There are some new songs mixed in there. Enjoy!
To prepare myself for the next phase I needed to pick up a laptop for relief work and my own business. Decisions, decisions, decided: MacBook Pro 15.4". I can't truly recommend this yet because it hasn't arrived. I wanted to post this anyway, though, because Amazon.com has it for 5% off and a $150 rebate. Free shipping with Super Saver. All things considered it comes out to a 12.5% discount, the best price I've seen (and I've been watching these for quite some time).
- They've upgraded the processor to the Intel Santa Rosa platform (Intel Core Duo running at 2.2 GHz)
- 2GB RAM
- LED backlit screen
- Backlit keyboard
- 120GB hard drive. A little small in this day and age, but I'd rather spend cheap money on an external and use it with Time Machine then pay the exhorbitant price they want for a few measly GBs.
- You know I'll be Boot Camping to XP. That's what you get when you're do .NET development. Developers, developers, developers.
Kate Beckinsale is fantastic. You can't argue that fact. John Cusack is fantastic. He's been rolling in high comedy since the old days. He anchors this picture nicely. Jeremy Piven does his Jeremy Piven thing, but before he entered the "all I do is the Jeremy Piven thing" stage of his career, so it's OK. Eugene Levy is present and perfect in a small role (the search for the name by Cusack, Piven, and Levy is a great bit). Molly Shannon restrains her Molly Shannon self for about 75 minutes before cracking her single SNL line (who would have thought there'd be two Molly Shannon references on Try Avoidance in one week). Tom Brady's baby-momma even shows up. What more could you ask for?
Let's go down the list:
- It's always nice when a romantic comedy is actually a comedy. Check.
- The music actually adds value. I hadn't noticed this until this past viewing. Great tunes for the settings, I'd love to get the soundtrack. Check.
- I cried when I first watched it and continue to get misty-eyed every viewing since. Watch the scene where Beckinsale goes to the Waldorf near the end and try not to cry. If you succeed your heart is made of stone surrounded by three inches of ice. Check.
This is what a romantic comedy should be.
I discovered the band Beirut recently while listening to WERS (88.9 here in Boston; also streaming online for those who'd like to check it out).
Listen to Postcards from Italy (this is a live version via Songza).
Of course the instant comparison is Neutral Milk Hotel. But this guy is doing something different. The rest of the his first album, Gulag Orkestar, isn't as close a match. And that's probably a good thing. Everyone needs to forge their own sound. Beirut has acheived that. The album is solid from front to back. I can't wait to check out their follow-up The Flying Club Cup.
It's been awhile since I've had an album sneak up on me like this. One of those albums that takes 6 listens before you really appreciate it. Like the way Good Morning Spider did so many years ago.
So, follow these instructions:
- Buy Gulag Orkestar by Beirut
- Listen 6 times
We went and saw Dan in Real Life on Wednesday night. Fantastic time at the movies! This one is definitely worth checking out. Steve Carell plays a widower with three daughters caught up in a love triangle during a family weekend in Rhode Island.
The movie is filled with good-natured laughs and nice moments. It's by no means a "great" film but it's far superior to most stuff out there and I think you'll enjoy it. From time to time you'd swear that Carell is still playing Michael Scott from The Office. However, this is more due to the awkwardness of the situations than the heart of the character. It has awkwardness galore; and that's why I love it.
Have you seen it? What'd you think?
I'm also using this post as a way to mention Amazon.com's MP3 download service. I've enjoyed it so far. All the songs are DRM-free MP3s, so they'll play anywhere. They also come in cheaper than iTunes. How can you beat that? Enjoy!
So it was that we rode this raging tide of failure into last weekend's A3F All-Star 72-hour challene. Quite an honor to be hand-selected as a Top 10 team among the 120 or so teams that have participated in A3F events over the past three years. No entry fees, more time than previous challenges, big prizes at stake.
For me, anyway, the first 24 hours of the challenge were perhaps the least stressful of all challenges thusfar. Brock and Gabe took up the story/writing reigns this time, so as the challenge started I found myself at home, relaxing, and going to bed early for a nice night's sleep. The screenplay arrived the next morning. The story of an embittered married couple facing off in a bar over sports memorabilia didn't catch me at first, but all made good sense by the end of the first read. "This could be really funny," I thought. In fact, it's funniness, I reasoned, would be limited only by the actor's desire to take the material squarely into over-the-top absuridty. I was excited, and my focus would be purely to get some nice pictures to edit.
Sadly, when the high point of the weekend has come and gone before you arrive at the location, you know you're not in for anything good. When we did arrive, we discovered that there was a poker tournament schedule at the bar late in the afternoon, giving us scant hours to shoot the entire six-or-seven page screenplay. We dug in, and a few shortcuts and compromises later, we believed we had the film in the can, just in the nick of time.
It was only as we sat to feast on Fish 'n' Chips that our peril began to set in. As we mused about each of the hilarious moments that would make it into the final film, we came to a grim realization, moment by moment. The lines were indeed funny, and rather would have been, had we actually shot them. "Did we even shoot that scene?" No, no we had not. In our rush, pages of the script, perhaps as much as 50% of it, had been neglected. How could we have made such an oversight? What did we have in the can? What would we do?
The initial viewing at home confirmed it. There was only drama where our comedy was supposed to be. Well acted, well shot, well directed drama, yes. Even at that, it made no sense without the missing scenes.
Then came out-and-out creative block on everyone's part. We sat around Saturday night, then regrouped at sat around some more Sunday morning and early afternoon. We parted ways to get ready for the meeting without much ado and so much as a gameplan to take this film (or any film) forward. I finally broke through with some new ideas Sunday night, but, hey, it was Sunday night already.
What we did agree to do was tie the existing segments of film together with some quickly assembled shots of us sitting around the living room, watching this nonsensical film for the first time, with Brock conducting this fictional MOC pow-wow as resident neurotic director. We shot these scenes, then scenes of us each parting ways, dealing with the abject failure in our own melodramatic ways. Filming this type of conclusion to a failed film was in and of itself quite theraputic.
I would have felt much better, except I had to immediately hunker down and edit, not one, but essentially two interwoven films, to the level of precision and quality generally expected of our productions. Therefore, I didn't get to feel better until late the next evening, when once again, we pressed against the deadline to complete and deliver the film. Proving once again that it doesn't matter how much time you give us, we'll probably not finish until the last possible moment.
The finished film is something to behold. In form, it's quite accidentaly the most bizarre and challenging film we've made. It looks and sounds nice, and the acting is solid throughout, including the improved reactions. If any of this had been intentional, we could be lauded as mavericks, geniuses. They probably won't have a chance, however, since we can't seem to stop talking about screwed up we have been lately, and relating the depths of our great disasters, as I am now.
The whole affair was a lot more fun a couple years ago when we did not know so much or have as high expectations as we do today. Ignorance was bliss. There was no pressure. Back then, it seemed that we got all the breaks. Nowadays, everything seems broken. It'll be nice to leave calendar year 2007 behind us. 2008 may well bring with it a slew of Widlifeless film festival acceptance letters, prizes, and acclaim. 2007 brought only misery.
A year from now, we could well be watching this film nostalgically, a comical record of one of our grandest failures.
My final step in editing was to add a title. I didn't have the pride to put our name or logo up front, as has been the custom. Rather, it was the last thing I added. A simple ALL CAPS Arial Black string respresenting ourselves. It immediately follows another title: GOODBYE, CRUEL WORLD.
The things the world is ill equipped to know...
JohnAnthony gives blogging a shot. He had some original stuff out there. He was known for his either excessively long or excessively short blog posts. It was a good run while it lasted (there were only five months that contained entries). The final stand was on Friday, July 22, 2005. Apparently, Johnny became too busy writing his short story to write any more blog posts. Shame.
For the Goodness of Sakes!
Auntie Lori's blog. This blog was a trip. Some of these posts were really out there (pay special attention to the comments this solicited). You can definitely say that it got you inside the mind of this interesting woman. Auntie Lori's tenure was even shorter than JohnnyA's. Her entire blogging life is contained on the home page. She never even made it to page 2. Sad.
The Doctor Is IN
A fascinating look inside the mind of a child who lists their interests as "Running Talking Crying Whining Opining Sleeping." Seeing things from his perspective was quite enlightening (or is it endarkening?). I can't even begin to describe how excited I was to hit this site this morning and see that there was a new post (if February, eight months ago, counts as new). Good effort. My only issue here was that I always assumed that Lori was perhaps a little too hands-on with The Doctor Is IN. That last post, in the third person, just confirmed it for me. Disappointing.
This is a blog that lived up to its name. The author, dubbed TK, took us on a wild ride of abstraction and poetry, with a short detour to try to convince us to buy tamales. I quickly made this blog my marketing showcase. I would litter the comments (really a must read) of each and every post with relevant lyrics from obscure The Moon Is No More songs. Evidently an acorns fall caused TK to fall off the map, never to be heard from again. So the question remains unanswered, "did the acorn fall before or after you got married?" Farewell.
Perhaps my favorite of them all. I would link to a specific post ... but there’s simply no destination ... but ... Dallas.
Have I mentioned how much I love Opera? Hands down, Opera is the best Web browser out there. Here are the highlights for me:
- The Speed Dial rocks.
- I can't get enough of gestures. It doesn't seem like much until you end up in IE and can't use them.
- Search in the address bar: just type "g" for Google, and then the term you want to search for
- Rendering speed - this thing is just plain fast.
PlotBot is a new, free online screenwriting site that allows you to collaborate with others on a screenplay. There's a great demo of how the software works right on the front page so it's at least worth a look. While writing you can quickly toggle between dialogue, sluglines, and action. Collaborate with others, track changes, comment on any piece of the script, star your favorite bits (or perhaps bits that need reworking). Enjoy!
What a tournament! There were thrilling finishes, crushing defeats, major upsets, a new finalist, and the same old champion in the 4th Annual Gastaldo Bocce Championship. Here's how it went down:
Game 1 - Big Momma insisted all weekend that she would not forfeit this year. Guess what? Two days later and we had a forfeit. Jeremy advances.
Game 2 - Caleb beat Matthew
Game 3 - John showed no mercy on his own daughter. He methodically took Sophia apart, 11-0.
Game 4 - I was really hoping Molly would break her losing streak against Mary Beth but it wasn't to be this year. 11-7, Mary Beth advances.
Game 5 - Again, no mercy. Carl takes out Gloria 11-0.
Game 6 - This was one of the better games. Newcomer Brooke taking on Gregg. It was a back and forth match and ultimately Ola's comeback fell short as he lost 11-10.
Game 7 - Here was one of the biggest turns of this tournament, and a game that had a huge impact. Dominic's friend Izak was visiting this weekend so we added him in to replace Cindy. Sure enough, Izak takes Dom out in the first round. Dominic's bocce rating suffered greatly because of this.
Game 8 - Vincenzo beat Olivia in the first round for the second straight year.
Game 9 – Jeremy defeats Caleb. Later, Caleb reveals that his father promised to double his allowance if he beat me in the tournament. Terrible.
Game 10 – Huge, huge upset! I can’t say this enough. This was probably the tournament highlight. Mary Beth takes out John in the second round, usurping him as bocce champion of Oliver St. It was a good game, too. John controlled the game for the most part, but Mary Beth just kept sticking with him. John takes a 9-7 lead and he’s poised to advance. Mary Beth quickly rattles off 4 straight and takes the win in dramatic fashion.
Game 11 – Brooke gave Carl a run for his money but couldn’t complete the deal. To her credit, she’s never played bocce before and at least she made it to the second round and made a good push.
Game 12 – Izak’s cinderella story ends here. Vincenzo takes him out in an easy 11-7 game.
Game 13 – Maybe Mary Beth was due for disappoint after the emotional high of defeating her husband. It just seemed like it was no contest against Jeremy. 15-5. Moving on.
Game 14 – Probably my second favorite game of the weekend. Carl seemed ready to take out both of his grandparents and advance to his third straight Finals appearance. Vincenzo had other ideas. Gus got off to a quick 4-0 lead and never really looked back, winning 15-8. It was no discredit to Carl because he didn’t play poorly. You had to see it to believe it, but Gramps was on fire throughout the whole tournament. He was like a man possessed. It was like he was making up for all that lost time, after disappointing the first three years of the tournament. It was a nice human interest story and it was good to have a new Finals participant.
Gastaldo Bocce Classic Championship Game
Game 15 – It started out back and forth. Vincenzo took a quick 3-0 lead. Jeremy got 9 straight to make it 9-3. Vincenzo started working his way back to 10-6. Jeremy took off again and pushed it to 17-11, but then seemed to stall out. He seemed to reach the classic JPP choke point. That’s when Gus really started breathing down his neck and brought it all the way back to within one point, 18-17. Jeremy counters with a score, 19-17. Jeremy tosses the pallino about medium distance close to the right side board and makes a decent first shot, but it goes around the pallino and ends up too far away to be a serious contender. Vincenzo counters with a decent shot but ends up too short, leaving an opening. Jeremy makes a great shot, fronting the pallino and protecting against fastballs. Vincenzo does his best to mix things up, but both of his next three shots end up just a bit short and without enough power to knock anything loose. So Jeremy is sitting on a win of one point, still one shy of taking the tournament. Does he go conservative or does he go big and take a risk? He goes big, with a wild spin shot that hits in the middle of the court and spins right, somehow filling in the tiny gap between Jeremy’s point ball and Vincenzo’s next closest ball. Jeremy tastes tournament victory yet again!
Thanks to everybody for playing. We’ll see you again next year.
Take a look at the updated Bocce Ratings. Take note of new ratings compared to last year and you’ll see the tournament’s biggest winners (Vincenzo, Marty Beth) and losers (Dominic).
Wow! I didn't realize how rare some of these 7" records were. It's very bittersweet to part with some of these rare Pedro the Lion/David Bazan singles. The one pictured above, and featured in this listing, is hand-numbered 207 out of a limited presssing of 500. How cool is that? But I've never even played the vast majority of these things.
With the move coming up soon we can use all the money we can get to help ease the transition. We had a yard sale last weekend and I'll be having an eBay style yard sale over the next few weeks. Happy bidding!
My Blueberry Nights: Nicely Told
The similarities to Chungking Express are amazing. Notice that he's using a pop star making her film debut (a la Faye Wong). A key left with a diner owner. Romance. A desire to travel. I'm sure there's more, that's just from reading the review.
Today's subject was Gabe, who did great. Next weekend, Brock. Later, Angie and I, and as many of our friends and enemies as we can round up. We'll hit the streets at some point to revisit the locations of a number of our films, and dig up all of our raw footage to show some of the behinds-the-scenes antics and movie magic.
The Peoples' Champion has been officially selected by the TucsonFilm.com ShortFest for their 2007 festival. The film will screen Saturday, April 14, 7pm, at the University of Arizona's Gallagher Theater. Festival tickets are $10.
- John Philip Sousa Gets a Haircut - Got the project files from Bruce, did color correction, and output a nice digital master and MPEG's for DVD. It's looking very slick. Hopefully the new version will air this Wednesday on Screen Wars (if the film makes it through). If not, the final version will screen at the Phoenix Film Festival. Also got permission to include it on future MOC DVD's.
- Flim Flam - The film has largely been done for many months, but had some audio problems and the audio never got a polished mixdown. I used some new techniques (from the DV Rebel's Guide) to reprocess the color correction for better quality, fixed the audio issues, and did the final mixdown. The finished product turned out really great. As with all of our films, you never know until everything is nice and polished if you have a good film or not. It's very good, some of Brock's classic cynical comedy moments.
- The Peoples' Champion - After having a month to distance, did a few tweaks here and there and cut the digital master.
- Wildilfeless - The score is a "lamb's hair" from completion, so I've brought up the footage again and am reprocessing the color correction for better quality (the Rebel's Guide again), awaiting the audio files. All we'll need when it comes back is to record and mix in a few grunts and groans, and this film is done. It was January 2005 when Brock originally posted the screenplay on Leonard Hughes. We'll all need to celebrate this one.
- Days of Being Wrinkle Free - Reprocessing the footage, will have a final cut by the end of the week. I made the decision to find a native Chinese speaker to do the voiceover. Any suggestions on where I might find someone?
- Tim Nm, CPA - I'll get the footage reprocessing once DoBWF finishes up. I'm going to take a whole new approach to this one. I'm going to get some outside opinions on what is and is not working with this film. It needs to be drastically cut down. Particularly, the opening scene is weak, and it gets better from there, but perhaps too late to keep peoples attention, so I have to keep it snappy. So, sadly not a feature after all, but it'll be much better off for it.
- MOC DVD - We've got a nice featurette in the works for our first official DVD release. We'll go through the behinds-the-scenes action of our first seventeen films, bringing in all the outtakes, production stills, and artifacts we can dig up. Will feature new interviews with the whole crew, and we'll return to the scene of the crimes for some new on-location footage. Should be a lot of fun over the next couple months pulling it all together.
From August through February, Jeremy counted down his ranking and comments on the "The 53 Moon Is No More Songs." Here is a convenient set of links to those posts:
- It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part II - 1
- $545.78 - 2
- Inheritance - 3
- Business - 4
- Popularity - 5
- Come and Gone - 6
- Implode - 7
- Balance - 8
- Such Things To Such People - 9
- The Substance Of Nothing - 10
- The "Fuzzy Edge" Songs - 15-11
- The "Dangling Off The Ledge" Songs - 20-16
- The "Sitting On The Fence" Songs - 30-21
- The "Living On A Prayer" Songs - 40-31
- The "No Chance" Songs - 53-41
Now it's my turn, and I'm going to get it done in one shot. This is my Rope.
Let's start with some definition. What is a Moon Is No More song? Really, anything that involved Jeremy and I collaborating musically could be called a Moon Is No More song. Yet, bear in mind that TMINM has always been a literarily-leaning project. It's all based on narratives, and it is in the narratives that we can really start to classify the TMINM catalog. It breaks down this way:
- This Is Normal - 39 songs based on Sans Hands that Jeremy wrote in mid-2001
- Schoolyard - 9-song EP Jeremy wrote in 2002
- Twelve Brothers - 5-song EP Jeremy wrote in 2003
- Yanco, William, Officer - Unfinished concept from 2004
- Bad Larry - 3 jams beyond the scope of This Is Normal
It has become obvious that the This Is Normal 39-song 3-album concept will never come to fruition, nor should it. Successful bands tend to write at least this many songs just to produce one album. You write many, play around with them, select the best, and move forward. In retrospect it was almost TMINM's fatal flaw to get stuck on forcing the original 39, regardless of quality.
However, after This Is Normal, the situation gets significantly better and more managable. Since the narratives got shorter (and the participants more experienced), the songs were more precisely crafterd. The Schoolyard songs are generally very solid lyrically and musically (so far). Twelve Brothers is all around rather good. All of the completed songs involved from those narratives ranked very high in Jeremy's ranking, proving that those deserve to stand on their own.
The Bad Larry jams ended up cross-polinating (Anti-Global Rotation became 12 Brothers' Sunsets and Half a Loaf of Baldwin became TMINM's Pitying Bowls of Saucy Lovelessness), and Y,W,O never really got off the ground. So, that leaves us with a very specific problem to solve: the original 39 represent probably one good album, but which songs will we include? Let's take a look at Jeremy and my rankings of the original 39 only, and a combined average ranking.
This Is Normal Ranking (Jeremy)
- 1. It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part II
- 2. 545.78
- 3. Come And Gone
- 4. Implode
- 5. Such Things to Such People
- 6. The Substance of Nothing
- 7. Last Resort, Part I
- 8. An Ambitious Attempt At Failure Before One's Birth
- 9. Pity Versus Sympathy
- 10. A Homo Sapien's Mass Of Flesh, Bone, & Muscle
- 11. An Automobile's Mass Of Steel, Plastic, & Rubber
- 12. Room 203, Part I
- 13. A Good Conscience Is One You Have Yet To Find
- 14. Pitying Bowls Of Saucy Lovelessness
- 15. Three Fingers
- 16. Standard Issue
- 17. Quality Over Quantity
- 18. La Fin, Part II
- 19. It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part I
- 20. Allowing Oneself To Neglect Responsibility
- 21. G.O.D.
- 22. Last Resort, Part II
- 23. Ghetto Gap Gay Guy
- 24. On Account Of The Abuse
- 25. The Gradual Progression of Loss, Part I
- 26. A Telephone Conversation On A Cold September Morning
- 27. A Common Path To A Common Problem
- 28. The Root Of All Sorts Of Injurious Things
- 29. Last Resort, Part IV
- 30. A Thick, Wet Snow On A Cold January Morning
- 31. A Study Of Human Possibilities Through Household Decoration
- 32. Allowing Oneself Time For Reversible Reflection
- 33. Driving Faster Than One Should On A Wet Road In A Thick Midnight Fog
- 34. Moment And Moment II
- 35. Morality
- 36. The End, Part I
- 37. The Gradual Progression of Loss, Part II
- 38. Last Resort, Part III
- 39. Room 203, Part II
This Is Normal Ranking (Josh)
- 1. An Ambitious Attempt At Failure Before One's Birth
- 2. An Automobile's Mass Of Steel, Plastic, & Rubber
- 3. Pitying Bowls Of Saucy Lovelessness
- 4. Standard Issue
- 5. Implode
- 6. The Substance of Nothing
- 7. It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part II
- 8. Such Things to Such People
- 9. 545.78
- 10. A Good Conscience Is One You Have Yet To Find
- 11. Room 203, Part I
- 12. Quality Over Quantity
- 13. Pity Versus Sympathy
- 14. A Homo Sapien's Mass Of Flesh, Bone, & Muscle
- 15. A Common Path To A Common Problem
- 16. On Account Of The Abuse
- 17. The Gradual Progression of Loss, Part I
- 18. Allowing Oneself To Neglect Responsibility
- 19. Ghetto Gap Gay Guy
- 20. Three Fingers
- 21. The Root Of All Sorts Of Injurious Things
- 22. Come And Gone
- 23. Last Resort, Part I
- 24. La Fin, Part II
- 25. It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part I
- 26. Last Resort, Part II
- 27. A Telephone Conversation On A Cold September Morning
- 28. G.O.D.
- 29. The Gradual Progression of Loss, Part II
- 30. Room 203, Part II
- 31. Moment And Moment II
- 32. Last Resort, Part IV
- 33. A Thick, Wet Snow On A Cold January Morning
- 34. A Study Of Human Possibilities Through Household Decoration
- 35. Allowing Oneself Time For Reversible Reflection
- 36. Driving Faster Than One Should On A Wet Road In A Thick Midnight Fog
- 37. Morality
- 38. The End, Part I
- 39. Last Resort, Part III
This Is Normal Ranking (Average)
- 1. - 4.0 - It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part II
- 2. - 4.5 - An Ambitious Attempt At Failure Before One's Birth
- 3. - 4.5 - Implode
- 4. - 5.5 - 545.78
- 5. - 6.0 - The Substance of Nothing
- 6. - 6.5 - An Automobile's Mass Of Steel, Plastic, & Rubber
- 7. - 6.5 - Such Things to Such People
- 8. - 8.5 - Pitying Bowls Of Saucy Lovelessness
- 9. - 10.0 - Standard Issue
- 10. - 11.0 - Pity Versus Sympathy
- 11. - 11.5 - A Good Conscience Is One You Have Yet To Find
- 12. - 11.5 - Room 203, Part I
- 13. - 12.0 - A Homo Sapien's Mass Of Flesh, Bone, & Muscle
- 14. - 12.5 - Come And Gone
- 15. - 14.5 - Quality Over Quantity
- 16. - 15.0 - Last Resort, Part I
- 17. - 17.5 - Three Fingers
- 18. - 19.0 - Allowing Oneself To Neglect Responsibility
- 19. - 20.0 - On Account Of The Abuse
- 20. - 21.0 - A Common Path To A Common Problem
- 21. - 21.0 - The Gradual Progression of Loss, Part I
- 22. - 21.0 - Ghetto Gap Gay Guy
- 23. - 21.0 - La Fin, Part II
- 24. - 22.0 - It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part I
- 25. - 24.0 - Last Resort, Part II
- 26. - 24.5 - The Root Of All Sorts Of Injurious Things
- 27. - 24.5 - G.O.D.
- 28. - 26.5 - A Telephone Conversation On A Cold September Morning
- 29. - 30.5 - Last Resort, Part IV
- 30. A Thick, Wet Snow On A Cold January Morning
- 31. Moment And Moment II
- 32. A Study Of Human Possibilities Through Household Decoration
- 33. The Gradual Progression of Loss, Part II
- 34. Allowing Oneself Time For Reversible Reflection
- 35. Room 203, Part II
- 36. Driving Faster Than One Should On A Wet Road In A Thick Midnight Fog
- 37. Morality
- 38. The End, Part I
- 39. Last Resort, Part III
A couple things jump out at me. There are six songs that are consensus Top 10's. Those songs are obviously in. Then, there are the songs that show our individual taste. Jeremy seems to like JLA songs much moreso than I do (Pity Versus Sympathy, Homo Sapien, Come and Gone, Last Resort 1), while I favor our odder, later work (Automobile's Mass, Saucy Lovelessness, Standard Issue). Based on the average ratings, some of each make the Top 10.
Where do we draw the line? 10 songs seems a little short. 15 seems a bit long. 12 songs is probably just right. Do we just take the Top 12 as listed? Or do we take the Top 10 and grant each person one exemption to include any song of their choice, perhaps a sentimental favorite?
Let's see what everyone thinks about the rankings and select our songs. I'll take care of putting together some monster posts on each song, with scans of the original lyric sheets, lyric changes oevr time, and full recording history. We can open it up to some constructive criticism from Brock and Gabe, tear the songs apart and put them back together again.
38. The End, Part I
36. Driving Faster Than One Should On A Wet Road In A Thick Midnight Fog
35. Allowing Oneself Time For Reversible Reflection
34. A Study Of Human Possibilities Through Household Decoration
33. A Thick, Wet Snow On A Cold January Morning
32. Last Resort, Part IV
Music was never written for this group of songs. These were the last songs on Leonard Gardner, and the band was basically drifting at the point we got to these songs (I was unemployed, Jeremy was dating, Carl was kicked out, Vin was on the prowl, and eventually I moved back to Arizona). So, we never got a fair shot at completing these songs. Nevertheless, they would have been challenging songs because they were incredibly wordy and in a free verse style. I think we originaly envisioned that musically we would probably be in a different place by the time we got to these songs, and they would fit better with a more adventurous electronic and ambient style such as Radiohead's Kid A. We just never got that far.
31. Moment And Moment II
There is a single recording of an abstract guitar riff Jeremy played that supposedly goes with this song. It was a rare occurance for Jeremy to pick up the guitar. Usually, he'd come back to this same riff, which is actually tabbed out on the back of the lyric sheet, I believe. It's not great by any means. It's only advantage over the previous songs is the fact that it has any music associated with it.
30. Room 203, Part II
This is an LG song that we actually spent some time on. It had a sort of Pablo Honey-era Radiohead type of riff going on. Unfortuately, although we were at the computer desk as we always were, this one was not recorded, though the lyric changes were written down.
29. The Gradual Progression of Loss, Part II
The lyrics to this song are identical to the lyrics to Part I. Only the music was intended to change. I wrote and personally recorded the alternate music performance for this song, but that was as far as it got. I'm not sure Jeremy ever heard me play this version in the flesh.
This song is really at the genesis of TMINM, and actually ties together an even earlier era of recording history. This song was created based on samples recorded in the living room of my first Arizona house, in late 1999. Mike Palermo came over with a vision of a song in his head. He rotated between the drums and organ, and in a way directed my creation of a biting guitar. It was only after TMINM was founded that these recordings were dug up, assembled, and a small vocal sample from Jeremy was recorded. The resulting 45 seconds of noise certainly has sentimental value, but questionable musical value.
27. A Telephone Conversation On A Cold September Morning
This is the lowest ranked actual song from JLA. The song started out as somewhat of a picked/strummed folky song with alternating verses by Jeremy and me and ended up an annoying sequenced keyboard and drums affair that became an instant skip-ahead everytime I listened to our JLA demos. It simply illustrates that the song never really had any direction, and doesn't have a ton of potential. The lyrics don't very impactfully get across the failing relationship, but do capture the malaise involved. Malaise isn't a great thing.
26. Last Resort, Part II
This is a simple riff-based song that never had a very strong riff. The riff just sort of goes back and forth in a narrow range, and has grated on me over time. In terms of bombastic riff-based songs, this is the worst out of a numebr that we wrote. The final recorded version did have some interesting aspects to it, but in the end it leaves me cold.
25. It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part I
This is one song where the first take may very well be the finest. Regardless of which version we're talking about, this songs weakness is the fact that the only riff in the song is basically four variations on E chord. Many of our songs lack for variety, but having one riff based on one chord really takes the cake. The final recorded version added some crazy drums, multi-tracked vocals, and even a solo, but it can't compensate for a weak structure and musical grounding, along with run-on lyrics without a real signature phrase. The original version shines above all for its spontenaity.
24. La Fin, Part II
This song has a simple but catchy three-chord acoustic guitar riff and is sung in French. In English, the lyrics just wouldnt' stand up, I think. Neither does our French.
23. Last Resort, Part I
Here is another song that has some interesting details, but has gotten very old with time. Jeremy told quite an interesting story about the progression and meaning of the choruses to this song. Great. We "sampled" our young cousins playing and incorporated that into the song. Cool. Beyond that, the song lacks for variety and has little in terms of melody. It rates this high due to the finer points, along with having a more adventurous baseline than some other, but all in all another very old, very annoying song.
22. Come And Gone
This is the song that started it all, and it hasn't changed much since the steamy day in July of 1999 when we wrote it. A nice start, but I've moved on long ago.
21. The Root Of All Sorts Of Injurious Things
Here is another riff-based rock song, this one more along the lines of The Rolling Stones. It rates higher than a Last Resort, Part II, for instance, because it has a more complicated riff, and when played had some interesting aspects to the interplay and coming and going on the bass and drums. The most transendant version of this song was one night with Graham joining in, and a five-man round-about of the "money money" bridge. So, while perhaps never captured in its glory, this song has potential.
20. Three Fingers
This song is most interesting for its Pedro The Lion-esque guitar line that cooncides with the vocal melody. Woah, did I say vocal melody?! Sweet. Beyond that it feels somewhat thrown together due to a poor structure where there are no clear verses and what sound like choruses are sometimes sung over the gutar chorus part, and sometimes during the guitar verse part. It feels askew.
19. Ghetto Gap Gay Guy
This is a fine, somewhat atmospheric guitar song with an interesting bit of guitar and vocal interplay towards the end. The problem is that it takes forever to get there. The verses leading up are long and entirely devoid of variety. It's just the same thing over and over again. It has potential for something interesting combining bass and drums, provided it can be tightened up.
18. Allowing Oneself To Neglect Responsibility
Also known as Heaven Express, this song is single plucked guitar sequence with a back and forth vocal between Jeremy and I. It's very interesting, but unfinished. It needs to go somewhere to close out the song, but we never figured out where. I envisioned a booming Hum-like space-rock explosion at the end, but never worked it out.
17. The Gradual Progression of Loss, Part I
Here's the original GPOL. It has a Cat Power-style guitar part, but suffers from line lengths that varies wildly. Somehow we pulled it together nicely when we played it as a band, and the song that started out with bongos and plucking transformed into a jazzy jam. Very nice.
16. On Account Of The Abuse
This song is also known the "I am ill" song. Here is a song that was really only played once, as a jam with Carl and Vin present. It has an interesting meandering guitar riff with a number of modifications throughout the song. Carl experiments on bass throughout, Vin gets random with the drums and other percussion. Jeremy does some stellar spoken word, and eventually everyone is cuing off Jeremy's words and jumping in with harmonies and chants. It was a lot of fun and provides a lot of options for what the song might become if given some time. This song is representative of the style of music that pleased me the most. There are others in this vein that are more polished and thus rank higher, but this is maximum potential to me.
15. A Common Path To A Common Problem
This is a later era song that nearly fell into the realm of our earlier songs in general style. Yet, there is something about the lyrics and melody that is so captivating to me. While I thought I had given up on this one long ago, I realized while assembling this ranking that it continued to creep up. It was stuck in my head and compared to the songs that have come thus far, I simply wanted to hear it more than any of the others.
14. A Homo Sapien's Mass Of Flesh, Bone, & Muscle
This is our original riff-rocking song. It actually has a number of parts, including the much-loved "ska" part. What it doesn't have is any verses, or a whole lot to say. It's just chorus after chorus, if you think about it.
13. Pity Versus Sympathy
This is one song that began and ended up very differently, yet both version are loved. The original had a lot of heart, the final version ended up pretty solid (and recently appeared as the cornerstone of The Peoples' Champion soundtrack). Yet, there is something mechanical and overly long about the final version. I'd like to find a middle ground where keep the heart and the listener's interest.
12. Quality Over Quantity
Come and Gone aside, this is the original TMINM song. It essentially forged our style of picked verses and strummed choruses. It lacks melody, and it ranks as high as it does because it has some very interesting and varied guitar parts, lots of potential to take the spoken word parts and melodicize them, and in a way is a song more akin to those later more adventurous songs. It's strange that in a way we ended up where we started.
11. Room 203, Part I
This is an interesting case of the variety in some of our early songs. It has sort of a jazzy feel to it. It has a simple but solid guitar part that varies at key points. It had a standout among Carl's early bass progressions as well, sort of a circular pattern that diverted from the guitar for a time only to return at a later point. Finally, when played live, it ended strong and built up in a little jazz jam. Lots of fun to play, and I haven't even mentioned all of the great lyrical points in this song.
10. A Good Conscience Is One You Have Yet To Find
It has been mentioned before that this is one of those songs that was sort of perfect from the moment we wrote it. It has a good intro and outro style, with a riff that includes some bends and a break that includes some slides. It has gourds, it has attitude, and what became a signature of our dual acoustic/electric attack. What's not to like?
Musically, this is an incredibly simple song. It is just two chord in progression over and over again, with some accents during the choruses. In a comment on Jeremy's thoughts on this song, I called it the best acting that TMINM ever did. The emotion of this song was perfectly conveyed through the style, rythym, and intonation of guitar and the feeling that Jeremy put into the vocals. If there is one song that makes the TMINM album in its original incarnation, this is it.
8. Such Things to Such People
Here is another rather simple song that gets big points for emotion. It is two slightly augmented chords for the verses, and two other chords for the choruses. What makes it unique is that instead of being quiet/loud, it's subdued/intense, if that makes any sense. There is more of an urgency to the playing than a simple change in volume. It builds, and at the end of the chorus releases nicely.
7. It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part II
In an attempt to improve the Part I version of this song, I came up with the riff that we used in Part II. It's always been a favorite, and, being that it lays it all on the line with regard to divorce, is something torn from the heart. It has an urgency, intensity, and realism that lacks in some other songs.
6. The Substance of Nothing
This may well be our most popular and requested song. If a hypothetical TMINM fan were to be singing a line from one of our songs, it would mostly likely be "we could make/we could make ammends/we could be/the best of false friends/the best of false friends" or a creative variant thereof. This song has a lot of parts to it. After first rearranging the song into convenient verses and choruses, tossing out much of the lyrics, we added the other lyrics back in at the back half of the song. After coming up with an original version, than a new version, we added the original as a bridge of sorts to the final song. Basically, we took every idea and put it together. This is good in a way, but the song is overly long, and not even that much to play in parts. The main riff itself is a fairly conventional progression that has been used in tons of rock songs, such as All Along The Watchtower. My thought here is to keep that feel and sound together in the bassline, but vary the guitar part a great deal in this song. Particularly of need are some tearing guitar variations during the back half of the song, to underscore the intensity of all and maintain interest so deep into the song.
The word urgency comes up again here. This is a very explosive and urgent song. There is a certain throbbing and writhing quality to it. The bassline is intentionally a step down from the guitar riff, which creates an interesting sound that is just off-kilter enough to disarm the listener. This song is an absolute blast to play and perform. We never quite recorded in up to its full potential. Polished up, this could easily be our most memorable and popular song.
4. Standard Issue
This is the part of my ranking that will get extremely controversial where Jeremy is concerned. Where Jeremy favors many of the JLA songs we wrote in the first couple months of our collaboration, what really excites me are the song that developed as a full band after we had more experience. These songs have a strange night music quality to them. Them exude desparation and morbidity, and I love them for it.
Standard Issue specifically, has a snaky off-timed guitar progression, with a number of unique parts. Originally the highlight of this song was Jeremy's freestyle violin solo at the end of the song. Later, Micah added some random drum stylings throughout the song that really captured the essense of the song, and I added an more intense jam at the end of the song. As of yet, the two unique aspects of this song have not yet been combined. When they are, this song will become our dark indie world-beater.
3. Pitying Bowls Of Saucy Lovelessness
This music for this song came out of a Bad Larry jam entitled Half a Loaf of Baldwin (an homage to the jams of Half Visconte also called Baldwins). It is a haunting guitar motif with a loud and messy riff explosion and then back into quiet creepiness. Combine this with an absolutely nonsensical spoken word and screamed verse repeated a number of times at varied paces and you have one of the most unique and memorable of TMINM songs.
2. An Automobile's Mass Of Steel, Plastic, & Rubber
This is a song that ranks so high for me because the music and lyrics just really came together from the first playing. Despite the lyrics being quite a rambling narrative, it somehow meshed perfectly with the guitar progression. At times it has an uplifting quality that is odds with the dark subject matter in a beautiful way. Additionally, the song got better with age as Micah came into the fold and variations of the guitar parts were developed. "Headlights/feel the headlights" is a transcendent moment for me.
1. An Ambitious Attempt At Failure Before One's Birth
This song represents the pinnacle of what it is to be in a band. This was the last song the Josh/Jer/Carl/Vin combination wrote together. After nearly a six months of playing together at least once a week, we arrive at this song. I introduce he riff and structure of the song to the band, and from the first try, Carl and Vin intuitively nail this song in a way I couldn't have imagained. The bassline and drums were a 180 from what I might have come up with on my own, but the resulting song was the best we had ever done. For these reasons, the song best represents the band as a whole at a time when we were at our individual and collective best, equal partners in forging our sound. This song has all four members fairly represented, which can't be said of many our songs.
The lyrics to this song are about suicide. Like most of the This Is Normal songs, they are based on Sans Hands, yet this song can truly be said to be culled from events that were real, current, and personal, at the time they were written and sung. Of all of our ironic song where the music and delivery was happy or excited when talking about failure, dissapointment, and death, this is the one song that really delivers on that contrast in a meaningful, not simply mocking, way.
Despite Angie's moral objections, I have to believe this is the best TMINM song ever.
The Peoples' Champion got some recognition at the A3F Top 20 Screening on March 1. The film placed 5th among dramas and 10th overall (among over 60 competing films). The big award was 2nd place for Acting. Good job by Gabe and Angie, the MOC newcomers Aaron, Jennifer, Matt, and Bob, and all those who composed the Champions Street Team!
The film is currently screening at undergoundfilm.org, and we'll have a neatly polished final version on DVD soon (any fine tuning suggestions, anyone?).
It's about time we rundown our latest 48-hour film, The Peoples' Champion.
This was our third year in the Almost Famous Film Festival challenge. The first year we were surprised to place very high and win a number of awards. Last year, we made a much better film in all regards, but didn't place as well. It's been tough to figure out what the judges are looking for, and the competition has certainly improved as well.
I was really excited coming into the challenge, and I think everyone else was as well. We had more experience this time around, and I've upped the ante in camera and sound equipment. We have a full-time boom operator now. Gabe and Brock seemed to be doing some serious skill sharpening leading up as well. We even set up a bunch of guidelines for things we'd like to accomplish in terms of story structure, dialog, and look of the film.
We also had a couple great locations available, the Stop N' Look and Soul Invictus galleries, on Grand Ave downtown. We scouted these locations on this months' First Friday art walk, and got permission to use both free of charge.
The Stop N' Look is basically just a white art space with a super-long hallway, but it's got a lot more style than that. The art space has a big window facing the road with intricate ironwork covering it. The space is white, but it has some well-worn character to it. The hallways takes a bunch of twists and turns, with little seat groupings along the way. The first stage of the hallway is very colorful, with vertical stripes of alternating colors set off by wood stripping, and the color alternations switch up a couple times along the way. Further back and around a corner there is a long, straight stretch with gray block on one side and corrugated aluminim on the other. Earlier in the night Brock had pretty much described this hallway as his ideal vision of a location, and there it was! Highly unlikely. In the far back, a dark section of hallway with a large sliding steel door leading out to a back patio area. Basically this place was a lot of cool locations in one.
The challenge guidelines were a little late in being posted to the web site, so there was a bit of tension building up and it seemed like we were losing time. Around 7:15 I called up Jae Staats the festival founder and he gave us the rundown:
We really wanted to embrace the theme this time around (in past years it could be said we came up with an idea first and tried to wrap the theme into it later), so Brock began to dig into what it means to be a hero, looking up the definition. We tried to play around with what heroism could be about. It could certainly be about a super-hero, but the more interesting ideas were about people that didn't know they were heros, or people that were looked at as heros but were not. We thought about anti-heros, and people in situations where they could have been heroic, but failed to act, and how that would effect them.
The main two ideas that shook out were about a band about to call it quits that comes to realize that they are in fact heros to other people, and about an American Idol-style competition called American Hero which put hopeful, yet wofullly unprepared, normal people in harms way. The later one would have been a satire on how America sets people up as heros. In the end, the band idea "won out," but that itself is controversial.
I'm getting backlash about my undue influence on this decision. In my defense, this was the story that would fit the location we had, the location that had Brock's ideal hallway in it, and it was an idea that everyone could relate to in our collective interest in music and bands. Everything pointed to this being the film to make. (OK, in fairness everything pointed to us making a film about the game Guitar Hero, but that didn't get off the ground) On the other side, no one really made a case for the American Hero film that made it seem like anything more than an outrageous physical comedy film (Brock later revealed the satire aspect of it).
Truthfully, I would have much preferred to just have Brock and Gabe hole up in a room and emerge four hours later with a screenplay. At least then its in finished form, and there wouldn't have been anything to debate about it. Whatever came out, it would have been great, and we would have found a way to make it. If we do one of these challenges again, that's the way I would like to set it up. That way everyone else gets a few more hours of rest, and everyone just gets to do what they do well.
In any case, the main roles were Gabe as the lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Shane, Angie as bass player Haley, and Aaron Meyer as the drummer Marley. The other roles were Angie's cousing Jenifer as Laney the devoted fan, the very accomplished Bob Dolan as the club manager, and Matt Gieger as sound mixer DJ Don Dynamite. Aaron, Jenifer, Bob, and Matt were all first timers with MOC, and Aaron and Jenifer were true first timers to acting.
So, we got up in the morning and packed up both cars. The Camry got loaded with all the instruments: drums, guitars, amps, cables, mixers, etc. The Corrolla got loaded up with the filmmaking gear. Both cars were packed out. We got to the gallery and got access to the space, and were told to keep a really close eye on our cars and gear, as this wasnt' a good neighborhood. Now, I knew it wasn't a great area, but I didn't now the full extent of it. So, the rest of the day proceeded with a fair bit of paranoia about our stuff and our physical well-being.
Honestly, it didn't take all that long to get into the flow of shooting. We shot a scene with Angie and Matt, then the band and Bob, then Bob and Aaron. Eventually we worked out way to a key scene between Gabe and Jenifer, and this is where the first real tension cropped up. Jenifer had a pretty unweidly little monologue to get through, without a whole lot of preperation and experience. Even when she did get it out, it just didn't ring true, and everyone seemed to pick up on that. So, on the fly we all started pitching suggestions of different ways to convey her meaning, and it quickly devolved into confusion and frustration for everyone. It also seemed like time was slipping away, which it was, so we rushed through.
After that, we got some shots of the band members walking through these long hallways. Then, we setup the main room for the band performance. At this point it really hit us that it was still very bright out (the sun hadn't even begun to set at this point) and that it needed to be dark outside for the band performance. So, there we had rushed through some things, only to realize we had to sit around for a while. To top it off, we didn't have a lot of extras for the crowd at the club. So, we chilled at the Paisley Violin across the street sipping overpriced drinks and called around to get some people downtown. Eventually it got dark, people showed up, and we ran the camera for about five minutes and picked up everything we needed for that scene.
We packed up, cleaned up, and it felt like the night was done, it really needed to be done at that point, but we still had to shoot the opening scene of the film in a hotel room. Gabe went ahead and found the nearest Motel 6 (there were some grungier and perhaps more interesting hotels nearby, but too sketchy for Angie to deal with). We checked in and loaded up and it was like we starting all over again. At this point I know at least I was really just pushing myself physically to get through this. I could barely move, and barely had the will to do it. Really, I think everyone was very worn out at this point, and the scene we shot may play a little flat as a result.
We headed back home and edited until around 4am. We got started again around 9am and the rest of the day was pretty uneventful. We found ways to put it all together. We're pretty much solid these days in terms of production value, lighting, camerawork, sound, etc., so there were no major technical problems to overcome. We grabbed some handy TMINM music and laid that into the mix. We had to hustle on the net to find some musical instrument sound effects, since the instruments were locked up in a car we had no key to at the time, but that was the only real hiccup. We finished it, exported it, and had it on its way with lots of time to spare, which is somewhat of a contrast to previous years.
So, what do we think about the film? To me, it's one of the first films we've made that deals with real people. As I think about it, most everything else we have done has been out there in fantasy-land as far as characters go. A lot of genre expirimentation, but very little in terms of normal human characters. So, this is pretty cool to me. It's subtle. Everything else we set out to do in terms of foreshadowing, setting up and paying off, having a backstory for each character, staying tight and character focused, it's all there. It's pretty short, but effective. I think like most of our films, it's tough to watch for a while as the madness of the production recedes into memory, but it will grow with time. I'm just now really starting to enjoy some of the films we made two years ago, so it's a continuous process.
Will the judges get our style this time around? We'll have to wait and see. Results coming soom.