Thursday, July 29, 2004

1) Everyone is sick here except me. I think I know what that means.
Actually, the nieces are all getting over some sickness that children get and adults do not where they throw up a lot and get what look like hives all over them.
Pat's on a brutal weight training schedual. He has been for seven months. That's seven months of super-pushing his body. The weight training that he's on calls for one week completely off at this point on the routine. I suspect that his body is just in shock and that he's not virally sick. He's achy, slept all day, has a small fever.
Andi's got a major headache.
So I may or may not be sick soon. I'm guessing not but I may be surprised. I took my echinacea, ate heap loads of habanero sauce with my rice at dinner to the point where Pat asked ME if I was okay (I turned lovely burgundy,) and I'm planning on sitting around the rest of the night.

2) The phone call to the church guy was uncomfortable. But it's over now and I'm beholden to no one. Now I can go and be a Quaker and no one can say boo about it.

3) I went to Bidwell Park today. It's the first time I've done my three hour walk since I've been back and golly did I ever feel it. I picked the wrong shoes too. I walked three hours in my flip flops. I did get to meet a friendly laborador though. And I also got to see the swim area of the creek that runs through the park almost completely dried up.

And that's the news for the day.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I have important emails to answer and so on but they're going to wait until morning because I've got a few things I need to vomit out of my skull.
I decided to walk to the Chico Cemetary and do some rubbings of tombstones. I stopped by a thrift store and bought some books for inventory and a tie dye button down shirt (not a print either. A white cotton button down shirt that somebody tie dyed in red and yellow.)
It was gardening and watering day at the Chico cemetary. Not ideal for rubbings at all at all. So I made a mental note to come back on a day that didn't happen to be a Wednesday.
I stopped by Chico Natural Foods and got the ingredients to make the best summer beverage ever. I'll try and remember to post the recipie tomorrow.
I made hummous. Then I went to Cafe Flo for some tea. They had two people there performing. One played jazz acoustic guitar and a lady sang. It was nice. At one point I was the only person there listening. I wrote a poem (finally chipping my way out of the writer's block) which I won't post because it sparked an idea that I might turn into a play.
I came home and found that Pat's wife Andi had broken the hose faucet that's about ten feet away from where I sit, right by our backyard fence. Andi called Pat, but he was at work because they have church on Wednesday nights. Water was pouring out of the hole in the pipe quickly.
Pat came home and we called two plumbers, one professional and one a friend. The friend did all the work but I'm sure the professional will ask for all the money. The professional plumber looked like Mike Ditka.
Pat and I talked some while waiting for the plumbers. Yeah, I'm going to have to talk to one guy at Pat's church tomorrow morning. He mentioned a video ministry to me a while ago and Pat says the guy's planning on buying equipment tomorrow. So I've got to call in the morning and tell the guy that I'm not going back to the church, which will probably lead into all sorts of uncomfortable conversation.

You know, I never meant to grow up. And if I remember correctly I never really wanted to.

But don't let's end on an unhappy note. One of the nice things about the evening's events is that we're all hyperaware of how great it is that we've got running water this evening. There was some doubt at one time. Makes one realize how much one takes for granted.

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Oh and there's news in my life. I should probably go over some of that instead of making this a place for silly thoughts and silly movie reviews.

On second thought...

No, here's the news.
Yesterday was Abi's birthday. I got her a Cinderella doll that has technology kind like what I seem to think are called Neopets. It's a weird, Duplo-style plastic doll that talks to you when you talk to it. She had a Hello Kitty birthday (boy, this is going to make fun things happen to the ad banner at the top of my blog.) Pat and Andi got a pool for the kids. Well, for all of us really. It's just big enough for an adult to swim around in, but also can be deflated in the winter. It's got a cover so when we wake up in the morning we don't have to fish out the squirrel corpses.

And the other news:
When I was a kid, we used to sing a song in Sunday School that went kind of like this:
"The church is not a meow meow
The church is not the steeple
The church is not a resting place
The church is the people.
I am the church.
You are the church.
We are the church together.
All the party people
All around the world
Yes, we're the church together."

Obviously I've forgotten a few of the correct lyrics and filled them in on my own. But when I think back on that song and get to the line "The church is the people" I always think, "Well, there's the problem right there."
I'm going to the Quaker meeting now and I'm really happy with it. Content with my decision. If I were a smart man I would have gone there all along. The Quakers and I line up with doctrine, liturgy and politics better than any other major church I know of. Even better than the Discordians.
The problem is that having gone to the church where my brother is a pastor for a few months, I seem to have been right on the cusp of being asked to volunteer for many things. While Pat and I have come to terms with my decision, people from his church keep coming up to me and telling me about upcoming meetings and so on. I know I'm going to have to, at some point, tell somebody at Pat's church that I'm changing churches. But I don't want to. I just want to stop showing up and let people let it go at that. Unfortunately I don't think it works like that. So the news here is that something that seems simple and positive to me could possibly become quite delicate.
It really comes down to my brother. I love him very much and I don't want anything I do to make his life unpleasant.

I'm overthinking. I'm worrying needlessly. Just writing this made me realize that. There's nothing here to worry about. And if it all comes down to Pat I should probably just ask him how I should handle switching churches.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I'm behind of film reviews again so let's wizz through a few, eh what?


I was pretty much right on the nose.  It's a better film as far as cinematography, basic blocking, and lighting than the English version, but the Spanish actor who plays Dracula, Carlos Villarias, is nowhere near Lugosi.  In fact part of what makes this a film worth seeing is that it reminds one how great of an actor Lugosi really was.  In spite of the fact that Lugosi had much of the melodramatic indicating movements that were ubiquitous in that era, he really gets into the role and delivers a believable role as something not human.  The Spanish Dracula mainly played the part with googly eyes and a comically depraved smile. 
Other parts were good.  The Spanish Renfield was totally different from the English version but no less great of a performance.  The same with Van Helsing.  I'm glad I finally saw it.  It's an important piece of film history and a great companion to the original.


Yeah, remember I got the set of Dracula DVDs?  Now you do.
Dracula's Daughter taught me something.  Universal made some of the greatest monster films ever made.  Those classics (the first two Frankensteins, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, the Spanish and English Draculas) have been around and readily available for decades.  The lesson I learned is that just because it's a Universal monster movie doesn't mean it's a great film.
This one wasn't too bad.  They kind of rehash the plot.  The same Van Helsing returns.  There's a great homoerotic scene when Dracula's daughter goes after a female "model."  Dracula's daughter's assistant, Sandor, is really creepy in the "kick sand in that guy's face" kind of way.  And the hero is kind of like Noel Coward and Fred Astaire's illegitimate son who finds himself in a bad horror film for no good reason at all.   
But in the end it's really too close to the original in a really uncreative way.  And there are too many unanswered questions.  What happened to Mrs. Dracula?  What was the birth and rearing like?  Where did they register for their baby shower?  Why is Dracula's daughter so outgoing in spite of the obvious fact that they would have had to have home schooled her?


Here's the most unfortunate Dracula I've come across yet.  First of all, nobody in their right mind would believe that Lon Chaney Jr. is Hungarian.  That's right off the bat, as it were.  Then the writer of the film is way too proud of having figured out how to spell Dracula backwards.  I knew I was in trouble in the first ten minutes when I saw how clever they thought that was.  It continues down hill.
I hope I don't ruin it for anybody, but he isn't even the son of Dracula.  He's actually Dracula.
I love Lon Chaney Jr.  I love him because he really pulls off the "big, sweet American who is plagued unjustly by fear and sorrow."  I have a hard time thinking of a modern actor who plays that type.  I might if I were in film.  But here he is terribly miscast.  They manage to make him look somewhat elegant (that's Lennie from Of Mice and Men in his nicest clothes) but he opens his mouth and that accent comes out. 
The other actors are pretty dismal.  The story is kind of a Dracula goes west kind of story.  There's no explaination why they have the novel of Dracula where he dies at the end and yet here he is walking around.  No explaination why a town that looks like swamp people probably live about five miles out of the town's border has in it a Hungarian folklore expert.  No explaination why the sherriff seems to hate everyone.  The guy who goes mad seems pretty sensible throughout. 
The best thing about this film for me was the special effects.  They still looked cool to me in 2004 even though I knew it was an animated bat turning into Lon Chaney Jr.  The scene where Chaney drifts across the water to the morbid girl is spooky even though it's really only Chaney being pushed on a raft through a wet soundstage.  And they do cool things with animated smoke too.  That's why I'm glad I saw it.  Actually, with both of the children of Dracula films, I enjoyed watching them even though they weren't great films.


Quick change of style here.  I was really excited when I heard this had finally come out.  I'm a big fan of Jarmusch and I'd read about this years ago.  I'd read that there was a film starring Tom Waits and Iggy Pop called Coffee and Cigarettes.  Then I learned it was a short film.  Then I learned that he was filming more bits of it.  Then I didn't hear anything until I saw an ad for it.  Then it came to the Pageant here in Chico.
It's many short films where people have coffee and cigarettes and things happen.  You'll be a much cooler person if you go see this film.
I thought every segment was great.  My favorites were Waits and Pop, Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright, Cate Blanchett (who proved to me again what a great actress she is.  She not only makes fun of herself but pulls of a great performance of a character type I've never seen her play before and, given Hollywood's safety blanket needs, might never see her do again,) Joie and Cinque Lee with Steve Buscemi, Bill Murray and the Wu Tang Clan (possibly the funniest,) and Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan (very likely the best of the lot.)  Although the William Rice/Taylor Mead segment was by far the most beautiful. 
So well put together too.  Jarmusch really made a great film out of a bunch of short films.  He put just the right mixture in and in the perfect order.  It's the best new film I've seen this summer and quite possibly my pick for best new film I've seen so far this year.


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Sunday, July 25, 2004

You know when you're reading something and your favorite character is all silly and dodgy and out of touch with reality and they start singing but in the book they're just shown to sing "La La La La La" and you get a little pissed because you wish you knew what your favorite character was singing?

I'd like to write a whole book that makes you feel like that.

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