Saturday, September 22, 2007

So shortly after I assumed responsibility for paying the bills in my new house, I ran out of checks. I ordered more, then didn't see them arrive, leaving a bill to go unpaid. The person who saw those checks and put them in a kitchen cabinet meant to serve as a mailbox got mad because the one bill left unpaid was in her name. But I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about the checks themselves, and how I listened to the person at the bank's insistence that "old english" was the font most people chose- Highly unlikely, but this combines with a misspelling of my address to strike me as humorous.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sometimes people will say things to me that if I were the person talking to me, I would not bring up because it seems like it would be a touchy subject for someone like me. And I don't know if they don't think of things like that because I just play it cool all the time, or if it's just that the whole point of someone like me is that I don't have sensitive subjects. Although maybe the two are related, but they seem separate.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Like most people who are assholes, most of my regrets are concerned with times I could've said something obnoxious and seemingly wrong-headed that I totally believe, but didn't, because I didn't think of them at the time.

Today, as I cooked seashell-shaped pasta, I thought back to my class Art Media Praxis. When a kid suggested we watch a Hitchcock movie as an example of a normal film, well-done, for its editing rhythms, to contrast with Maya Deren or something. The teacher's response- "we all know what a normal movie looks like" is basically true, and I had a problem with the kid citing Hitchcock for how safe that is.

But anyway, what I should've said, was "Rope is an experimental film." Which I would argue, but I think is indisputable. Fuck, man, Rope. This blog post will take as a pretext that you've all seen the movie Rope, although you probably haven't. It's my favorite Hitchcock movie, done all in one take, with a moving camera, the splices between reels done as the camera moves past someone's back and the screen goes black for a frame or two. It's explained in issue 3 of The Ganzfeld how it was done- all the walls were on wheels, and the skyline outside the window was pretty thought out.

I realized that Rope is pretty much the opposite of another movie cited on my Myspace favorite movies, the Japanese anime Mind Game that is pretty much the only anime I like. (There are others I tolerate.) Rope is about committing the perfect crime. But the crime has already been committed, so the film then becomes about getting away with it. Meanwhile, the technical side of the film is this weird highwire act, with the same imperative- getting away with it, making it work, having all the artifice come off as reality. Alternately, it's about the morality- the leads imagine themselves as Nietzchean ubermensch, who should be allowed to do whatever they want. Jimmy Stewart realizes that this isn't actually the case, this is completely wrong- that there should be restrictions to behavior to keep us human and good. The film's likewise formally restricted, and this helps make the film good.

Mind Game isn't restrained at all. It's about living your life freely, and the animation is constantly freewheeling- it's stylistic exercises/excesses make the argument that characters in the film make. That movie has a part that's restrained in terms of its plot forward movement, but even that can't stop the nonstop shifting of visual approaches. I wanted to screen Mind Game, I think, because of how powerful the visuals are. The way that style can fit content in narrative works seemed like an important point to get across, along with the limitlessness of style that film possesses.

Tomorrow I'm going to see Animal Collective play in Seattle with Eric Copeland of Black Dice opening. That'll be great!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A terrible feeling at the pit of your being.

I've decided that the next few movie things I make will be collaborative. I was thinking a of making movie with one kid, longer in length than what I've done before, and a music video done for the band of the guy who sells me groceries.

I had the meeting about the movie today. That was kind of encouraging, he doesn't have any ideas as of yet. I was hoping we could work through the ones I have and combine those with his and hash things out but that hasn't happened yet.

But more of a bummer is this CD I'm listening to now, to pick a song for a video. I don't want to be negative, which is for me kind of a first time ever thing. But I will say that the actual CD seems really poorly mastered. And I'll just say that the songs are so self-contained, self-referential, or so suited to a live performance that I don't know how a music video could even be a thing. I had ideas for a music video but maybe they are just "video ideas," visual notions.

I don't feel like I'm superior to these people. Actually, the work ethic of the dude from the grocery store- he works a forty-hour-a-week job, makes music in a variety of different projects, one of which is actually liked by people? There are times when I am unemployed and not going to school and am still unable to write sizable chunks of fiction with any regularity.

But ohhhh boy. I don't know how I do the thing. You know? If art is the thing you make to stand in for personal communication, or to deepen it- to say something else- I still think that the idea of artistic collaboration is probably subject to all the problems of normal interpersonal interaction, vis a vis how the fuck do you do this.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I really like this quote, that I heard attributed to Peter Blegvad, which I will paraphrase- "Only a jailer would consider 'escapism' a bad thing." (referring to art)

I also like this quote that I came up with and will use in a movie someday. "You'll Rue Mclanahan the day you crossed my path."

Sunday, September 02, 2007

So I could talk about the events at the Olympia Film Society. The guy who trained me and was something off a father figure for a small circle of Olympia AV nerds, Jeffrey Bartone, was fired by the board of directors. Fourteen projectionists stopped working in protest. One person remained, the most recent projectionist to finish his training, a male nurse who's kind of a fuckup. He is training people- One that I know of is an Evergreen Electronic Media higher-up who is disliked by most people I socialize with. When I went to see The Ten last night, there were more technical difficulties than usual, and a scratched-up print.

We're trying to work it all out.

The Ten is pretty good. Winona Ryder gives a really great performance, surprisingly. Kerri Kenney's bit is a highlight, unsurprisingly. A lot of the weakest bits have the best comedic actors. There's an animated segment, done by a Wonder Showzen dude, with an H. Jon Benjamin voice, that's not so great. A.D. Miles' bit sucks. Paul Rudd has a pretty dull part. Meanwhile, Michael Showalter is essentially an extra.

I haven't seen Superbad or Knocked Up, but I imagine both of them are better than this. It is possible also that The Simpsons Movie is funnier.

But what I wanted to talk about is something I've talked about elsewhere, how Flight Of The Conchords is not actually a funny show. I am convinced that it's popularity is attributable to social cohesion, relating to something rather than jokes. It's why people like Dane Cook or Larry The Cable Guy or all the things despised by the people who post on aspecialthing, only for a different demographic. It's about musicians living in New York, trying to make it, and the jokes are largely about dating. They're not insightful jokes, or funny ones, but the presentational context is appealing. I'm not saying that's the whole appeal, because it has broader support than that, but- it's not a really funny show.

If you think about it, this show is probably why Lucky Louie was canceled. Lucky Louie couldn't find support because the people the show was about don't have a lot of disposable income, and don't spend it on HBO. Flight Of The Conchords is slightly less funny, but can find a sympathetic audience of hipster-types. Lucky Louie isn't even the funniest show. Flight Of The Conchords isn't terrible, it's not unwatchable. It's just really overrated. And it's mediocrity makes an argument against the type of comedy I like, that it isn't really good, but that people can just relate to the people saying it.

I swear that I am laughing at the jokes.

30 Rock and The Sarah Silverman Program are way funnier than Flight Of The Conchords, despite their network TV and basic cable pedigree. I am now meeting people who don't like The Sarah Silverman Program, because they don't like Sarah Silverman ON THAT SHOW. They like her stand-up, and some might like everyone else on that show. But it's an unsympathetic character. This, by the way, is what makes the show funny. That show kills me. Some people prefer the Flight Of The Conchords. And they might deny the social cohesion element- that's kind of a big thing to throw in people's faces, that their tastes are short-circuited by their hipsterism, since hipsterism is so based on the idea of taste.

Certainly, there's signifiers for FOTC being a funny show. It has a bunch of really funny people on it that don't really do anything particularly funny. Eugene Mirman is the funniest dude. Kristen Schaal runs in the circles of people I think are funny, although I've never seen her comedy, I don't think. But really, those signifiers should be shot down by the fact that there's a lot of song parodies.

I talked to a guy who liked it, a fellow who lives in New York who was visiting my roommate. I made this argument to him. He said the later episodes are better.

Me: "Are they about more than just dating and song parodies?"
Him: "No, they're really random. It's just retardedly funny."
Me: "It's not retardedly funny. I've seen it, I'll giggle and I'll titter, but that's not retardedly funny, that's saying that's something is hysterical."
Him: "No okay I know that's saying something else. I mean it's retarded, and that's what makes it funny."

Anyway this guy, who the part where he describes the show as "random" is meant to be a tipoff to laugh at him, did a shitload of namedropping. All of really obvious things. He was also wearing an Of Montreal t-shirt when I had this conversation. Probably one bought on the most recent tour judging by the unpsychedelic font. I tried to tell him about other things in New York comedy- Invite Them Up, for example, and when I got around to trying to explain The Best Show On WFMU, which actually is occasionally retardedly funny, he left halfway through, I think to go smoke weed.

One of the few people who agrees with me about Flight Of The Conchords sucking is my good friend Alex Tripp, who's come to the same conclusions on his lonesome. When I lived with him and would watch movies and feel the same way about the movies, I felt that there might be a certain level of just picking up on general moods that then got amplified. The fact that both of us have watched this show in isolation from each other and reached the same "this show is not very good and actually makes me feel uncomfortable in how not very good it is" really reassures me. The other show that is really popular with friends of mine that Alex and I decided independent of each other wasn't very good was Arrested Development, but I don't have the same problems with that show that I do with Flight Of The Conchords. Or maybe I do, actually, but Flight Of The Conchords articulates that better. I did feel that Arrested Development was maybe getting a pass on the basis of the David Cross involvement, but that's not all there is to that show.

Seriously if there is something on either of those shows that is funnier than the Tracy Morgan dream sequence with Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy as Thomas Jefferson, I would like to fucking see it, and I will tell you right now that that Pet Shop Boys parody does not count even a little bit.