers.

As you strain your neck you'll notice that the picture is typically not centered perfectly on the screen. You can see the light from the projector illuminating a thin strip beneath and to the side of the screen. This is a minor infraction and is easily dismissed.

Now I hope that you don't take any of the previous statements the wrong way. The Zeotrope has its distinctive qualities; it doesn't provide all of the comforts or amenities of the colossal stadiums that they now call movie theaters. The Zeotrope is loved for its idiosyncrasies and flaws. And on a hot summer day, at least it has AC.

Which brings us to our film: Napoleon Dynamite. I have already seen this movie three times (twice as the 'Trope) and will be seeing it again on Tuesday night for a cool two bones. My four visits with the Nappy Dynamo should give away my feelings about this movie. Its that rare kind of motion picture that you desperately want others to see. Its the kind of movie that you want to invite all your friends to and then watch their reaction, love or hate, while they take it all in. Its almost like a science experiment or a mathematical equation. (((ND + Zeotrope) - comfort)) - $4 + candy = love) = friendship.

You can tell who your true friends are by how they react to this movie. After all, some have said that its the story of my life. That's a line that I liked so much that I then subsequently said to another red headed compatriots: "Its the story of your life."

No matter who's story it is one thing is clear: the people want to hear it. They've been packing out the Zeotrope like so much sardines. Great crowds, laughing out loud all the while. The humor here is part laughing with and part laughing at. OK, its mostly laughing at ... not that there's anything wrong with that. You will never think of steaks the same way again.

There had to have been 200 people at the first show that I went to on a Sunday night. That's more than I've seen visit the Zeotrope in an entire week. What would have been small business for Regal is big business for the Zeotrope. Last Tuesday there crowds lining up down the street waiting to get in. Back again on Saturday night and there was a great second weekend crowd of about 100 people. And I expect more of the same on Tuesday night.

Overhearing the young crowd's (mostly Dean College students) conversation it was clear that this had already become the cult classic that it was destined to become. "This is only my third time seeing it. I'm not as hard-core as Johnny." Apparently, you have to see a movie more than three times in order to be "hard-core" into it. Everyone was experiencing the same thing as myself: the innate desire to discuss the Dynamite. You have to tell your friends. So many friends have been told, in fact, that the Zeotrope had to add a showing for its second week run. That's unheard of.

Napoleon Dynamite is the construction of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Why does this matter? Because it means that we finally have some clean family fare. This is one that you could take young Dr. G to if you wanted. Not that he would enjoy it, but at least you could take him. Jared and Jerusha Hess have given us a filth-free secular comedy without pushing any of their faith on us. Well done!

Jon Heder gives us a performance so convincing that my wife graced us with these words: "I think the guy that played Napoleon Dynamite must be a big geek in real life." Its a revelation.

Napoleon Dynamite is not the nerd-hero that you find over and over again in teen-geek-comedies. He's no hero at all. But he's got that nerd part down pretty good. While it may seem like there is a great nerd-conquers-all ending, on closer inspection there really isn't. By the time the closing credits have rolled (and you should stay long past the closing credits, even when you really think nothing else is coming) very little has changed in Napoleon's or his family's lives. He's still a nerd.

The music is groovy, the imagery is beautiful and boring (in a good, authentic way) at the same time, the editing is sharp, the dialogue is stilted in a good way, the laughs run almost non-stop with little drag (again, some, but little), the steaks are rare and seen throughout. What more could you ask for in a movie?

This is the type of movie that the Zeotrope needs to focus on. Not the big budget flop-fests like I, Robot (which I will spare you by not linking to it), that everyone has already seen down the road a few miles. Why would they go see it again in a crappy theater? There is a huge market for indie films in this area and the Zeotrope has only just begun to tap this market. Hopefully, they will continue down this road to financial success. And hopefully they won't take a steak in the face for it.


I'm Ready For My Close-Up

I spent some time this weekend finishing up the Larry Bird: A Day in the Life video. Here is the MPEG. Also, an MPEG of the video clip that inspired my idea for a film about Jeremy making a film.

Remember, the Larry Bird video was shot ten years ago on Video8 and captured at that time to 160x120 QuickTime. So, it's rough, and cross-fades were the hot thing back then. It's rough, but loveable.

Want a tragedy? The Boston Garden was imploded not too long after.


UTEP 2-Step

Don't forget to check out The Study of Leonard Hughes blog. I just posted the story ideas for the concept EP that has been dubbed Five Sad Things. Not for the kids... or the faint of heart.


I Left My Heart

Quick note on my trip to the Bay area. I landed at SJC around 9pm. Got the rental car (Hertz #1 Club Gold, you're my hero!) and zoomed up to San Francisco.

What is it about freeways in California? They always seem like they are under construction. The 101 is not under construction, but it certainly felt like it. Is this the result of seismic activity? Or maintenance inactivity?

Anyway, it took under 40 minutes, which is amazing. All of my previous trips to San Fran have been during heavy traffic or on foot. There are decent signs now that take you straight to the North Beach area. I never noticed that before. It took ten minutes to find a place to park, and I was able to drive up one of those impossible steep hills in the process. All par for the course. Parked near a park with some scary characters loitering in the dark.

Walked over to Corso Christofo Colombo and headed straight to Trattoria Volare Cafe. The service was awful, as usual. It was twenty minutes before I got any attention. Of course, I don't go for the service, I go for the food, and that was terrific. Minestrone with carrots, squash, eggplant, and mushrooms. Pollo Parmigiana with scalloped potatoes and grilled vegetables. Their savory marinara is exquisite. I read the SF Weekly to keep myself from feeling lonely.

Sat at by an open window and got to smell all the wonderful San Fran smells that would probably be offensive or noxious in any other setting, but are refreshing to me because they tell me I am in a real city. A city where the restaurants are open until 11pm or later, even on a Monday.

Back down the 101 to Santa Clara, in bed by midnight, but forgot to take my sleeping pill, so I got no sleep. Up at 7am, to corporate headquarters, nice training class, bearable. Headed into downtown San Jose, which is very inviting and peaceful. I tried to get in the Cafecito, where Fatigo has played in the past, but it was closed (it was 3 in the afternoon). Got a chocolate shake at Ben & Jerry's and headed to return the rental car. I forgot to refill the tank and got charged nearly $40 for a quarter tank of gas (it's all expensed to the company, but that hurts nonetheless). In the airport reading some new books for three hours, three hours on the plane, and a ride home in a car without air conditioning. I was beat, but I'll live.

Folks, the dinner was worth the trip. All else is irrelevant.

In Defence of Bastard

This word gets a bad wrap. It is written off by some as offensive, plain and simple. Those people don't understand the depth of meaning this word can have. I quote Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary:


\Bas"tard\, a.

1. Begotten and born out of lawful matrimony;
illegitimate. See Bastard, n.,

2. Lacking in genuineness; spurious; false; adulterate; -- applied
things which resemble those which are genuine, but are really not so.That
bastard self-love which is so vicious in itself, and productive of so many
vices. --Barrow.

3. Of an unusual make or proportion; as, a bastard
musket; a bastard
culverin. [Obs.]

4. (Print.) Abbreviated, as the half
title in a page preceding the full
title page of a book.

All of these are valid definitions, and there are others as well. All
of these are acceptable and inoffensive in common English speech.

As being an illegitimate child carries a stigma, using the word per Definition 1 in reference to someone, especially to their face, would likely be taken with offense, as would simply calling them by the definition of the word. Sometimes the truth hurts. If it is not the truth, then it can be lumped in with any number of untruths you might say to intentionally hurt someone.

I bring this up because Jeremy has chosen to eradicate the word from the revised edition of his novella, Sans Hands. This is sad, as the word is used a number of times, quite effectively, and, to me, quite inoffensively. However, I think have figured out the matter.

You see, the book was written in such a creative flurry, and so long ago, that Jeremy has lost touch with the real meaning of his usage of the word. The answer lies in Definition 2.

The theme of people lacking in genuineness, being something other than what they seem, by design or as a result of imperfection, is one of the main themes of the book (another is fail miserably, be happy). This comes up numerous times, and can be referred to as the Theory of False Friends. In this no one is what they seem and no one is up front with their agenda. Nowhere is this clearer than in the lyrical adaptation of Sans Hands that is the songs of The Moon Is No More. To quote:

Don't let it bother you or weigh you down
Tell me lies and don't feel guilty

To wit:

We can make, we can make amends
We can be, the best of false friends, the
best of false friends

There is no doubt that their is disdain implied when the word is used to refer to one Jeffrey L. Allen. He is false and adulterous, and the truth hurts. I can't think of a word that better distills this character or these qualities than our magic word.

Last Night, I Ran

Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was running!

What a glorious run it was last night, on such a glorious evening. The weather was beautiful: hot enough with a cool breeze as the sun was setting.

I did about as well as I expected (there was no throwing up, as some have suggested). There were about 100 people that participated and I was somewhere in the middle of the pack, perhaps finishing around 40th. My final time was 24:17 for the 3.1 mile race.

They say that your second half should be quicker than your first, but sadly that was not the case for me. In the second half you're supposed to really kick in the turbo boosters as you strive for the finish line. Unfortunately, when the race began I simply gave it too much, too early. I was about ready to pass out during the second half as we were climbing some hills.

The race was two laps around the Fidelity Marlboro campus. I was surprised to find just how many hills and valleys there were. I mean, I work here every day, but it just never occurred to me.

Today I feel good. My legs are a little sore, but in a good way. They're alive and I can feel them. I feel like I've already begun the journey to physical fitness.

And no, there were no Kenyans.


Tonight, I Run

I run five K's tonight. That's 3.1 miles for those unable to do the conversion in their head.

It is the Fidelity-Marlborough Campus Road Race. True to its name it will be run on the campus of
Fidelity, featuring only Fidelity employees. Not exactly the Kenyans in the Boston Marathon, but should be entertaining nonetheless.

Now before you starting coming to sudden conclusions, don't think that I am having any small illusions or big delusions. I know that there is no way that I will be in the top finishers for my age group. It isn't about winning; its about health.

I decided that this would be a good way to motivate me to get active again. A little word of wisdom: before you can decide to reach for something you must first figure out what you are trying to reach for. My goal is become a runnin' fool. There is
a 14K in up state New York next month. Then there is a 15K around the same area next year (hint: check 2004 results for Praetsch). You have to start somewhere and somewhere for me is a pathetic 3.1 miles.

I began my quest this past weekend by going to the
Wrentham Village Outlets. It didn't take long to find what I needed: a pair of Nike running shoes from Factory Brand Shoes, priced at $49.99. Silver, white, and black, and extremely comfortable/supportive.

My wife and I happened to be staying at her parents' house this past weekend and it just so happens that they have the perfect neighborhood for running. Its one of those
fancy development communities filled with million dollar houses. Completely secluded from main streets and soulless after 11:00 p.m. On my 2.5 mile run I saw one car (let's face it, nobody wants to be seen running like a fool down the road. Its just not pretty).

Last night my wife and I took another run. This time my mission was to return
Starsky & Hutch to the local Hollywood Video. Distance: 2.8 miles. However, I did several loops around parking lots to increase my total distance to the full 3.1 miles. Watching my flailing arms breeze down the crowded sidewalk was reminiscent of both Forrest Gump and The Man Who Runs (don't ask).

With the practice this weekend, slight as it was, I am comfortable in my ability to hold out for the full 3.1 miles tonight. Its the speed that I'm worried about. I probably will not be able to keep pace with the competition.

Speaking of the competition, I wonder if Fidelity has any offices in Kenya?


Tonight, I Dine

I have a training class at INS headquarters in Santa Clara, CA tomorrow. I fly out tonight. I'll be taking advantage of the proximity to cruise up to San Fran as soon as I land and dine on Corso de Cristoforo Columbo. Not sure which restaurant yet, I'm going to just walk in somewhere. In San Fran, you can't go wrong. And on Columbus Ave., you can't go wrong when it comes to Italian food.

Wong Kar-Box

Kino is realeasing a box set of five early Wong Kar-Wai films on October 19, 2004. Extra features, the Buenos Aires Zero Degrees documentary, new anamorphic transfers, what more could you ask for?

But what about Ashes of Time?



Joshua posted a comment on Eyes Like Static that compels me to create a whole topic for it here. Here talks about RAGE, a local access program that was on late (late) on channel 38 (not sure if it was UPN back then; this may pre-date UPN altogether).

Just like Joshua I can remember certain videos that were shown. He said that they were "burned into our conciousnesses" and that's truly an apt description. I can recall
Blur's "Country Sad Ballad Man," Metallica's "Until it Sleeps," and others. There was one video that stood out above the rest on the "Burned Into Your Consciousnesses Video" scale: Sparklehorse's "Someday I Will Treat You Good" off Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot.

The video is all low-fi, people in animal costumes riding little motorbikes and whatnot. Its compelling stuff; extremely random, yet coherent.

Here is a song that I saw on RAGE, heard on the radio about 3 times, and just couldn't get out of my head. I purchased the album about 2 years later because
Newbury Comics had it on sale for only $7.99 or some such nonsense. I gave it a listen, hated it, threw it to the bottom of the stack.

Then Good Morning Spider came out and I sampled some tracks on
CDNow (do you remember the sweet old days when there actually were online stores that specialized in something, like when Amazon actually sold books?). To this day I'm not sure what possessed me to listen to these samples from a band that I had decided that I hated. But I did it nonetheless. The album opener, "Pig," knocked me to the floor. Beautiful!

That one song was enough to possess me to go buy the album. This time around would be different, though, because this Sparklehorse album was given a chance. I recall that I was visiting with Joshua in
Arizona at the time and we had to track it down at the local Zia Records. Joshua was not on vacation so I spent the next few days while he was at work surfing the Web, creating or updating the Michael Crichton Collector's Site, and other such nonsensical things. All the while I had GMS spinning in the disc player, volume low, just enough to provide my background music.

At first "Pig" was the only thing that I liked on the album. It seemed like Vivadixie... all over again. One good song and a bunch of filler. First impressions of music are always fragile. As this "background" music slipped into my subconscious I began to realize the beauty of what I was listening to. Literally, all alone on a hot February day in a Phoenix studio apartment I began to form my first opinions of music as art, as opposed to merely something fun to listen to. I was transformed in that moment.

Songs like "Happy Man," "Sick of Goodbyes," "Maria's Little Elbows," "Ghost of His Smile," and especially "Hundreds of Sparrows," all made sense to me. The lyrics and the sounds all coming together to create not a song, but a mood, a feeling. Music could move you; it could make you smile or angry or cry.

Of course, this led to me reevaluating Vivadixie... with this newfound enlightenment. And of course, I was wrong to have judged so harshly. It too was jam packed with little 3-4 minute gems. Thusly,
Sparklehorse became one of my favorite bands of all time, a member of the elite four bands that surpass all others (Sparklehorse, Neutral Milk Hotel, Pedro the Lion, and, for the ladies, Cat Power. Don't ask why there's so many animals; I don't have the answer). As much as I enjoy the work of those outside the quad no one can ever seem to displace them (though Kind of Like Spitting tries mightily, especially for someone with a touch of the DS). One day I will write something about all of these bands.

Here's how we wrap this story up and give credit where credit is due. Its amazing to think of how many things relate back to RAGE. Let's follow the path, shall we? If I had never seen that video for "Someday I Will Treat You Good" then I never would have gotten into Sparklehorse. If I hadn't gotten into Sparklehorse then I never would have been musically enlightened and then moved on to Pedro, Neutral and Cat. Instead I'd probably be stuck listening to that new
BS (pears) song about Justine Timberlake (sic). But wait! There's more. If I hadn't been influenced by many of the great bands that I've mentioned then I certainly never would have formed The Moon Is No More with Joshua. The world never would have had the pleasure of hearing such lines as ...

Flaming red Ferrari without an engine.

Its difficult to say whether the world would have been better off. I certainly would have saved myself a lot of time and effort that could have been dedicated to more productive things. But what fun would that have been?

I guess what I'm trying to say is:

Thank you, RAGE. You changed my life.


Florida: Retire From Life

Two words:

Woo. Hoo.

I will be taking a trip to Florida on the company's (Fidelity, not 727 Records) dime. I could not be more excited. I will be in Orlando from October 2-6, attending the Altiris ManageFusion conference.

The hotel is the Royal Pacific Resort, which looks extremely nice. Much better than I would have done on my own. I believe the Royal Pacific is located right by Universal Studios, and as a hotel guest I'm allowed to skip all lines by showing my room key (or something like that). Should be fun.

The next step is to see if we can budget enough money to let Molly come along. It would be a much needed vacation for her. Would anyone like to contribute to the Have a Heart: Molly Vacation Fund? I accept checks, money orders, cash, coin, foreign currency, etc., etc., and so on.

Feel free to make recommendations on things to do at night or people that I should visit while I'm there. I already have Vic Chesnutt's suggestion but I'm looking for something a little more upbeat.


The Next Big Thing

New film idea... Asian elephants, African elephants, all kinds of elephants... in beautiful and sweeping locales around the world... a symphony orchestra provides the soundtrack... I call it... Cinematic Elephants!



I bought a 200GB Seagate hard drive last weekend. Hooked it up an could see only a fraction of the drive. Two tenuous BIOS updates (and one I nearly performed, but didn't, that would have been wrong and blown up my system) later, one registry hack, and I can see the full drive. It's nice having a drive with 180GB free space on it. I feel free.

Now I didn't want to take everything apart to get this drive in the cage, so I kind of crammed it in there, bending my ATI AIW video card out of the way in the process. Boom, off pops a capacitor. I checked the drive, it wasn't from that, so I pulled out the video card, and sure enough, that where it was from. I tried soldering it back on, and, when that didn't work, I popped the card back in and booted up. It works! I won't press my luck and enable any advanced acceleration. Let's just leave that part of of the card be.

Warning: Do not buy a used ATI AIW card from me, even if I am very persuassive.

Return To The Village

I took Joe and Bonnie to see The Village last night, so I got a second viewing. The film definitely held up the second time around.

Not as many thrills, as could be expected, though I tried to let myself go, and I did jump out of my seat a few times. This time, without feeling overwhelmed trying to figure everything out, the story made a lot more sense, and I got to really appreciate some of the beautiful visuals, the solid characters, and the strory lines. I really felt it emotionally even moreso on this viewing.

A lot of the conversations, especially between the elders, made a lot more sense this time. It was interesting to see how the conversations made sense the first time in one sense when you think the elders believe the monsters are real, and how they work in a different sense the second time, when you realize they are trying to reason out how these things are happening when they are not causing them directly.

For instance, the scene after the wedding reception when the livestock is skinned. Mr Walker and Ms. Hunt are by the barn and she says: "The animals are skinned, there are marks on the doors, and they are too high to be coyotes." Basically, they were realizing that their coyote cover story wasn't going to cut it this time around, and their shock over who could be doing this since it wasn't planned by the elders. There are a lot of scenes like this, that work both ways. It's cool to see how much thought goes into putting this together.

Debue: Initial Public Suffering

I'm sorry, did I say that? I hope Vin does not get offended; its merely a joke. I wanted to take a moment to weigh in on the Debue DVD that Joshua created.

The Packaging

To be honest, the packaging leaves a lot to be desired. A burned DVD in an empty CD case with no printed material whatsoever. I know that beggars can't be choosers but a little insert couldn't have been too much trouble.

Joshua, never one to rest on his laurels, decided to correct this for future burnings of the DVD. There will be a front cover with a dark image of Vin with Debue's cool custom lighting in the background. I eagerly await the arrival of these new discs so that I can begin the distribution process.

The Film

The film is solid. Debue puts on a great performance. "Gord," as Vin lovingly calls him, said that the band was definitely on that fateful night when the cameras were rolling. He was pleased.

I can not stress enough how much of a difference it makes to have two cameras operating for a video of this kind. We had done a video with one camera before; this film out-classes it by a long shot. It really comes down to the Bore Factor. How boring is it to watch one point of view without any cutting for close to two hours? I'll let you experiment and come up with your own opinion.

I recall that Hitchcock attempted to make a movie in one cut. Besides the obvious technical challenges that this poses, there's another reason why you never see this method employed. Its mind-numbingly boring, plain and simple.

Joshua made effective use of the two cameras, employing a good pace, sometimes syncing it to a drum beat, managing the audio track effectively. Kudos to him.

Some things to watch out for:

  • Vin constantly changing his shirt. Is this a Madonna concert? Do we really need costume changes?
  • Vin wearing the cowboy hat and yelling "Yeeeee-haaaaa" at the beginning of Angel Eyes. This has to be the highlight on the DVD. I could replay that one scene seventy-four times without getting bored.
  • Some great artistic shots. You'll notice that my camera work gets a little lazy towards the end of the DVD. Keep in mind that I had already done a video for them before and we were talking about close to two hours straight. I was tired. And yet I still managed to make some magic. Some of my favorites are pulsating zoom ... I think that's on Angel Eyes. The shot from the floor, looking up at Vin with the lights in the background, which is the same shot that's on the cover of the DVD. The shots in the dark of Vin bowing his guitar with a glow stick attached. But my favorite has to be the song that starts with the camera focused within the rafters of the ceiling and then slowly pans down to reveal the band from a bird's eye view. Magical.

The Quality

The picture quality varies. When Debue turns out the lights you might as well go and get a snack because you won't be seeing much anyway. The camera cannot find what it needs to focus on so it becomes a game of how blurry can we get. When the lights come back on, however, the MiniDV shines. What a bright, brilliantly clear picture for a home video camera. Well done, Gus; good purchase.

When the shots switch to the VHS-C there is a noticeable drop-off in quality and color tone.

The audio is fairly good throughout. There were a spot or two, however, where it seems to cut out in volume. Without being there during the editing process I can't say for sure what caused this. My assumption is that the audio on the MiniDV was bad so Joshua cut over to the VHS-C audio, which was just poor to begin with.

The Special Features

Excellent special features on this disc, but they could have offered us so much more.

There's a nice band history, but as it progresses it makes a wrong turn into the fantastical. Comments about Madison Square Garden abound.

Three extra songs are included. The Substance of Nothing, a cover of a Moon Is No More song, while flattering just doesn't do this song justice. Keep in mind that it was performed with absolutely no advance preparation and I had not sung in about a year in a half (or something like that). Praise Jah, a fantastic spiritual melody that I can still recall from early childhood, is performed by Vin with his children by his side. Do not be fooled. While the kids' faces are down turned with serious/sad looks, they are just trying to read the lyric sheet. An excellent performance of the spectacular When Children Will Laugh In Sing rounds out this special feature.

Two short, humorous clips, The Bunny and The Director, round out the special features.

You may be saying to yourself, "Those are great, but where's Debue Jeopardy?" That's a good question. Unfortunately Joshua did not feel the urgency of this feature. Much time was spent preparing Jeopardy style questions by Gord, Molly, and myself. Joshua did not even know about Ken Jennings. You can send your rage his way. To supplement, I will provide one question here:

A: At the dawn of their existence, Debue went by this name.

Q: What is Morning Glory?

It would also have been exciting to hear both a band commentary and a filmmaker commentary. I know that I could have offered some insight into some of the shots that were used. And watching the film with Gord he provided a running commentary on the performance. Perhaps one day we will see a Director's Cut with these features added in.

Until further notice ...


Bird MegaMovie

Perhaps I am beating the "too many projects" horse to death. Nevertheless, I feel I must purge myself of the Bird MegaMovie, one decade after its birth.

The film, Larry Bird: A Day In The Life, was conceived by my brothers and I some ten years ago. The film would follow Larry Bird from waking to sleeping on Sunday, June 8, 1986, the day of game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals, the Celtics sixteenth and last NBA championship. The premise was that as a "blue collar" type player, Larry was like anyone else. We would follow him picking out his cloths (various Celtics jerseys and warm-ups), picking up his stuff (Green Chuck Taylor converse, basketball), and commuting to work (the Green line trolley from Brookline to the Boston Garden). There were also scenes of intensive warm-ups, talking with fellow players, getting lunch, the game itself, celebration, and going home and to bed.

Filming began in late 1994, and, although the film was never completed, it cannot be understated the amount of preparation and expense that went into it. It's astounding considering it was made by a sixteen year old and starred a twelve year old. We ramped up by borrowing video cameras from our grandfather and uncle. I had to upgrade the RAM in my Macintosh LC III from 4 to 12 MB, and buy a 720 MB hard drive, to accomodate the online editing we were doing. This alone cost around $600-700, if memory serves me. We had a very detailed screenplay and shot list. We went to libraries towns away to pull up microfilm and get background articles and box score for the game itself. Numerous viewings of the Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend video were no doubt involved in Jeremy's character research.

What we actually committed to film was rather convincing, even looking at it today. We took the train to Brookline, in the area where Larry actually lived, and shot scenes at the train station. We rode the train into the city and shot footage on the train. We shot in the train station in front of the Boston Garden to capture the train arriving with a nice pan up to the venues signage. We shot the McDonalds across the street where lunch was to happen. We took the Garden tour twice, I believe, to get background shots of various Garden locations we would later chroma key our characters into. I snuck the camera into a real game to get shots. Did I mention we had to go out of our way to locate and purchase a Larry Bird home (white) jersey? The footage that was shot and edited really holds up. Nice composition, nice timing on the edits, nice character development. All of this with the standard "if I do say so myself" disclaimer.

We cast or friends as other players, some of them playing multiple parts. Rob Wells would play Robert Parish, Brad Duncan would play Kevin McHale, Mike Wells as Dennis Johnson, myself as Danny Ainge, John Hayes as Bill Walton. Carl played Scott Wedman, sorry Carl. These were not arbitrary designations. Think about it, these people would have been convincing look-alikes, if a little too young.

The inspired and eclectic soundtrack included John Mellencamp (Small Town, Human Wheels), Collective Soul (Shine), Smashing Pumpkins (1979, Thirty-Three), REM (What's The Frequency, Kenneth?), Weezer (Holiday), Filter (Hey Man, Nice Shot), and Green Day (When I Come Around).

The film relied, in part, on special effects, and we were ambitious in our inclusion of them. There was going to be a whole lot of chroma keying, it was the only way we could get our actors in the Boston Garden (renting it costs in the neighborhood of $15,000, and that was definitely out of our budget). We did some unsuccssful blue screen tests, and then fell back to rotoscoping, manually masking each frame. One effect does appear in the completed edits, a replacement of the background out the window while riding on the trolley. We took it from inside a tunnel to a suburban woodsy background, all by hand.

Technical, this was no Cinemascope feature presentation. It was shot on standard 8mm video, and captured to 160x120 QuickTime at 15fps, the best quality available at the time. We may have even resampled down to 12fps to save storage space at one point.

In the end, my move to Arizona scuttled the project. Further, without a Mac to work on, the footage was stuck on that 720mb SCSI hard drive for nearly eight years. It was finally recovered through an arduous process of a friend burning the drive to CD, and moving the files over to Windows using some arcane Mac conversion utility.

Well, the footage is now available, and I'm telling the whole world right now, it will be cut, and it will be beautiful. It will also be a mere four or five minites long. This is one ten year old project that will be finished!



Just remembering Coolidge Field in Natick, MA. This was the prime basketball location in town. Even before we lived down the street from it, we would ride a good ways to hoop there. I guess I played there from age 14 to 18, and occasional games on return trips to Mass.

Coolidge was initially attractive for its consistent surface (green), actual painted three point lines, forgiving backboards and rims, and occasional availability of lights (though this diminished over time). Its major drawback was the collection of water under the baskets after rain. This could be swept away, if a broom was available. In the winter, you brought shovels.

In the end, it was the competition that made it a worthwhile trip. Besides my bros, the regulars included Devon Swears, Al Balding, Mo Liquor, Big Country, and Bruce Seals, star of Natick, and later, Ashland, high school, and a Division I college player at Manhattan U. in the MAC.

Bruce, at age 15, was 6' 5", 200-something. He could break any number of defenders past the three point line with a single dribble between his legs on his way to a dunk. He especially liked driving straight down the lane, stepping on your foot, and rising high to dunk over you as you were pinning to the ground. Grabbing your head with his legs as he hung over you was not an uncommon occurrence.

Bruce was pretty dominant, but I like to think I knew his game as well as anyone, and defended him admirably. Teamed up with Jeremy plus Carl or any other of the regulars, it was the utmost honor to outlast his teams, which were always one-dimentional in deference to his talent, in a game of three-on-three. Truly, I much preferred being on the less-talented team, as I am a unfailing believer in the underdog.

Jeremy and I were guaranteed to score if the shot immediately followed a broken play, tip, block, or any other less-than-optimal circumstance. If the shot looked nasty going up, it would most certainly fall. Jeremy ruled the perimeter, I slashed and drove, floated, and flipped it in, Carl patrolled the paint.

The regulars were there every day for at least four hours. Always solid competition. When the occasional outsider would show up, especially twenty- and thirty-somethings that thought they could beat the 12- and 17- year olds, we'd play them hard and break their hearts on a fading-out-of-bounds bomb over both defenders from the corner as only traces of sunlight remained.

At 15 and 5' 7", I dunked the basketball for the first time at Coolidge. Cycling was to thank for my hops at the time. Later, I dunked over Bruce Seals for my first and last ever dunk in an actual game. No heads were grabbed on that occasion.

We played at Johnson and Natick High before, and Loring and Bowditch after, and grandpa's driveway always, but Coolidge, while it lasted, was hoop heaven for sure.

Jeremy can fill in some other details, I'm sure. I've overlooked some characters: Gavin and his rival from across the street, Wells, and more. On 04.22.1999, one month before his seventeenth birthday, Jeremy documented this and more in the work-in-progress called Court Surfing. It remains unfinished to this day.


Does anyone care about what we have to say?

Last night Jeremy and I recorded a Director's/Editor's commentary on raw footage and final cut of Cleary's Time Is My Crisis music video. Not that anyone cares what we have to say, but it was really a technological marvel that we even did it. We're on opposite sides of the country, after all.

Turns out the easiest way to accomplish this was on our computers and we didn't know it until mere hours before we did it. Microsoft's Movie Maker, included with Windows XP, has a narration feature built in. You cue up the video (which I had previously encoded and Jeremy had previously FTP'd from my computer), click narrate, the video starts and the microphone is activated. And so we did. We called up on our cell phones, counted 3, 2, 1, click, and recorded our interactive commentary. The resulting files were compressed Windows Media files, which Jeremy promptly FTP'd back to me.

As I type, I am mixing the files (with generous Noise Reduction on Jeremy's side (what's up with your sound card?!)), and hooking them back up with the video. Now there's a DVD extra feature for you!

Punctuate This!?

Its time to have our First Annual Punctuation lesson. Please, don't misunderstand me (Johnny Cougar said that once, didn't he?). I don't mean to come off as a punctuation expert. I'm not, by any means. I felt it prudent, however, to share an obscure punctuation mark and vent about a pet peeve. Annnnnnd begin.

The interrobang is my new favorite punctuation mark. A little detective work on the name will surely reveal its nature. "Interro" like "interrogation," or a question. "Bang" like "bang," like an exclamation point. Its a question mark (QM) superimposed on the exclamation point (XP) to end a sentence that functions as both a question and an exclamation.

I urge you to begin using this mark in all your various forms of writing. You can do it from Microsoft Word with WingDings 2. Unfortunately, for you cheapo's, you cannot do it with WordPad. I would demonstrate but I'm a cheapo.

"Joshua hasn't completed Jeffrey L. Allen yet?!" is a good example of usage. Notice that we're asking if he hasn't completed the album, yet at the same time we're amazed that he hasn't completed the album. To write both the QM and the XP is really overkill and looks clumsy. Then there's the added question of which goes first, the QM or the XP? That question then leads into my second point, the pet peeve.

In two words: over punctuation. It is tough to track down when or where this trend started. How alarming is it to see sentences like this:

"what's your name?????? im jimmy!! wanna party!?!?#?!"

How elegant? Without any real proof, the blame for this horrid punctualizing can almost certainly be laid upon the Internet and the on-demand world. You have too much punctuation over there, not enough over here, weird stuff going on later on. Its a mess.

Two rules that have to be laid down.

  1. After each sentence type only one punctuation mark. You can either use a period, an exclamation point, a question mark, or, of course, an interrobang. Only one! Feel free to use semi-colons where necessary; I find them quite useful.
  2. If you absolutely must use more than one form of punctuation (and you will need written approval from me in all cases where you deem this necessary; submit all requests to my secretary), then it must be of the same variety and must occur exactly three times. Three times signifies emphasis, which I have to assume is the reason you need to use this exception. Some examples (taken from The Eulogy of Nothing; or, Floating Thirteen and a Half Feet Below the Crashing Waves of Newport Beach and Letting Go, though in that story they did not appear in the emphatical manner in which I now quote them):

    "Jack!!! Jack, talk to me."

    "I'm sorry," Jack finally said. "My mind must have been a bit preoccupied."

    "What were you thinking about???"

    "I was just letting go."

    And with those words Anne removed her hand from Jack's shoulder and slowly backed out of the room, eyes transfixed on him. So intense was her focus that she nearly tripped on herself as she reversed her path. She was just waiting for the lightning to stop.
  3. Did I say two rules? Here's a third. When shifting thoughts mid-sentence or pausing for any reason you must standardize on the number of dots you will use and how you will arrange them. You've got the . . . space dot space dot space dot space routine. The always classic...no space action. Or any variation in between. While I accept the fact that people will do what suits them when it comes to this topic I highly recommend the ... space dot-dot-dot space method. Its easy, it looks good, and it doesn't cause any formatting issues.
Those are my rules. Abide by them at all times. Begin interrobanging ... now!!!

Bull Riding: Slim Pickens Style

OK, I promised Dr. Strangelove. Commence with the deliverance.

The first thing that you may notice is that the link above is to us.imdb.com. I don't support any other countries in their linkage. That could cause a gap in the links race.

First of all, if you haven't seen this film, go do it. As is my custom, I have made many a person sit through this movie against their will. Time and time again they come out the other side loving it and raving about it to others. Honestly, I don't think I know anyone who dislikes this film.

The basic premise is that a deranged military camp general, Jack D. Ripper, decides to take matters of nuclear war into his own hands and, by means of a loophole in the system, is able to order a strike on Russia. Keep in mind that this black-and-white beauty was filmed in 1964. Not exactly friendly times to be messing with Russia. Bold move, Mr. Kubrick.

Dr. Strangelove is a dramedy, if you will, leaning more towards the 'medy. Very random humor can be found throughout. The look of the film is certainly dated, but that just increases the laughter on the unintentional comedy scale. You just know that they were really trying hard to pull off some of those special effects sequences (if you can even call them that; they don't seem too special).

The performances are fine all around. Not a bad note to be found. George C. Scott and Peter Sellers are to be specifically noted for their excellent performances. Sellers pulls of the tour de force here, operating as three different characters, including the good doctor himself. One of my favorite things about this movie is that for the first 70-80 minutes you are left with absolutely no clue as to why this movie is called Dr. Strangelove. Priceless.

Have I mentioned that I am henceforth getting paid by the outbound link? Its worth mentioning. Shameless Link! Now back to your regularly scheduled blog.

It should be noted that though the visuals of the film may feel a bit dated it really doesn't detract from the story. And the story holds up to modern times like a coaster propping up a coffee table. I meant that in a good way (was that evident?). Kubrick, through humor, really gets to the heart of fear, unmitigated bias, unsubstantiated xenophobia, etc., etc., and so on. If you don't make the application to the world events we see everyday in the papers (does anyone read newspapers anymore? Someone should study this. Seriously.) or on Yahoo! News than you must have more important issues to deal with. Meow!

So what is the films final statement? In a word: brilliant (like those Guinness commercials)! I dare say no more. They say this one's got a surprise ending.

The Rise and Fall of Technical Whale

Technical Whale is the collaboration between JohnAnthony Gastaldo and myself. It was conceived some time ago by JA as the next wave in music: combining electronic-influenced music with whale sounds. The idea was brought up on a number of occassions, and in a creative burst a few months ago, some depth was added to the idea.

In the current Technical Whale concept, we follow the story of a young whale. He is captured (anguish) and made subject to experiments to read his mind (pain). In the process, he is connected to the global computer network. As a tribute to recent discussions, let just say this has a surprise ending.

Musically, this new concept expands upon the original musical notion. However, the whale sounds are not real, but created through chaotic electric and bass guitar feedback and cheap electronic gadgets and manipulation. This is married to sythesized beats of the techo and jungle variety, created by a number of contributors.

The story develops over an arc of nine or ten songs. However, in the latest incarnation, the songs alternate between the perspective of the whale and his captors. The whale represented by the aforementioned mostly instrumental music, with occassional abstract vocals, and the captors represented by proto-punk-metal insanity.

However, with various DVD projects in the works, a deadline of completion of the TMINM album in sight, a technical book due in a few months, and other project too numerous to detail here, Technical Whale will sit on shelf until a future time.


Related Reading

From American Cinematographer, the official magazine of the American Society of Cinematographers, an article with Roger Deakins, DoP on The Village. Provides some insight as to the chaos that was the making of this film.

The Village

BTW, the articles in this magazine are great for learning as well, and they have archives back a ways.


Be A Better Blogger

Now that Joshua and I have each had a chance to write a decent number of blog posts the inevitable question arises: Who is the better blogger?

I have to make the case that I am. Here's the thing: While my writing may not be as informative as Joshua's it certainly must objectively be considered vastly more entertaining than his. I'm not sure that last sentence makes sense, but I'm going with it.

And here is the part where we allow you, the reader, to form your own opinion. Feel free to post a comment stating who is your favorite blogger and why. And your favorite blogger can't be yourself.

Napoleon Dynamite Conquered The Village; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Village

No, my post has absolutely nothing to do with Napoleon Dynamite. I just liked the title. Although I really should write something up about Napoleon Dynamite, if only because of how wonderfully random a film it was. In the meantime, check it out for yourselves.

There are so many things to speak of:

  • The Village
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • The Lion King Experience
  • Debue: Initial Public Offering
  • Why Can't Debue Spell Correctly?
  • Dr. Strangelove

I'll tackle these thoughts in separate posts.

First, The Village. I will start by commending Joshua for his review. It was thorough, well though out, and expertly worded. A true craftsman, he is.

The bottom line: I loved this movie. I loved it from the moment I saw it. And on top of that it seems that the more time that goes by in which I can think and reflect on it the greater my love becomes. I have almost identical feelings to Joshua on this film. I will spare the reader from having to hear it all again. I will point out anything that I felt differently about, but for the most part I will try to make this post about combating the critics.

The Critics:

Why do the critics love to bash Manoj Night Shyamalan? Success, baby! Let's face it, if I directed The Village as my feature film debut (debue? I'm joking) I would be hailed as the next great filmmaker. Think about it this way, if this were Manoj's first movie (I'm talking no Wide Awake, no Sixth Sense, etc.) people would be all over it, praising it up and down. I'll explain more later.

Bottom line: the critics, and fans alike, see the need to take a Manoj film and tear it down to the tiniest detail. Now, Manoj did bring this upon himself in a way, but why can't people just go and enjoy the movie? Did people who saw Spiderman, or Napoleon Dynamite, or Chungking Express, or etc., etc., and so on, feel the need to nitpick those movies? No. People need to calm down and enjoy 1:45 min.

The Twists:

You like twists? What is a twist, anyway? Dictionary.com, what say you?

An unforeseen development

OK, that's pretty broad. I would have to say that when Joaquin (off topic: that's such a fun name to say. Go ahead, go back and read it out loud ... Wasn't that fun? OK, continue.) gets stabbed, that's a twist. When we find out that the elders are the creatures. Twist. When we find out that its the Pianist in the creature suit. Twistity. When we find out we're in modern times. Twist (I mean it, turn your entire body around 360 degrees). And I'm sure there's many more.

People always talk about Manoj and his twists. How about in Unbreakable when Bruce Willis finds out he can lift tons of weight? Is that a twist? I'm sure it was for him. And I don't like when people say that Signs relied on a twist. Where was it? Because I sure couldn't find it.

Here's a twist for you! I knew the twists before I went and saw the movie! Ha! And I still loved it. Maybe because I didn't have to look for a twist so I could just enjoy the film for what it was: a darn good 106 minute excursion for $6.80 (AAA tickets rock!).

More on the Critics:

What bothered me most about the cold reception that this film received was that for the most part the critical things that I was reading all were simply a misunderstanding on the part of the critiquer. Let's examine a few (these are not exact quotes):

  • "How stupid is it that they'd send the blind girl into town? Why wouldn't the Elder Walker go, or someone else who could see?" OK. That makes logical sense ... if you haven't seen the movie. I thought Manoj made it pretty clear that Elder Walker needed to remain true to the oath that he took when he settled in the village. He couldn't have sent another elder because he couldn't have been sure that they would react the way that he would (notice that he only told the other elders after he had sent her off, so it would be too late to stop her). He certainly couldn't have sent another member of the village that had the use of their eyeballs. Do you think they would have been a little alarmed when they saw cars and people with fancy clothes and all sorts of modern technology? Yeah, that might have given away the secret. This is why Ivy's companions in the woods were not supposed to follow her past the path. Walker's only chance was to send the blind girl and hope that their secret would be kept.
  • "How am I supposed to be scared by the creature after they've just told me that its the elders?" Huh? OK, but all the elders are together having a discussion about Ivy, so it couldn't be them. So who is it? Great question. This is one thing that I didn't have spoiled before I went and saw it and I thought this scene worked perfectly. Was it Ivy's imagination, were the creatures real? Noah! That great lover of all things violent! Perfect!
  • "There's no good reason to have 1897 on the tombstone except simply to fool the audience." Wrong! Now, admittedly, the film does not specifically deal with this issue. There is really no evidence to support a claim one way or the other. I always lean towards benefit of the doubt. The Elders had set up a village that was supposed to mimic the 1800s. Why would it be so out of the question that they would assume that year, just as they had assumed that style of dress, that style of home, and that style of speak? And, too, Elder Walker was a historical academic. In the village he taught the children, and no doubt in his teaching he would instruct them on history. What history is he supposed to teach that deals with the 1900s?
  • "There are too many villagers." ... pause ... OK, this one is valid. We must let it slide.


He loved pianos ... he loved violins ... he loved violence. In the beginning there was Noah and Noah liked to hit little boys. And Noah was scolded by Ivy.

Hmm, he spends a lot of time in the woods. OK, that should have been our first clue. All sorts of animals start getting skinned and the elders seem genuinely puzzled. That's our second clue.

Let me try to break it down as I see it:

  • First animal killed was done by Elders. This was so that the children would discover it and it would lead to the inculcation of border issues in a classroom discussion.
  • All subsequent killings were done by Noah. That's why we see feathers and fur in the floorboards where he had discovered the costume.
  • The killings done during the wedding: Noah is curiously absent from all weddings scenes after the dinner.
  • Some have asked about the appearances of the creature and whether they were Noah. I do not believe any were. When Joaquin is spotted in the woods, that's by an elder. When the creatures come later that night its the elders doing their own version of "Scared Straight." The only time it was Noah was the final scene before he dies.

The Outside World:

Nothing is perfect and we know this. And we are not afraid to point it out. We will not apologize for Manoj when he makes mistakes. The "twist" itself, of the village being modern day, was very satisfying for me. Nothing else would have made sense.

On the other hand, how the twist was handled was satisfying ... not so much. It felt clunky. It felt explicit in its dialogue to a non-Manoj level. The texture of it was out of place. That's the nature of blending these two disparate worlds, but it still could have been handled better.

The Choice:

Some did not seem to understand the significance of the last scene, so I will spell it out here: when each of the elders stands in turn, with Noah's mother being the last one to stand, it is them in effect answering "aye!" to Elder Walkers question about whether they wanted to continue their story. Noah's mother is the most hesitant for obvious reasons.

As with any sad ending, there are some who are put off by it. Bah! I wouldn't have it any other way. I'll say it again: Nothing else would have made sense. You don't go to all that trouble, keep up a charade for close to 30 years and then just turn it in like so much volleyball. You keep it going as long as you humanly can. Right or wrong, it had to end this way. So I guess it didn't have a surprise ending.

I'm out.

Innate Desire Fulfilled

OK, I finally have a few minutes, so here is my take on The Village.

Rather than wait to until the end to summarize, I'll just say up front that I think this is as good a film as Night has made, on par with Unbreakable. No bones about it.

Now that is not to say that I disagree with all of the criticisms leveled by Brock and Gabe. I actually agree with most of them. However, I feel that for some reason Night seems to attract criticism do a greater degree than others. Perhaps he has set the bar so high with his previous work, or been so successful so quickly, that he is set up to be shot down? I think that if anyone else's name was on this film, it would get a lot more credit than it did.

I don't think it's fair to hang a film largely on whether the twists were as effective as they could be have been, or how predictable they might have been (and some people had some clues going in). Since when does a film have to have a twist, no, two twists, to succeed? Night could just tell his stories straight out, and they would be interesting enough. Instead, he shows a lot of patience in developing a sort of controlled release where he reveals very little, very little, very little, then a whole lot all at once. In the end, the story is told and all is revealed one way or another. Personally, I think Night does a better job of getting there than most.

Also, we are sort of arbitrarily labeling twists (in this case "The Shed" and "The Outside World"). While I agree that Night would be no means debate the significance of the latter, the former was just one of a number of pivotal moments, and I don't think you can set this one apart.

The scene that caught me the most off guard was when Lucious was stabbed. What a great scene, and probably the biggest shock of the film for me. We all know how much I admire the willingness to do in the "hero" (I thought for sure he was a goner).

A number of scenes in the Woods were very effective. Just the presence of the monster after it had been revealed that it was "just the elders" was great. Was this a real monster after all, the original source of the "rumors" the elders based their act on? Was her fear and isolation overcoming her even though she knew the real nature of the monsters? Then Brody gets killed, and that's a pretty big twist as well.

The whole movie was (I think intentionally) quite disorienting, and an aura of tension was evident throughout. Even simple things like getting the medicine from the guardhouse had me on the edge of my seat. And that is not to overlook the many overtly-horrifying scenes like the outstretched hand on the porch and ensuing moments in the basements, the guardtower, and others. All this tied together with Night's slow and studied, beautifully composed and arranged shots of the interiors and exteriors adds up to a great film in my mind. Plus, it's a love story at heart, which, if done effectively, always has the greatest potential for an emotional impact, and I think it works.

If I really wanted to analyze and second guess, I could, and I have, and there are a lot of questions, some of which have been resolved in the context of the story, and some that have not. However, these are just the concerns of someone who likes to analyze films, and none of them detract from the film "in the moment" for me. They are interesting, though, so here goes.

I didn't like the way the film began. Over the first ten minutes, I really felt like I was being led through the Village and being shown very deliberately a number of things. All of this was in the interest of setting up the story, and that always needs to be done. To me, it was all too overt, though. Night had a way, in his other films, of conveying much of this information through inference, rather than spelling it out. I felt like I was being guided too directly. Look at this? Understand? OK, now look at this. Understand?

Similarly, the end of the film seemed rather abrupt. The film really flew by with me, and I didn't realize I was nearly 100 minutes in, so it seemed like it should be more. I guess Ivy returning to Lucious was intended as closure, and I don't expect to see Lucious healed up and happy because of having the medicine. However, having no reaction shot, no shot period, of Lucious, left me a little empty.

That also ties in to an overall complaint about the second half of the film, that we weren't taken back to Lucious more often. This is a lover story and Ivy's motivation is supposed to be saving Lucious' life. You feel this as she departs, but she seems so isolated for so long that you lose this and the drive to have her out there in the Woods faded for me. They cut back to Lucious at least once, the nice directly overhead shot, but that's all I remember. We needed to see that more often, just to symbolically keep that connection alive. After a while, it was like, What's the point?

Some other things are already resolved for me. I thought there were a lot of inconsistencies in the Village. Specifically, the language seemed very awkward, and unspecifically the whole place felt awkward. The language, I initially concluded, was a result of a lack of research and adherence to the period (the imagined period), or a more overt attempt to create flowery, poetic language for its own sake. In the end, I think this was all intentional, as a clue that this place wasn't real, and many of the people were, in fact, playing a part.

That aspect of the actors playing characters that are "playing a part" adds the convenience to offload blame for poor performances from the actors to the characters. In essence, it could be said "William Hurt wasn't a bad actor, he was simply playing someone who was struggling to play his part in the community". Bare minimum this obscures the root of any deficiencies, though I thought all were well done, with the parts of Ivy, Lucious, and Brody's character done very well.

In the Woods, I didn't appreciate Night showing the monster in full frame for as long as he did, if only because it seemed to break with style and was very unexpected. I really enjoy seeing the bushes sway at the side of a frame and little more.

Jeremy tied together for me the various killing of animals, forays into the woods, reports of said forays, and how they relate to the elders perpetuating the myths, Brody getting involved, etc., and that all seems to check out logically.

Not too logical, though not out of the realm of possibility, is the shear number of Villagers measured against the number of elders that founded the place and their immediate families. It just seems there are a lot of people that are unaccounted for. Certainly, they could have brought more people with them, but then, why aren't those people elders as well? It could probably be easily explained, though I don't think the movie attempts to, and even alludes to this (though it might), so any explanation would seem to be our rationalization, not an element of the story, and could not be proved one way or another.

All in all, I thought The Village was a great film, and would struggle to compare it to anything, even other great films I have seen recently, if only because Night seems so far afield as to defy comparison to anyone but himself... the toughest competition of all.


I've Done A Few Things

So, I actually saw The Village on Wednesday, at the Cine Capri of all places. Too, the Debue: Initial Public Offering DVD was completed earlier this week and overnighted to the East Coast. These things and more I shall address very shortly.


In The Interim

Since it seems that Joshua will be delaying our discussion of The Village, I felt that I needed to fill this space with something. I struggled to find anything meaningful to share, so I decided to tackle an issue that has arisen of late.

Why do I always refer to Josh as Joshua?

This is a disturbing trend that I have noticed lately. In fact, I dare say that may be the last time you ever hear me utter the word "Josh" (except for the fact that I didn't utter it and you didn't hear it).

From the time that I wrote my first post, entitled Why Try Avoidance?, I felt this desire. I concluded that post with the following veiled threat:

And, Joshua, you hijacked my Courier font. I want it back.

I can remember typing that sentence. There was no true reason for calling him Joshua, but I could feel something nagging at me to write it that way. It was in the pit of my stomach and it controlled my fingers. I needed to type that U and that A.

After I had used the long version of his name in my first post I felt that I needed to keep a consistency about my use of his name. It had to become almost my calling card. It feels like it disconnects the blog Joshua from the real world Josh.

I would like to set the record straight. In real life, I do not call my brother Joshua.


The Innate Desire to Discuss The Village

I have been waiting patiently for Joshua to see the Village so that we can get on with discussing it. Joshua and I are both fond of Shyamalan's work, so we've been waiting for this with "baited breath," as Johnny Most would say it.

Please keep in mind that to appropriately discuss this film we will need to deal in spoilers. To discuss it any other way would be like trying to explain the makeup of the universe using only vocalizations of a lion (non Pedro) ... or a Chinese person (without subtitles).

In the meantime, I suggest that you go and watch the movie so that you can play along at home. Personally, I'm angling to go see it again this evening to confirm some suspicions.

Joshua, would you like to start, or shall I?