Thursday, May 29, 2003

I didn't get the drawing done in time. Just didn't have the motivation, I guess. I did fix the swamp cooler, though. I came triumphantly down from the roof after three hours. Being mechanically challenged as I am, I felt quite proud of myself.
Dinky Jr. learned how to ride his bike on Sunday: Another exciting accomplishment in our household. That's all he wants to do, and since our street is a haven for incompetent speed demons, he rides his bike in the church parking lot a few blocks away. So everyday we make a pilgrimage.
The scheduler here at work, who's never had any experience editing video, just blew me away with a wedding video he produced for his sister inlaw. I'm jealous. I've been editing on very expensive equipment for about fifteen years now and someone can get Adobe Premiere off Kazaa for free and produce something of fairly professional quality--not to mention Final Cut Pro whose low price makes editors out of just about anybody. There's another reason to get out of this business. It's doomed. It'll soon be overrun by everyone with a pc. I don't feel special anymore.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Here is a warning to all those wanting a job in local television: Prepare to be poor. I mean really REALLY poor. I am frying my brains like the egg in that anti-drug commercial because it's so hot and our swamp cooler broke and we can't afford a new one. How am I supposed to sleep in this heat? Sheeesh! It's not even June yet! Well, I'm off to draw a picture of Harrison Ford so Tony can give it to him on Friday. I haven't even started yet so there probably won't be a post for awhile.
The Milk Plus guys recently asked what the best television series of this season is. Here's what I want to know: What is your favorite series from the past? If a series could be made again and done right(I loved Wild, Wild West but I hate what they did to it in that movie--same with I Spy) what would it be? There are some series that I'd love to see again. For some reason they make my childhood seem like a fairytale, like nothing bad ever happened to me. Some of these are:

Barney Miller. Hal Lindon always seemed to have the answer to everything, and the show itself took the gritty NY police drama and condensed it into a witty, humane comedy. Fun times, Fun Times.
Taxi has the same feel for me.
Wild, Wild West. Wow! aside from the movie Star Wars I think this series influenced my childhood as much or more than anything else. I loved to pretend I was James West, jerking my hand forward so a small derringer would jut out of my sleeve. And I loved watching Arte, master of disguise, almost get knocked out by James because he didn't recognize him. Also, hanging out on your own train car in the middle of the desert? How cool is that? I even loved the bumpers to break, how they would take a frame of video and turn it into a painting. Wild!

Some television shows from back when I was a kid have a place in my heart just because of the music: The Bosom Buddies theme was a Billy Joel hit that I still like. Hill Street Blues and Taxi had great themes, too, and so did Welcome Back Kotter. In the last couple of years I've been shedding my punk rock tendencies and yearning for that old 70's Jim Croce/Paul Simon/James Taylor feel. I think it's because I'm getting old.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

I stumbled onto The Dullest Blog in the World a couple of days ago and laugh every time I read it. But it has me worried: Could THIS blog inspire something like that? I hope I'm not just boring the hell out of the 3 people who have read it once or twice.

I had lunch today with a sound designer friend of mine. He has worked on many IMAX films and a couple of the Star Trek movies. Long ago, he and Ray Bradbury produced several radio plays from Bradbury's books. They've kept in touch since then and through my friend I've even been able to correspond with him a little. He was my favorite author as a child and I have almost everything he's written. My friend says he hasn't talked to Ray for a couple of years. I'm concerned about his health. He had a stroke a few years ago and now walks with a cane. It would be sad to lose him.

The other thing we talked about was The Matrix. My friend hated it. I was sorry to hear that because I value his opinion and I want it to be good. The first Matrix is in my top ten. My friend saw that one when it won an Oscar for best sound. He liked it instantly and so did his wife. But he says this one is a lot of great action scenes strung together with poorly crafted storylines and stiff dialogue.

I watched the first Matrix again last night. My seven-year-old watched it with me. He was full of questions. I think he asked 2705 questions. It's a hard movie to follow for a little kid. But he was excited about it. When Mrs. Chickenshorts came home Jr. blurted out, "We watched the Matrix!" I tried not to meet her gaze knowing she didn't approve. It was probably the wrong thing to do, letting him watch it. His little brother hid upstairs until it was done because it scared him so badly.

Monday, May 19, 2003

A couple of years ago, my friend Todd (He's pictured earlier interviewing Marilyn Monroe) and I produced a show called the End Zone with a local radio station. It was a half hour music and interview show featuring national acts. We shot it in a tiny conference room into which we'd cram the band, the crew, the dj's and about 20 contest winners. We did around 13 episodes before it was cancelled. We had Deep Blue Something, Shawn Colvin, American Hi-Fi, David Gray, and a bunch of other bands on. It was hard work--I shot and edited and directed the thing--but it was a hoot. It made coming to work great fun. I'm posting some pictures of it here.

Pete Yorn was just about the nicest guy you could meet. He seemed a little awestruck about all the attention he was getting:

The Glen Phillps show wasn't our best but it's my favorite because I'm such a huge fan of Toad the Wet Sprocket:

Tori Amos had an abrasive bodyguard who put us all off a little. When we learned she had been assaulted and raped by a fan we changed our attitudes. Tori, herself, was very nice and accomodating. This is opposed to David Gray whose diva-like antics caused the dj's interviewing him to talk for months about what a jerk he was. This picture of Tori Amos includes the new backdrop we had had made just one episode before we were cancelled.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Listen to the mustn'ts, child
listen to the dont's
listen to the shouldnt's,
the impossibles, the wont's
listen to the never haves,
then listen close to me
anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be."
-Shel Silverstein

We bought a bunch of Shel Silverstein books for the kids and this poem quickly became one of my favorites. I'm supposed to be an adult but when I look in the mirror I'm always surprised to see that old man looking back at me. I'm still a frightened little kid and these wise words often bring me comfort.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

I'm at work, stage managing for an outside production. That consists of sitting here waiting for them to call me because they need a copy made or a mop to clean up with. So, since I got this picture thing working, I thought I'd post another one. Here's another one of Marilyn. That old fat guy next to her is me.

Friday, May 16, 2003

We did the wildest thing at work yesterday: We flew to Los Angeles and back. Here's the story:
My boss got a press release from Southwest Airlines saying that they and the California Tourism Board were having a party aboard California One, 737 painted like the California state flag. There were going to be give-aways and a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like. (I've had a crush on Marilyn since I was two.) It was all a big marketing push and television stations were invited to send along a camera crew and join in the festivities. My boss was pretty excited about it and asked me if we should go. We decided he should call the contact, Whitney, and at least find out what was going on. Whitney was great on the phone and really seemed to want us along. It seemed pretty impulsive so we didn't know what to do. I had the idea of inviting Todd, our writer/producer who is also on-air talent along to do an interview with Marilyn who happens to be from Salt Lake. We would use it for our weekly movie show. Let me tell you, it was an absolute kick! Once we all got permission from our wives, we rearranged our schedules and went to the airport. When we were in the air they started the give-away contests. Todd cleaned up--the punk. He got passes to Sea World, Disneyland, and a bunch of other places. Then we did the interview and Marilyn was perfect. She was funny and played the not-so-dumb blonde with precision. Her name is Susan Griffiths and we learned that she was the Marilyn look-a-like in Pulp Fiction. Todd was great too. I would have frozen. Luckily all I had to do was run the camera. Southwest and the Cali Tourism people treated us like kings. They were so glad to have us there and said so many times. I think we were the only tv crew who accepted their invitation. I saw a Fox cameraman at the station but he didn't come along.

When we got to LA, I almost teared up. I haven't been back since 1985 when I used to live there. It's still the same, all that glamour and pretension and energy--the positive and the negative--that makes up that city. It was great. We went down to Marina Del Ray and shot a couple of promos--just so we'd still be working. At the airport we saw Joshua Jackson walk by.

The return trip wasn't nearly as fun. There was no party; we just sat and looked at the lunar eclipse that was going on. We got back to SLC at about eleven o'clock still incredulous at the fact we'd just flown to LA. Here are a couple of pics of Marilyn. That's Todd, interviewing her, in the first one.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

I just got back from shooting segments for the pilot of a show that will showcase local artists. The pilot will feature sculptor Brian Challis. He is doing four sculptures commissioned by a hospital. We went to his house and it's a work of art itself. The floor in the entry consists of squares of white oak that he culled from lumber scraps. The chandelier in the front room is suspended from a wooden chain carved from a single large piece of wood. The floor in the back rooms is beautifully crafted from 3" x 7" pieces of apple wood from an orchard that was being dismantled. There are 7000 pieces of wood in that floor, each 5/6" thick. The finish is so perfect you'd think it was linoleum.
He also has many of his works of art in his home. In addition to his bronze sculptures, he has crafted several Escher-like mobius sculptures that have my mind reeling and some impossible trinkets carved in wood. One of these is a wooden arrow complete with head and feathers that are larger than the shaft, all from a single piece of wood. There is a metal nut tightly hugging the shaft, begging the question, how did he get it there? Just before we left, he gave us a pair of pliers crafted from a matchstick. It was great to watch him work and see the results. It all comes down to one of two possibilities: either he's a master artisan or he just has a lot of time on his hands.
Below are photos of Brian and the hands sculpture.

Brian Challis polishing his sculpture.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I feel a lot better now. I got a great birthday message from Zoe and my family came through with a nice birthday dinner and one of my co-workers even bought me a $2 lunch at McDonald's. So everything is now right with the world. Thanks everybody.
It's my birthday and I'm pretty miserable about it--feeling sorry for myself in a big way. I found out you can't tell people that, though. They just can't handle it. First of all, they feel bad that they didn't know, then they feel bad that you're feeling miserable, so they just walk away. So I'm telling my old ( friend, the blog.

A few weeks ago I heard someone on the radio describing someone else as "thirty-five or forty." I'd never thought about it before, but this time it struck me hard. "Wait a minute!" I thought--or said out loud, as I frequently do when I'm alone--"I'm thirty-five and now I'm lumped in with those old farts, the forty-year-olds!" Well, today I'm thirty-six. Thirty is waving at me and trying to get my attention but we're separated by six years and forty-five pounds. Twenty-seven hit me pretty hard, and now it's thirty-six. Kind of strange.

But on to other things. I hate phone solicitors. Now I just hang up immediately but one time one sneaked through. I knew immediately from the background sounds that he was a solicitor but he was a little too quick for me. He asked for Mrs. Chickenshorts so I asked who was calling. With an indignant tone to his voice he said something like "Jake." For some reason I was caught off guard and handed the phone to my wife who had to deal with it herself and finally hung up anyway. Here is what I wish had happened:

"Hello. Is Mrs. Chickenshorts in?"
"May I tell her who's calling?"
"Um, Jake."
"Wait a this the guy she's been running around with?" Away from the phone a little: "I knew there was something going on behind my back...I've got your sweetie buns on the phone!" To the phone: "Where do you live Jake. I'd like to come and have a chat with you."
"Uh, sir, this isn't what you think..."
"I'll tell you what I think, Jake, I think you'd better stay the hell away from my wife unless you want me to pull that wagging tongue of yours out of your head!" Click.
It could be a little more colorful, but you get the idea. There's a great little site about phone solicitors.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

I've got a new favorite blog. Spacewaitress. I'll probably annoy her with all my comments. If anyone can tell me how to add comments to this blog, please, email me right now!

I was reading her post about not flying anymore and it brought to mind my new favorite movie that I just saw yesterday: Catch Me if You Can! What a great flick!

Monday, May 12, 2003

Today's the first day of my wife's class which means I took the kids to soccer by myself. Junior's team actually scored a goal tonight! Making the score one to nine thousand or something like that. Of course, Junior was on the sideline at that moment. When he is playing he's still hanging back, warily eyeing the ball, careful not to get too close to it. That's all right. I saw the parent of a five-year old in the game going on next to ours haranguing his youngster, screaming at him to "PAY ATTENTION." When do kids that age pay attention to anything?

I finished Snow Falling on Cedars the other day. It did to me what The Handmaid's Tale did: It made me want to write. I need to get the paper versions of each of those books and study them. When a book leaves you with gladness at having read it, you need to figure out why. I've now jumped into A Song for the Asking by Steve Gannon. I'm not impressed so far. I guess Cedars is a hard act to follow. The dialogue is pretty weak, especially when the kids are speaking. It doesn't flow or have much life in it. He's much better at writing action. I have lost myself in some of those moments, carried away by their movement. That's a good thing. My disappointment may also have a lot to do with the reading. A narrator's tone can really influence the way the listener perceives the story. That's one of the drawbacks of listening rather than reading--one that I put up with because I'd read three books a year instead of three a month otherwise. George Guidall reads this one and many others for Recorded Books, INC as does Frank Muller, neither of whom I like to listen to. I hate to be saying this about Mr. Muller because he's not doing too well right now. He experienced a bad motorcycle accident last year and has suffered brain damage and bodily injury that has left him physically and mentally incapacitated. My heart goes out to him and his family. He and Mr. Guidell are both highly praised for their narration, but it rubs me the wrong way. On the flipside, Peter Marinker, who read Cedars is brilliant. He has the right amount of drama in his voice. He doesn't try to become a woman when he's reading female dialogue. He's just a man reading woman's dialogue. The problem with doing it the other way, raising the pitch and becoming sing-songy, is that it makes you form the image of a homely she-male in your head. I remember listening to The Last Six Million Seconds by John Burdett and read by Stuart Langton. There was woman in it who was supposed to be indescribably beautiful, but I couldn't see her that way because her voice was that of a drag queen. If Langton had just read it in his own voice I could have replaced it with a beautiful woman's voice that I had conjured in my head.

I was listening to The Regulators by Richard Bachman (who, if you don't already know is really Stephen King) read by Muller and there was a mistake. Suddenly Muller broke out of character and said something like, "Note to the producer, I think this line should be read more like this...I'll read it both ways," then he got back into his over-the-top dramatic mode. I wish he hadn't. The voice he used to talk to the producer was much better.

Enough of that.

If, by some odd stroke of luck, someone is reading this, could somebody tell me how I can market my drawing abilities. Check out my website and tell me if I should even try. People see my drawings and ask me why I'm still working where I do, so I ask them if they would buy something and they cough and stutter and excuse themselves. So that, people, is why I still work.

Friday, May 09, 2003

OK. I'm going to get boring on you. (I'm pretending I didn't hear your guffaws--"When haven't you been boring, Dinky?"--especially since no one's reading this anyway.) This book I'm reading, Snow Falling on Cedars is truly amazing. It's a text book for would-be novelists. Whenever I read a book or watch a movie I feel like writing a paper about it. But since I'm in the "real world" now and not compelled by professors to do it, I don't. I've kept the hundreds of thousands (ok, hundreds, ok, ok, 20) papers I've written for college and I think I can do much better. Now I've gone and set myself up for failure.

Anyway (heavy sigh), I can ramble here without bothering anybody because no one knows this blog exists. If, by chance someone is reading this, the following will spoil some of the key moments of the story if you haven't read the book or seen the movie.

Actually, this will probably be brief. I just wanted to talk about the way Guterson develops the story and keeps the reader engrossed in it. I'm at the point where Kabuo's defense attorney has just begun making his case. The night before, Ishmael Chambers had discovered some evidence that might shed doubt on whether Kabuo really committed the murder, but he's keeping it to himself. This is because he is in love with Kabuo's wife. So now there's a tension that goes beyond the whodunit factor. A character we care about is concealing information. Will he come forward? This question becomes more compelling than "Did Kabuo do it?" the answer to which is probably known to the reader from the beginning.

How does Guterson make this question so compelling? It wouldn't be that way without some careful preparation. We have to understand Ishmael, to know him. We have to see why he would do this and also why it would be wrong. We have to be goading him to do the right thing for this to create tension with us. Otherwise we'd just be glad he kept the information to himself and not worry about what he'd do with it. So there has to have been some masterful character development. And there has. I might discuss what this is in greater detail later.
My computer monitor at home DIED. It's corpse is still on the desk and the kids still ask me everyday why they can't go to and play Arthur games. "Because the monitor is dead, sweetie," I say. "But doesn't the computer still work?" they ask.

It's funny that you don't realize how chained you are to the computer until it's gone. The only thing I can equate to it (beside heroin or crack, maybe) is television. I remember when I was a kid being glued to the set. It went out for a week one time and my head nearly exploded.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

I tried to post an image here but I'm having no luck.

Friday, May 02, 2003

I watched the "Count of Monte Cristo" and I was just reminded of a quote I've been trying to recall:
"Treason is just a matter of dates."
We just aired the John Walsh episode with the Smart Family. I am so glad Elizabeth is safe. All of us here in Salt Lake, I think, felt like a member of our own families had been taken. It was quite a stressful time. Then when she was found it seemed almost too good to believe. I hope she knows that everyone was praying for her.

These other daytime talk shows really bring me down. I wonder if anyone really believes in them. They are so utterly manufactured and sensational, it's hard to believe anyone could devote any time to watching them. It's like professional wrestling but at least wrestling has opened up and let us know it's fake.
My seven-year-old's soccer season began. The kids that age play "clump ball" where they all just crowd in around the ball--all except Dinky Jr. who jogs in place well outside the clump. He told me he's afraid of getting knocked over. It drives Mrs. C. nuts. She wants him to score goals and be aggressive and all that crap. I've never been a big sports guy. When I played little-league I'd regularly get in trouble for not paying attention. I'd be crouching by first base looking at the weed blooms or thinking about "Get Smart" or protecting myself from that dangerous ball. At least Jr. knows where the ball is.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

This Blog thing is completely new to me, though apparently it has been around awhile. So I've been discovering new sources for reading. Here are my favorites so far:
Anne...Straight from the Hip

Sunset Blvd.

Hi. Forget what I said in the previous post. I'm never going to live my fantasy of being an anal, organized, neat freak. Mrs. Chickenshorts has come to that understanding (it's her fantasy too) so I guess I should as well. I'll just continue looking for pieces of my life under piles of it that are arranged, in no particular order, in and around my living and working spaces. This also means that I'll post when inspiration hits rather than relying on notes that I'll never take or that will just get lost anyway. Oh! that I were an accountant!

Oh well.

Something odd just occured. I am sitting in the edit bay right now and there's a floor-to-ceiling window that I am facing looking onto the tape machines. A tour just came through, as they often do, but this one just went past the window rather than coming in the room to see all of the "fancy" equipment. Some of them cupped their hands around their eyes and peered in at me and I had the feeling I was in the zoo. A few more did the same thing and I flashed back to an awful scene from my childhood when, at the Idaho State Fair, we paid money to look through a window at "Siamese Twins" who were watching "I Dream of Jeannie" on a televison set. (I could see the reflection of it in the full-length mirror on the back wall of the trailor they were in.) They were probably getting paid for it and didn't care, but I felt bad that I had actually paid to look at other human beings in that way. Come see the amazing and frightening Editor! A true freak of nature! Only two dollars. Please purchase your tickets at the ticket booth across the hall.
Is that how an exotic dancer feels?