Heath

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Homepage: http://www.heathallyn.com/


Posts by Heath

The Decline of Civilization…Well Not Quite

Why is it impossible to go to a movie theatre these days without being in the company of people who incessantly talk, or kick the back of your seat? My own personal theory is because all traces of movie etiquette have been killed by the home video/ DVD generation. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a part of this generation and a card carrying renter. Hell I belong to Netflix (which totally kicks ass by the way; I encourage you to go check it out now) and the wife and I watch an average of 3-4 DVD’s a week. However we realize that a movie theatre is a different environment. Apparently many other people do not. They’ve been so spoiled by watching movies in the comfort of their own home that they think they can just carry on conversations as if we were all in their living room (not that it would be any less annoying there). I’m surprised they don’t shout at the projectionist “Hey! Could you pause the film? I need to pee!”. If I feel the need to make a comment to the person I’m with then I whisper it in their ear. In fact I whisper it so quietly that sometimes they have to ask me to repeat it.
Then there’s the seat kicking. This isn’t always actual kicking of the seat. Sometimes it’s that very subtle nudging. They have their legs crossed, which results in one of their feet pressing against the back of your seat, thus causing you to feel every shift of their annoying flesh vessel. Sadly I find the majority of my theatre trips involve one if not both of these annoyances. Sometimes I shoot angry glances in their direction hoping they’ll get the hint. They never do. If only I had laser beams I could shoot out of my eyes, that would solve much.
*tangent*
I often see those signs for “Laser Vision Correction” and wonder if these are clinics for super heroes to come and have their laser vision corrected. You know, maybe it’s out of alignment or something.

My goal is to eventually start my own chain of theatres with a very strict regime. There will be ushers/bouncers in every theatre at all times. If you talk, you’re out. If someone is kicking your seat or annoying you, you can push a silent alarm button on your hand rest and the ushers will remove that person. It will be a theatre where you know you can go and have a pleasant cinema experience, unless you’re one of the offenders. Perhaps I’ll call it “Cinemarcus Aurelius”. I don’t know if that’s really appropriate, but it was the only pun I could think of that might possibly work.

The Wacky Seven Hour Movie Marathon!

So yesterday, Jess and I were planning to go see “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”. While looking at movie times, I noticed there was a “sneak” of “Chicago”, which we wanted to see, but it hadn’t come here yet. There was also a “sneak” of “Shanghai Knights” which we also wanted to see. The times just happened to coincide perfectly so we decided to have a marathon. We saw all three in a row. We were in the cinema from 2:00 to 9:30. All three were very good. “Confessions” was very well done with some real original artistic style. “Chicago” was very entertaining also. “Shanghai Knights” was pretty much more of the same as “Shanghai Noon” so if you liked the first one, you’ll probably like this one.
However all this movie going obviously messed with my head. I had a dream that me, my cousin, and my friend Andy were going to a 3 movie marathon. We went home after the second movie and just watched some TV, napped a bit and just generally lazed about. I realized that it was 8:00 and the movie started at 8 so I was suddenly rushing everyone around saying “Hurry up! If we leave now we can get there at 8:15, and with all the previews and stuff we’ll be fine!” Everyone kind of took their time waffling about whether to go and such and by the time we finally left we were now going to be 30 minutes late and I was annoyed. For some reason it was really important to me to get in the third movie of the marathon because I’d already seen 2 movies in a day before and I wanted to break my record (that fact was true in real life too). When we got there I was waiting to use the little kiosk where you can just swipe your credit card and buy tickets quickly (which I also use in real life) but there was a huge line. Since we were already way late I was annoyed again. Then I bought like 10 tickets because I was confused and thought I was buying tickets for everyone. Strangely the tickets were square crackers that were slightly convex and about 3 inches square, and I now had a stack of 10. Well it turns out they had bought their own tickets so now I had like 9 tickets too many. I decided to go to the ticket window and see if I could explain that I had messed up and pushed the wrong key or some other excuse to get my money back, when real life crept into my dream and I realized Jess and I had indeed already seen 3 movies in a row, so getting to this one in the dream was no big deal.Then I woke up. Crazy.

Back in the Saddle Again

So I seem to have gotten back into writing my screenplay. It’s only been a year or 2 of laziness. I feel a lot better since I’ve been writing. I feel like I’m doing something. Making some kind of progress in at least a small way towards getting somewhere. I’ve already started entertaining fantastical thoughts such as some Hollywood studio being interested my script, and what I will do then. I’m definitely writing it for me to star in and direct, but what if some studio offers to buy it for scads of money, but doesn’t want me to star or direct? Do I stick by my guns and say “nope, that’s part of the deal” or take the money and be happy that I just got paid for a screenplay and get to see it made? Yes, I’m way ahead of myself, but like I said, I’m a dreamer. I was going through a conversation in my head yesterday, pitching this to a studio executive. I figure it’s a good deal for both sides. I would get to have my movie made, and they could make the movie for far less money since I am an unknown star/director. They would save millions, or tens of millions even by letting me star and direct. Yes I often have imaginary conversations in my head. This is one of the reasons I think I’m a good writer. My brain is constant inventing imaginary scenes and such.
When I’m done with the first draft I will need feedback on it. The first draft will need lots of re-working I’m sure, but if anyone would like to read the first rough draft when I’m done (which won’t be for a while yet, I’m only a little under 2/3 done) let me know and I’ll be happy to let you critique it. I’d like as wide a range of feedback as possible since 10 people can give 10 different opinions of the same movie.

I’m lazy, and that sucks.

However, on an up note, I started working on my screenplay again. The one I started in 2000, quickly wrote half of, then got lazy. I have so many dreams and such, but I’m a dreamer at heart, and not someone who does everything they should or could be doing to get where they want to go. I often feel guilty that I’m not recording my songs, or writing on my screenplay. It’s a vicious circle too. Everyday, I think “I should write on my screenplay”, but just don’t feel like it, then I feel guilty, and then I feel even less like doing it. I was thinking about this the other day, and realized that I think acting is the most suited to me. Writing (screenplays or songs or whatever), getting a band together, recording songs, all these things take much more motivation, at least for me. Acting is something that comes naturally to me, and seems more suited to my lazy nature. Sure you have to prepare, have headshots, find and go to auditions and such, but somehow this all seems easy to me. You get handed something written by someone else, and then you just do it. You act. You emote. I’m not saying it actually IS easier than anything else, but for me personally it is. It’s what I think I’m best suited for since it *seems* so easy to me, while the rest feel like effort (though very rewarding effort when I actually do them). I feel like I have so much potential, and yet do nothing with it. I feel age creeping up on me everyday, and wonder if I’ve wasted too much of my life already. I think about all the years I had when I was younger that I could have really been busting my ass for what I want with much more ease than I can now. Yet, I can’t go down that road mentally. The doubt road. I have to believe that I can achieve my dreams. The dreams I’ve had for as long as I can remember. The dreams that make me feel like I have a purpose, and drive the very being of my soul. I can’t believe that it’s too late, or that what I want to do is impossible, or else suddenly everything seems very gray, lifeless, and zombie-like, like the world stops in a color snapshot and all the color slowly drains from it. Sometimes what I want seems so unattainable, and yet I must. I can see my destination, I just have no idea how to reach it. It as if I can see the start (me) and the finish but can’t see anything in between. It sucks to be a dreamer. I’ve always been an “idea” person who needs to work with others who are better at the actual getting stuff done portion. Well, enough rambling for the moment.

“Adaptation” by Charlie Kaufman

Overall this movie didn’t do a whole lot for me, but yet I feel a strange dichotomy towards it because it definitely scores points for originality, brilliance and bravery. Bravery because I think a great majority of people who see it probably won’t “get it” and will think it’s just a waffling, struggling, boring movie that cops out and goes Hollywood in the end. Those people are missing the entire brilliance, and point of this movie, and yet even though I tout it’s great concept and originality, it still was just kind of ok to me. Not something I would want to see again. I’m not sure how to reconcile these two feelings, but that’s just how it is. For a full and detailed analysis of this movie (which naturally is nothing but big nasty spoilers, so don’t go here until you’ve seen it if you don’t care about being spoiled) check out this site.

Ironic Roleplaying games

So I saw something in the book store that absolutely amused me. You’ve all probably heard of “Everquest”, arguably the most successfull online role playing game ever. It took the concept of old pen and paper role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, and put put them into cyberspace. Well now there’s The Everquest Roleplaying Game. That’s right kiddies! Now you can play Everquest in a new exciting way! With pencils and paper and Dice! Crazy! Now all we really need is a computer version of the Everquest Roleplaying Game. Soon this will be like the old chicken and egg quandry.

David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive

This movie belongs to a genre my wife and I have made up, called “mind fuck movies”. It really should be a genre. This movie is right up there with the best of them. It will most likely leave you with your jaw agape, scratching your head after the first viewing. The more you think about it, the closer your head will come to exploding. However, upon my second viewing I believe it all came clear to me. Suffice it to say, if you like mysterious movies that totally mess with your head, check it out. Now onto the spoilers and my analysis…
AHOY! THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD! YE BE WARNED!
So upon my second viewing I noticed one shot that I hadn’t noticed before which locked a lot of things in place for me. The opening shot in fact. I guess without knowing the story, this little shot just flew by me unnoticed the first time, or I just attributed it to Lynch’s weird, artistic randomness. The opening shot is a blurry shot, from a first person perspective, of someone lying down on a pillow. Fast forward 2 hours and Diane Selwyn wakes up on this same pillow. The first 2 hours of the movie is Diane Selwyn’s final dream. The last part of the movie is a combination of flashbacks to what really happened, mixed with “current” shots of Diane dealing with her guilt and coming unglued as her world falls apart. Diane (who is Betty in the dream) won a jitterbug contest and came to L.A. to try and be an actress. Unfortunately she found this much harder than she expected. She got involved with Camilla Rhodes (Rita in the dream), who later left her and got together with a director (Adam). This crushed Diane, and was the beginning of the end for her. Camilla invites Diane to a party, where, it turns out, she and Adam announce that they’re getting married. This is the final breaking point for Diane. Diane hired a thug to kill Camilla. The thug told her that when the job was done, he would leave the blue key in a pre determined location. What the key went to, I’m not sure. We see the key on Diane’s table meaning that Camilla has been killed. We also see one of Diane’s friends come by for her stuff (I believe this to be Diane’s ex from the tense vibe between them, and the general feel of the situation). She also mentions that 2 detectives were looking for Diane. Most likely because they suspect some involvement in Camilla’s murder, I think. Diane, now dealing with the guilt added to her unraveling mental state, goes over the edge and kills herself.
The dream portion of the movie is incredible to me in that it actually does an incredible job of exemplifying something that’s fairly intangible; the strange ways in which our minds concoct dreams. Many of the characters and elements are merely things that were on her mind, but twisted and put into some other role in her dream. I’m sure most of us have experienced this. Your mind places some random person you saw that day into a seemingly random role, or takes some concept that you were thinking about earlier, and applies that theme somewhere else. Everyone she saw at the dinner party takes on some role in her dream, because her mind needs to put faces on these players, and these faces were the ones most recently on her mind. A random cowboy becomes head of some conspiracy. “Rita” has people attempting to kill her, drawn from the fact that Diane has put a hit on Camilla. “Rita” has a purse full of money, just like Diane had in the real world to pay of the thug. All the various facts stored in Diane’s mind are twisted and re-applied in this dreamland. Diane overheard Adam saying that in his recent divorce, he got the pool and his wife got the pool man, and thus this is manifested in the dream.
The dream is also sort of a “perfect world” in Diane’s mind too. She has an awesome audition that impresses casting directors. She is together with “Rita” who has no memory and therefore it’s like a fresh new adventure where they are both starting anew, and “Rita” can be whoever she wants her to be. Adam has an absolute crap day, which you have to wonder if that’s Diane’s mind wreaking some vengeance. In the real world we hear that Diane lost a leading role to Camilla, but in the dream the only reason “Bettie” loses the role is due to a vast conspiracy. Then there’s the blue key. The blue key, in the real world, symbolizes Camilla’s death to Diane. She sees that key, and knows Camilla is dead. In the dream, once Rita is about to insert the blue key into the box to find out what’s inside, Bettie is suddenly gone. Perhaps Diane was starting to come out of the dream at this stage or couldn’t bear to be there when Rita found out what the blue key unlocked; her own death. Rita turns the key, the camera zooms into the box as if sucked in, then the box drops to the ground. Just as the key was symbolic of Camilla’s death in the real world, it also brought an end to Rita.
Diane wakes up. That was the last dream she’d ever have.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

So where to start. I’ll start with the conclusion; Loved it. That is not to say I have no nits to pick. I’ll get to those, but I just wanted to get it out of the way up front that I loved this movie, and it is a classic that stands far above the vast majority of movies. Now to the details.
I thought “Fellowship of the Ring” was as good of a movie version of the as was possible. Every change that was made, every part that was left out, I could totally understand why it was done. I’m pretty sure I even agreed with all the changes. I can’t say the same about “The Two Towers”. It was a bit slow to get going, and the flow and pacing was not as good as it could have been. There were definitely far more liberties taken this time around than on “Fellowship”. Again, I’m not against liberties in principle, and sometimes they’re even necessary to make a story work in the film medium, but some of the changes from the book just seemed pointless and unnecessary. Never the less, I found it enthralling, and destined to be a classic. I’m sure I will go to at least a few more showings, and will buy the DVD on the day of it’s release. I just hope Peter Jackson and company pull in the reigns a bit for the next movie and don’t get quite so loose with it. I never questioned anything about the first movie, but this one did leave a few criticisms with me. Still highly recommended though. I wait eagerly for “Return of the King”.
The Specifics
Let ye be warned, thar be spoilers ahead! Big nasty spoilers with pointy teeth!
I could spend endless amounts of time and space going over each bit but here are the ones that jump to mind:
Gandalf: The whole story of exactly what happened to him was highly confusing and surreal. He’s falling into a crevice, wait he’s on a mountain top battling the Balrog…
Admittedly, it was equally confusing and surreal in the book.
Wormtongue: I actually really liked Wormtongue although he was very obviously a bad guy. As soon as you see him you think “well there’s an evil dude”. I thought it probably shouldn’t have been so obvious.
Theoden: The whole bit with Saruman actually “posessing” him was a bit odd. not necessarily bad, but yet it didn’t quite sit right with me. Especially since Wormtongue “influencing” him doesn’t work with that scenario. Why would Wormtongue be whispering persuasive words if Saruman was in control of Theoden anyway.
Faramir: He was not much more than a Boromir copy, while in the book it was his contrast from Boromir that gave him such character. The entire journey to Osgiliath with the hobbits was not only completely fabricated but pointless and unnecessary. This was one of the changes that left my wife and I truly scratching our head.
The Ents: After their long decision, the Ents are supposed to decide to go and take Isengard, but instead they decide not to go, only to change their mind later when Pippin tricks them into seeing all the trees that had been killed. Again, a bit pointless to me. In the book, the Ents are already quite outraged at Saruman, and it is their own decision to go to Isengard and do something about him. I personally think this would have been a much better way to go.
Aragorn: The fabricated Warg attack scene was fine, but having Aragorn fall off the cliff to his apparent doom felt a bit contrived and unnecessary.
Arwen: I like Arwen’s increased role in the story, as opposed to barely being mentioned in the book, but was a bit confused when Elrond was lecturing her about how if she stayed, she would have to bear Aragorn’s death, and watch as those around her all died. This confused me because the whole point is that Arwen was becoming mortal herself if she stayed with Aragorn so she too would eventually die. The only sense I could make out of it was that maybe Elrond was saying that even as a mortal elf, her life span would still be much longer than humans, and therefore she would have to bear Aragorn’s death, plus many more before she herself died.
Helm’s Deep: Brilliant scene, but why the gratuitous company of elves? There was never a company of elves who showed up at Helm’s Deep. Not to mention they were led by Haldir, a lothlorien elf, but yet they said they came from Elrond (true that is possible that they were collaborating, but still an odd choice). I agreed with the change of Gandalf showing up with Eomer instead of the original character from the book. This played up the drama of Eomer’s banishment and provided a good conclusion to that angle, while also eliminating the need to introduce a new character just for that one scene who had no other purpose.
The Ending: While I can’t say I really have much of a problem with where they ended, I do think it would have been better to end where the book does. A big, cliffhanger ending where it looks as though all is lost. It just lends itself perfectly. This is why “The Empire Strikes Back” is such a strong movie.
Also check out Jess’s review.

Christmas is Dead. However for $19.95 you can have this collectible replica of Christmas!

So I have this friend. Every year, his family all basically tell each other exactly what to get for Christmas.
“You get me X, you get me Y, you get me Z”. If in fact someone decides to be spontaneous and get a gift that was not specifically asked for, chances are it will get returned.
So yesterday another friend of mine comes into work carrying a big box. It turns out he ha just returned from buying his own Christmas gift. He told his wife “I want this for Christmas”, but since she didn’t know the exact specifics and details involved as to exactly what to get and where to get it, he just went out and bought it for himself. When I brought up the subject of how I thought that was kind of lame, and against the whole spirit of Christmas (and how it reminded me of the first friend I mentioned) another co-worker chimed in and agreed with the other guy that it wasn’t lame but indeed was cool. Apparently he and his wife had also already gone and bought their own gifts for Christmas. The Christmas Spirit is officially dead. OK, I don’t really believe that but all these people make me feel that way. Christmas is supposed to be about giving. I like to get people gifts that I think they would like but that also say something about me. Something that they would want and yet that has a bit of my personality to it. I like to receive such gifts as well. I don’t mind giving possible suggestions as to gifts, and even getting things I’ve suggested, but I don’t want to just say “Ok, you get me this” and know for a fact that’s what I’m getting, or even worse yet just go buy myself a gift. Video killed the radio star, and commercialism killed Christmas. Apparently it’s now all about stuff. Junk. Things. Crap. Christmas isn’t a day which you show other people that you care, and that they mean something to you. It’s about having a special day when we can all go out and get ourselves something big that we want. In fact, don’t even wait for the day, anytime within about a month will do apparently.
“Merry Christmas! Here’s my present to you that you went out and bought yourself a month ago! Enjoy!” Evolution must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. This just reiterates my theory that the human race aren’t nearly as evolved and enlightened as we think we are. Can I go back to a saved game somewhere in history and try again?

“Alternative” Thanksgivings and the Changing Seasons of Life

So first off, I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. Mine was nice. My uncle and cousin came up for Thanksgiving day (and getting my cousin to actually come visit is a miracle itself), and since no one really wanted to make a big fuss and spend eons preparing stuff, we ordered food from The Black-Eyed Pea. Much easier, and still good. Then on Friday, my cousin, my wife and I all piled in my little truck (very cramped indeed) and headed to Austin for Thanksgiving 2.0 with my aunt who couldn’t come up with my uncle because my other cousin had just had her wisdom teeth out and was having a really hard time. We decided that since none of us were all that crazy about “traditional” Thanksgiving food, that next year we wanted to have a totally non-traditional Thanksgiving with pasta or something like that. On a random note, we also went to the Alamo Draft House, this kick ass movie theatre that has every other row of seats replaced with a long table, and you can order food and drinks and such while you watch the movie. Very cool idea.
As I was laying with Jess on our makeshift bed on the floor of my cousin’s guest room, I suddenly had a strange thought. Now first you must understand that my cousin and I are like brothers. We grew up spending most of our school holidays, and summer breaks, etc. together. Whenever we get together, it’s always just pure fun and decadence. Junk food, all night video game sessions, and generally just hanging out and laughing and being incredibly silly. All my life, even into our adulthood, whenever I would visit I would make a little sleeping area on the floor of my cousin’s room, and whenever we did finally go to bed at some extremely late hour, we would usually lie in our respective beds and continue talking and being silly for a bit until we started to fall asleep. I realized that this will rarely if ever happen again. Now don’t get me wrong, as I told Jess, it’s not regret or longing that I feel. I’m much happier going to sleep with my arms around my wife, but never the less, there is a sort of wistfulness when you realize that something has forever changed. This isn’t the first time this has happened of course since things are constantly changing and most people will encounter these little episodes many times throughout life. Like “sleepovers” with your best friends. My friend Andy used to spend the night at my house as often as we could get away with when we were kids, and we would stay up all night playing games, walking to the convenience store to buy soft drinks and candy and such. At some point that just naturally changed (most likely when we could actually drive ourselves and therefore would just go home at the end of a night’s fun).
And so a new era has begun. An exciting, happy new era with my wife. A wife who happily takes part in silliness, and video games, and hanging out with my cousin. It’s even more fun with the three of us now. I suppose more than anything, I hope that my cousin doesn’t wax nostalgic like I do, because he has the raw end of the deal. I get to go to bed with my beautiful wife, while he just loses those times when he and I would lay there in the dark being silly until sleep took us. Who knows, maybe he’s celebrating that he now has that much less time that he has to put up with me. I guess the whole point is that even when things change for the better, you sometimes still get a bit wistful as you look behind you and watch memories fade into the sunset of your mind.