Saturday, July 10, 2004

Tomorrow morning I leave as early as I can stand to. I'll probably return to Chico around the 22nd or so. Dr. Oblivious is riding down with me.
More soon.

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I'm leaving for OC sometime in the next 24 hours or so. Dr. Oblivious had talked about riding down with me but I haven't heard from him for a while so I don't know if that's still happening. I don't know if I'll leave tonight or tomorrow. But I'm going soon.
Just like last time, postings might be intermittant for a while or maybe they won't be.

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Friday, July 09, 2004

I wasn't planning on mentioning it because, as long time readers know, I try as hard as I can to avoid preachiness at all turns (and sometimes fail as the bookreading post reveals.) But I stopped eating meat a few weeks ago for health and ethical reasons. The main issue is that, also as old friends will know, I'm terrified of having a heart attack what with my family history and Germanic tendancy towards the robust body type. Also why I walk everywhere. Well, that and the ethical issue that I hate spewing poison into the air just so I can get somewhere a little quicker.
But my point is that about ten years ago, when I was 17, I used to make fun of other smokers who said they were quitting. "No one ever quits" I would tell them. I could now tell that 17 year old me that I quit smoking six years ago (mainly because I became terrified that I'd have a heart attack.)
I also used to make fun of my vegetarian friends who under some circumstance ate meat and then ended up in severe stomach pain. Well, now God has smote me. He smote me because I had a little chicken tonight.
And speaking of God smiting people and messed up teenagers, here's tonight's film review.


I had no intention of seeing this film for a number of reasons. 1) I'm so saturated with religion what with the freaked out books I read, my brother being a pastor, and my incredibly strange adolescence, that I don't tend to see religious films (except Dogma. That freakin' rocked!) I didn't see the Jesus film, which surprised a lot of my friends because I'm the only guy they know who will mention God in a conversation without it being a swear.
2) I don't want to buy the load of horseshit that Macaulay Culkin is peddling. It seems blazingly obvious that after his childhood of privilege, his career as the worst actor on the London stage, and the weirdest marriage of the last 100 years, he one day walked into his film agent's office and said, "Make me the male Christina Ricci." And so his career as a crappy actor in art house films began.
3) I was afraid I'd like the film.

And I did like it in a way. I normally dislike the teen movie as a genre. Election was okay. Not Another Teen Movie was pretty funny for when you've got a lot of your funniest friends over and they're all getting stoned (in the good way.) But as a whole it's a genre that makes me want to throw my shoes and my seat cushion at the screen. A good one is one where I don't want to do that.
Saved was pretty good in spite of its flaws and in spite of the fact that it's unapologetically (no pun intended) a teen movie.
This film happened to me after a fashion. When I was at George Fox University for my first year of college (long story how I ended up there if any of you haven't heard it before) one of my best friends got pregnant and they threw her out of the school with no dialogue, no questions, and no fanfare. Out on her ass. Her cousin and I got together and then her cousin had rape attempted on her by one of the Christian boys from the school, a boy from right out of this film. In a way I suppose my nervous breakdown last year started about then. I started taking a lot of drugs. Well, most of you know the story. It's a dime store novel. I fled in mortal terror from the reality tunnel of that place.
There was a lot of dysangelism meant earnestly as evangelism from people at that school directed at me. So I was the Jewish girl in this film, who was played by Susam Sarandon's daughter. Eva Amurri, who gave about as good of a performance as you'd expect from a 19 year old in a satire. You see the potential and the many many shortcomings as far as the craft of acting goes.
The same with most of the cast (one of the main pitfalls of the genre. You need young actors.) Although all along there was this wonderful awareness that it wasn't being as satirical as it pretended to be. There are people out there like this, folks. I've met them. In fact I've recently had some really disturbing experiences with them through my brother's church which I've kept off the blog for my own reasons. Mainly because I didn't want to go "Haw haw haw, look at the fools and their organized religion."
Which would be my main critique of the film. It said that often.
There's also story flaws, some really poor dialogue, some over the top acting, some head slappingly placed songs, a poster of REM in the library, and, yes, of course, they bring in a Deus Ex Machina at the end.
All in all, it made me smile and made me think. It also made me think that it sucks that I don't have anybody to go see these things with who I could have an awesome conversation about with afterwards. I guess this blog offers that outlet in a frusterating, talking into the looking glass kind of way. A talking to Horselover Fat kind of way.
I'm afraid the poor story and caricatures (I don't understand Mandy Moore on so many levels) might keep any actual Christians from having a mirror held up to themselves. At least not the ones that it lampoons. I'm afraid it fell on the wrong side of idealogues patting themselves on the back. Plus the cinematography is all glossy.
I'm torn, I guess is what I'm saying. I enjoyed it and I guess that's what matters. And it let off some steam for me. But I'm not sure how great of a function this film actually ends up serving as far as convicting and rebuking.
But I guess I'll never know because of course I'm not an idealogue in any way.


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Thursday, July 08, 2004

I'll even recommend some books. Buy Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson. Actually, buy True Hallucinations by Terence McKenna because I've got a gorgeous hardcover copy for sale.
Or buy a true first edition of the French Olympia printing (the printing that America banned) of William Burroughs' Naked Lunch. The one I have for sale is a steal at only $880.

Wow. If that works this blog is going to go in a whole new direction.

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C'mon, people! Buy more books. Or, more importantly, read more books!
I've often said that I think that 95% of what we see as problems in our ubiquitous western society would work themselves out if 95% of our population became avid book readers. Our cities would be much nicer if we had a used bookstore in walking distance pretty much where ever you go. People would pick up their trash, help old ladies across the street, and stop beating each other with tire irons on the streets in the middle of the day. Arts would flourish, information would flow, people would discuss instead of bullheadedly argue their point of view, and problems would be worked out. We'd be more focused on progress than unchecked growth. Education would be funded and the now rampant bad teachers would be muscled out of tenure in an "adjust or self-destruct" atmosphere.
I'm 27 years old and I already feel like this is going to be a life long hobby horse for me. The kind of thing that people will bring up to me if they want to see me get comically passionate about an issue. It's a perennial problem.
That's why I'm doing what I'm doing for a living. I'm a humanitarian (he said and chuckled gently into his sleeve.)
Denmark has 100% literacy and everyone I know who's ever been to Denmark say it's one of the most beautiful and pleasant countries in the world. This is what we call a propaganda sentence because Australia also has 100% literacy and they're being overrun by right-wing thugs (so my point is what's happening to us can happen to a literate society too.) Vatican City also has 100% literacy and they've got some really great art. See, I can site examples and make believe that A has something to do with B.
I'm deconstructing my own argument. How messed up is that? What an irresponsible bookseller I am.
Anyway, don't be dumb cause dumb is bad. Smart is better than dumb. Go buy a used book on Alibris and read it.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I can deal with this. If there's crippling heat and humidity for a week straight I can deal with it if it's going to break at some point. I heard that the heat went on for months without end, but nature likes variety a lot more than people do.
The heat broke not long after I laid down on the floor to sleep last night. It's in the upper 80's and rising now, but it'll stay below 98 degrees today if my weather site is to be believed (

So it's basically cooling off just in time for when I leave town for two weeks.

Really mature, God!

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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

After the morning's orders I came back to buy more books. Two for private collectors and the aforementioned autographed Caitlin Kiernan for myself. I've been doing well which is comforting right before a big buying trip.
Then I was stricken with the heat. Around lunch it was something like 104 degrees with 53% humidity. I decided it would be as good a time as any to check out the Centerville Cemetery. If for no other reason than I could drive with my window open instead of sitting in my sweltering room.
The drive to the Centerville Cemetery is one on which I thought I'd get lost but was surprised. All I knew was that it was somewhere on Centerville road and that I had to take Skyway and Honey Run to get to it (I'd only ever been on Skyway before.) The drive is hilly, whips around corners and falls off the side into a river which isn't Butte Creek but something else. Something that stops moving in places crusts over with green. Yet people still seem to swim in it. There are large mountains that come into view with no warning that aren't there when you get back to the main road. All the hillsides are a blonde yellow.
You kind of have to shift the car into Neal Cassady on that road. It's one of those where, if you were to try and drive safely and sanely you would die. It's one of those roads where the designer thought, "I shall make a road where people will get in head on collisions at 70 mph."
When I got on the correct road, I was alone. I didn't encounter any other drivers until I finally got back onto Honey Run. The cemetery has a white picket fence around it for some reason.
I got out of the car and immediately almost stepped on a syringe. I thought, "What does this portend? Two syringes found in four days."
I hope it doesn't mean Rojas is going to show up in my life again.
Anyway, it's an old miner's cemetery that's now reserved for Centerville locals. It was all overgrown and the paths were spaces where people had walked many times through the brush, some of which was poison ivy. There's a lake behind it. I didn't see any that I wanted to make rubbings of, but it's kind of neat that there are crumbling, kicked over tombstones from the 1850s right next to people buried last year. There are also a few markers under trees away from all the others. Very slapdash. Everyone seems to be named "B.J. `Tex' Olsen" or "Arnie & Millie Kitchen." If I had a cemetery story to write, I'd set it there.
I don't have a cemetery story to write. Aside from what I just wrote.

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Lots of film reviews so we're going to move a little briskly.


I don't seem to cry at fiction movies anymore. I seem to cry during documentaries nowadays. I don't know what that means. Michael Moore can get me weeping and I can watch Dancer in the Dark with total detachment. I wept during Super Size Me because at one point it struck me just how screwed we all are. But sometimes, and unfortunately this is rare in modern documentaries that tend to be a bit heavy handed, I can actually be moved to tears by something beautiful and moving.
Dr. Leon Theremin was the guy who invented the theremin, one of the stranger musical instruments, and thereby created music as most of us know it today. He was the pioneer, arguably the starting point of all electronic music. Then the KGB kidnapped him and told the world he was dead until some old friends ran into him in Russia a good 60 years later.
The film documents his life and then brings him back to America to meet all the people he knew back in the day. Well, the survivors anyway. I found the film really touching. I think it was the mark of a good film maker that they didn't spend two hours going "Oooo. It's weird. Look how weird it is. The music and the life, they're both so weird." The film maker respected us and his subject enough to tell the story simply. He mainly let the principles tell the story.
It was neat to see interviews with people I knew from history and from records that my grandmother owned like Robert Moog and Clara Rockmore. The Beach Boys part was the only really bizarre part for me.


Here's an underrated classic. I understand why. It's pretty bleak even to the modern viewer. I'm amazed that a child murdering film was made in 1931.
Peter Lorre is another actor who I think is terribly underrated. He could do amazing work, as shown in this film. But he's kind of banished to genre history by the snobs who are currently writing the books.
The movie wiped me out after watching it. It wasn't until the next day that I thought, "Hey, wait a minute. What was the message of that film?"
It raises a lot more questions than it answers. There's a "ye without sin cast the first stone" type of message along with what seems like an "eye for an eye" type of condemation of the justice system and a message about our person responsibilty to protect ourselves. I'm not sure which, if any, Fritz was trying to communicate. I think he was just trying to get us to think, God bless him.


People often ask me, and I think I've said this before, why Johnny Depp makes the films that he makes. Like "why did Johnny Depp make Pirates?" As if I know the guy just because I'm nicknamed after one of his films. My answer is always, "All I know is that Johnny Depp made that film because he damn well felt like it."
My wild guess is that he wanted to work with John Tuturro. I'd be in a crappy film to work with him. Pure speculation though. If I meet Depp I probably won't ask him either. I'll be all swoony because he's dreamy.
Lots of people also compare Johnny Depp to Marlon Brando. That's because if you look at On The Waterfront it looks like Marlon Brando is doing something different from the other actors, like they aren't acting and he is. Johnny Depp often has that same effect. I don't know if Depp is as revolutionary that in 50 years actors are going to be just catching up to him, but I could be wrong. That will be one of those hindsight things and right now I just get to enjoy watching it.
Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp were friends too. They made a movie together called Don Juan De Marco. It was pretty good, one of the better in the tail end of Brando's career. But it's kind of an optimists response to Equus.
Sometimes Johnny Depp finds his way into bad films. I imagine it's because he wanted to work with somebody in the film and Depp still does a heck of a job even in the bad films. The Astronauts Wife was kind of a shock for me because it was the first time I saw a Johnny Depp film that I thought was utter crap. I mean it made Benny & Joon look good. Secret Window is another one.
Luckily for those of us who have to sit through the film, the two leads are awesome and working at the top of their form even though they're in a sub-par film.
What was the problem with Secret Window then?
When it was over I turned to Pat and Andi I said, "As a writer and a book seller, I'll let you in on a trade secret. Very few people know this. Stephen King isn't a very good writer. Tell no one."
What a crappy crappy story. And it sure is strange to see an actor who understands madness in a plot written by a man who doesn't understand madness at all and yet continutes to use it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and overandoverandoverandoverandoverandoverandoverandoverandoverandoverandoverandoverandover. It doesn't help that David Koepp wrote and directed it. You might remember him from every summer blockbuster that made you want to ask for your money back over the past ten years.
Oh, and there's the plot device that King stole from Chuck Palahniuk who stole it from Philip K Dick.
Let's move on before my low blood pressure turns into high blood pressure.


I'm a big fan of Clint Eastwood. I think he's a great director and I grew up on his and John Wayne's westerns. He's assembled one of the best casts in years here.
What I liked about Mystic River seems to be a main criticism that others have. Many tell me that the story unfolds pretty predicatably. I think the point is that that frees you to consider the issues raised by what's going on. That seemed like the point to me. But no, people gots to have their flashy stories.
I guess I shouldn't complain. It's not like Mystic River didn't get the recognition it deserved.
Tim Robbins is another consistently brilliant actor. I like how he's finally gotten to the point where he can afford to make the films he wants to make without first making a really crummy film first. Kevin Bacon was competent. I don't think Sean Penn deserved Best Actor for this film. I usually like Sean Penn's work a lot, both onscreen and off truth be told. But I think he held a lot back in Mystic River and not in a good way. Not in a "I'm feeling all of this but I'm sucking it down" type of thing. It made Pat really angry when we watched it. Afterwards Pat said he felt really cheated. I asked him why he was so upset and Pat said that he didn't believe Sean Penn's character had really lost a child. That was a little awkward.
Bill Murray or Johnny Depp should have won.
That having been said I still got a lot out of the film. Well done.

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Monday, July 05, 2004

It's hotter than the hinges of Hell. I'm kind of surprised to report that I'm actually starting to get used to it though. It is hard to shelve lots of books in this heat. Also the humidity is beginning to worry me. Too much humidity can be bad for books. I was told it's all dry heat up here because we're so far inland. Now I'm told it's like this for a few weeks in the summer.

And that's part of the strange, mystical powers that heat holds over people. When it gets hot enough, all people are able to talk about is how hot it is.

I was going to go to the Centerville cemetary today (finally) but my playdate hasn't called me back. I may have to go up there alone this week with some paper and a pencil to do rubbings to tack on my wall.

Preparing for the trip to OC next weekend. I've been figuring out food for the drive. I bought a jug of Chico Chai at the co-op this morning to try it out. I'd heard about it on KZFR which is the NPRish station in town. I don't think it's actually NPR because it's not the station that plays Garrison Keillor. KZFR is the one that plays folk music in the mornings and goth/industrial at midnight (albiet much heavier on the industrial.) If you're in town check them out on 90.1.
Oh yeah. Chico Chai. Well there are all these little organic food growers, makers, and sellers in town (we're working on a GMO-free county initiative) and one of them decided that Big Train and the other bottled or canned chai makers use way too much processed sugar in their chai. So there came to be Chico Chai, which is a Chai syrup that you mix with milk type product, heat and then roll around on the floor with joy. It's great to have a co-op where you can go and talk with healthy minded people about really first circuit imprint subjects. The guy at the store, who looked like he'd rinsed off after crawling out of the mud at a Dead concert, assured me that Chico Chai is the bomb.
"Indeed." I said, "But I should like to know if it is diggity dank."

It suddenly hit me, reading over that last line, that I should probably stop goofing off and get back to work.

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Sunday, July 04, 2004

We ate too much. A large group from Pat's church came over and we had a big barbeque. Lots of food. I restrained myself more than I used to. I didn't get to sides bulging, waddling fullness. I got to I just ate a large meal fullness. Much wiser.
We walked down to the park where an even larger group from the church had gathered on a grassy hill. No one talked to me.
I did think a little about independance today. I'm sure a lot of people go all day without thinking of freedom and independance. I thought about how I'm free to be as strange as I please and how I haven't been lately. And why. And how that's going to change. I also thought about how I'm probably going back to the Quaker church after I come back from Orange County. And I thought about a lot of things that I won't go into because we're not going to overintellectualize on this holiday.
When the sun set the kids who were all running around on the grass bought glow sticks from a peddler and suddenly the grassy area in front of me looked like a Residents or Laurie Anderson show.
The fireworks were neat. The ones from the fairgrounds were very nice, clean and flashy. The many illegal ones in the park were crappy but gave the evening a kind of pagan feeling for me. Small groups huddled around strange flashing colors and smoke. That's how I like my Forth. I was listening to Sousa earlier and it really started to annoy me after a while. Now I'm listening to the Shinjuku Thief album The Witch Haven, which is just perfect to me. Although I probably couldn't have listened to it earlier because I think this album doesn't even play in daylight hours.
And now that I've made a esoteric joke for one or two people out there, I bid you happy burnings.

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Yesterday was also full of stuff. I got about two hours of sleep because it was in the upper 90's in this room all that night. I finally fell asleep on the floor under the window where there was the slightest hint of a breeze.
Pat and I went to work out at sunrise. It was chest and arms yesterday so we were in the weight room. I saw a machine that I told Pat I couldn't possibly imagine what one would do on it. He told me that it was a strange kind of rowing machine and he showed me how to use it. Then he told me that he'd buy me chai if I could do six reps on it. We were both a little surprised when I did because there was 200 pounds on the machine. It was good chai and boy do my arms ache this morning.
We got home and I think I finally managed to convince Andi to keep her parents from bringing McDonald's food to my nieces every Saturday morning. All it took was describing Super Size Me to Pat.
We have a dumpster in our driveway this weekend for several yard projects we were going to do yesterday. I thought it was a poorly chosen weekend for it but that didn't turn out to be the major problem. The major problem turned out that the dumpster was less than half as big as it needed to be for the amount of stuff we were putting in it (all going to the dump and all things that I'd rather didn't go to the dump like tree clippings. But not my place to say.)
There was a skate ramp on the side of the house since we've been here. The wood is rotten to the point where you can't stand on the thing, much less skate. My job was wrecking crew on that thing. That took up most of the daylight hours.
The only other thing worth mentioning is that Andi found a syringe with a rubber band around it in our yard by the fence of our junkie neighbors. I guess they either ditched it when the raid on the house happened the other day or they were just too dumb as a bag of soap junkies that they coulndn't keep track of their syringes. Pat called the sherriff and Andi gathered the girls and told them never to touch one of those and get mom right away if they saw one. The sherriff couldn't do anything about it really except take it (it was haz mat after all and would be an even worse thing to take to the dump.) I wore closed-toe shoes the rest of they day.
Anyhow, I'm way behind on my film reviews but I bet it'll go another day. I bet I'll have a holiday to report on tonight.

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