Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Must. Get. Fresh. Air.

Hooray, it's time for some more fabulous media randomness!

This is sheer genius, and I can't stop watching it over and over. It's really perfect. Except for the obvious CG and the fact that Marge is driving on the wrong side of the car, of course.

Real-Life-Simpsons-Intro by rajucheema

Pigs flying in Russia! Very atmospheric.

Song: "My Bathroom Is A Private Kind Of Place," written and composed eons ago for American Standard. Total hilarity.

Song: "Recruit, Train, and Motivate," by the Amway Singers. This was also done eons ago, but for Amway. Total creepiness, yet oddly catchy.

And last, but certainly not least....

Song: "Happy Living," by the Astro Age Steel Orchestra. Imagine a Japanese band performing a Christmas standard. On Carribean steel drums. Yeah. Pretty awesome.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

bombs and body wash

It's easy for me to forget that there's anything worth blogging about beyond media crap...until I read this:

"The day before yesterday at midnight , I was awaked by a limelight , I put my head under the pillow , and waited to hear the sound of explosion ,( I know that the light speed is faster than the sound in few seconds ), but I kept waiting , and I didn't hear anything , then I realized that it is a projector light of the police on national guards and not a bombing car !!!."

This is from, a blog written by a 14-year-old girl in Mosul, Iraq. 'Sunshine' (her nickname) wants to be an engineer, her mom's a dentist, and life, when it's not being directly threatened, seems to hold a lot of hope for her. Still, it's pretty heartbreaking when she's talking about her grandparents, and then this pops up:

"I was checking my E-mails , and I found an offline message from my grandma says " yesterday your grandpa went to the market , and while he was shopping, the US soldiers started to walk in the street , they were many , your grandpa asked a soldier gently whether he can depart , and do you know what the soldier answered ? he said "shut up". ! grandpa turned to another soldier and asked him the same question " son , can I go of please ?- and the soldier replied " we are leaving, in a moment ".

" I chatted with grandma I was so angry , that soldier's attitude ,affected my respect to the military so badly, because the soldiers should represent their country's ethics and leave a good impression , this bad soldier was so impolite and rude , I told my grandma ( relax grandma , the soldier's parents didn't behave him well , that's in case he has parents , I am sure that he lives in a box under the bridge ,and he is blessed to sleep in a tank ! ) and I still mean what I said , my grandpa is very educated wise respectful man , and he is loved by everyone, , my grandpa is a civil engineer , studied in USA , he traveled round the world because he worked for the "Arab organization for the industrial development" , that soldier SHOULDN'T talk to grandpa like that."

Damn straight. Granted, it's hard to maintain ethics/composure when you haven't been granted proper resources or a furlough in a horribly long time, but there's still no excuse for a soldier to say "Shut up" to somebody's grocery-shopping grandpa. The nerve.

Meanwhile, as all of this is going in Iraq, I'm busily surfing the web and reading about Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. I'm not sure why Dove's putting so much money into charity work—is it

a) charity junk is tax deductible?
b) coming across as 'fresh,' 'real,' and 'caring' will dramatically improve sales?
c) both a and b?

Or perhaps

d) I am a cynical jerk, and the folks at Dove really care about improving women's self-esteem?

As long as this ultimately brings about constructive change in this world, who am I to complain? It's not like I'm cowering under my bed, waiting for the bombs to hit me. I think I need to go to bed now.

Friday, October 27, 2006

of cabbages and kings

I haven't had the chance to post here for the past month, but that doesn't mean I've forgotten about you -- no, sirree! Without any rhyme or reason, without any method to my madness, without any snap or crackle to my pop, I hereby present to you the gems of what I have seen over the past month online:

Break these out for your next video conference!

Evil does have a name, and it's the Center for Consumer Freedom. No more P. F. Chang's for me, I guess.

THE best visual representation of a chat room I've ever seen in my life. Priceless!

I find this video hypnotic. HYPNOTIC. I still watch it non-stop, and I'm slowly going insane. Help me.

I loves me some neato advertising.

I think this is stupid, and a sick, sorry waste of an otherwise elegant brand. It's striking, but at what cost?

The embedding on this was disabled, but who doesn't love a disturbingly funny Patrick Stewart?

I can't believe people anywhere in this world really drive like this. GOOD GOD. And I thought L.A. was bad....

I am in lust with a dress, and it looks like this:

This would be my crime-fighting dress, my take-over-the-world dress, my seduce-James-Bond-and-leave-time-to-successfully-hijack-his-car-and-trick-cufflinks-afterwards dress. I loooove this dress. I luuuurve this dress. I neeeeeed this dress. And, ooh, lookee, my birthday is coming up, on NOVEMBER 16TH, which leaves just enough time for shipping, and I'm a size 0 in case you're wondering....

[DISCLAIMER: I am behaving in a covetous fashion for comedic effect. If you actually get me this dress, I will freak out. I fully intend to buy it myself, thanks. If only I didn't have friends who often take me literally!]

Monday, September 25, 2006

better late than never

I understand I'm about two years behind everyone else on this, but if you like the Polyphonic Spree (I preferred them when they were known as 'The Beatles', but they're still okay) and if you also like the game "Myst", then you need to visit It took me forever to figure out what the heck to do, so I'll let you in on this tidbit: keep running your cursor over EVERYTHING on screen, and when it turns into a hand, click and see what happens. Eventually, things will make sense. And it will be adorable, not to mention oddly satisfying.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

from the mixed-up files of Ms. Astrid E. Frankweiler

Did you know that people can literally die laughing? As in: they laugh so hard they get a heart attack, or asphyxiate, and there you are? It's called 'fatal hilarity', and yes, there's a Wikipedia entry on it, and no, I will not link to it, because I am feeling lazy. Anyway, I did find this handy list of Nine People Who Died Laughing, and I am still puzzled by the guy who kicked the bucket while watching A Fish Called Wanda. I mean, really? A Fish Called Wanda? Huh.

Also: I stumbled upon this incredible book of world libraries, which, if you're trying to think of a way to impress me, you should NOT buy, because I will be SO in love with this book I will feel ridiculously guilty for not having a gift for you in return. The main reason I bring this up, though, is that I heart libraries, and I heart beautiful architecture, so this unites two great loves of mine in a tidy little package of whimsy and wonderment and makes me feel as if we as a civilization must be doing something right.

To be perfectly honest, I wish I could move into these shrines to knowledge. Screw letting John/Jane Q. Public into the libraries for their pesky book reports/Nobel Prize-winning research/what-have you; I covet the glorious landmarks for myself alone. How cool would it be to have your bed in the middle of one of these airy spaces, vaulted ceilings above you, cool marble floors under your bare toes as you pad around at ungodly hours through the rare manuscripts section? Sigh.

Actually, I'm sure the reality would be rather creepy, so better to leave things as they are, and to dream. Now that I think about it, the closest I've ever gotten to the realization of this fantasy is the book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, in which two kids get to camp out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This fine piece of literature was made into a lousy TV movie, but is still a brilliant, breathtaking book. Konigsburg is a terrific writer in general—she writes characters I wish I could be. Best of all, they save me the trouble of breaking into the Met, for which we should all be grateful.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

quoth the raven, "Duckies?"

At first, I was going to post a long, depressing entry about having to wait for a taxi for an hour and a half last night. And then I was going to write about getting home obscenely late and wanting nothing more than a long, hot shower, only to learn that my building's water supply was to be shut off sometime between midnight and 4am, yet I took my chances anyway, and I had just gotten damp when the raging torrent that was my shower quickly dribbled down to a measly trickle, and I finally had to put it out of its misery and turn the whole thing off, and then I stared woefully at the dripping faucets for a bit, and then I was going to further write about how I went to bed shivering and pathetic, thinking Farewell, hot shower, and the whole thing was going to be full of pathos and poignance, and you were all going to feel sorry for me.

This is not that blog entry.

Today was quite fab. My horrible haircut (which makes me look like Audrey Hepburn's dyke sister, not that that's a bad thing, but it's not an Astrid thing, and I don't think Hepburn even HAD a dyke sister, but whatever) is actually starting to look okay. Mod, even.

Also: my first-ever directing class went well—my students told me I have Magical & Astounding Brain Powers, which was rather nice, but it came at the price of spending three solid hours hammering out storyboards and shot lists with them. Phew.

And I actually returned (nearly) every phone call I've received over the past few days, which makes me feel like I am a better person than I was a few hours ago.

And I finally watched a bunch of of LonelyGirl15's blog entries (I'm two degrees of separation away from her, don't ask), and BOY HOWDY am I glad she's not the real deal. I mean, hey. She reads Feynman. She's self-possessed, well-spoken, beautiful—and she's supposed to be FIFTEEN. I was NOWHERE near that nifty when I was fifteen, fer chrissake—who the hell is? If I had seen these entries of hers prior to the big unveiling of the truth in the LA Times (the process of which reads like a William Gibson novel), I would have felt a retroactive shame for being a not-quite-as-smart, not-quite-as-glam, not-quite-as-cool fifteen-year-old. The entries are admittedly endearing, and kind of addictive, but they also make me feel vaguely worse about myself.

Onto a neat-o synergy I just experienced: go here, and play what you see. At the same time, go to this page, and look at it as the mp3 plays. Now, I don't know if this is just me and my unusual sensitivities to indigo, twilight skies, lone birds soaring overhead through said twilit skies, suggestions of poison, and silvery-voiced women with electronica flourishes, but this combo makes me Feel Something. Namely, it makes me very aware of my Inner Goth, a woman I have not spoken with in a while. Time was, she'd make me wear lots of black on black (for that messy, poetic, raven look), and quote Baudelaire in the original French. These days, I'm too groggy from blathering about shot lists and being abandoned by taxi men and lack of proper sleep to bother being goth, but this combo has brought her back up from my inner basement to my inner living room, where she is now curled up into a comfy little ball of black on black upon my inner couch, sipping some blood orange tea and darting her eyes around suspiciously. I don't think she likes the new wallpaper I put up—too many duckies, she says.

Wow, I really need to go to sleep. And maybe wear something floaty and black-on-black tomorrow.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I would like a muffin, and other pirate-related matters

For those of you who've been living in a cave up until now, the 19th is Talk Like A Pirate Day, and Wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive entry on this. In order to get into the proper spirit, one ought to familiarize one's self with the pirate lexicon:

Talk Like a Pirate Day - The Five A's (performed by the guys who actually invented Talk Like A Pirate Day)

Since no pirate-related holiday is complete without a theme song, here ya go:

Talk Like a Pirate Day - "I'm a Pirate" song (good, rousing chorus; best sung with a tankard of ale in your hand and three hundred of your closest friends)

And for no good reason, other than a few shining moments of pure, mindless entertainment (Arr! Pirates!):

Pirate Practice

The music for the above video is "The Worst Pirate Song" by Ceann.

And now for some depressing piracy news: voting for our nation's President on a Diebold machine is officially hackable idiocy. Arr! What a great way to pollute the memory of pirates everywhere! Diebold-hacking f---ers. If they exist, I will hunt them down, and kick them with my peg leg. Hard.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

jellyfish and jodhpurs

Kinky-sounding molecular names can be found here, but why the heck would you care? I mean, come ON. Get a life. Like, der.

Also: I think this is beautiful, since I like demented takes on Alice in Wonderland.

Hey, check it: I'm regarding a Modigliani!

And I'm getting jellyfish hugs!

(Profuse thanks to the ever-talented Eric Canete, of course.) Does he make me look glam, or what? Better than any photo, I say.

Just FYI, for those of you who keep track of me best through this infernal MySpace device, I'll start teaching directing next week, in addition to cinematography! Those who can, do; those who can't, teach directing. Or something like that. Anyway, wish me luck! My dad asked me if I'm going to start wearing jodhpurs, klieg glasses, and an eye patch, and I'm seriously considering this. To quote IMDb, "it was Raoul Walsh who made the eye-patch almost as synonymous with a Hollywood director as Cecil B. DeMille's jodhpurs."

Now THAT is what I call glamorous. Who needs to actually make movies, when you can just look cool? To hell with actual hard work, I'm just gonna WORK IT. Aw yeah.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

blasts from the past, present, and future

First of all, I am newly a Pandora girl. I had never heard of the following bands/songs, and now I can't believe I ever lived without them:

"It Generates" by Iris
"Plastic 1" by Lackluster
"St. Vodka (Mother Russia)" by Architect
"Riad Dreams (Red Brick Mix)" by Aatchi Ensemble
"Proper Hoodidge" by Amon Tobin
"Turn On (The Beat Box)" by Earth, Wind & Fire
"Home and the Heartland" by Lisa Kelly
"Seduce Me" by Gerd
"The Mystic's Dream" by Loreena McKennitt
"La Felicidade" by Les Baxter
"Toby Dammit's Last Act" by Nino Rota
"Be Little With Me" by Stars of the Lid

and, of course, Audley Green playing jazz harpsichord. Yes, this list is insanely me! (You say 'schizophrenic', I say 'eclectic.' Tomayto, tomahto.)

Also, I feel I need to explain the new photos on my main page, post (posted?) by my friend Mike. The upper one is of Mike and me, putting our heads together. I very nearly didn't post it, because I'm not wearing make-up and I look like hell, but the picture amuses me, and perfectly captures the spirit of our final year of undergrad, so I couldn't resist. The lower photo of the ghoul in glasses and graduation gown is -- you guessed it -- me. I was kind of surprised to see my clunky boots, until I remembered that everybody was wearing those in the late nineties, along with high-waisted jeans and cable-knit sweaters. Yech.

Oh, and just for the record, when Mike and I marched into the Michigan Stadium for our graduation, I was wearing the costume you see in the photo, AND I was perched on his shoulders. I made a point of waving to the crowd like the Queen of England, and people laughed and yelled and pointed and waved back and snapped pics. We made quite a splash, as you can probably imagine. Ah, heady times.

I also changed the music on the main page [of my MySpace profile], to post a truly kick-ass work by Daniel Lenz. The man rocks, no question.

And in the space of my typing all this, Pandora has played "Autumn Almanac" by the Kinks, and "Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)" by Sufjan Stevens. I am having an excellent Sunday evening, thank you.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

at least it's not midget porn

Some of you may have noticed that I like to edit my postings AFTER I've posted them. And re-edit them. And re-re-edit them. This stems partially from my control-freak mentality, but mostly from my need to maintain my job. See, I strongly suspect that some of my high school students started reading my blog as of this summer, and I can already imagine their parents seeing my racy rantings ("BDSM airport security procedure?! Egads!") and phoning up the school where I teach film, insisting that I am Tainting The Youth of America and must be fired.

So, while I hate censorship, I hate being homeless even more. Therefore, I satisfy my need to express myself by publishing a first edition of sorts, and then after a few hours have passed and I see the blog hits skyrocket, my panic reaches a certain threshold and I perform my blog vivisection. ::weep::

I was therefore a little pissed, and simultaneously elated, when I went a-huntin' on this here MySpace last night, and discovered that a VERY SENIOR PERSON within my school's administration has—wait for this—MIDGET PORN on his MySpace page. MID. GET. PORN. I'm pissed, because I've performed all my MySpace vivisections for NOTHING, and I'm also elated because this now means I can't get fired.

Very Senior Person: Uh, Astrid, we got some irate phone calls today from some of our students' parents. They feel you're a bad influence—
Very Senior Person: I'll just refund their checks.

Even right now, I'm feeling very divided about this. Should I stop expressing myself freely, thus ensuring my future employment? Or should I trust the power of midget porn to keep me on the payroll no matter what?

O, the agony of ambivalence.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

mannequins & mango chutney

Check out these wacky anatomy dummies from ages past. It is pretty interesting to note how our approaches towards the human body shifted over the generations, going from lush ladies with flowing tresses to headless torsoes with abstracted organs in more 'tasteful,' color-coordinated tones. The body lost its soul somewhere, and started being taught as an elegant machine. Intriguing, no?

Speaking of artificial representations of humanity, I love The Little Girl Giant, done by ElectricPig:

And finally, apropos of nothing, I dislike farmers' markets. In the immortal words of Ze Frank, "I don't take candy from strangers, why the hell am I gonna trust 'em with mango chutney?" Amen, Ze. Amen.

camera mystique and other rot

So, I've noticed that a ridiculous number of people are consistently checking my blogspace every day, even though I don't post more than every once in a while. C'mon, people! Just subscribe to the damn thing, and then you can rest your clicky finger by waiting for the blog updates to come to you! Unless, of course, you'd be embarrassed if I knew your identity, and you're happier with hiding behind the iron MySpace curtain. E-cowards!

So, anyway, I saw this Ayumi Hamasaki video, and my first thought was: how much did the Arri corporation fork out for this PR stunt? I mean, it's just THE most ridiculous collection of camera-fetish images I think I've ever seen, outside of an industrial ("Color Film Stock and You, Together At Last"). One of the first images we see is a pair of hands loading/fondling the camera's innards. YURGH. I love working with cameras, but I don't, um, love my cameras.

This is clearly a case of testosterone gone horribly awry, and I can't say it surprises me too much. Camera (and cinematography) is still the domain of men, and mostly white men at that. Many understand that a camera is simply a tool (heh, 'tool') for collecting images, and it's really the images that matter; many more, however, seem to regard cameras as ends unto themselves. Ooh, check out the precision! The rotors! The manly black veneers! The shiny chrome accents! It's like the devotion a lot of guys show towards, say, a Lamborghini. Who cares about the destination? My car is HOTTT. And so is my camera. Mrreeeowrf. Heck, I even know a guy who has the Steadicam logo tattooed on his back, which should give you some idea of the degree of Fetishization of the Camera I've seen amongst guys in the industry.

Since so many seem to view cameras as extensions of their, um, manhood, it can make life for a female camerawoman (okay, me) rather uncomfortable—the typically male view of camerawork seems confrontational, expecially when compared to my view. Instead of 'aiming my equipment' (heh) and 'shooting' (camerawork as hunting, Ayumi as prey, not to mention other porn-o-riffic connotations), I tend to see cameras as 'receiving.' In my world, it is Ayumi who is aiming at the passive medium of film or video, which is preserving her image 24 times a second. This seems, to me at least, the fundamental difference between how men and women approach filmmaking.

It really doesn't help that EVERY GODDAMN PERSON ON THE AYUMI SET IS MALE, other than Ayumi. There they are, leering middle-aged men, 'capturing' the image of the passive, prancing singer. They poke and prod her, rearrange her hair the way one might fiddle with a Barbie doll, point high-tech thingies at her, and so forth. Stand still, little girl, while big daddy shoves his 'lens' in your face and makes you a star. And she takes it! There's no sign of thought on her face, no signal of control over her surroundings; she just bounces around in golden light, singing into a microphone-as-thinly-veiled-phallic-symbol, goateed men in dark glasses coldly regarding her. Good job, pretty little cash cow. Keep mooing, and we'll give you more bling.

Sorry if this sounds irate by my typical Astrid standards, but I'm really tired of never seeing a woman behind a camera, unless I'm on set and there's a reflective surface nearby. It also kills me when I'm teaching a camera class, and the women present say things like "Thank you for removing the mystique of camera for us." Cameras have NO BUSINESS having mystique! That's like saying a POTTERY WHEEL has mystique! Or that a CHAIN SAW has mystique! Guys buy into this whole mystique crap and eat it up with a spoon; women see it as a threat, and decide that cinematography isn't for least, until I talk to them for a while, and they understand how approachable it is.

It sure feels lonely over here sometimes. Pretty, vacuous nothings like Ayumi make me realize just how far we have to go.

ADDENDUM: I just remembered, when I went to the NAB convention in Vegas a couple of years ago, I tried asking an Arri representative about a new model they were showing off. He refused to make eye contact with me, and answered all my questions to my then-boyfriend, who was standing next to me and hadn't said a word. The rep might as well have said, "I'm sorry, I don't speak estrogen." It was so pointed, and so ridiculous, I started trying to force the rep to make eye contact with me as he was blathering at my boyfriend, leaning into the space between them and so on, and the rep kept backing away and refusing to look at me, even when I was almost on top of him and continuing my questions as politely as possible. It would have been hilarious, if only it hadn't been so horrifying. I'd like to point out here that I'm only 4'11", so any claim that the rep found me threatening is beyond insane.

The worst part of all was that this was the THIRD camera rep to treat me like garbage that day. It really didn't help that the only other women I saw were corporate reps in verrrrrrrry low-cut suits, leaning over a lot as they said "Let me show you our products." My boyfriend witnessed all of this and backed me up, so I know I'm not delusional. He was pretty shocked, and thankfully very empathetic. Alas, he's hardly typical in the cinematography community.

In fairness, there was one shining beacon of hope and justice at that convention: Ira Tiffen. I was ambling over towards the Tiffen display, and (shock!) there were women reps who were NOT wearing low-cut suits! In fact, they were very professional- and friendly-looking. And one of them caught my eye and exuberantly waved at me, hollering "A female filmmaker! Oh my god! Come on over!" And they made oodles of eye contact, and answered my questions as best as possible, and for the questions they couldn't answer, they flagged Ira himself to come help me. Which he did, also making eye contact and being very helpful in the extreme, speaking with me for ten whole minutes and never once making me feel like I was wasting his time.

Bless you, Ira Tiffen, and all the fab folks you employ. You are one of the few who gives me hope, besides Mike Berlin, the cinematographer from "Everybody Loves Raymond" who took me under his wing for a while. We still talk shop every so often, and he's always been extremely encouraging. Now, if only every other guy in the biz besides Ira, Mike, and my ex-boyfriend could be the same way, the world would be a far, far better place, free of my rantings. Wouldn't it be lovely?

Saturday, September 2, 2006

because my dad has impeccable taste in entertainment...

...and he just sent me this, so I just had to post it for your viewing pleasure.

Rube Goldberg devices are a weakness of mine, and they're even more exciting when narrated in excruciating, breathless detail by a Japanese show host.

narcissism, pirates, and other goodies

Ahoy, mateys! Did you know that September is California Wild Rice Month, International People Skills Month, International Strategic Thinking Month, National Biscuit Month, National Honey Month, National Piano Month, Shameless Promotion Month, Subliminal Communications Month, and Update Your Resume Month?

So, in other words, if you're looking for work as a Strategic Thinker, and play piano at a piano bar, and by the use of subliminal communication you manage to snag the attention of a patron who happens to work at the Pentagon, and you hand them your resume, and you schmooze with them so effectively they invite you to join them for dinner, and you enjoy a meal which includes wild rice and biscuits & honey—then you will be The Ultimate September Person in the History of Septembers. It also helps if you have a birthday in September like my friend Mike S. and my brother, whose birthdays are on the same day.

So, let's look at the various notable September Weeks:

National Waffle Week: 3-9
Is it just me, or was it just National Waffle Day? I think the waffle industry is getting a tad greedy here.

Bottled Water Week: 17-23
Now, honestly—does the bottled-water industry really need a special week? Every day in LA is Bottled Water Day already! Sheesh.

National Love Your Files Week: 17-23
Uh, I appreciate my files, which are alphabetized...mostly. But do I LOVE my files? Nah. Too kinky for me.

Tolkien Week: 17-23
Bet Peter Jackson's all sorts of excited.

National Chimney Safety Week: 24-30
Bet fans of Mary Poppins are all sorts of excited. Sadly, this includes me.

And onto the extra-special Events o' September (or, as I like to type it, "Spetmeber", which is how I shall spell "September" from now on):

Be Late For Something Day: 5
I finally got over my habitual lateness, so for me, this is like having a National Get Wasted Day for recovering alcoholics. You insensitive bastards.

Wonderful Weirdoes Day: 9
Has my name all over it! I expect presents.

Swap Ideas Day: 10
Um, I do this for a living, why does everyone else get stuck with one day?

Fortune Cookie Day: 13
Every day is Fortune Cookie Day here in Astridland!

International Chocolate Day: 13
See Fortune Cookie Day.

Anne Bradstreet Day: 16
Hooray for America's first female poet! Bonus: she's actually good.

Talk Like A Pirate Day: 19
Omigod. I miss this every year. But not this time! BY GOD, NOT THIS TIME. Yar.

Elephant Appreciation Day: 22
See Fortune Cookie Day.

Hobbit Day: 22
Whoa, wait a sec—Tolkien already got a week, what the hell is this?

National White Chocolate Day: 22
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! BOYCOTT! Everybody knows that white chocolate is a hoax perpetrated by racist candymakers! For SHAME!

Punctuation Day: 24
I LOVE Punctuation Day. My favorite is the interrobang.

And finally, because I love you all and have no shame, I am posting a picture of myself on set, looking vaguely pissed:

The Afro Aliens & Me

I refuse to explain anything, other than to say that I wasn't actually pissed at anyone except myself, because the ND gel on the windows was catching too much glare, and there was NOTHING I COULD DO ABOUT IT. HOLY GODDAMN. Other than that, it was a fabulous shoot, and it amuses me that there were about twenty other people crammed into the room, carefully hidden in this photograph, and all the camera/lighting crap you see was orchestrated by moi. Don't the afroed men look fabulous? Yes. Yes, they do.

Note to fellow DPs: I know, the lighting on the actors is flat as hell, BUT THAT WAS THE POINT. It's supposed to be a nasty-ass, 70s-era, Denny's-like restaurant; so, by golly, the lighting was set up accordingly. Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it, Jeff Cronenweth!

Further note to fellow DPs: it's the F900. See? You didn't even have to ask—we're already getting a jumpstart on that Spetmeber Subliminal Communication! I'm so proud of you.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

in honor of National Waffle Day...

...let's watch some amusingly demented media!

I call this "Hindi Hoe Down." I don't get it, but that's probably because I'm not stoned. It works well anyway, though -- and the cheapo grafx rawk.

I am a great fan of amusing human oddities, you know.

We have a running joke in my family that the weeping woman in blue is my mom. She is never amused by this, even though we all know it's true....

This is Information Society's "Peace and Love Inc." All I want to know is, why can't MY life look like this? P.S. I LOVELOVELOVE Barbara Kruger, the obvious inspiration behind this video. She is the genius behind such works as "i am your slice of life", "your moments of joy have the precision of military strategy", and "you are seduced by the sex appeal of the inorganic".

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


So I hung out with artist/animator Eric Canete yesterday, and we had the terrific luck of sitting in a restaurant that had thoughtfully covered its tables with paper! So, I browbeat him into drawing something for me, and it turned out like this:

Eric Canete original

We had just been looking at lots of religious iconography at the Norton Simon, so I guess he was still in that 'guardian angel' frame of mind. I fancy myself a bit of a drawer (heh, 'drawer'), but I will never be able to bang out quick sketches like this. DANG, this guy's good.

Also good: the show with zefrank.

I love this man. If I bump into him on the street, I will have a seizure. It will be A Seizure of Joy, but it will still be embarrassing.

And if you want any insight into my early childhood attempts at romantic fantasies, here ya go: the music video for A-ha's "Take On Me."

What I want to know is, why was the restaurant so goshdarn foggy? It wasn't like anyone was smoking, so perhaps it was The Steaminess of Comic Book Love. Back to complete seriousness, that moment where the girl takes the hand sticking out of the comic book still gives me a major frisson. Other girls, back in second grade, had their Prince-Charming-on-a-white-unicorn-coming-to-sweep-you-off-your-feet fantasies; mine all involved running around stark, hand-drawn landscapes with hot Norwegians, where everyone had enough mousse in their hair to deflect small bullets. I was the coolest second-grader ever, but nobody knew it except me. Story of my life....

Monday, August 7, 2006

wish it were a Sunday, 'cause that's my fun day

I saw the headline Uribe sworn in amid high security, and I read "Uribe" as "Oribe." This gave me a good half minute of head-scratching; why, I wondered, would the hairstylist Oribe require high security for anything? Everybody loves Oribe!

Anyway, in the spirit of enlightening all y'all (yes, yes, I know, I'm not Southern, therefore I have no business saying "y'all"; shuddup), here are some upcoming August dates which I strongly suggest we all observe. Each one is absolutely for real, at least according to these people:

Particularly Preposterous Packaging Day: 7
Hurry up before this one's over! I'm not exactly sure what constitutes 'preposterous,' but Sephora might offer one a good lead.

Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night: 8
Hells yeah! Self explanatory.

National Underwear Day: 9
Some of my best friends wear underwear. Now you can, too!

National Duran Duran Appreciation Day: 10
Need I say more? "UMF" is one of my absolute favorite tracks; it sounds hella funk nasty, but it also works for just plain ol' jumping around, which I like to do in creaky elevators. Okay, not really.

S'mores Day: 10
Every day should be S'mores Day!

Kool-Aid Day: 11-13
Kool-Aid's so special, it gets THREE days of fabulosity. Enjoy this one to the hilt, unless you're Jim Jones and live in Guyana. I'll be drinking the blue flavor out of a Windex bottle and freaking everyone out.

Eleanor Roosevelt Day: 12

Vinyl Record Day: 12
Does anyone have a record player which can play my swingin' big band 78s? This is a serious question.

National Navajo Code Talkers Day: 14
Better than Pig Latin for hiding secrets from the kids.

Bad Poetry Day: 18
Every day should be Bad Poetr-- no, wait....

'Black Cow' Root Beer Float Day: 19
I've never had one, but I've been meaning to for 28 years. I believe my time has come.

Vinegar Day: 20
Man, I loves me the balsamic vinegar. I could seriously drink that stuff straight from the bottle. But then who'd kiss me, besides olive oil fanatics?

Southern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day: 22
I don't want to know. I just don't want to know.

Valentino Day: 23
From Wikipedia: "Valentino's reputation still stands as a legendary sex symbol of androgynous appeal. To this day many fans, some dressed as sheiks, flappers or women in black, make an annual pilgrimage on the day of Valentino's death to his crypt at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. . . . 'Sheik' brand condoms, introduced onto the market in the 1930's, were named after Valentino's most famous role and for years featured Valentino's silhouette on the packaging. . . . The Bangles mention Valentino in their pop hit "Manic Monday", written by Prince."

All I have to say is: PRINCE WROTE "MANIC MONDAY"? How did I not know this?!

Vesuvius Day: 24
Enjoy some chocolate lava cake. You know you wanna.

Crackers Over The Keyboard Day: 28
Every day should be Crackers Over the Keyboard Day! In my case, it really is. And Brownies Over the Keyboard Day. And Peanut Butter Straight Out of the Jar Day. Don't worry, I only eat the reduced-fat stuff.

National Toasted Marshmallow Day: 30
See S'mores Day.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled life.

Friday, August 4, 2006

ah, sweet mystery of MySpace

It's official: the number of views on my website has now hit 1000. Not a big deal to most, probably, but it does leave me a bit baffled. Am I getting a lot of repeat views? Or have 1000 people checked me out? If it's the former, then you folks need to get a life. If it's the latter, then how did I get so popular?

Such are the mysteries of MySpace, I guess.

I shall now proceed to spend my Friday night cleaning up my place. This is not because I have no life—there are scads of people getting pissed that I'm not calling/hanging out with them, sorry everyone!—but I've been feeling the need to retreat lately. And to clean up my place. I am so very sleep-deprived, and my place is so very messy. I hope I don't accidentally put laundry detergent in the dishwasher, although I suspect the results wouldn't be too different.

Ooh! I almost forgot, I got my teeth cleaned today! After the scraping, lecturing about flossing, and toothbrush goody bag, I felt like a new woman, cleansed in body and soul. And then I had a burrito. What can I say, I like being a creature of contradictions.

Also, since my brain is on random-fire right now: when did it become okay to wear high heels with shorts? Or tights with shorts? Or high heels with tights and shorts? Silly, silly people! Try wearing belts on your wrists instead; that'll show the world you're an 'individual,' just like everybody else.

And now I'm going to clean. And take a nap. Not necessarily in that order. But hopefully not concurrently.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

i heart statistical anomalies

So! I just had the most satisfyingly wonderful weekend in the longest time. I was in San Francisco, hanging out with my friends Craig (supercool math professor who gets flown around the world so that people can pick his brain) and James (supercool architectural conservationist who gets flown around the world to save ancient cathedrals from turning into dust). They are extraordinarily good-hearted, hilarious, whipsmart people who make me feel like a beautiful, brilliant art goddess by the time I head home. And if that's not the definition of best friends ever, then I'll eat my hat. Hell, I'll eat ALL my hats. And that's a lot of hats, because I'm still a bit of a hat person.

Where to begin? Either in pairs or as a group, we ate at French bistros with charming musical trios; we saw John Kricfalusi at the Castro; I bought a sari; we walked all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset and back; we ate dim sum and nearly had to be rolled out of the restaurant; we talked our mouths off and laughed our heads off and hung out with avant-garde opera singers and other mathematicians and lived in Xanadu. No, seriously, Craig's lodgings at Stanford (he was flown out for the week from UWisc) are called "Xanadu," and the logo from the film of the same name is visible in the lobby. Alas, neither roller skates, nor extreme neon, nor Olivia Newton-John were visible at any point in the trip, but it was still nice. There was a piano.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

gee whiz, pa, it's establishment propaganda!

That above headline is taken from an actual Educational Filmstrip from the Sixties, by the way.

So, anyway, today is Fun With Archival Footage. Enjoy the following:

If Mirrors Could Speak: Self-Image Film (1976)
This involves children dressed as scary, scary clowns. And they are terrible actors, which makes it all somehow better.

Incredible Edible Egg in Foodservice (c. 1980s)
I love eggs. Even the footage here, which makes eggs look utterly revolting, still has me drooling for more eggs. Eggs! EGGS! MWAHAHAHAHA! But I digress.

York Peppermint Patty Commercial (c. 1980s)
This has brief yodeling. Need I say more?

VD is for Everybody (1969)
THE. BEST. SONG. EVER. I have been singing/humming/thinking this dratted song nonstop. I hum it near-silently on the bus. I belt it out loud when I'm alone in elevators. Mothers clutch their small children in fright when they see me approach. But this cheerful ditty keeps me, well, cheerful. Far too cheerful to be of any good to society, perhaps.

These guys are SO my brother and me. It's just simple, excellent fun.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

fabrication ain't just lying

Portable parks are brilliant. It would be terrific if a little lawn flamingo could rotate around in there, too, but maybe I'm just being too demanding.

Also: Alex Martin is actually doing something I've been talking about for the past few years -- completely fabricating her own wardrobe, doing a sort of 'fashion detox.' My problem is, I love wearing other people's ideas too much. I guess I'm mostly a recombiner, taking elements meant to be worn one way, and wearing them in a completely new way. Like wearing neckties as belts, neckties....

Holy crap.

I just came back from my closet, after typing that last sentence, and I'm wearing my favoritest belt ever. On my wrist, wrapped about four or five times. I just tried wrapping it around my neck too, multiple times so that it served as a choker, and that works fabulously, too. I never wear belts, because I feel I'm too short to get away with them, but I keep a few around because I am peculiar that way. So, my favorite belt is made of lenticular plastic, and it has a rainbow layer underneath so that it flickers with color as I move, and now it is busily kicking ass ON MY WRIST. This is the best shift of a sartorial paradigm EVER. Next time you see me, I'll be wearing shoes on my ears. This rules.

ADDENDUM: it just occurred to me that I've done this before, this whole fashion recombination thing. It was my senior year of college, and I had to go to an awards ceremony, and I couldn't find a proper skirt in time, so I borrowed my friend's black sateen shirt (with her permission) and wore it as a skirt—the neckhole was around my waist (it was a low-cut top, so I had room), and I wrapped the sleeves around my waist as a cheeky sash. It worked well, especially if you squinted. I think I also once wore my Swatch around my ankle, but this was back in fifth grade, and everybody already thought I was weird, so no harm/no foul.

And to answer your unasked question, yes, I was the goofy/smart art nerd in high school who aced biology and was never asked out, despite having Sensitivity and Poignance In My Soul. I spent prom night hanging out with my parents. Ain't it great that I've come such a long way since then? Excuse me while I watch some CNN, then go do some crossword puzzles before falling asleep.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I hate sheep II: electric boogaloo

So, Famima!! (exclamation marks NOT mine) just opened a couple of blocks away from me, and I was leery. What, I wondered, do we need with a yuppie 7-11? I could tell, even just walking briskly by, that they had ENTIRE SHELF CASES devoted to nothing but water in pretty glass bottles, which seemed a tad ridiculous.

But! I am now a convert. I walked in, expecting overpriced Italian food to go, and instead discovered that it's a Japanese convenience store that rocks. No, wait, it doesn't just rock, it RAWKS. Imagine being able to purchase, in one location, the following: terrific spicy tuna hand rolls for $2, trendy German stationery, random American DVDs (I bought Birth, haven't watched it yet), condoms, enough varieties of bottled tea to take a bath in, Japanese dishwashing liquid, and Korean bulgogi bento boxes. If only they stocked issues of S-Cawaii, I would never have to shop anywhere else. Huzzah! I feel a little embarrassed that I'm the Famima!! target demographic, but what the hey—if the shoe fits etc.

Here's where the sheep come in. I went to the counter with my hand roll, bottle of green/white tea (ooh, two in one!), and the aforementioned DVD. As the guy was ringing me up, I asked if they were ever going to carry Japanese movies.

"Probably not," was his reply, "but we get enough Asian customers dropping by that we probably should."

"Forget them, I would watch Japanese movies!" was my impassioned response.

This was where the conversation turned a little ugly. The guy was clearly shocked that an American would voluntarily watch anything un-American, and he regarded me carefully, obviously trying to figure me out. I hate when people do that.

"It's not like there are any Japanese movies worth watching though, right?" he pointed out. "I mean, maybe Godzilla, right?"

Don't punch him don't punch him don't punch him.

"ARE YOU CRAZY?!" I said. "There are some INCREDIBLE Japanese films out there! Don't tell me you haven't seen any!"

He shrugged, noncommittal. Don't punch him don't punch him.

"Do you speak Japanese?" he asked.

"No—but you don't need to speak Japanese to enjoy Japanese films!" Idiot. I'll bet he has Dumb & Dumber sitting on his DVD rack at home.

"Then how do you get Japanese movies?"

I confess, I couldn't keep the sarcastic edge out of my voice. "I read subtitles."

He raised his eyebrows in reply, and I knew exactly what those eyebrows were saying.

"You don't watch movies with subtitles, do you?" I asked.

Mr. Dumb & Dumber shrugged. "Sometimes," he said. "Not really my thing."

Don't punch him don't punch him don't

"You're missing out on a lot," I called over my shoulder. "Try checking it out sometime."

I'm still seething. I still really want to go back to Famima!!, but I may have to whap Mr. Dumb & Dumber with an issue of Non-No next time.

Of course, it didn't help my anger levels any that I watched The Corporation when I got home. Awesome movie, angering message. It makes me want to march through the streets with the righteously indignant masses, bar codes taped over our mouths as we rally against privatization and so forth. Did you know that water—including rain water!—was privatized in Bolivia, costing up to a quarter of each person's annual income? It took rioting in the streets, one death and many, many maimings before the government and the Bechtel Corp. finally backed down. I wish all the oil in the world vanished tomorrow, and that we had a much safer alternative already in place. I wish every television set could be smashed in the streets. I want to kick unethical marketers in the shins with very pointy shoes.

Maybe I'm not really cut out for the world o' media. Of course, I could try dismantling the system from the inside, rebuilding it into something more socially conscious. And then I'd shoot a Coca-Cola commercial, because we all need to pay our bills.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

things that make me go 'hooah!

Note: the Ze Frank link now works! Fabuloso!

This made my day. And Ze Frank is my hero; this guy rocks like a geologist. Yeah. And hey, while you're at it, surfing like the surf maniac you know you are, view these government reels of nuclear bomb tests. Hooah!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

a wondrous place... the internet. Check this out.

And when you are done regarding this, try downloading Lansing-Dreiden's "A Line You Can Cross," from their The Dividing Island album. It makes me think of shimmery things, and the smell of black lipstick; and, rather unaccountably, of Patrick Nagel. Also recommended: Lansing-Dreiden's "I Keep Everything," from the The Incomplete Triangle album. Very shimmery, Houston-we-have-liftoff indeed.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Lawrence Fishburne, you're my hero

The Solvang trip was perfectly as predicted (am I psychic or what?), and it ended up involving pinot noir after all, and it was the best steak I have had in a very, very, very, very long time. Whooee. Run, do not walk, to The Hitching Post in Buellton if and/or when you can.

Last night, my ever-culturally-minded parents sprung for tickets for all of us to see Without Walls, a play currently at the Mark Taper Forum. It's a 70's look at the story of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, with Lawrence Fishburne as the gay, Southern, high-school-drama-teaching, quasi-Brodie figure. Honestly, I never knew Fishburne had it in him, and I was blown away. BLOWN AWAY, people. The only other folks in the cast are Matt Lanter and Amanda MacDonald, who are also stupendous, and with just the three of them I was utterly convinced of their universe for all eighty minutes. In fact, their universe was so convincing, I was suprised that only three people stepped out to take a bow at the end, and then I realized that all the other 'characters' in the story were completely in my head, hinted at by the cast's performances. Just incredible.

Thing is, I've grown spoiled by realistic film acting; theatrical acting, which may be necessary to be perceived from the back of a theater, sort of disgusts me, at least until I've grudgingly grown used to it. And then it's great. Still, it hurts my brain a bit to have to switch so radically in my appreciation of performance. Would it really hinder things to be so minimal on a stage? Or am I asking too much?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

YouTube: highbrow culture for the masses?

So, within a couple of hours of putting down YouTube, I finally succumbed. And I discovered the genius of Guy Bourdin, French Vogue photographer and sometime filmmaker! I would link to his site, but I don't want to get shut down by the MySpace police. Let's just say that, while Monsieur Bourdin was a-ok by French standards, he would make American censors very nervous indeed. Check him out, but I'll tell you right now, he's not exactly safe for viewing at work, unless you work in a very unusual office. (Don't worry, the film below is merely eerie, not outright obscene.)

boy oh boy oh boy


I can now ignore my e-mail at blistering speeds. I can now also ignore YouTube at blistering speeds. Best of all: I can now download all the eye candy at Plan 59 at blistering speeds, which truly makes living worthwhile.

Also: I am reading two books at the same time, but not simultaneously. One is What We Believe But Cannot Prove; Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty, edited by John Brockman, and the other is Florence of Arabia by Christopher Buckley. I recommend both unreservedly. I mean, hey, how can you not enjoy reading about rollicking feminist conspiracies in the Middle East and homo sapiens eating Neanderthals?

Plans for this week:
1. E-mailing the powers that be at various London film schools, enquiring into possible teaching positions.

2. Calling the wretched 900 number given to me by the British Consulate, so that I can get the ball rolling on my dual citizenship (gor blimey).

3. Calling my Mercury dealer and finding out the numbers on buying out my Grand Marquis land barge, so that I don't have to worry about lease crap when I'm abroad next year.

And for tomorrow, June 19: My family and I are chillin' in wild, wild Solvang, where there are non-operational windmills and plaster stork replicas galore! Mom will go nuts over the tchotchke shoppes, and Dad & Co. will roll our eyes to the point of eye socket pain.

And then there will be barbecue.

Give a Dane a set of grilling tongs, and they will apparently feed you the world; we're going to the place featured in the film Sideways, pinot noir optional.

Friday, June 9, 2006

well, now

[What follows was a little something I tried to post two days ago, to no avail until now -- just FYI]

June 7, 2006:

I just got home from the 3rd Annual University of Michigan Entertainment Coalition Film Festival at the Pacific Design Center (whew), where I got to watch some good short films, and then hobnob with folks afterwards. Everyone asked each other what we'd all been up to, and the general consensus was that we're all working, we're not playing much, things are okay, we're paying bills, but nothing in our lives right now is terribly exciting.

It wasn't until a few minutes ago that, in the course of writing an e-mail to my friend Phil, I suddenly realized my life has been unbelievably fabulous lately. Shocking but true.

Exhibit A: Two weekends ago, I shot a movie! Good people all around, craft service included homemade scones with Grand Marnier, orange essence and dried cranberries, and the footage (nearly all of it, except for when it started raining) turned out gorgeously.

Exhibit B: On Memorial Day, I went to a barbecue at the home of an ex-wife of a veryveryvery famous film director. She was super nice, so was her boyfriend, the barbecue was smoked over mesquite to perfection by the nanny (also fab), everyone else in attendance totally rocked, and the pool was splendid. I even remembered to bring a swimsuit, hooray!

Exhibit C: Last weekend, I went to a croquet party, with a pleasant horde of architects from SciArc, and I wore a sexyglorious white dress and a Japanese parasol, and it was heavenly. I kicked off my gold sandal heels and played badminton, and didn't entirely suck at it.

Exhibit D: Immediately after the croquet party, I went to a bachelorette party, and four of us girls stayed overnight in Anaheim, across the street from Disneyland. The best part was that we didn't go to Disneyland. Despite the drinking/dancing/singing Def Leppard at a dueling-pianos bar well into the night, we still found the energy to play a round of The New York Minute Board Game, based upon the esteemed film of the same name starring the grande dames of cinema Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, sitting around in our PJs at three in the morning. Contrary to how this may sound, it was immensely satisfying.

Exhibit E: I got to see my friend Brett tonight at the film fest, and I also got to see a galley of her latest novel (The Lightning Rule, reserve it today)! I feel so cosmopolitan just for knowing her.

Exhibit F: I got to see my friend Brandon tonight at the film fest, AND he won for Best Student Film! Hopefully, we'll get to hang out tomorrow afternoon before he flies home.

Exhibit G: I'm shooting a movie this Saturday! Okay, to be fair, we're shooting pickups from two weekends ago (a bunch of inserts, and reshoots for scenes where we lost sunlight), but still. I'm shooting a movie!

Exhibit H: I'm going to a futurist salon at UCLA this Sunday! I haven't been before, and I'm not sure I'm cool enough for the reigning geeks, but I hope they'll at least let me be a groupie.

So, there you are. My life rocks. Why didn't anyone tell me this earlier? And why do I pathologically have to focus on just the bad stuff, except during rare moments like this? I'm a madwoman, I tell you. A MADWOMAN. If I ever complain again that my life is but a barren wasteland, I give you permission to yell out "SAYS YOU!" and pelt me gently with the candy of your choice. If said candy has dark chocolate in it, and was not manufactured by the Hershey corporation, try aiming at my mouth.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

truly, truly, truly outrageous

I heard Falu for the first time about half an hour ago on KPFK, and she totally made my morning. Check her music out, if you haven't already.

On a slightly more serious note, I have finally mustered up all my courage and gotten myself my own accountant. I've been going through my family accountant for a while, but since he's a) based in NJ, and b) knows next to nothing about film biz matters, I figured it was High Time that I take matters into my own hands and get someone who can make sure that, yes, I CAN claim back episodes of "Jem" as a tax deduction. This is a huge step for me, and is extremely nerve-wracking, considering that I have literally never sat down with a CPA before. I normally just send my tax crap to my mom, who delivers it to her CPA for me with the rest of the family tax junk, and that's the end of that.

And this just occurred to me: I've been really good about keeping all my bills/receipts, except FOR MY PHONE BILLS. What the HELL is up with that?! As a dorm-mate once wrote on their dry-erase board, back at Michigan, "I am an idiot/sauteed in a fine wine." I couldn't have put it better myself. GAWD, I am SUCH a STUPID artist-type, gag me with a W2. Goddamn.

Friday, May 26, 2006

architectural dreams

I'm not sure why, but whenever I remember a dream of mine, it's invariably situated within a very interestingly-designed space. Perhaps I've missed my calling as a designer of buildings, but I'd much rather be an architect of film than of corporate headquarters. Unless, of course, it could be the headquarters for a supervillain. Talk about artistic license!

So, anyway, here's what I dreamt last night:

I'd heard word around town that one simply had to visit Magic _____. I'm still not sure what "_____" was—Castle? Mountain? Village? Chalet? Overpriced Theme Park? Point is, it's a tourist destination wherein one is dropped off in these very picturesque hills, finds the sprawling estate of said Magic _____ for themselves, far away from the rest of civilization, and by virtue of discovering the various secret passages honeycombed throughout the vast area, one ends up tumbling back along various slides/pneumatic tubes to the original ticket area, which (conveniently enough) is behind the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood.

Yes, you read that right: tickets to this place were only available at the Hotel Cafe, which looked the same as its real self from the outside, but step inside and HOLY COW it looks exactly like a barely-refurbished 1950's-era mental institution! It was all plaster and linoleum and turquoise doors and robin's-egg-blue walls, but the fluorescent fixtures were replaced with halogen lighting, which clearly communicated "Hey—we're being ironically kitschy, as evidenced by the dated, institutional quality of the place as seen under terrific lighting!"

So, the ticket counter (which is where the Hotel Cafe's counter normally is) is also a concession stand. Since it's typical to be stuck at Magic _____ for a long time until you find a passage which will bring you back, they strongly recommend bringing provisions. I notice that they have a "blubber sandwich" on sale, which actually looks like a delicious Moroccan tomato paste on pumpernickel.

"Hey," I ask the ticket guy after buying my ticket, "that's not really blubber, is it?"

He looks at me like I'm nuts, the whole line erupts into laughter behind me, he tells me that I am an idiot, that OF COURSE it's blubber, gee whiz; I shrug my shoulders and buy it. Silly people laughing at me. ME! Hmph.

So. I step out back to the van which awaits us tourists, and I realize I am no longer in Hollywood. No sirree, I have stepped out into WALES. Saw that coming, didn't you? Anyway, the gorgeously verdant hills are unmistakeable. We wind our way through the countryside, and (as part of the adventure) it's up to each rider to decide when to get off, since the van driver isn't allowed to tell us precisely where Magic _____ even is. I get off first, everyone looks at me like I'm nuts, and I spend a day and a half wandering through the countryside, NEVER FINDING THE MAGIC _____. What a waste! The sandwich lasted me the whole time, which was impressive, but I was still peeved when I landed back at the Hotel Cafe. While I was grumbling at the staff, who are impressed that I made it back without any secret passageway help whatsoever, I recognized my friends Matt and Isa (hi, guys!).

So, Matt, true to form, teases me mercilessly for missing Magic _____ completely ("Wow, whatta dumbass," are his exact words, "but we love you anyway"), and then we agree to investigate Magic _____ together, the Hotel Cafe staff grudgingly letting me try all over again. This time, Matt and Isa (being old pros at this) guide me unerringly to the Magic _____. We meander about, oohing and aahing at the very House-of-Usher-meets-La-Dolce-Vita aspects to the estate, and then do some serious investigating, trying to avoid the many kids running around screaming and galumphing about the courtyards and corridors, ripping down the ivy and so forth. I walk into a sumptuous, decaying bathroom straight out of The Shining, and step into the shower stall, Matt and Isa right behind.

"Hey, guys," I say, "do you think this could be a secret passagewaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" as the bathtub falls away beneath me and WHOOOOOOOOOOSSSHHHHHHH I find myself sliding at an ungodly number of miles per hour down a very zigzaggy tunnel, wide enough for one person, and it's very much like a typical water tunnel at a water-themed amusement park, only there's no water, and it's pitch black, and I'm convinced I'm about to die, when WHAM I spill out into a fountain in a main courtyard, tourists applauding me as I make my splashy appearance, and I see the back of the Hotel Cafe right in front of me.

I later ask people how long it usually takes to find one's way out of Magic _____, and the answer is "about two days," so I didn't feel so bad about making it back within a day and a half, my first time around. It was a lot of fun, and great to hang out with Matt and Isa, but there was a lot to be said, too, for wandering about on my own through the picturesque Welsh hills—just myself, the pretty clouds, the mild sun, a full moon, and a Moroccan tomato paste sandwich on pumpernickel to keep me company.

Friday, March 10, 2006

i hate sheep

Okay, I don't hate actual sheep; actual sheep are quite adorable, really. My problem, to be honest, is with sheeplike people. Take tonight's party...please.

My friend Rebekah brought me along to a party for a friend of hers, which seemed well and good. Rebekah is a fab individual, and it is generally a good idea to get out of your house and have a life every so often. Still, the promise of the evening came to a grinding halt when we were introduced by the hostess, within the first five minutes of our arrival, to a guy who asked us "What do you do?"


Rebekah, being superfab, replied calmly, "I'm a contortionist." I immediately burst out laughing, the guy responded with disbelief, I insisted that her five-in-a-row backflips are truly something to behold, and then Rebekah had to ruin it all by confessing that she is, in fact, not a contortionist after all. Damn her honesty.


Then more people showed up, most of whom failed to ask me anything about myself. I learned a great deal about them, inquiring into the thrilling details of their lives, but no curiosity on their ends. The brave few who bothered to ask about me had no idea what cinematography is, which is certainly fair enough. I explained it, they nodded politely, and the conversation died—until I asked some more about their lives, and they lit up and just blathered away merrily again.


The worst, though—THE ABSOLUTE PITS—were these law students talking about Coachella. They asked me if I planned to go, and I said No Thank You, I am not into Festivals of Trendiness for the Sheeplike Masses (I neglected to further mention that I can't afford the ticket—but even if I could, I seriously doubt I'd go). One of the law students replied, "Astrid, you think too much."

Think too much?

"Gee," I said, "that sure inspires confidence, coming from a law student. Remind me to hire you sometime."

"Seriously, though," he said in a genuinely earnest fashion, "I do very little thinking, and my life is great."


Then he asked me what I'm drinking.

"Coke," I replied.

"And what?" he asked.

"Just Coke."


"Why not?"

The poor guy experienced some serious consternation at this point. He studied my face carefully, clearly expecting me to break down and tearfully admit that I am a total loser, and don't know how to party. Little does he know that my brain synthesizes LSD naturally, and I've danced on bars—and gotten chased away by security—completely stone-cold sober. I am perfectly comfortable with having fun on caffeine only, and it freaked him out royally.

"But it's FRIDAY!" he exploded.

"Yes," I said.

"Do you drink at all?"


"But not now."


He regarded me some more, shook his head whilst mumbling wonderingly, and backed away into the crowd. He looked a tad frightened, which I found oddly satisfying.

But still: GAH.

I hate sheep. Where O where are the contortionists, the feverish thinkers, the folks who would rather get their fingernails ripped out one by one than ask somebody what they "do"?

Friday, March 3, 2006

rainy fridays

Wouldn't it be cool to have a band called The Rainy Fridays? Well, okay, maybe it just sounds cool to me.

Anyway, I'm really liking this switcheroo in L.A. weather—bring it on, Mother Nature! The main thing I like about rain is how musical it makes my brain; I start thinking endlessly about all the rain-related songs I know, and it makes for an amusing day. My personal favorites are "I Can't Stand the Rain" by Ann Peebles, "November Rain" by Guns & Roses, and "Come Clean" by Hilary Duff. A co-worker also mentioned "Fool in the Rain" by Led Zeppelin, which I've never heard, and I also briefly debated including "No Rain" by Blind Melon, which I think has us covered. (Yeah, yeah, I know the Grateful Dead did their own rain thing, as did Madonna, Neil Young, Mariah Carey, Whitesnake, and other musical luminaries—I've just never heard their particular odes to dampness, excepting Madonna's.)

Totally unrelated: someone said to me last night, "You're doomed to failure, but in a good way." Assuming he was joking, I consider this brilliance. Maybe I need new friends, or at least a lobotomy.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

hope for humanity

So I went to Boomie's improv thingie last night -- and all I have to say is, their impression of President Taft ROCKED. And if impersonating President Taft is not truly entertainment, folks, then I don't know what is.

Happy National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Eye Donor Month, National Frozen Food Month, National On-Hold Month, National Umbrella Month, Play The Recorder Month, and Vulvar Health Awareness Month! Wow, March sure is a helluva month. I'll be spending tonight at the Saddleback Ranch on Sunset, avoiding the mechanical bull like the plague (gotta maintain that vulvar health awareness, what with all those trampy disco gals) and hobnobbing with UMichigan entertainment alums instead. Boy, am I thrilling or what? The month of March does not deserve me.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Le fromage bleu

Why do I love bleu cheese so much?  No, really—why?  I don't get it.  I used to think the stuff was nasty, back in the day, but this was also back in the same day when I hated anything made with whole grains.  Taste buds are curious things.

So, for the first time in my life, believe it or not, I have finally tried frozen grapes.  Frozen grapes!  I love how there's that moment when you first bite into a frozen grape and your gums go YOWTCH from the searing cold and then suddenly the grape juices melt and HOORAY it's a party in your mouth and a grape was invited.  Ooee, I just love it.

Can you tell I just went grocery shopping yesterday? Garlic rosemary crackers are FAB.  Pearl tomatoes are fab, and doubly fab when you wrap each tomato in some fresh basil.  Oh, man, I'm hungry...and I didn't really have a proper lunch...gah.  I'd get something now, but I'm going to Ammo tonight, so I need to save room.  Alas, my existence is so difficult.