Tuesday, June 29, 2010

They've Done it Again!

The latest, craziest (?) OK Go single-take music video, "End Love." Once again, I'm linking so as not to compromise the frame size:

End Love!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Series of Verdicts

We Live in Public: This 15-year-spanning documentary chronicles the gripping prophecies of Joe Harris, the "most famous internet mogul you've never heard of." In 1999, on the brink of the new millennium, Joe, in a fit of experimental genius, converted four New York lofts into a bunker of sorts. Participants who volunteered to live in this bunker were rigorously screened - frighteningly so. They weren't allowed to leave. They slept in cubicles, showered in transparent glass domes, ate together, partied together, shot off rifles at the provided shooting range together. Oh, and everything they did was monitored, close range, by cameras that never strayed. In effect, what Joe created was a real-life Facebook, in which one's actions only counted if they were recorded, viewed, and commented on. The effects, as the film shows, were devastating.

And then Joe begins another project, the likes of which actual technology is only just catching up to, so I won't spoil it here. Let's just say that by documentary's end, we as the audience leave Mr. Harris both awed and horrified - and with his own thought process now three steps ahead of mankind's technological evolution, it's kind of a wonder he's okay living with himself. Everyone should view this film; it's provocative in every sense of the term.

I also couldn't help but make comparisons between Joe's real-life happenings and the events of my own "Smith Experience," in which a remarkably similar situation plays out. I'll admit that I'd heard about this film last fall, but I forbid myself from seeing it until my own creative project was completed out of a fear that I'd inadvertently copy his story. Well... good thing I did! The one plot element of this man's real life experiments that I really hadn't counted on for my own characters was the intoxicating sense of daring and freedom that initially follows the realization one's actions are being broadcast to a mass of unidentified viewers. The men and women of his bunker first lived it up before tearing each other apart. Go figure.

Toy Story 3: I mean, obviously it was genius. I'd also like to add that I think "Day & Night" - the short that maintains Pixar tradition by warming up the audience prior to the film proper - is the best of them I've seen. Can't believe I stood in line for the original Toy Story with my family fifteen years ago at the Mountain View Mall.

[French accent]: Ze time, how she flies.

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh: When I finished Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - and not before failing to surpass its first 100 pages on two separate occasions - the experience of profound loss I felt was quickly attributed to it being my first week in New Zealand, and that it was rainy and cold out and I had no friends and was so, so, so far away from a Bend summer. In short, I thought the book was excellent, but that the accompanying emotions were more a product of my own circumstances than of Chabon's writing skills.

Well, this one's done gone and proven me wrong. It's also inspired the shit out of me. Apparently Chabon cranked this thing out between 21 and 24 years of age, submitted it for his MFA, thesis project, and then catapulted the puppy right into a publishing house. I really think it's Chabon's quiet insightfulness and accompanying humor that does it for me. He navigates conversations with the best of them, and I just love how real it all sounds. That's not to say, though, that there aren't a few weak areas - and the fact that I'm now able to legitimately SPOT them has me excited. Still, a highly recommended read.

Also, this one brought about the formulation of a new goal: I will have something substantial written and on its way to a prospective agent by the time I turn 24. Just see if I don't.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Don't They Have Someone For That?

That was also the day Luis, the pool guy – who, I’m sure, had a more descript title, though at the time his title wasn’t any of my concern and is still of no real relevance to this account – found the baby floating, face down, in the pool. It was morning (obviously), the sky only a few shades brighter than the ocean it crowned and under which Luis performed his customary – and, most likely, included-in-the-job-description – rotating of the recliner cushions before even the surliest elderly resorters, hot-dog tans and trashy dime novels in tow, came creeping from their master suites to lay claim, with an unhurried flourishing of mint and forest-green striped pool towels, over the chairs sporting the most shade/least shade/closest proximity to the swim-up bar/washrooms/etc. I know what the sun looked like so early because, although I was not yet awake, my brother was standing in line later that afternoon to exchange US currency for its equivalent in the then-floundering peso, and the lobby’s teller window, it so happened, was conspicuously close to the little back room wherein sat Luis, accompanied by a resort bigwig and one or two of Mazatlan’s finest – though, to be accurate here, said policemen probably weren’t the finest, because all the finest had been/were in the process of being machine-gunned down, Rambo-style, by the local drug cartel. I know because the night before we’d seen it happen; “We” being my family and I. It was Spring Break Week 2010, I’d graduated from college just under a year previous, and this was the afternoon in which I’d finally shed my insecurities, renounce Catholicism, and join my mom for a game of Blackjack under the billowing shade of the ominously stark Activities Tent I’d steadfastly avoided for the previous ten years’ worth of Spring Break trips to the exact same poolside under the exact same sun toiled under by the exact same pool guy, Luis.

The dead girl likely had no major impact on the day’s proceedings, though she makes for a real slam-bang of an opener. Plus, seeing as the rest of the story isn’t anywhere near as exciting as the discovery of a waterlogged corpse at dawn, I always use it as a hook. If I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I’ll also point out the striking coincidental nature of the timing of this dead body popping up a mere eight-ish hours after my own personal witnessing of the massacre of the three police taken out the night before directly in front of the Oxxo we sped by on the return journey from dinner at The Purple Onion to Emerald Bay Mazatlan, a less-than-humble resort destination we frequented once a year, called our own, littered with wet towels, and then sped away from just in time for another family to pull up, repeat the process with probably only one or two significant variations from our own take on the word vacation, and then desert in due process.

The whole endeavor was enough to make one feel like shit – if you could manage to extract yourself from the pool volleyball tournaments and the exotic drinks for long enough to actually take a removed look at the situation and assess the squalor of the surrounding beaches/peoples/waterlogged corpses that only kinda served, at least in the eyes of my family and I (until, of course, a certain age) as a literal striking contrast to the luxury of vacation both my mother and father had “worked so hard to be able to afford.” I (again, only until a certain age) at that shit up, man.

At any rate, our pulmonia gunned past the scene of the crime to the bounce of MJ’s finest, “Beat It,” and my mother sat hunched behind her camera. It was brand new and shiny – she’d lost her older one somewhere between Christmas and PDX, and though she’d pulled it out intending to snap a picture of my brother and I – coifs slightly bent against the warm, pungent Mexico breeze – the Canon PowerShot A570 IS’s ultra-fast shutter speed actually captured brains. Lots of brains, traveling Southwest along Calle Maxipista parallel to the trajectory of our pulmonia. My father would later remark that the freeze-framed sinewy blobs more closely resembled jellyfish than anything, but “pink ones… with shit all over them.”

And our driver didn’t slow. Maybe in Mexico it’s customary to flee a crime scene ASAFP. Or maybe he didn’t want his pinkie finger’s tricked-out nail to attract attention to the Eight Ball of coke that no doubt sat just between his thighs. Whatever the case, all we had time to process were shots, pinging like popcorn in a too-big kettle – only about a hundred thousand times louder. And men falling. And other men running. And my mother’s trembling grasp on the PowerShot, her mouth slackening into an “O” so saggy if she’d seen it the eventual facelift would’ve happened several birthdays sooner. The rest was supplied by the local news in our hotel room that evening. My father forbid us from telling anyone there what we’d seen. My brother and I had to drink our way into a stupor just to fall asleep we were so adrenalized – this after he’d failed to score a dime bag from the housekeeping staff.

So at any rate the next morning dawned, and there was eventually some screaming, and for a while I was really jazzed about the potential “whodunit”-type afternoon I might be in store for, but it was quickly deduced by the policĂ­a – with no little help from Luis, I can assure you – that the girl had simply crawled from her ground-floor patio and fallen into the water. At least this is what my brother heard from his perch in the lobby, during which point he also hypothesized that the guilty-as-fuck look on the parents’ faces as they sat on a marble bench just to the left of the teller window that everything that morning seemed to be happening either in, behind, or around was the direct result of them having been boning so early and so loudly in the morning as to have awoken their daughter, who obviously wanted nothing to do with whatever was causing such a ruckus and instead decided on a swim – or, at least, came as close to a decision as a twenty-month-old can.

“But she didn’t bring her water wings.”

I didn’t laugh when he cracked that one, so it’s okay if you don’t, either. Rather, I rolled away from facing him on my lounge chair beside the pool – which they’d reopened (and on schedule!) after a thorough chlorine filtering – for another sip of my Salty Dog. The activities woman – one Elena Big Tits, as the elderly gentleman who routinely sat to the left of our collection of chairs had taken to calling her after she’d personally awarded him a drink coupon for his Bingo win two days previous – announced over the speaker system an imminent game of Blackjack in the Activities Tent. She made it sound like “Black Yak.” Both of us chuckled.

“But seriously, though,” he continued, “how can something like that happen, you know? Where’s God when some little girl’s crawling her way to the deep end?” This was the closest I can ever recall my brother getting to all that existence-type stuff. He’s never been a real heavy thinker.

I stood, mapped out my path of travel around the pool’s perimeter so as to come as close to Elena Big Tits as possible, hiked up my board shorts, and started walking. “Maybe he’s dead. God, I mean.” Which he – God – really must not have appreciated, considering how the ten years since have gone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Endless Time

Oh. My. Goodness. I'm (kind-of sort-of) graduating on Sunday, and this morning at 9:48 I completed my final final ever... finally! Since then, I've officially already decided I'm bored with the real world and its vast scads of free time that will eventually - and begrudgingly - play host to a job. And pruning the hedges. And weekends spent on the couch as a disillusioned 35-year-old; holey, Dorito-crumb-smeared underwear and remote control in tow.

But that's all still 13 years away. What I've got in the immediate future are my twenties, and I'll be damned if they don't look fun! Something in the past few days has really clicked up in the ol' noggin, and I'm realizing that - provided, of course, the world doesn't end - I just can't wait to do something stimulating and exciting and creative in a way that nothing else before really has been done. My experience at the Jejune Institute left me reeling: if someone else created an entire company that produces entertainment in so revolutionary a manner, why can't I?

I feel like the ingredients are in me, so what I've narrowed down my necessities to are the following:

- Proper funding.
- A team of like-minded, super-awesome individuals.
- A city setting with which to work.

If you've an idea how I can procure any of them, do tell.

The future, my friends, is bright. Now you've all just got to help me not grow too disillusioned too quickly, because I have a tendency to collapse in the face of anything that isn't immediate success. And I'd really like to keep my distance from the proverbial bag of Doritos.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Time Has Come...

To talk of many things. I'm sitting in a laundromat as I write (the same location that served as inspiration for my creative story that rendered me eligible for the Kidd Tutorial exactly a year ago!), and there's a massive bumblebee buzzing between my seat back and the window. I want to smash it, but I'm concerned for humanity's future. Did you know roughly two-thirds of the US bee population didn't survive this past winter? And that when the bees go, we all do?

At least that's what Albert Einstein said.

I'm also finished with college. Well, there's still summer school to contend with, but no one really cares about that. It's just another excuse for me to spin my wheels and fret over the future. THE FUTURE. Agh! As I walked from my Shakespeare lecture the other day, I was seized with a combined sense of loss and panic. The truth of the matter is that I love love love college, and I'm really in no hurry to leave the land of beer, attractive young people, and zero consequences. Also, the notion that my brain as it currently sits could feasibly be the most formally educated it's ever going to get pretty much freaks me out. Big time. Am I supposed to feel enlightened? In control? At some kind of apex? If so, whoever was in charge of handing out all that shit totally skipped me over.

But there are other, more important items up for discussion. Like, for example, the series finale of LOST. What can I say that hasn't already been said? How about: if you were angered by its conclusion, you've totally misinterpreted the finest show television's ever offered (just behind Six Feet Under, of course). I could go into some kind of lengthy analysis about what it all [probably] means, and how brilliantly structured the final act was in terms of leaving lots of elements available for individual conclusion-reaching (because I already used "interpretation" a sentence or two ago, and any writer worth their weight in eclairs knows not to repeat vocabulary... ever), but instead I'll just say that right about the time Sun and Jin drowned in a submarine, my desire for forward momentum came to a screeching halt (here, of course, I'm choosing to ignore another writer's rule and employ a go-for-broke cliche). I realized I didn't want any more of these awesome characters to die, and that what I really, really wanted to see more than anything was all my favorites back together again, hugging it out in some kind of timeless realm where fate and consequence didn't matter. And that's exactly what I got!

Mmm. Boone.

And then there's my San Francisco trip, during which I reveled in mysteries so extreme I'm still kind of addled. If you missed my previous mention of The Jejune Institute, be sure to check it out. And then also there's this:

The Clock Without a Face

Plus that's not even to mention not getting lost in search of the Redding In-N-Out for the first time ever (!), the Santa Cruz boardwalk (Katelyn shout-out!), The Castro, family reunions (Simone!), and driving around for nearly an hour in search of a parking spot. It's an unpleasant experience, I can assure you. At any rate, wohoo! Here's hoping Google and/or Facebook hires me. I hear an "in" is absolutely essential, though, so if any of you out there in the blogosphere know someone (or even know someone who knows someone) please do be sure and let me know. I'd love to move south.

Finally, there's Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Having been tainted at a very early age by the film's intentionally slow pace, I was wary of watching 2001 in its entirety. However, after viewing - and loving - the more recent Moon, and after Netflix assured me the two films are similar, I gave it a shot. Fast-forward to approximately 2:30 am after a long night at the bars, at which point a stupored Yours Truly decided (and the following is verbatim): "dammit! I'm nearly a college grad! If I want to sit down at 2:30 am and start up 2001: A space Odyssey, then I'm goddamned gonna do it! And it's gonna be fun! And to hell with the rest of the world! Right now it's me, this television, and the cold wind blowing."

The above, ladies and gentlemen, is how I'd highly recommend you watch 2001, if you haven't already (that is to say: drunk and late at night). My mind, to be brief, was freaking blown. What a trip! What cinematography! And the music! My God, the music! And the special effects! Flawless! And the layers of mystery! Let's hear it for mystery! Epic, epic, epic. This film pretty much cements Kubrick, in my mind, as a genius, and I've got to get to watching everything else he's done rather immediately. How did none of you think of mentioning this one to me over and over until I finally caved?

I have an EWEB envelop with me, on the back of which is written quite the list of topics to broach right about meow. But my laundry's done, and I'm a college graduate, so whatevs. Take it easy, yo.