Meet the X-Blade

OK, the new PC is up and running. That's a picture of the case. I'm not big on having a cool case, it was just reasonably priced.

  • ASUS Pentium 4 motherboard with on board video, audio, Firewire, Gigabit network
  • Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz w/ Hyper-Threading
  • Kingston 1 GB DDR2 533MHz memory
  • Hitachi 250 GB SATA hard drive (will add another soon)
  • Seagate 200 GB ATA/100 hard drive

Let the editing begin!



In honor of the six month anniversary of this blog, I read all of the posts in reverse chronological order. My simple conclusion: we do way too much stuff.


High School Sucked, Part II

Here are some stills from the performance portion of the High School Sucked video. I'm still trying to figure out how this will cut back and forth with the more straightforward look of the narrative sections of the video.


High School Sucked, Part I

I've been working on the Random Kate music video for "High School Sucked" this week. I won't even try to tackle the bulk of the performance shots until my new computer is built (all the parts are in hand or on order), but I am working on the narrative sections and other classroom cut-aways, including the mosh pit and breakdancing. Here are some stills to introduce you to the videos protagonist, Jason G.


The Glove Box and Beyond

I got The Glove Box DVD's done today. I still need to design up a DVD cover insert. After that I cleared up hard drive space. I've got 120 GB to work with for the Random Kate video which is now captured and being processed. Looks good so far!


The Glove Box DVD, Anyone

All of this new footage has got my furiously trying to cleanup space on my hard drive. Somehow, the 200 GB drive I got just a few months ago was nearly full. I've done some housekeeping, but the final thing I need to wrap up before I can get to work on new things is a DVD of The Glove Box. So, what do you think? Any extra features we care to add? Should we load it up with other shorts, such as Pantomiming, Outside In, and I'm Not Crazy?


Let's Go To The Video Tape

We tried to sleep off our flight-induced weariness today. I got nine great hours of sleep, and woke up refreshed and eager to take a look at some of the footage I shot on the trip. First off, to make sure the airport security x-ray machines hadn't nuked them all (which they hadn't), and also to see if the gamble of cranking all of the camera settings all the way down had paid off (it did).

Before I left, I turned the camera's picture adjustment settings (contrast, sharpness, and color) as far down as they would go. The theory behind this was that the midway default settings really weren't true defaults. That, at those middle settings, there was a lot of picture adjustment going on, and to reverse the video look of ultra-sharp, ultra-contrast, ultra-punchy colors, I would have to turn these all the way down. In my tests before I left, the image looked very natural with these settings turned down. It was like turning off the video look.

The risk here was that without the sharpness and contrast, the video might be indistinct and unremarkable. Upon close inspection, though, it does look great. No loss of detail, just loss of the artificial edge. I've got some great footage to work with.

I went through all of the tapes and made sure things were in order. All in all, I have over four hours of footage for the Chinese Movie, nearly eight hours of TMINM documentary footage, and ninety minutes of Random Kate music video footage. I bought DVFilm Maker tonight. It's a tool for 24p conversion.

I am thinking that it's time for the "Chinese Movie" to be named. First thought, "The Ballad of Tim Nm" or "Tim Nm: Filmmaker" or "Tim Nm, CPA". Also, the film within a film needs a name. Something like "Campus Laundry Express" or "Laundromat of Broken Dreams". Help me out, here.

Anyway, here are a few still caps from tape 3, which contains parts of CM scene 2 narrative, scene 2 interview, scene 4 narrative, scene 4 interview, scene 3 narrative, and TMINM Thursday afternoon practice.


Winter Vacation - La Fin

It was a horrible day indeed. After getting four not-so-great hours of sleep we were up again, furiously packing. We had a farewell breakfast with Big Momma and Darrell at Cracker Barrel, and got to the airport. We had to take two cars on account of all the luggage we had. Five checked bags and two carry-ons. Far to much for two people to handle. Then there was JAG and his ginormous bag which we toted around because he was on crutches and a wheelchair.

The flight back was almost six hours long. It must be winds or the route, but it's always around four hours going out East and six coming back. This is not a miscalculation based on time zone changes, this is actual flight time. It was hellish. We were sitting next to an elderly lady who likely had Alzheimer's and was very confused the whole flight. She didn't seem to know where she was coming from or going to, and named at least three different people that she thought were going to pick her up, none of which ended up being the case. When we landed, we helped her out to her family. Very sad. Also, I had a headache and stomachache the whole time.

Back at home, JAG got picked up by his family and Joe and Bonnie were there for us. We went to dinner at Elephant Bar, and sleepily got ourselves home. We're all but dead.

Anyway, great trip. Very busy. Also very successful. Of everything I set out to do, only the TMINM music video did not get done, and that was an afterthought, in any case. I used 18 of the 20 miniDV tapes I brought out with me, and used them up well, combining projects to fill tapes. I have a notepad that will help me sort it all out. I'm strongly considering building a new computer in the next week to help me edit everything.

Gabe, thanks for the camcorder, it saved my life in one case. Brock, thanks for your guidance. Jeremy and Carl, thanks for playing along. Molly, thanks for letting Jeremy go from time to time. Micah, JAG, and Angie, thanks for being a great crew and all the other contributions. Big Momma and Darrell, thanks for the place to stay (and having Micah and JAG as well), the use or the cars, and everything else. Everyone else, I love you. Peace, I'm out. Westsiiide!


Winter Vacation - Day Fourteen

Oh, what a long and eventful day this has been!

We spent the night at the Cape house and were up around 10:00am. Grandma made pancakes for breakfast. We all got ready and as the grandparents went to the Cape Cod Mall with JAG and Dominic in tow, we went by Micah's to check on him and help him with one final unload of his drum kit back into his basement. We met up with them at the mall, and I got out of there without too many unnecessary purchases. Only a pair of fuzzy red socks that transform Angie's feet into the feet of a Muppet, likely Elmo. How lovely.

We went out looking for one last Chinese food fix for JAG. The selection is slim on Cape Cod, and we ended up at some Dragon place on Main Street in Hyannis. The food was acceptable, but not great. However, it was Chinese food, on the Cape, with the grandparents, and for once JAG's complaining ceased, if only for a moment. Contentment.

We said our goodbyes to the grandparents and Micah, and were off to the mainland. We dropped Dominic off with Greg and Cindy in Seekonk, visited for a while, and watched the short horror films Dominic had made with the video feature on his digital still camera. I was quite impressed, and I encouraged him to keep up the good work. I also uploaded his files to my server for later editing.

We went from there to BMH, unloaded the trunk, loaded up again with our gear and were back out just like that. We got to the laundromat around 7:30pm, and were there for about two hours, rolling tape most of the time. It was very chaotic, but very collaborative, since I was shooting the film within a film that Jeremy was supposed to be directing. So, I let him lead, and worked ideas back and forth. We threw in references to WKW, Godard, Kubrick, and even references to the original laundromat experience with Cleary. I guess that's sort of a self-reference.

Carl spoke some Chinese, some French, and a little English. He came prepared, in costume and ready to act. He did a fine job. His girlfriend Erin played the love interest. She did a fine job of ignoring Carl's advances, but we couldn't figure out if it was acting or reality.

We shot nearly two hours of footage for this short film that was envisioned to be around three minutes long. Perhaps it will run longer? It may even be the highlight of this whole Chinese Movie.

We had a wrap party at Acapulco's. Nearly a wrap party, since we still had two scenes with Jeremy to shoot and diminishing time and locations still available. On the way out of the parking lot, Angie and JAG started a snowball fight and chasing each other around, which led to JAG slipped on some ice and dislocating his knee and lower leg. He just sort of lay there twitching and shrieking, and we didn't know what to make of it. After a while we got him up and regrouped at BMH. We decided to take him to the hospital, which was itself about twenty minutes away.

On the way, Jeremy and I taped the interview portion of the crew scene, which was intended to be in a car at night, anyway. At the hospital I brought the camera in with me and was taping JAG. Apparently this is no longer allowed, and a security officer asked me to turn it off. JAG got checked out, x-rayed, and wrapped up, released with a prescription. Back in Franklin, Angie went in to CVS to fill the prescription and Jeremy and I taped dialog for the casting call in the car. So, upon arrival back in Phoenix, I have to shoot, not only auditioning actors for the part, but Jeremy's side of it, with him shrouded in darkness and use the audio I taped. Nice, but at least it will allow me to get exactly the shot I want for that end of the room. We jumped out of the car and taped the post-casting call interview segment at the CVS. Cool, now that's a wrap on our Massachusetts unit.

Back at BMH and too jacked up to sleep. It's 3:18am and we have to get up early. This day is going to be a nightmare.


Winter Vacation - Day Thirteen

Finally a real day off on my vacation. We got up around ten, got ready, packed up and drove to the Cape to see the grandparents. We picked up Dominic on the way. The car ride with him was better than expected. He's become more funny than annoying over time.

Dominic is thirteen or fourteen and he's way too into video games. I was shocked he didn't bring his Nintendo DS along. It's the first time I've seen him without a video game in his hand in years. Oddly, he's got lots of CD cases of popular bands, but none of the CDs. He just carries the cases around to impress hot chicks, or so he says.

We got to the Cape House and settled in. They had some soup ready and lasagna for dinner after that. Their house is very comfortable. Too comfortable, it makes me sleepy. We ate, watched Columbo, went to the meeting, then watched I, Robot (predictable, but not as bad as I expected), Meet The Parents, and now Out of Sight is on. In between, a quick game of chess in which JAG resigned after five turns. Quitter!

That's it, I'm feeling quite relaxed. It's about time.


Winter Vacation - Day Twelve

Up at ten this morning to fresh snow that kept falling most of the day. We puttered around the house in the morning. Then, when we realized how late it was we burst into a flurry of activity. Everyone showered and dressed, packed up all the gear in two cars, the merch, the extra gear, the cams, everything.

We rushed up the 495 to the Pike, for a quick pit stop in Natick, MA to load up at Guitar Center. We needed a high E-string for Carl's guitar that I am borrowing. Should I guy one set of strings or two? Two, I think. Micah picked up some new sticks. Guitar Center's are few and far between here, you have to take advantage.

For there we went to the Clark Gallery in Lincoln, MA to check out Becky Kinkead's new exhibition that was just installed on Monday. Amazing stuff and the first time I have seen her newer pieces up close. They are amazing, and so organic, it's hard to believe someone actually created them, that they didn't simply grow on the canvas.

We jetted off to the North End of Boston via the Pike again, and for the first time ever found plentiful parking on Hanover Street. It pays to get in early on a weeknight. Ristorante Villa Francesca was the destination, a big expensive dinner to thank Angie, Micah, and JAG for putting up with my demands all this time. The dish of choice was Pollo Abruzzese, a butterflied chicken breast with a broth, garlic, and oil reduction glaze with aromatic herbs and spices and hot red peppers, with roasted potatoes. It's a pleasure to smell and a pleasure to eat. So good, the price tag doesn't even come into play.

After that we jumped on the expressway North in hopes of getting to Cambridge, but there was no Cambridge exit. Instead we get dumped off in Somerville, and I started to backtrack, though I had no idea which way I was heading. A turn here and a turn there, and bam, we're magically dumped off on Cambridge Street a few blocks from the venue. We spent no less than twenty minutes trying to find parking (only to find out later that there was an alley behind the venue we could have used), then lugged all of our gear a few blocks.

Zeitgeist Gallery is long-running project that has jumped around locations but stayed true to its mission. It's pretty avant garde stuff, very cool. A nice space for us. I felt quite comfortable. When I went in, there was no one there at first. After a few loads from the car, there was a very unassuming man there, who ended up being the owner. Basically he said he had to go, and we had the run of the place. Cool.

We set up and Angie restrung the guitar. Yet another high E bit the dust during the process, and that second set of strings I bought paid off. I don't want to think about what would have happened if we didn't have a backup. Carl's band Ship High In Transit wasn't there at 7:00pm when the show was supposed to start. They did get in shortly after, delayed because their drummer and transport for all their gear had three, count them, three flat tires. So, TMINM went on first, again. We always end up going on first.

We felt really good. There was a great, receptive crowd, nearly forty people. We were much more comfortable than on Monday night, and I was more confident in the material. We were very loose, actually. Really feeling it. We learned our lesson from the other show, and really talked up the crowd, told some jokes. They really responded to most of the songs,including many that were thought of as too undeveloped by Jeremy, such as Saucy Lovelessness and Standard Issue, and some that I felt were too underdeveloped, such as Business. Lots of fun, and totally let us put Monday night behind us and go out on a good note. Who knows, TMINM may never play again. If so, I can live with our live music legacy.

While Ship High setup, Micah jumped in and played three songs solo on the guitar, two originals and Radiohead's "Nice Dream." He really impressed. I think a lot of people were caught off guard that the insane drummer they just saw came out and blew them away on guitar and with amazing singing.

Ship High really rocked the crowd. Their songs have more of a refined pop edge, while still being very indie and creative. All four players really stand out at different times, and the songs are such that they all interplay well with each other. They rocked so much, they rocked right out of our time slot, that was supposed to be packed up and moved out by 9:00pm. The jazz band coming up after us was gracious, though, and it was no problem. We broke everything down, packed it up, and were on our way. We didn't really collect at the door like we should have. If we had, we would have collected nearly $250 at six bucks a head. Instead we put up a donation jar on the way out, and got a little over seventy, which we split up. Hey, at least we can say we're paid musicians!

I came within two feet of running over some jaywalking pedestrians on the way out of Cambridge. We all followed back to Franklin, got a snack and drinks at UNO's and now we're chilled out and ready for some sleep. I feel like the pressure is off and I can finally enjoy my vacation, all two and half days of it that are left. Oh, wait, I have to finish out the Chinese Movie on Friday night. OK, back to panic mode.

Anti-Global Rotation 51

I realized after I posted that I had mentioned how much I wanted to play a 12 Brothers song on one of the setlists. And then I go on to mention yet another 12 Brothers song that happens to be on the setlist, "Sunsets," otherwise known as "Anti-Global Rotation" back in the Bad Larry days.

What makes this song most interesting is that it happens to be our closer at the Zeitgeist show, and yet, somehow, we have failed to practice it even once. I don't know all the words, which means I will be bringing lyrics on stage. Of course, I don't know that they would even be called lyrics. The whole thing is this weird jam/spoken word fiasco that Joshua thinks is based on convention notes.

In actuality, it's based on a short story that I had written (admittedly, I did some writing during that particular convention ... not something I'm proud of) entitled "A Quite Inconsequential War-Time Tale." It was about a man reflecting on his past and future set against the back-drop of his wife dying of cancer. It was quite inconsequential, however it was not set during any war-time.

As a side point, there was another Bad Larry song that we had written that indeed was based on convention notes. I can't remember what it was originally called at the time, but musically it became a song entitled "Pitying Bowls of Saucy Lovelessness." Coincidentally, we will also be playing that song at Zeitgeist. PBOSL (pronounced pee-bossel) also happens to be a weird jam/spoken word fiasco, but a little more punchy. I'm starting to realize that Bad Larry had a penchant for weird jam/spoken word fiascos. You could say that was his forte.

Look at me, I'm talking about Bad Larry as if he's a real person. I need to get some sleep.

Anyway, although the words in "Sunsets" are based on something entirely different the concept of 12 Brothers, because it's very vague it happens to work perfectly. I had added a few lines to make it fit even closer, but I'm not sure if I will bust them out at the Zeitgeist show. I have the recording of the one and only time that we've ever played this song on my iPod so you better believe I'll be listening to and fro work tomorrow to see if the added lyrics even fit any kind of melody.

I now give you the lyrics to "Sunsets":

it struck my like an old childhood

i knew his pain, too
knew his pain, too
but it wasn't as strong with me now
strong with me now
so the crying continued
crying continued
so different from each other
so different from each other
yet so close to each other
so close to each

and the thought of these two

the thought of these two
the thought of who they were
who they were
the thought of what they were dealing

what they were dealing with
touched my heart deeply
touched my heart
like a volcano long lay dormant erupting with
full force

like an Arizona summer rain
like a dictator's reign
or like a paralyzed man's first step
i, too, began to cry
i began to cry

no more
i began to cry
no more
no more
no more sunsets

things looked better in the southwest
though if he left i bet he'd get depressed
still things looked better in the southwest
felt it was time to leave the business
and hope sun and spaces will make him forget
the desert's brighter than his current mess
'cause things are better in the southwest

thus with nothing else to do
with nothing within my power to change
the three of me just sat and cried until the sun came up

no more
i began to cry
no more
no more
no more
i began to cry

i am not consumed
or even enticed
by its tempting juice
or her tightening vice
i know its just her clever ruse

no more
no more
no more
no more
no more

I know this is rather hard to follow, but basically at the beginning you have a spoken line and then a line that is sung in a soft, tender tone. There's is some dynamic with Joshua during the "no more sunsets" lines where we're both reeling them off. Then the other stuff is meant to be sung.

Biznits 51

Wow! A post from Jeremy. It's a miracle!

I have been meaning to post for quite some time about the Yanco, William, Officer EP that I have mentioned in the past. I did go on a mini-creative spurt and wrote some lyrics for different songs here and there, but nothing too substantial. I was hoping to post what I had and get some feedback and make this EP a bit more of a collaborative project. However, I've been really busy and at the present time I'm sidetracked by The Moon Is No More shows that we've been playing.

I'm sure Joshua will discuss it further within his daily post, but we did some more practice this evening. Unfortunately, I had to leave after only about 1-2 songs playing with Carl (he showed up later). At least Micah, Joshua, and myself got through most of the Zeitgeist setlist together and things are sounding pretty good. As I've mentioned, I have a pretty good feeling about this show. I'm ready to show a little more emotion in my stage presence and having the extra time to practice these songs is going to pay off.

Anyway, one of my greatest desires when it came to these shows was to play something from the 12 Brothers EP. Strange, because although the lyrics have been written there really hasn't been any work done on these songs as far as music goes ... except for one little tidbit. Joshua had sent me a 30 second audio clip of him playing a guitar riff and singing one verse of a song called "Business." This little thing really got me hooked. It was very catchy. And so I played that little clip over and over again, loving it more each time I heard it. I felt there was enough there to fully flesh out the song once Joshua got here and then play it at the Zeitgeist show.

Boy was I wrong.

And yet, we will indeed play it. It is replacing "A Common Path To A Common Problem," an absolute train wreck of a song, on the setlist.

Although Joshua came up with an outstanding melody, it didn't really fit any of the other verses that I'd written. That's typically how I write. I have no knowledge of this thing they call melody. I just write the words and hope that Joshua can somehow fit them in.

There was also no chorus to speak of, and this particular song was really crying out for a chorus. On 12 Brothers, neither the song before it, "Inheritance," nor the song that would follow it, "Sunsets," has a chorus. Thus, "Business" really needed one to draw in the average listener to 12 Brothers.

While practicing today, Joshua, Micah, and Carl were jamming out to "Business" for quite some time, allowing me to concoct freestyle lyrics in my head and test them out against the melody that had been developed. Even after I got home from practice my mind kept racing with possibilities. Desperately, I searched for a blank sheet of paper in order to spew forth my latest masterpiece. Call it 12 Brothers United By Micah, if you will. Of course, this entire week could really be called The Moon Is No More United By Micah.

So, without further ado, I give you "Business" (remastered):

our mothers used to say
"you must stick together always
and never divide
and never seperate"

our fathers used to say
"you must do what's right always
the course you must stay
and never deviate"

it's just business on the shelf
it's just business between us twelve

our father used to say
"the customer's right always
so stay open late
and make sure you get paid"

why can't you do what i say
you know our father would want it that way
we must work it out
there is no reason to shout

it's just business on the shelf
it's just business between us twelve

why did you sell me out
now father says i am not alive
i hate this feeling
i know i'm justified


Winter Vacation - Day Eleven

This morning we were up at 11:00am. Seems like it's getting later and later each day. We went to the 1:00pm book study. After that we set the pratice room back up, but got diverted into playing the game of Risk we have been at for three days. A pointless game, this one is. It was over after the first turn, but we have some strange equilibrium in which no one can win. It's like War Games. Oh, it is a war game.

At 4:30 we worked out the evenings plans with Jeremy. We high-tailed it to La Cantina for some dinner, then back to the house to practice. Jeremy, Micah, and I ran through most of the new setlist with Angie on bass as a stand-in. Carl got there and we got through two more songs before Jeremy had to leave, and now Angie was singing for us in Jeremy's stead. We actually worked out a lot of details this time around. Good communication and good suggestions. I broke the high E string on Carl's guitar, so that's one more thing we have to worry about fixing tomorrow.

At 9:00, the parents pulled the plug on the jamming and we started a new Risk game. Just finished it up, too. Even at five hours and change, it was one of the faster Risk games I have played. Had Friendly's sundaes during the game. That's it, doesn't seem like a lot. Got to get up earlier to accomplish things, I guess.

On Making Chinese Movies

Here's something, a bonus post.

I just wanted to say that I'm really excited to get home and cut the footage to all my projects. First up will be the Random Kate video, since we're on a schedule to get their record out. It's another 'get the video done so you can put it on the Enhanced CD' deal. Next up will be the Chinese Movie, once we pick up the casting call shots. Finally, the TMINM docu-concert, as time permits.

I am actually so excited about the Chinese Movie, I'm going to keep it under wraps and surprise you guys when it's done. Besides the obvious Wong Kar Wai and Jean Luc Godard influences, I have to credit Jeremy the most in influencing my directorial style. In watching him shoot the Cleary video, I learned to throw yourself into the story and location, get excited and explore all the opportunities available at that place. Jeremy captured every angle and point of interest in that laundromat. He captured not only the performances, but the essence of the place in a revelatory manner that I hadn't thought of before.

Later, Jeremy shot some footage for a not-yet-released TMINM video in and around a lakeside house, including the garden and woods. Though I observed that closely, I didn't think much of it until much later when I started examining the footage. Again, he was capturing the environment around him, but he was interpreting it as well. For each object he encountered he presented us with a unique camera movement to accentuate its function or purpose, the way he viewed it. He chose to focus entirely on objects I would have completely overlooked if I were put in the same location. I would have looked at the big picture: here is a house in the woods by a lake. He chose to look at the small things that made this house in the woods by a lake different from all others.

Now all of this is made possible by two things. One, shooting based on a framework without many details. Not being tied to a script. Two, the inexpensive cost of video. The ability to explore and experiment on the fly without additional cost. Now, the directors we admire do tend to work without extensive scripting, though they dont' shoot on video. They have perfected the art enough to know specifically what to explore to achieve the same results. So, the next step for me is to be sharp enough to combine the traditional methods with this freestyle concept.

In any case, it has been lots of fun shooting the Chinese Movie, because we have really gotten out there, and will continue to get out there, into the real world, where real people are going about their business, and make a film in the midst of it all. Angie keeps throwing around the phrase "Cinema Verite," the technique pioneered (I think) by Truffaut and Godard. In fact, Godard once said, "The whole world is a soundstage," and he'd often film right in the streets of Paris. That's what we have done, and it's been a blast.


Winter Vacation - Day Ten

Ten days already, wow! And in honor of that fact, I got up at ten in the morning. After working a little on Chinese translation while allowing everyone else a little more time to sleep, I headed downstairs to prep the practice room, only to realize that we didn't have an electric guitar. Carl was to bring it back last night when he returned for the Chinese Movie shoot, but we called him off. No guitar. So I headed up to pick it up from him at work. Meanwhile, everyone got washed up and ready to get some lunch with Katie Hooper.

Hooper has played a small but significant and recurring role in my life. Katie is sharp and cool, and she came out to my wedding on a dare, and we thus appointed her Master of Ushers, to supervise the thugged out ushers we had chosen, Eric and Bryan. She took control and did a clutch job. She danced with Phat Carl. It was a magical night.

Anyway, this time around Katie didn't get back in touch until 2:30pm. We continued last nights risk game in the interim, while it got uncomfortably late. When Katie got in touch, we met her at her place, checked out her apartment and got a late lunch/early dinner at UNO's. It was nearly five by the time we got home. No time to practice! We packed up the cars, Katie gave me a lightning haircut (she's the official TMINM stylist in addition to her usher supervision duties), I rinsed that off, and we were on the way to AS220.

AS220 is in the heart of the recently revitalized downtown Providence, RI. It's look nice, sort of small town big city. The venue was very cool, similar to Modified, but more fun, with a red velvet curtain behind the stage. The upper two stories are gigantic with no less than twenty apartments for artists in residence. I shot some pre-concert footage in and around the venue, and some interviews with the key participants.

We soundchecked quite unimpresively and left our gear on stage, since we were first up, our time slot moved to 10:00pm. Carl came late, and Jeremy very late, just shortly before we went on. Jeremy came straight from his meeting, so he was wearing a striking textured black suit, with a blue shirt and red plaid power tie. Probably the most memorable element of the band on this evening.

It was a lot of tensionm leading up to the beginning of the set. I excused myself to the hallway and jumped around for a while to try to loosen up. Then I went up the staircase and jumped all the way down to psych myself up. It's just a huge hurdle to get up there and start the first song, especially this first song, Implode, a pulsating indie-metal kick in the head. Gripping the pick and making yourself go from zero to sixty is extremely difficult.

So it was at 10:00pm that we took the stage, stared at each other for a while, then made ourselves go. Implode, then Homo Sapien, a mocking punk stomper. Come & Gone was next. What was supposed to be a break from the loud first two songs was more of a not-so-engaging let down. Good Conscience, one of our typical jilted indie-pop songs, was next and picked it back up. Pity Versus Sympathy went well, too. Last Resort, Part I was next, again, a slower song, and more of a let down, as far as I could tell. After that we went into two non-JLA songs. Room 203, Part I is a jazzy crooner that got positive response, and Such Things To Such People, one of my favorites, has just the right dynamic to convey the emotion of the song. We closed with Children 2, and really rocked it out at the end of the song.

Of course, it's tough to judge the show having been on the stage, but I was impressed with everyone else's performances. Carl was solid, Micah was explosive, and Jeremy got the words right, by and large. I'm acutely aware of my own failings, of course, though Angie and Katie said they didn't see any obviosu mistakes. To me, they were all too obvious. Of course, everyone had the same sentiment at the end of the show, that they didn't do too well, but everyone else was good. To me, it's a moral victory to have been on the stage with three other people playing the songs, bringing TMINM to life. Really, no expectations beyond that.

Now, let me tell you more about Micah. Micah doesn't really play a four-four time or standard pop/rock backbeats. He's all-style all the time. It's a vigorous experience. Further, he's so incredibly talented, he'll go off and do a roll in a different time signature only to return exactly on point to the song proper. This is great except that not being as emminently talented, it always throws me off a bit.

We hung around for The Quiet Life and Shumai, both excellent. At the end of the night, I told the house to split our money between the other bands, since I didn't feel that we had done well enough to take anything when the other bands were more deserving.

Angie had a strong disappointed reaction to the show. She thinks it could have been better, and that we didn't live up to our potential. Katie thought the music was solid. Both expressed that the real weakness was our lack of engaging stage presence. I sort of leave the presence part up to Jeremy, but we're going to focus on doing all the right things on stage for the next show. In observing the other bands, it became obvious where we had fallen short. There's just the standard things you have to do. Hi, we're The Moon Is No More from the far flung corners of the continental United States, and all that. Introducing songs, telling jokes, introducing band members. I worked out some good jokes for the next show. Try this on: "I'm sorry we're late, we broke into Gillette Stadium and stole all the razors." Eh? Maybe not.

The trip home was rainy and foggy, and we had a late snack, some tea, and off to bed.


Winter Vacation - Day Nine

Another early start today, up and to the meeting. Then, a Chinese buffet for lunch. I even busted out some Chinese: shufu chenshan (comfortable sweater), that's all I remembered off the top of my head.

Back home, everyone took a nap while Micah and I praticed. Eventually, Carl showed up, then Jeremy, and we continued to practice. At this point, we've been through nearly all of the songs, most of them a number of times.

We packed up and moved the whole proceedings over to Gordy's place. We were supposed to jam with Debue, but half the band wasn't there, only Gordy on drums and Johnny O. on bass. Basically, we just extended to TMINM practice with additional members, and jammed out a little bit. We played a few Cleary songs, jammed on a Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl riff of all things, and Micah impressed with his original "Underwater" and a cover of Radiohead's "Nice Dream."

Digressing for a moment, before we left we shot some more of Chinese Movie, scene 5, "Getting a Crew" outside BMH and on the way over we shot the interview part of scene 3, "Location Scouting" at a cool construction site.

After Gordy's we went to Acapulco's for dinner. I got the Arroz con Pollo. It's been hard to find good Mexican food on the East Coast, but Acupulco's is the best yet. The style of cooking is definitely not Sonoran, but my dish was great, onions, peppers, and chicken in a red sauce over spanish rice.

Back at home, we chilled out playing a game of Risk 2210 A.D. OK, we didn't really chill out. It was pretty tense. Jeremy had to go, so he went on a suicide mission and wrecked the game.

We were supposed to shoot scenes 7 and 8 in the laudromat, but found out it closed at 11:00pm on the way to Acapulco's. We called off Carl, who had left early from the Debue jam session to go practice with Ship High In Transit (it's best that I don't abbreviate their band name). All in all, Carl put in a hard days work practicing with three bands in three different locations. We've reschedule the shooting of these scenes to Friday night. Aside from that, we're left with only the interview from scene 5 and all of scene 6, "Casting Call," to finish all the shooting we'll do out here.

Tomorrow is our first show, and we're hardly ready, but it will still be great. All the rest of our nights are booked up, so no TMINM video, but we're still rolling on the documentary.


Winter Vacation - Day Eight

Up at eight this morning, because it's Big Momma's annual bruch at ten, and we had to be ready. On the premise of getting some olive oil that my mom needed, I grabbed the car and headed out for some last minute video shoot supply shopping. I got some reflectors at AutoZone, and a pair of work light stands at Home Depot for a grand total of 2000 watts of pure lighting power. I asked repeatedly if the olive oil was all that my mom needed, but I still ended up getting two, count them two, phone calls for additional items. That was fortunate, since it bought me time to get my shopping done.

Back at the house people were starting to filter in. All the family was there: John, MB, Mattichenzo, Olivia, and Sohpia; Gregg, Cindy, and Dominic; grandma and grandpa; Jeremy and Molly; Gordy, Jen, Caleb, and Aiden; Carl and Erin; and Micah, JAG, Angie, and myself, of course. Big breakfast, lots of family.

In the middle of it all, I had some inspiration for the script of the film within a film in the Chinese Movie. I headed off to type it up, and did a reading for the relatives. This is some heavily metaphorical crap, I know you guys will love it. I got to work translating it into Cantonese using my trusty Langenscheidt Chinese-English/English-Chinese dictionary. This is hard work, and I realized that I am, in reality, the subject of my own film. I'm not getting much help from Jeremy (c'mon, Jer, deny it!), and everything that is playing out is so self-referential, it's scary.

In the middle of brunch, with all four members of TMINM present, we broke for the basement for a practice session. We went through the entire AS220 setlist, and Carl really impressed me with his progress on bass. He picked up the songs with ease, even though he probbaly hasn't heard them in years, and I credit it more to his pure refined skill in playing the bass than any recolection of these songs. He was coming up with parts even better than before. Micah was rocking our socks off. Jeremy was finally amped up (Green Bullet to distortion pedal to guitar amp) and screaming his lungs out. What we need to work on now taking back down a notch, so the subtlety of the songs can show through. We got a few noise complaints, and wrapped it up earlier than we would have liked.

I haven't really talked about our practice space. It was the unfinished basement storage space. The room is maybe ten by ten, and out cleanup consisted of stacking and pushing the clutter out to the fringes, so there is actually much less usable floor space. We're basically on top of each other. In one corner is the furnace that heats the house. It's hot in there, and noisy, but we're getting by.

Around 1:00pm, I started getting antsy, anticipating the 2:00pm start time of the Random Kate video shoot. I was getting gear together, pacing, and generally hoping I wasn't forgetting something important. I pulled Micah and JAG off a game of Risk and woke Angie up from a nap and we headed for Dean College to check in and get set up.

We went to the public safety office as instructed, but they hadn't heard about what was going on. It turns out the paperwork was in their log book (they said the paperwork was incomplete, not sure how so) and they let us in the first location. I made the mistake (I'm not sure when) of referring to the personnel as "security guards." Big mistake. It turns out they are real police officers, and all that that entails, and I was real sorry to have insulted them. Fortunately, they overlooked that and continued to cooperate. On that note, I was surprised they were as cooperative as they were. They unlocked doors and headed back to the office, no questions asked, and no supervision, which would have really thrown me off.

Our first location was the Memorial Hall Trophy Room. This was to be the location of the performance shots in the video. The RK guys loaded their stuff in and we started to set up before a lot of people showed up, but the band wasn't too hot on this location. Things seemed like they were really stalling. I had been keyed up from the moment I got there, but once we got there it was another level of chaos and fulster.

While we were waiting for the classroom location in Ray Hall to be unlocked, we shot some of the narrative parts of the video, starring Jason G. (I'm not going to attempt to spell his last name). Background on the narrative. The song is about being uncool in school. The character is as uncool as they come. He's got big glasses, dorky clothes, a belt buckle, is wearing bowling alley rental shoes, and carrying a lunch packed by mom. After mom drops him off, a bully knocks his books out of his hands and steals his lunch. When he walks into school, every stops and stares and him with disgusted looks. He gets picked on be everyone. A girl pushes him down a staircase (this was painful even for me to shoot), and other bullies take off his glasses and crush them.

The band set up in the classroom, and everyone moved over there. By everyone I mean the 15-20 extras that showed up. It was a good turnout, just enough for what we needed to do. In a frenzy, we rearranged all the desk, set up the band, got everyone in place and figured out how we were going to do this now that our primary location had been scratched. We came up with different setups for each part of the song. The boombox wasn't very loud and it was tough for the band to follow along. They forgot their PA system, so the vocals couldn't be amped up. Everyone played with their amps off, except the drums of course, which were very loud. This turned out to be a strange and annoying way to tape the performance shots. Just ringing drums the whole time. However, I have the vision of the final product, and I'm sure it'll be great. We ran through the songs a bunch of times on each setup, getting wide shots and close-ups of each band member in turn.

The whole thing was very exhausting, the extras were burned out, and we still hadn't finished all of the narrative shots. We had the band play a few songs, but the lack of PA for the vocals was a problem. We promised everyone pizza if they stuck around to finish the last shots, and even sent everyone but the two band members that needed to shoot in the third location on to the restaurant to order. We got those shots and headed over... to the wrong pizza place. Back across town, we finally got a chance to chill out. I don't think I'm fully chill yet, however. Making music videos can seriously suck, for the crew and for the extras. In the end, it'll be worth it, though.

My crew, Angie, Micah, and JAG, were just amazing. They dealt with my ordered chaos, and basically did grunt work for five hours, cleaning this, setting this up, loading and unloading. They went above and beyond, and left every location spotless and the same as it was when we arrived, which is a miracle for the crowd we had and the rearranging we did. I got the album masters from Ben and Gabe. I'll have a few weeks while those are mastered to edit the video, before we send off this Enhanced CD to manufacturing.

Back at BMH, we watched Notting Hill, and I translated into Chinese for the duration of the movie. Translation is a pain, because the dictionary only helps you without words, not grammer and syntax. I'm sure our film within a film will be quite amusing to Chinese-speaking people.

As you might have noticed, script writing was the only progress made today on the Chinese Movie, which leaves only tomorrow to get everything else we need. We have Carl coming early to practice, leaving for practice with his other band, and coming back very late tomorrow night to shoot the final scenes, in the laudromat. It's do or die time.

Which brings me to my final thought. I'm going to shoot Jeremy's side of the casting call scene, and Carl's reading, but I'm going to leave it open on the other end to give an opportunity to get Brock and Gabe (and Alex, if he's game) in the film as would-be Chinese film stars, if they are willing. Guys, help me out!