Friday, August 27, 2010

it feels good to be home.

i'll admit that wasn't my first thought getting off the plane. i felt queasy and unsettled. i called bonnie from the airport and let it all out on my cab ride to brooklyn. all the anger, frustration and fear surrounding my current station in life. my poor cabbie. but then i felt the familiar relief you get from such expulsion, and i rested my head against the window and watched the skyline for a minute. she asked if i was happy to be back. "it does feel good to be home. it really does."

when i decided to move here it was at the magnolia theatre in dallas after a particularly bad day (...week, month, year). i was sitting on the roof of the parking garage looking at the dallas skyline and transposing it in my mind with new york's. since my first visit to new york, it had never felt the same coming back and i knew in that instant that dallas was too small for me. i would never be satisfied with it again.

so here i am, in a place that unveils something new to me every time i step outside, that is always challenging and surprising. i've spent a year here now. i experienced it with my family and all the little things that that means from elementary school block parties to carting my sick cat around my manhattan to get her treated. i said goodbye to them, accepted my failures and awkwardly stumbled through a semester trying to find my footing. now i'm learning to be a grownup on my own and it is endlessly satisfying.

i am temporarily staying in brooklyn with these people who i feel almost unworthy of. they are some of the most generous, open, awesome people i've ever know. it must be fate that we met because everything suddenly seems to be connecting and falling into place. i feel very much at home on their couch, and i think it might be the start of something really cool.

i've been enjoying the city with my new friends and those of my old friends who are back from their internships and vacations. spending an afternoon digging through the shelves at kim's video, walking around the east village and soho looking for something undetermined, meeting some friends at corners and leaving some at others. eating the best food in the world, and never having to step foot inside a chain restaurant. being surrounded by people who DO things. you forget how special it is.

i don't have anything to show you right now because i'm still taking it all in, looking for a place to live, settling myself back into this life, enjoying it immensely before it gets difficult. more soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Third Grade

Can you believe it?!
New Chucks? Check. (Now that he's taking skateboarding seriously the Nike SBs are reserved solely for that purpose because I just can't keep buying them when they wear out. He's cool with it.)
School uniform? Check.
Boba Fett lunch box? Er... Nope. It's on backorder till October 22nd and he refuses to settle on another one so he's carrying this thing till then. Sigh.
Same backpack since Pre-K (and still going strong)? Check.
Awkward/uneasy expression? Check.
Awesome new hair cut but bad hair day anyway? Check. Check.

That's about right for a first day of school, isn't it? 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why you should be excited about Scott Pilgrim.

Emily and I were talking the other day about how fangirls are sometimes embarrassed by their fan status. Many of us who love (and possibly obsess over) Harry Potter, Hanson (ok that's just me), video games, comic books, sci-fi, classic novelists, fanfic, cult movies, or what have you, don't necessarily love to broadcast our obsessions to the world as freely as dudes do. We've both been in situations where, in a group of girls, one makes an obscure reference, and suddenly all the faces in the room exchange knowing glances and everyone starts to come out of the geek closet. In fact, that's how most of my girl friends have been made and that's how I discovered Scott Pilgrim. 

It was during what I like to think of as my cultural Renaissance. (I had a baby to take care of and college to get through, so most of my time outside of homework and mom duties was spent at home watching old movies, reading like crazy and collecting all the music I could find.) I met some like-minded girls--fellow writers--who gave me the first volume, and I was hooked. I identified with Ramona more and more as the books went on and really fell in love with every character. I even read The Wonderful World of Kim Pine. Oddly enough, I started out wishing I lived in Scott Pilgrim's world, but by the time I got to the last book (it came out just a few weeks ago) it was completely familiar. The world of the lost 20-something. 
So when I heard Edgar Wright and Michael Cera were attached to a Scott Pilgrim movie, it was this weird combination of validation and uncertainty. On the one hand, YEAH! Thank you Hollywood for seeing how awesome and not-just-fangirly SP is! On the other hand, can a story so personal to so many people be properly made into a movie... and is Michael Cera (*eye roll*) anywhere near awesome enough?

Uh, yes.

I should have had more faith in Wright, who directed the pretty-close-to-flawless Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. His attention to detail and context are pretty remarkable for someone with such a fun, engaging style. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World does what everyone wants a comic book movie to do. It pleases the fans (pretty much across the board, from what I've heard) and gives those who have never read a page of the books an experience similar to what they would get from reading. Here's how he did it:

- Perfect casting. His actors not only sold the parts, they actually looked the parts. I never thought I would believe Michael Cera in this role, but he was just losery enough without being the virgin he usually plays. When I started to not believe him, Wright would throw in a brilliant animated drawing of "comic book Scott" next to Cera and suddenly it was like they were one in the same. Everyone really seemed to understand their characters and care about getting them right (Stills never came out but Mark Webber somehow made me believe that it had happened off-screen or something), especially Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the beloved Ramona.
- Sticking by the book's dialogue. The way the characters talk to each other is a big part of what makes SP great. I mouthed along with the entire pre-titles scene word for word. There is nothing more reassuring/exciting for a comic book fan.

- Straight-from-the-books animation over some of the scenes, like labeling everything in Wallace and Scott's apartment and animating Scott's last haircut. Again, this made me believe the movie more, gave the audience the feeling of reading comic books and allowed him to include things he didn't have time to flush out into full scenes. Also it was just totally clever and cool.

- LEAVING THE ENDING ALONE. Dear other directors who take on comic book movies, please take note of this amazing new development in adapted stories called not messing with the ending! For a second there I got really scared (because Knives Chau isn't as involved in the end of the last book), but Wright did right by the story and we got our ending.

- Making smart omissions and additions. I can't think of anything in the movie that felt like it didn't belong there. The fight scenes were embellished but that's to be expected. While Scott going to visit Kim in the country is one of my favorite parts of the books, I totally get why it was cut. It's a big chunk of the story that veers a little out of the aesthetic of the rest. That works in black and white drawings but not so much in a quirky action movie. I love the Kim/Lisa storyline but the movie had to take some direction and Wright, of course, went with focusing on Scott's development. Like with Stills being gay, I never really felt like I missed it.

- Getting the music right. My friend had the 2007 (I think? Maybe?) limited edition self-titled Sex Bob-omb EP on vinyl and this soundtrack is what it wanted to be. This could have been a dealbreaker but they got it oh-so right. +10 points for Plumtree.

- Understanding the story. The film gets how you're supposed to feel after being told this story and it makes you feel that way. Simple as that. The aesthetic is right and the books and movie go hand-in-hand. I kind of love that there is only one definitive version of this story. That's how you make a comic book movie!

- Being awesome. I don't care if you've never read the books and don't care to ever read the books, there is no reason you should not be freaking out right now! This is a fun, ridiculous, awesome, smart movie and you should see it right now!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back on mainland time!

Huzzah! After sleeping for 13 hours straight, my internal clock is officially fixed. I hope you guys appreciated my randomscheduled posts and that video Erik sent me yesterday that made me do a fist pump of solidarity! Now for a little catching up...

Sunday night B and I had dinner with my friend Sabrina and her husband David. I'm pretending it's because they wanted to hang out with me but we all know it was for B. This is becoming a common thing amongst my friends. "Hey... so... can your kid come play video games/guitar/soccer with me? You can come too... I guess." I kid. But not really. Sabrina rules at all things kitchen-related and whipped us up a lovely stir fry with super fancy fondu for dessert. I, being less skilled in the kitchen and having been away from Texas' little culinary joys for too long, brought Dublin Dr. Pepper (the real stuff), super crispy tortilla chips and Texas Texas salsa (you can order it online... you're welcome). Not exactly the classiest addition to a dinner party, but I think it went over well. B played video games and acted a fool (as he tends to do when he knows he's the center of attention), and I talked everyone's ears off (as I tend to do always). It was a great time. They love Harry Potter and they are married grown ups. Can't beat that.

I went to the movies the other night and saw that they were tearing down the skatepark next door to put in a Legoland. My heart died a little. So many memories at this skatepark, of B getting bruised from head to toe and thrown in a trash can at skate camp, of sitting on the top of a ramp filming my friends doing tricks, of screaming at hecklers who were messing with my then-boyf... ah the good old days. RIP Woodward.

In other news, there's been a lot of this going on...
and lots of staying up way too late together reading, listening to music and watching old episodes of Danny Phantom that I *borrowed* from the internet. (You can't sue me until you put this stuff out on DVD, Nickelodeon, at which point I will happily buy it!)

Today we went shopping for an SMU shirt for B. I'm not exactly a proud alumna or anything, but B has to wear the dullest uniforms ever to school, except on Wednesdays when he can wear a college shirt. He already has two NYU shirts, so I thought I'd mix it up a little. I also got a giant bag for lugging all my crap around New York (B compared about 50 bags, including doing all sorts of tests with each one to determine which was the best and ultimately ended up picking out the perfect one for me--do what you will with that) and these shoes/kitty dress combo... because I'm five.

Austin, Texas decided to share Torchy's Tacos with Dallas so B and I ended our day of shopping with a couple fried avocado tacos, salsa and Dublin DP from the tap.
Best worst meal ever.
B immediately regretted trying the deep fried chocolate chip cookies.

Finally, I am working on a Scott Pilgrim post. It will probably suck but I still have to attempt to make it perfect. Stand by. Also, more exciting developments leading up to my big announcement that I will make... soon. I promise.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

If you've ever worked for a film festival...

My friend, MIAP classmate and fellow ex-festival worker, Erik, showed me this
I had this same moment (minus making a video, I just stormed out) on the second day of the last festival I worked. That's why I'm in New York now. It's how my life took a turn in the direction it was always supposed to go. I'll always have a soft spot for festivals and love the friends I made, but... well, I'm sure everyone who is or has been a part of something like this can relate to what she has to say on some level.

Utah

When I listen to the Postal Service it takes me back a few years to my earliest twenties. Back to an October spent climbing mountains, riding horses and touching a waterfall that came straight out of the heavens. To exhausting my lips and lungs. To the smell of a bonfire and the warmth of waking up on the ground in the mountains, icicles in my hair, stuffed into a sleeping bag with another body. To trying to figure out who I was with all the wide-eyed inexperience of someone who'd spent her coming-of-age years alone on Mars. To trying desperately to hold on to ideas I couldn't grasp. To the smell of sweat and pastures and cold, thin air. It takes me back to the life of Sundance and midwest filmmaking and curly-haired babies that I was sure I wanted--those things that make me chuckle and shake my head from my Big Grownup Chair. Every note is fogged up windows and belly aches, every bleep is one of the thousand tiny light bulbs I looked down on from "this is the place." I don't miss it but it makes me smile.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

home.

today i left this home...
for this one...
(yes, that's b in his face mask, passed out in the tent we made. i tried to take his headphones off but he grabbed them before they could get very far. splinter is hiding just inside the door, trying to blend into the carpet so i stop harassing her. it's good to be home.)

where we're going we don't need roads

i've become obsessed with marnie stern. she's been on rotation in my itunes for a long time but i guess i just didn't listen closely enough. the other night i wanted to put on something different during my little at-home ballet warm up, and the thought just popped into my head to put marnie stern on. she is the exact opposite of what you would consider appropriate but i dance alone in my living room and can do whatever i want, right? the result: transcendental. seriously. i stretched and warmed up for a minute while she screamed and all the sudden it was like the power of christ compelled me! my dancing turned into this primal mix of jazz and pirouettes and emotion -- it was probably completely hideous but it felt so good! it took me far away from my life and made me connect with the part of me that has always been there and always will be, regardless of time and space. everyone should lose themselves like that to music at least once a day.

(art by joe kitsch)

Friday, August 13, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance Finale!!!

LAUREN WON!!!!
I'm going to try to keep this brief but I have to talk about how happy this show made me tonight! It didn't matter at all who won tonight, because this season has been about the journey and all three of these dancers are incredibly talented and lovely souls. (You can just tell sometimes, okay?) I loved all of the routines that they chose to highlight from the season, I loved that they avoided using a stage that's too big for the intimate experience of dance like they have in past seasons and I loved all of the emotion and happiness that was in that room. 

This season has been incredible to watch, not only because the dancers are so talented, but because they're so young and green. Seeing these fresh dancers learning from former contestants and incredible choreographers, while bonding with each other as a way of coping with the intensity of the experience, was really inspiring for me. I have to admit it felt strange, almost intrusive at times, watching them have these intensely personal, emotional moments on a stage, in front of a crowd, broadcast to millions. Having people see you go through all of the things you go through while mastering an art you're passionate about, especially one like dance that you express with your body, has to be disorienting. There were moments (like this Travis Wall routine that Kent and Neil performed, and this moment just at the end of the Kent/Allison routine) when everyone seemed to feel it and no one quite knew what to say.
I want to go on and on right here but for brevity's sake I'll leave it at Kent. His growth was definitely the most apparent throughout the season, especially in the last few weeks.

It was so nice to see Alex Wong on stage again and I love that he was included in the group choreography by sitting in a chair and doing arm work. It made me inappropriately sad again when they showed a video of his pre-injury work on the show. I have never in my life been invested in a television show, but this one makes me feel real emotions! I don't know what to do with myself. I guess Ellen was as moved as I was by losing him from the competition because she filled for him in a hilarious encore performance of his now famous NappyTabs hip hop routine with Twitch. Just when I think I can't love her or this show more...

So there you go. I'm happy Lauren won. She's one of the best lady dancers they've ever had. She showed the boys what's up every week. I'm happy they didn't re-do the prom routine (dance fans on the interwebs are understandably complaining about this) because I don't think they could have recreated the magic that happened the first time. I'm just happy in general. This show makes me feel like I'm getting hugged by Mia Michels and told it's never too late to start dancing again.

(p.s. none of these images are mine. i stole them all from the google.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

right now all i can think about...

is this little face. and these little moments. (2005)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"As Ray Porter watches Mirabelle walk away he feels a loss. How is it possible, he thinks, to miss a woman whom he kept at a distance so that when she was gone he would not miss her? Only then does he realize that wanting part of her and not all of her had hurt them both and how he cannot justify his actions except that... well... it was life."
(Shopgirl)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

down to 5

I haven't had much to say lately because my life has been pretty boring. I work all day in a tiny room full of boxes and all night in FileMaker Pro on my computer. 
I watch old movies on TCM for hours while I catalog metadata into my database and munch on grapes. This is the less glamourous side of what film archivists do. Actually, most of it is not very glamorous. 

I guess it's a little sad that I'm in Hawaii and have to spend all of my time indoors, staring at a screen but I'm fine with it. I had two weeks of adventure that are permanently carved into my memory as The Great Hawaii Experience

I made a new friend--Tim--who sometimes keeps me company and makes me laugh. We went to the beach at night (which is even better than the beach during the day, if you ask me) and sometimes he'll just talk and talk and I'll listen and not have to say anything, which is nice... you know?

Mostly I am so ready to be done here. I have five days left and they're going to be the busiest five days ever. We had a conference yesterday about digital preservation (this is how cool people spend their Saturdays *insert Madonna NOT joke*) and it was pretty awesome to meet fellow archivists (and librarians/filmmakers/technicians acting as archivists) from the islands. It's nice to see people with no formal training, from small institutions, who have so much knowledge and passion for preserving their A/V heritage. I took a lot from it, including exactly how much I need to get done before I leave.

I will always look back and love this place, but I just want to get back to life now. This summer, like all rewarding experiences, has been equal parts incredible and hard. It was only a couple years ago, before jobs were harder to come by and life got confusing, that B and I had a nice little life. We talk about it every day, and hope that the sacrifice of being apart is worth potentially being able to have that--or something better--again..

When I get back to New York my posts will be full of pictures and stories, and I'll finally be able to *officially* make a very exciting announcement. Remember when I talked about feeling that fire again? I think that may have really changed the way my life was going. I have so much motivation to make life fuller and happier.

Time to make the most of these last five days!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10875094

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cadillac Ranch

Aside from the fact that I'm cringing at not being there to pick out his clothes... These pictures are making me so unbelievably happy! Check out my budding graffiti artist at the famous Cadillacs in Amarillo, Texas!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

MY FIRST FACETIME!!!

BFF Gregg and I FaceTimed on our new iPhone 4s...

    
...and it was so much fun! I don't know why this is so much more fun than Skype or gchat, but it is. I showed him around Hawaii and ate pineapple in his face. We laughed hysterically like we do when we're together and it almost felt like he was here with me. We agree this is the best invention ever, especially when you're far away from the people you love, and that we want to be able to conference video chat so Justin can join us.
 Never going back to regular calls if I can help it!

The Kids Are Alright

Despite the fact that it's not about The Who and a lesbian hooks up with a dude, The Kids Are Alright was actually pretty good. I was really bothered by the whole premise going into it--two teenage kids of lesbian parents seek out their sperm donor and then one of the moms has an affair with him. I was afraid it would perpetuate the idea that being gay is just a lifestyle choice and every woman really wants sex with a man, but my dear friend Swinny told me it was "nice to the gays" so I went for it. 

The story is a bit contrived but the family characters and relationships are nuanced. The exception is Mark Ruffalo's eye-rollingly clich├ęd character, but the family's observations (and mocking) of him lend the role some credibility and context. With a cast like this you expect the performances to be up-to-par, but Annette Bening got her character (and broke my heart) on an even deeper level than I expected. The kids were surprisingly great (who knew the kid from Zathura had such depth?) and written as sensitive, interesting non-stereotypes. In the end this didn't feel like a movie about lesbians at all. It truly felt like a movie about families. Man, that sounds like a bad tag line doesn't it? But it really is true. The best testament I saw of that was the straight couple in the theatre that stood up after the movie was over and embraced in a long, emotional hug. Maybe these are just stars in my eyes, but I have a really good feeling about this film as one that can bridge some sort of gap and maybe be a stepping stone toward understanding and acceptance.