Heath

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Posts by Heath

“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.

Mawidge…mawidge is what bwings us togewer today

I now have a wife. Cool, eh? We got married at 11:40 am on November 9 2002 at Texas Renaissance Festival. It was quite wonderful, and I don’t really know what to say about it. It was a long, but great day. There were so many people there which was fantastic, and yet I wanted to spend time with them all which proved impossible. Being that this was the first nice weekend in about a month, the festival was PACKED! We quickly found it was nearly impossible to try and keep more than about 5-7 people together at any one time. After the wedding we immediately bought Jess some comfortable shoes since hers were rubbing blisters on her feet. We spent the rest of the day mostly looking for people or resting because we were so damn tired. We wanted to peruse shops and such but were just too tired. We’ll have to go back some other day when we’re NOT getting married. There were tons of people taking pics of us. We felt like stars posing for the paparazzi. As the pics roll I will update the “Photos” link above with links to all the pics. It all seemed to happen very quickly and the whole day is quite a blur. We are happy to be married and yet a bit shocked that we really don’t feel any different at all. Jess is now off to spend the week with her family seeing some sights around Texas, and unfortunately, I can’t go because I have no vacation time left, and work won’t let me use my sick days, plus a few other stupid work things that piss me off. Oh well, we plan on going somewhere together for the 4 day thanksgiving holiday. the biggest thing is getting used to calling her my wife…heheeeeeeeeeeeee
I have a wife.

The continuing story of my new band

The full story of Craig Davis and the Invaders
On our previous episode…
Dawn Lee had wanted Craig to come play a gig for a series of outdoor concerts. Craig had recorded 3 cd’s but used studio musicians and didn’t really have a band. Dawn Lee said she would find him a band. She called some local musicians to recruits them for the project including Donnie, the keyboard/guitar player for my band. Donnie didn’t really think he was up to it (he underestimates himself) and referred her to me. I was then hired to play keyboards. Turns out, the bass player had a previous engagement so I took over bass guitar and pulled Donnie back in on keys.
The conclusion…
Once we started rehearsing Craig wanted me on guitar since that’s my primary instrument and he liked my playing, so I switched to guitar. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be a train wreck without some severe and quick organization, so I found myself quickly being appointed the band leader by everyone else involved which was cool with me. The drummer knew a bass player so I called him, and he said that he thought the drummer and him were already booked. I called the drummer, and he didn’t think they were, so he went to sort that out. Turns out they WERE booked, so with only about 3 weeks until our debut gig, and 30 songs to learn we suddenly had no drummer of bass player. I knew of a couple, but there were some conflicts and questions about aspects of their reputations and reliability, however it soon became apparent we had no other choice so I hired them in. I burned CD’s of the set list for everyone, and Craig was driving down from Austin every weekend to practice. We never got to practice with the drummer or bass player but they had the CD’s to learn the tunes. The week of our gig, it was pissing down rain here, and since the venue was outdoors, they decided to postpone the gig until the next week, when my other band was going to play, and then we would just do a big double bill, which was cool for me and Donnie, because that meant we only had to set up once, but got to play and get paid twice. Well with the gig being moved, our bass player was not available for the new date. This left us with only one choice. The bass player for my other band was in Europe vacationing but would return about a week before the gig. I wrote out all the chords to all 30 songs so he could have some assistance, and when he got back from Europe we had a grand total of 2 rehearsals to run over the 30 tunes we were playing.
Friday November 1. Gig day. 7:00 am. It’s raining. The drummer calls to see what the plan is. I tell him we’re going through with it one way or another, and that it will probably clear up anyway. I make some calls and find out that we have a back up location in case of rain so all is good. The rain clears up and the weather turns pretty damn nice, so that’s bodes well.
4:25 pm. We are scheduled to set up at 5:00 and start playing at 7:00. The drummer calls me to tell me he’s hung up at work and wants to know if I can get my other band’s drummer to do the gig. I tell him that Craig (the other drummer) has not even ever listened to these 30 original songs. Remember those conflicts and questionable reputations I mentioned earlier? This was what I was referring too. This drummer had developed a big reputation for being very unreliable and flaky, but he had never screwed ME before so I didn’t want to be prejudiced against him for things he’d done in the past that didn’t involve me. I was determined to trust him until he gave me, personally, a reason not to. Well here it was. 30 minutes to set up time and he was trying to bail out. I talked with Craig and we both agreed to just do the gig and pray for the best and I told the first drummer to just forget about it, and that Craig would do the gig. For the record, the “work” he was hung up in was actually another gig he had committed to first, then tried to bail out on them to play with me, but then when the other band couldn’t find another drummer they told him “look, you committed to us first so you need to play with us”. I will not be calling him for any more gigs.
4:30. Craig and I have about 30 minutes to go over 30 songs. He starts making notes as I fast forward the CD’s to major parts in the songs such as “tempo change here”, “half time here”, “different beat here”. We work out some body language signals that I can give him to guide him along so he can watch me for stops, tempo changes, etc, while we’re playing. We end up cramming until about 5:30 then rush to set up. We bring a portable CD player, and thank the gods for the fact that I had thought to burn CD’s of our set list in the exact playing order, because before each song during the gig, Craig puts on the portable CD player and listens to the first 10-15 seconds of each song to get a clue about how it goes. During the gig I’m playing lead guitar parts, singing harmony parts, and simultaneously directing the entire band with signals, gestures, and body language. I feel like I’m walking a tight rope while juggling and spinning plates. The gig actually goes very well, especially considering the bass player has rehearsed a grand total of twice, the drummer has never even heard the songs before that afternoon, and the rest of us only rehearsed maybe 4 or 5 times. It’s rough, but by no means a train wreck. In fact, we come off very well, and end up sounding quite good and impressing a lot of people. We play from 7-9, and then my other band plays from 9-12. The second gig was pure gold. I would rate it as one of our best gigs ever. Everything sounded great everyone played and sang their asses off and it was on of those nights where I impressed myself and couldn’t believe how absolutely incredible this band is. Even despite the fact that is was a bit cold outside that night we had a good crowd, and put on a hell of a show. By the end of the night me and 3 of the other guys had played a grand total of 5 hours between 2 bands. I went home, showered, and promptly collapsed into a coma like sleep. Yeah, that’s right, I’m a wild rock star. Showers and sleep, baby. We hope to continue rehearsing and begin playing in Austin and elsewhere. Notlame records has been very good so far and sold a lot of Craig Davis’ CD’s and put him in touch with some good people including the guy who mentioned us possibly playing the International Pop Overthrow Festival in Chicago. Who knows where this might lead. You can go to Notlame Records and search for Craig Davis and listen to some sound clips if you like. Good stuff. I’m quite excited about this project. Maybe we’ll be coming to a city near you soon!

Ruminations on my last day of bachelorhood

I highly recommend getting married. It’s a win/win situation. First of all you get to have a day that’s all about you and your loved one, where everyone gathers and celebrates your love. You get to tell the whole world how much you love each other and experience the happiness of knowing that you’re both entering into a new life together. Then on top of all your happiness and excitement, people give you stuff. Money, presents, congratulations, etc. I feel almost guilty. Almost.
This week has actually been very pleasant (albeit very busy). We’ve spent lots of time with the family, who have all been very pleasant, jovial, and pretty much conflict free as far as I’ve seen. We have been out to eat every night to different places, and just generally had a good time spending time all together. I got my thigh high leather renaissance boots in and they actually fit this time. My hair is bleached practically white, and although it seems on the brink of death it looks fabulous if I do say so myself. The new band we’ve formed with Craig Davis out of Austin (more on that at in a separate my next post) seems to have some good opportunities popping up for us, the most exciting prospect being possibly playing the International Pop Overthrow Festival in Chicago at the end of March.
But most importantly, Jess is as beautiful and wonderful as ever, and will be my wife tomorrow at 11:30 am. Everyday we grow closer and life gets better. We integrated our CD collections. That’s love.
Life is beautiful, and I love you all.

The Wedding is Nigh!

I shall be marrying the most incredible and beautiful woman on the planet on November 9, 11:30 am, at The Texas Renaissance Festival in an english garden area named “Titania’s Bower”. Everyone is invited.