Sunday, June 19, 2011

The State of Movies Today

We had a great first event for the Screenwriter’s Workshop with Actor/Writer/Director Keith Gordon who has been mentoring up at the Sundance Labs and came down for a Q&A with us. Keith was in some very popular films in the 80’s like Christine, Back to School, and one of I somehow ended up watching every time it was on cable because I thought the whole premise was so strange, The Legend of Billie Jean. Before the event, we had a private screening of his film Waking the Dead and then we also got a copy of the script to read so we could see how sometimes what is written on the page gets changed when it’s being filmed. This film was adapted from a novel of the same name.

He had some great stories about experiences as an actor as well as being an independent filmmaker and some advice about the screenwriting process. But after the evening I was depressed thinking about the state of film today. He said that it was a difficult time for film and also an exciting time. It’s difficult because many of the independent film companies of the 90s are long gone and it’s really hard to make a movie and get it distributed. Mainstream cinema is geared towards teenagers and they don’t take a chance on anything new or different. He also said that a lot of the complex stories are now making their way to television instead of feature films. The good news is that equipment has gotten so cheap and if you aren’t interested in the mainstream there are ways to get your product out there that were never available before. The fact of the matter is that people aren’t necessarily going to the theatres to see a film. They are watching them on their mobile devices or computers as well.

As a lover of the movie-going experience I was depressed by the first part of this equation. I am afraid I will find myself going less and less to the cinema because the things I am interested in won’t be portrayed there. Besides the Harry Potter films I never go see the summer blockbusters because they are sooo boring and there is nothing new there. I can’t help but think if people would stop going to see those films, maybe there would be a change, but in all honesty, it’s probably more complex than that.

I would recommend the film we discussed, Waking the Dead, with Jennifer Connelly and Billy Crudup. It’s one of those films that’s open to interpretation and pretty haunting. It’s available to stream on Netflix.


Howard Jones, 80s synth pop star will be coming to the Sandy Amphitheatre in July to perform. When I saw that I thought oh this venue must be one of those places that books nostalgia acts. Then a few people at work mentioned this to me and also mentioned how many times they’ve seen Howard Jones. Turns out he’s very popular in Utah and visits often. I don’t think he’s a nostalgia act here. One of my work colleagues sends me a daily “HoJo” video from youtube to entice me to buy a ticket. I may go just to experience. He told me I needed to brush up on the material because here in Utah his concerts are sing-a-longs.

Don’t know who Howard Jones is? Here’s a video of one of his popular songs. It’s shockingly mellow.

Pioneer Wear

I pass the window of a store that specializes in white dresses for women attending LDS temple services and recently they have had pioneer costumes in the window.

Then this week I saw this ad in a local circular. Sharing time?

Monday, June 13, 2011

High Tech 70's

Trying out the fish eye feature on my camera
I thought I would share with you some of the hot features that came original with our house. Didn’t everyone who was a child of the seventies know someone who had this oven and this clock NEVER displayed the correct time?

Yes, get jealous, we have an intercom system through the whole house. There’s a central unit in the kitchen that even has a radio so you can pipe the radio throughout.

And my fave, the awesome tile mural in the master bath. I can just picture someone picking out tiles for the bathroom and being offered this “up sell”, and thinking, yeah, I work hard, let’s kick it up a notch. When I am taking a shower I do find myself saying “Never eat sour watermelon”. I wonder why.

Parade Days

I’m sure you’ve gotten the gist here or from other outlets that the Mormon families are pretty wholesome. There are things about their activities that feel very old timey to me, like for example, they LOVE a parade.

When I was leaving work on Thursday I noticed that tarps, blankets, and lawn chairs had started to line the streets of this particular town. I found out from some locals that it was carnival and parade time, woohoo! While it is kinda cool that everyone participates because they still have a collective experience which is becoming not so common in every day American life, it makes me think evil thoughts. Friday morning there were even more place settings by the side of the road. I was thinking what fun it might be to rent a big U-Haul truck and drive through the town at 3am scooping up all the blankets, tarps, and chairs. It would teach them to be so trustworthy that their stuff was safe! Man, suddenly I feel like the Grinch in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and I imagine they would act just like the Who’s and enjoy themselves anyway.

Speaking of evil thoughts, when we were having the carpets cleaned at the rental house, we were trying to get this sheepskin rug cleaned as well and the carpet cleaner wouldn’t touch it for fear of damaging it. So I called around and found a specialty leather and fur place. The conversation went something like this:

Me – Do you clean sheepskin rugs?

Store – Yes.

Me – About how much would that cost?

Store – Well we charge by the skin so you should flip it over and count the number of seams.

Me – I think it’s just one, oh no I’ve flipped it over and there’s actually four.

Store – So you have a four skin rug, that will cost …

That last line was said straight. I had to hurry the conversation along so I could get off the phone to laugh.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


A few months ago I saw an advert here for a Screenwriter’s Program sponsored by the Film Society. They were planning to pick 30 people to participate in a year-long writer’s program where at the end with guidance and peer workshops, you will have a completed screenplay. During that time, they would invite folks from the industry to present to the group and mentor as well. I’ve never considered screenwriting but have always loved movies and am actually getting back into them much more after moving here with Sundance and having a great local theatre that shows foreign and Indie film, so I submitted a pitch…and was selected! There began the week where I haven’t had to produce anything but a pitch yet and I’m feeling probably overly good about myself…and then the truth sank in, I’ve got a lot of writing to do and it’s probably going to be crap.

We had our first meeting Wednesday this week. Driving to that meeting I seriously almost turned around. I was physically shaking at the thought of talking to others about my pitch and feeling like I really shouldn’t be there. I park in the garage and see this young beautiful college student obviously headed to the same place I’m headed and feel that much more intimidated. Great, I’m going to be the oldie in the room. But when I got in I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t the oldest in fact there is a woman who is trying her hand at this for the first time who is 80. There are also a number of university professors, folks who work in film or television production, a full-fledged novelist, writers/directors of either short film or commercials, etc. What a great mix of people and the folks in charge are super encouraging. I couldn’t be more excited about this experience.

Here’s to a thrilling and also scary new pursuit.

School's Out

And Sophomore year is over. This week even though school is out she has been studying for her driver’s permit, her scuba class, and a food handler’s permit so she could go to work some with H. At the end of the month she’ll be heading off on a solo flight to St. Louis to nanny for our friend RB for a couple of weeks. This is a double win for her because not only is she a big fan of RB and her family, but she gets to see her bestie in St. Louis.

So she’s taking this scuba class so she’s ready for her Asian vacation with her buddy J and it’s two nights a week. Seeing the studying that has to happen and listening to the stories makes me even less interested in scuba diving than what I was before. The first night after class she got in the car and said the teacher said that everyone should probably get their fillings checked for air pockets because if your teeth might crack from the pressure. Then she told me the next night that she was having trouble making her ears pop, which you’re supposed to do and one guy in her class said he had to have some kind of surgery on his ear canals because they were small, etc. I was laughing as she was telling me this saying that I didn’t realize that just attending scuba class would rack up a number of healthcare bills. How does one even check for air bubbles in fillings and what is supposed to happen if you have one, remove it and start over?

After the second night I came home and told H that he was going to have to take her to scuba next week. I pride myself in being someone who is almost never late. The first night of her class I swear I was told it started at 7pm but get there 10-15 minutes early for paperwork. Because of me misjudging the traffic we got there right at 7. I was feeling bad about not getting there early and feeling worse at the end of the night when A told me class actually began at 6:30pm. No wonder I got a tight smile from the instructor when she joined them in the classroom. Then second night I get her there early and feel pretty good about it. I stick my head in the room and verify with the instructor that they’ll wrap up around 9:45pm. I go about my business. I get there at 9:45 and A and the instructor are the only ones sitting outside a darkened building. She tells me they’ve been done for about 25 minutes and they’ve just been chatting. I can’t believe this! Especially after the guy at the counter told me that that particular instructor’s classes never get out early because he’s “long-winded”. I have now become that crazy parent with time management issues. I was telling my friend T about this over lunch and she assured me that local people are always late and they call it “Mormon standard time”. I told her yeah it was the first time I thought about lying about A being an only child and telling the guy I actually had six other children and so my responsibilities are great, and there’s just no way I can be bound to his timeline.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fave Pics from Pride

Pride in the SLC

Fab morning in Salt Lake City, it went from being too unseasonably cold for me to handle it to being downright hot today. It was A’s first Pride Parade and once again a good time was had by all.

We saw Grand Marshall Roseanne Barr – check

A. saw one of her best friends marching and ran out to hug him - check

We saw a load of drag queens with muscles – check

We saw some great signage – check

A lone bagpiper playing Do Ya Think I’m Sexy - check

We heard GaGa’s Born This Way at least twice, and once as a group of guys in camouflage twirled batons – check

It was great to see Roseanne. She grew up in SLC and her brother was being recognized for his charity work this weekend. While she has done some wacky things I think the early days of Roseanne were brilliant. I will sit down and watch some of those early episodes whenever I catch them on. She told reporters that she was so happy to come back to SLC and find it being a lot more accepting of diversity.


During our move when we were cleaning it was obvious our lack of deep cleaning had caught up with us.  I’m not one to regularly clean windows, baseboards, etc.  I’m more of a is the kitchen sanitary and the bathroom clean kind of a cleaner.  As we were driving a load of stuff to the new place I was on my soapbox telling A how that wasn’t going to happen again, that we were going to clean more regularly.  She said to me, “I don’t get it.  It’s not like not doing that kind of cleaning impaired our quality of life”.  Well played A, I didn’t have a response to your two dollar sentence.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Home Sweet Home

The View from the Living Room
For the past four years the places we’ve lived in included shared walls with neighbors and this last place, had loud neighbors who often burned dinner in the basement as well. The thing I’m enjoying most about our new place is that it’s all ours and any sounds are our sounds.

It is kind of a funny house, very Mormon with six bedrooms and a huge food pantry. Read this if you don’t know about the whole storing food for a year bit.

A Musical Event with a Not So Happy Ending

I bought a ticket to see Adele months ago. This was before her latest record had come out, and before she became huge in the U.S. So now the date of the gig is approaching, Sunday, the day before Memorial Day and we are in the thick of our move cleaning the old place and unpacking at the new and I’m exhausted. But I get ready to go anyway to this sold out show thinking maybe this is the break I need. As I’m walking to the arena, this homeless guy yells out to me, “Hey are you going to that concert? It’s cancelled!” I keep walking, see the tour buses outside the arena, and then…see the signs stating that the show is cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date. People are standing around telling their tales, “I flew here just for this show”, etc. I think back to the homeless guy. Wow, he’s having a little bit of fun raining on our parade tonight, and I laugh.

Well, I will be entertained tonight, so I dial A, tell her that the show is cancelled, and ask her if she wants to go see Bridesmaids.

So now Adele has cancelled the rest of her whole North American Tour and the reports in the press today say they're "investigating" rescheduling.  She not only sold out all the dates, but they even upgraded the venues in some cities like San Francisco. 

Tuesday to Tuesday - Music Bookends Moving Bullshit

Rice-Eccles Stadium
I don’t recall if I mentioned this but after arriving in Utah last year I was reading the entertainment newspaper and found out that U2 was going to be playing the University of Utah just up the road in June. I went over to the box office to get a ticket and the attendant announced, “Oh that’s postponed. The lead singer hurt his back”. Lead singer? Does this kid not know who Bono is? A few months later after Bono had gone through back surgery in Germany they rescheduled for May 24, 2011, eleven months after the original date. I bought two nosebleed seats and was feeling like I should go but not really looking forward to it. Bono’s schtick can be pretty preachy. Well, it’s been a long winter of no live music so when last week was rolling around I was suddenly very excited to go even though they were predicting rain. A went with me. She’s not a U2 fan but I told her she’d still enjoy it. As they walked to the stage to Space Oddity, 40,000 people lost their minds. They played a good variety and because it happened to be Bob Dylan’s birthday, a little of Bob was sprinkled in here and there. It was a spectacle of the best kind, massive in scale and capable of giving everyone, even those of us in the cheap seats, a terrific experience. I don’t know why I doubted it would be an amazing show. I guess it was the stadium setting, but that “lead singer”, he’s a charmer.

A week later, A and I were headed for a very different experience at a small venue to see Arctic Monkeys. Funny, this is a band that headlines the huge music festivals in England but here on this tour they’re playing pretty small places. They came to the stage to the sound of The Guess Who’s American Woman, plugged in and ripped through a variety of hits from the back catalog and their soon to be released record. Also a great show, and while I was up in the 21 and older balcony, A had pushed her way up to the front and was next to a superfan. After the show we waited around a bit and talked to the superfan and his older brother who had been travelling around the country following the band. Superfan seemed to have two great loves, Arctic Monkeys AND Harry Potter. He was sporting a Griffendor hoodie and would not shut up about those two things. As we stood in line so A could get here picture taken with Alex Turner, superfan said, “Getting your picture taken with Alex Turner for the first time is the greatest first you’ll ever experience”. Nothing against Alex but he way oversold that.

Pic by A.
On a related note, I nabbed a poster for the film Submarine at the show and then when meeting Alex Turner failed to ask him to sign it. Alex wrote a number of the songs on that soundtrack. If you like British humor, do seek this film out. The music really does fit perfectly.