Archive for December, 2006

Coffee

December 31, 2006

My recent distressing discovery is this: I find it hard to write without a good cup of coffee, this resulting either from Pavlovian response (I used to do all my writing in a coffee shop) or because the stimulant caffeine (with perhaps a bit of irony) helps me concentrate (see: Ritalin), distressing only insofar as it’s difficult to write much when you make at least 6 trips to the bathroom every day, and I wonder if it’s in bad form to bring my laptop into the bathroom, or if my flatmates will think so.

J-Love

December 20, 2006

I don’t really get starstruck, but I do find certain types of behavior funny coming from celebrities.  So it was with utmost pleasure today that I heard the following exclamation, provided with utter sincerity by the very friendly and approachable Jennifer Love Hewitt (this was not a line from her script):

“How is that a penis?”

It’s probably best out of context.

Best music of the year

December 18, 2006

I like year end lists. They appeal to my desire to canonize things before anyone else has a chance to, and to engage in nostalgia for things that are still happening.

Remember that time I wrote that post about year end lists? Yeah. That was cool.

But music lists are wacky. There are magazines, and even bloggers, who have named their Top 50 of 2006. 50? Even if I weren’t constantly combing through music’s back pages (I heard for the first time this year 1967’s Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Rolling Stones and 1997’s Zaireeka by The Flaming Lips, among many others), I still wouldn’t have near enough time to process 50 new albums unless I gave up listening to all my old ones. And I love music. And I have lots of time because I’ve been unemployed most of the year. Who are these people who have listened to so many new records that they have 50 favorites? Even when I was a part-time music critic I had difficulty coming up with much more than 10 albums worth honoring at the end of the year.

And so, in no particular order, the only albums I can really recommend from 2006:

Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (discussed here)
Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped (discussed here)
Bob Dylan – Modern Times (now with more plagiarism!)
The Starlight Mints – Drowaton (they’re getting progressively less weird, and the departure of their string section hurts, but their latest has better energy than 2003’s Built on Squares.)

Missing the cut are four pretty good but problematic records: The Flaming Lips’ At War with the Mystics, The Strokes’ First Impressions of Earth, Belle and Sebastian’s The Life Pursuit and The Pillows’ My Foot.

Work space

December 18, 2006

After months of finding it impossible to write at home (and thus downing an awful lot of cheap but plentiful coffee at Norm’s while pounding out pages), I’ve decided to take the advice of architects and start spatially compartmentalizing my life. No more eating in my room, no more surfing the net in bed. But most importantly, I need a place to write, and a desk may not be enough. I’m fashioning a workspace out of a storage closet adjacent to my bathroom (which, judging by the remnants of kitty litter, was once used for something other than work). It’s smaller than ideal, but with love it might become a great space for writing. I’ll set up speakers so I can listen to my film scores and ambient tunes. I’ll decorate the walls. I’ll bring in incense. It’s important to manipulate senses to get the creative milks flowing.

Later tonight I’ll be scouring the neighborhood for disused milk crates, upon which shall be set a table top, or, barring that, a smartly sized plank of wood, for a makeshift desk.

If you’d like to help, I still require the following objects:

Beads, to hang from the doorway once I remove the door.
1 lava lamp
small toys
1 ukulele
(all to jog the imagination)
paint or paintings or photographs or posters. Something to cover the walls. Something inspirational. Not like “Hang in there baby” but something that’s inspiring in its intrigue.
1 smartly sized plank of wood

In-N-Out Burger

December 14, 2006

Had my first tonight.  A bit turned off by odd, cultish following and unbelievably long lines.

Food was decent.  The Double Double is the most prominently featured on the menu and I now see why: the toppings overpower the meat with just one patty.  I may go back to try again.  I do like the idea of a very simple menu (burger, cheeseburger, double, fries, drinks, shake, and that’s it), with many standard off-the-menu requests, though I’m not sure it’s worth trying everything out when the food isn’t substantially better than standard fast food fare.

Shrek 2

December 10, 2006

…man, I felt so bad for that giant gingerbread man.

Screenwriters are weird, part 2

December 4, 2006

            In an earlier post I asked what the appeal of packing up and moving to LA was for a screenwriter.  Here’s something: it’s not the promise of celebrity, but of community…

            My brother is one of the foremost critics of Channels 101 and 102, websites that show serialized short videos (which is perhaps not as much of a non-honor as it sounds; we’ll get to that).  With nothing else to think about in the shower the other day, I was trying to suss out the appeal of these sites.  The shows, on their own merit, are pretty unsatisfying.  Forget the problem of production values; the writing and acting and overall level of entertainment (with a few notable exceptions) fail to hurdle the admittedly low bar set by commercial TV.  Frequently the biggest difference is that the humor, unrestricted by censors, can be “edgier.”  Hardly an end to itself.  The amateurish theatrics have a certain appeal, but what does that mean exactly?  It can’t simply be a case of rooting for the little guy, right?

            I think more likely is the conclusion that the sites have managed to cultivate a community.  Filmmakers compliment and criticize one another, appear in each other’s videos, even read commentary by obscure bloggers like Yodelling Llama.  We continue to watch because we too have made videos, or at least thought about it, because we’ve read message board posts by Channel 101 celebrity Dan Harmon and he seems like more of a person than George Clooney, because the whole enterprise is immediate and personal and not a product.  It’s cozy; it’s manageable.  It’s the same reason we watch idiotic YouTube videos that we’d never tolerate in a movie theater and read blogs by people who could never be published.

John Doe has his day job, maybe he likes it, maybe he doesn’t.  Maybe it’s important and meaningful, maybe it isn’t.  On his way home from work he stops at a fast food restaurant and buys a dinner that was made by a person he’s never met.  Home at his fresh and indistinguishable condo, he sits in his mass-produced Ikea chair made in a country across the sea, turns on his Japanese TV and watches shows made by a small group of people on the other side of the country who might as well be from Neptune.  It’s not the commonality or nonspecificity of the experience that bothers me, it’s the distance.  If he doesn’t define himself by his job, not unlikely, and if he is defining himself less and less by the company he keeps, well, at least he has his favorite TV shows and his comfy space mattress and his other products of satisfying consumption.  Consumption may be the closest thing he has to life.  But never does Mr. Doe actually interact with the folk who make the things that shape his life.  There is, in the words of grammatically playful college professors / assholes, a disconnect.

            And so we zebes who move across the country to that unholiest of stank holes aren’t seekers of fame at all.  We’re just trying to interact with something that seems to have an effect on our lives and the lives of others.  We’re a more arrogant strain of that strange species who participate in community theater.  Or who set up mechanic shops in  small towns in upstate New York or Tennessee.  Or who make videos for Channel 102.  But instead of retreating from the big, scary, impersonal world, shrinking it to a manageable size, we’re moronically diving headfirst into it, attacking it on its own terms.  Leaning into the fist, if you will.