January 26, 2007

New Blog When You Notice The Stripes

For reasons that remain mysterious even to me, I've started a new blog, temporarily titled This Can't End Well. It's meant to be film-focused (the first entry is the Miami Vice, et. al. post, seen below) which makes it HLHSM 2.0, but then I have this blog as well, and even though it's supposed be defunct, well, clearly it isnt.

So yeah.

Watch this space for the gripping conclusion to An Awfully Big Adventure, and then maybe some other stuff, or maybe that really will be the end of this blog. And keep an eye on the new one, which should continue for as long as I'm trying to cram 2006 releases down my gullet.

Posted by kza at 09:42 PM

January 10, 2007

An Awfully Big Adventure, Day Two: Sheila Take A Bow

Read "Day One, Part One" here.
Read "Day One, Part Two" here.

7. INSTRUCTIONS FOR FORGETTING; OR MARINA & LEE

I get my ass out of bed early (for me at any rate) and take a look out the window. Snow! Holy shit! When did that happen? It's a veritable winter wonderland out there. Luckily, everything on Granville Island is within ten minutes' walking distance, so it's not a big concern. But are people going to come to these theater productions if this keeps up? Maybe the Canadian theater-going populace is more hardcore than me. I'd stay home if I had the choice.

I head over to the Public Market. I grab some donuts from a well-reviewed (if the photocopied news article is any indication) donut shop called Lee's and a coffee and sit up in a little alcove-thingy that overlooks the river. There's an aquabus that runs every fifteen minutes from the Island to the other side, and I plan to take it the next day and see what downtown Vancouver is like.

There seems to be more people on Granville than yesterday. Technically, it's the first day of the PuSh fest, so I assume that people are arriving. I've got my artist badge hanging out over my jacket cuz:

pushartist3.jpg

I'm an artist, motherfucka!
It must be true, it says so right here!

I wonder if anyone will see it and strike up a conversation, because I'm an artist, and therefore inherently interesting. No one does.

It's time for a quick rehearsal at the (cement) repair shop with Rob and Cathy, so I stroll over there. The pit hasn't been covered yet, so we pick a spot in the middle of the room and we go over the rules and intentions of the piece again. For the first time, I get to hold the list of questions. Jesus -- there must be like fifty pages here. Mostly single-spaced. And some crazy-ass questions, too. "What is a tree?" "Where is your vagina?"

We talk about strategies. The idea is to keep it varied -- sometimes the questioner should rattle through questions as quickly as possible, sometimes he/she should give the answerer some room. Although there are two chairs in the performance space, we're free to get up, move around as we see fit -- keep it visually interesting. There's talk of "attitudes". While we aren't playing characters per se, it's interesting to adopt an attitude during portions of the questioning. This usually manifests itself as "authoritarian questioner vs. befuddled answerer", but it's open to other archetypal "roles".

(I get a taste of this during rehearsal when Cathy starts to interrogate me about the names of Wobbles or some shit. She genuinely throws me off-balance, and I just start naming names, which just "angers" her further.)

The key concept explained to me is that the questioner has the harder job than the answerer. At first, this seems counter-intuitive. Isn't the answerer the one with the onus to keep things amusing, interesting, entertaining? But then I'm given the question list and it becomes clear. The questioner controls the pace of the show. The questioner also, by taking an attitude, creates a world for the answerer to engage in via improvisation. Like the example with Cathy, if she's a harsh interrogator, that gives me the opportunity to create an attitude, whether it be brow-beaten or defiant or whatever, and we've instantly created a small theatrical "scenario" within the piece. The questioner is, in a sense, the director of the show -- which is a huge responsibility.

Finally, we have to determine who's on when. The whole thing is six hours, with the audience free to come and go, and it's divided into three two-hour shifts. Rob talks about how, because of the set-up, someone has to take a four-hour chunk by themselves, and how that can sometimes be interesting -- four hours is a long time to be improvising in front of an audience, and the wearying nature of the piece can put the performer into an interestng headspace. I volunteer immediately.

Big mistake. But that's for later.

So we break and agree to meet back up around five, five thirty for the 6pm start time. I grab some Chinese from the Public Market food court and take it back to my room, but my appetite isn't really there and end up throwing most of it out.

8. SHOWTIME; OR INSTITUTE OF FAILURE

I head back and everything is set up: there's a wooden plank covering the narrow pit, the stage is set (which consists of a circle of lightbulbs, as well as two brighter stage lights on the floor), and the chairs are in place. I explore the stage area, as is my wont, and I'm surprised how small the circle is. And how hot. The lights provide enough warmth as is, but there are two big-ass heaters above me, long metal strips that look like supermarket lights without the bulbs. I wonder if our makeup is going to melt.

I'm reminded of something else that was told to me earlier in the day: the performance is going to simulcast onto the wall of one of the neighboring galleries. At the time, I didn't really think much of this -- I don't think I really believed it. Can they do that? With sound and everything? I look up and sure enough, there's a camera up in the rafters. The height and angle of the thing is going to distort the image, I figure -- but yeah, we're going to be on a wall somewhere.

The repair shop's locker room, complete with clothed centerfold, is our backstage. We go there to get into costume and put on the clown makeup. I've never made myself up like a clown before, and they show me how. I don't get the red smear over the mouth quite right, and I look more like a drag queen than a clown, but it's not supposed to be perfect.

(They relate a story about how they brought the show to Russia and had Russian actors [students?] participate, and how the Russians spent hours on their makeup, only to be told to do it again because it looked too professional.)

I'm going first, for four hours, and then I will watch the door for the last two, until midnight. Robin and Cathy are still jetlagged, and there's the possibility that they will fall asleep past ten o'clock if they aren't on stage, but I wanted this anyway. Cathy and I are up first, so we take our positions and start the questions immediately, so that the show is already in progress when the audience comes in. And then they open the doors.

pushartist3.jpg


Yo Chuck, these honeydrippers are still frontin' on us!
Let's show them we can do this, cuz we always knew this!

I'm not going to go into a blow-by-blow, not because it would be boring (although it would), but simply because the four hours is now kind of a hazy blur. I remember being rather comfortable, perhaps absurdly so, as people came in, my actorly training taking over. I remember all of us getting a lot of laughs, and being surprised by that, surprised by how appreciative the audience was. I remember asking Cathy how to do the salsa, and then finding myself demonstrating the salsa, which involved unbuttoning my shirt and dropping my trousers. (Note: Never dare me in a theater context.) And then I remember thinking, Oh shit, this is on a wall somewhere. And then I got totally confused as to whether I was the questioner or the answerer, much to the amusement of everybody.

And then I remember realizing, when Rob came to take over for Cathy, how very few of the audience actually left. Yes, people left at various times, but they were always replaced by new people. I'm positive that some stayed for the entire six hours.

Yet the thing I remember most about the four hours was my ultimate failure. Now, I'm not talking about failure from the perspective of the audience -- again, they seemed very appreciative. Nor do I mean to suggest that Cathy and Robin thought I failed -- they, too, were happy with my performance.

However, "Quizoola!" requires a certain level of focus, as well as a commitment to the moment that I simply couldn't muster, at least not for that length of time. While I thought I understood, during rehearsal, the kind of responsibility that being a questioner entailed, it hit be me doubly so during the performance. And I fell down. I did my best to mix it up, but I could never find a rhythm to the questions, or a persona to adopt in order to create a mini-scenario. While Robin and Cathy, both amazing actors with tons of experience with this piece, were able to smoothly integrate all manner of strategies into their performances, I had trouble mustering even a whiff of antagonism, and when I did, it felt hollow and fake, a pose.

(Which to be fair, can be a legitimate choice, but it's only legitimate to me if it's an actual choice, and not an accident or an unconscious, default mode of performance.)

Worse, I felt like, as the hours went on, that I became very selfish with my choices. If the questioner's job is to be selfless, to provide opportunities for the answerer, then I did the opposite. Too often I would reflect the questions back on myself (example: "Why do you do this to me?"), or start with an interesting question from the pages and think I could improvise off of it, only to come up with nothing.

(What I realized later was, if you're going to go "off book", the questions have to be something other than yes or no -- and I had trouble inventing such questions. So potentially interesting lines of inquiry would deteriorate into "Really? Are you sure?" and then die.)

If I'd done it for only two hour blocks, I might have gotten through it okay. But the four hour block killed me. I was hoping that the tiring nature of the piece would propel me into some unexplored place in my performance. (In fact, Rob told me that, usually, people either get more truthful or less.) But instead, I found myself always taking the easy way out, at first with the questions, and then with the answers as well. By the end, the lights were drying out my eyes, and it was all I could do to keep them open. It was easier just to close them.

9. 200% AND BLOODY THIRSTY

Finally, my time was up and I retreated to man the front door. I read my library book ("James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon") and listen to the CD player (someone's copy of The Smith's singles collection). During the show, the snow came down harder and faster, and the temperature dropped below zero, I'm told. I felt bad for the PuSh volunteers who were outside, tasked with keeping track of how many people left the show so they could let an equivalent number inside. But everytime that door opened, I made damn sure it was shut.

After the show, Norman Armour, the executive director of PuSh, comes backstage. Norman's cool -- very smart and enthuiastic about theater. He tells us that it went very well -- there was even a big crowd in the gallery, where the simulcast was projected. I'm happy to hear this.

After the show, we go out for a late dinner with Norman Armour and other PuSh associates. But I'm so tired at this point, so drained, and the loud music is making conversation close to impossible for me, that I really have no memory of it. (I think I ordered some kind of spicy shrimp.)

I get a ride back to the hotel and crash on the bed.

Posted by kza at 01:47 PM

January 09, 2007

An Awfully Big Adventure, Day One, Part Two: B-b-b-baby, I Can't Wait

Read "Day One, Part One" here.

4. YO KZA! IT'S GOTTA BE THE SHOES!

So I'm settled in, finally. I'm in Vancouver, I made it to my hotel room, internet is working and all it cost was a sliver of my pride and self-esteem. Unfortunately, I now have to deal with some mistakes I made in planning.

Mistake #1: Shoes

I bought some new clothes for this trip, mostly for the minimal costume for Quizoola!, but stuff I could also wear normally, since I haven't bought new clothes in about four or five years. One of those items was a pair of shoes. Two pairs of shoes, to be exact. I needed some dark shoes for the show, and I saw another pair I liked as well, they were cheap, so no-brainer.

Then I decide that these are the only shoes I'll bring with me.

Since I haven't bought new shoes in four or five years, I forgot what wearing them is like. Wearing new shoes, for me, is like strapping on some kind of Sadeian torture device. I've always had tender feet -- when we got a built-in swimming pool when I was a kid, the cement around the pool, which had tiny, seemingly-insignificant ridges, would invariably cut the soles of my feet. Nothing says "summer fun" like bloody footprints around the pool.

And so with new shoes, they (also inevitably) rub the backs of my heels raw, resulting in blisters, blood, and pain. Now, eventually, they heal and toughen up and everything's normal. It's just such a pisser that I have to do that every damn time. If I was thinking at all, I would've brought my usual shoes to take a respite from the painful adjusting period... but no. I'm too much of a tough guy for that.

So by the time I get to the hotel (which really hasn't involved that much walking at all), my feet are killing me and I'm crying uncle. I need band-aids.

I go down to the front desk and ask where I can get some. There's an odd pause, a passing of glances between the two clerks, and one of them goes into the back and offers me some from their first aid supplies. I take two and thank them, but I'm really going to need a whole pack, so I set off to explore Granville Island and find a little store or something.

So I start walking. And looking. I study the vaguely Disney-ish island map. Nothing. Oh sure, if I want pottery or paintings or coffee or nautical-themed doodads, I'm in business, but nothing like a general store. Oh, wait! The B.C. Wood Co-op! That should work, a co-op.

Uh, no. It's "Coop". They sell wood sculptures.

I wander into the Public Market, which seems promising. Certainly if I was hungry -- there's a farmer's market, all sorts of fresh fish and meat, a big food court, but nothing like a place for sundries. You know, medicine, band-aids, that stuff.

Then it finally hits me, because, again, I suck. No one actually lives here. (In fact, no one works here on Monday.) Yes, there's a hotel, but there's no need for this kind of store, because either a) you live in Vancouver or b) you're staying in a hotel that has all this shit. In other words, Granville Island is not meant to be inhabited in any kind of permanent fashion.

After searching the Public Market twice, I happen upon the Smoke Shop, a closet-sized space practically hidden near an exit. Cigarettes, magazines, cold medicine, and yes, band-aids. One box size, thirty bandages, four bucks. My first Canadian cash purchase. I hobble back.

Mistake #2: Sweats

That was stupid. All that worrying about getting new clothes that I forget my usual outfit. Sweatpants! Is there anything they can't do?

Not having any sweatpants means when I'm in my room, I either have to wear my regular pants or walk around in my underwear. Regular pants are not meant for lounging. That's simply not what civilization is about. Wearing only my underwear, though, makes me feel creepy, like some nervous and paranoid character from a Mac Wellman play. Both options suck.

I opt for creepy.

Mistake #3:

A Culture Club song, circa 1985. A ballad, I believe. Not one of my favorites. I'll take "Time" or "Church of the Poison Mind", thank you.

5. CLEVER THEATER NAMES, PINUPS AND OTHER MISCONCEPTIONS

I meet up with Cathy from Forced Entertainment and we set out to find our space for Quizoola!. It's in the Ocean Construction (Cement) Repair Shop. Oh, I think, that's a clever name for a theater. Keep the historical ties to Granville Island's industrial past. I like that.

After some searching and getting a little bit lost (which, despite the island's small size, is easier than you think), we find it and go inside.

No, it's not a theater. It really is a (cement) repair shop. Remember all those cement trucks that kept appearing out of nowhere? Yeah, they're in the back. Funny that the one place on Granville Island that's still in used as a factory is the place where I get to perform.

So I'm a little surprised, but I really do like non-traditional theater spaces, so it's i-ight.

(When I was at college, I had an idea for setting a play in the middle of this roundabout, which had a giant planter filled with a big tree in the middle, surrounded by shrubbery, and I'd light it with the headlights of cars parked around it. There was something about the contrast between the asphalt, the cement on one hand and the "natural" tree and bushes on the other. This bit of theater never happened, because a) I didn't really know what kind of play I'd stage there and b) I'm the kind of guy who can't remember to bring sweats.)

There are some difficulties with the space, though. There's a long narrow pit to one side of the room, used for whatever (cement) repair alchemy these guys perform, and it's both a potential audience-member-killing device (there's some talk of filling it with acid) and it would keep the actors separated from the audience too much, which isn't what this piece is about. There are some discussions about covering up the pit, but that don't concern me, cuz:

pushartist3.jpg

I'm an artist, bee-yatch!
I don't have to do shit!

Instead, I look around the workshop and I see a bunch of pinups on one wall. Maybe I'm naive, but I'm a little surprised -- I really didn't think people still did that, put pinups of naked women in the workplace. I mean, sure, this workshop is about as blue collar as you can get, but I really, honestly thought that men, regardless of class or race or what have you, kept the centerfolds in the magazine. I thought the days of gathering 'round and gawking at the nekkid ladies died out in the eighties, nineties at the latest.

Then I look a little closer. (Why not, right? That's what they're there for.) And I see that, with the exception of one, all the women are completely covered in their Victoria's Secret-style panties and bras. All the pictures come from Maxim or FHM or whatever.

Now I'm genuinely puzzled. I have no idea what to make of this. I mean, the impulse to look is the same, isn't it? Just because there's some clothes in the way doesn't mean we guys aren't trying to mentally take them off. So why the half-measures? If it's about offensiveness, is it really any less offensive? If it's about sensitivity, is it really any more sensitive? As far as I could tell, there weren't any women employees, so I have to assume that the restrictions are either self-imposed by the employees, or it comes from management. And since there was the one pinup (still fully clothed, only with her bra pulled down), I have to think it's the former. Which, again, I just don't get.

Or maybe they just don't sell Playboy in Canada.

6. DINNER AND A MOVIE

That night, I have dinner with Cathy and Francis (our tech guy), while waiting for Robin to get in from the airport. Cathy goes over "Quizoola!" with me. The idea is pretty simple. Two performers on stage, one with a list of questions. One asks questions, either from the list or made-up, and the other has to answer. When the questioner feels like switching, he or she asks, "Would you like to stop?" If the answerer says yes, the roles are reversed. This continues for two hours, until the third person, who's been covering the door this entire time, comes over and takes over for one of the performers. (This means that, for the six hour duration, someone will be on stage for four hours straight.) Other than these basic rules, pretty much anything goes. It's durational, so the audience members are free to come and go as they please. Sounds simple enough, I think. I was feeling nervous about the whole thing for, well, pretty much weeks, but I start to feel more comfortable.

Oh, and did I mention there's clown makeup? That's the real reason I'm doing this - the clown makeup.

Robin gets in, and we order food. It's nice seeing him again -- it's been a couple years since I last saw him, but a much, much longer time since I had a conversation with him. (Not that I'm much of a conversationalist, as anyone who knows me will tell you.) He has a kid now, and so I listen for any tips for dealing with my own forthcoming brood. It's not really comforting, but then very little I've heard has been.

It's getting late, so I retire to my room and pop in Dave Chappelle's Block Party into my computer, and I watch nearly the entire thing. The joyousness of the thing is incredibly infectious. Although much has been made of the Fugees reunion and Kanye's "Jesus Walks" with the marching band -- great parts, it's true -- I was blown away by Dead Prez, a band I'd heard of but didn't know. (There's a reason that their performance, "Hip Hop" opens the soundtrack album, even though that's wrong, chronologically.) I thought only The Coup brought that kind of shit these days. I have some catching up to do.

Posted by kza at 02:19 PM

An Awfully Big Adventure, Day One, Part One: In the Heart of the Heart of Vancouver

1. BUS FROM BEELZEBUB

So I'm invited to perform with Forced Entertainment in their show "Quizoola!", and I accept, even though I have little idea what that entails. Although I've acted, I'm not sure I really consider myself an actor, although I do usually enjoy it. (People tell me I'm pretty good as well, which sometimes makes me think I've pursued the wrong artistic endeavor, but anyway.)

I buy a round-trip train ticket. I'm not sure I've ever been on a train in the U.S. -- trains make me think of the U.K., and, well, Forced Entertainment. I kinda like trains, although I imagine if I had to ride them every damn day, that tune would change. But I'm looking forward to this train ride: not that long, I got the laptop and some Netflix movies, a NaNoWriMo that's two months overdue, a book to read... I'm set.

Two days before my departue, Amtrak calls. The train has been "disrupted". No train. No train, cheeps. I mean, bus.

I hate buses. I've done very long trips in buses, and it sucks. Hardcore.

But there's nothing to be done, and I arrive at the train station at 7:30 in the morning to get on a freakin' bus. The bus is not even half-full, and I cynically wonder if the train thing is a ruse, that there weren't enough tickets so they threw us on a big ugly bus. (I relate this to Robin of Forced Entertainment later that evening, and he replies, without missng a beat, "You fell for it!! There is no train. No one's ran a train since 1890.")

So I settle down for a four-hour bus ride, and I eat my snacks that I bring along, including the first half of a sandwich. Then, I need to go to the bathroom, so I get into the tiny, tiny compartment and pee. I go to wash my hands... but there's no sink. Just a small bottle of anti-bacterial lotion. That's it. I use it, return to my seat, and look upon my unfinished sandwich, annoyed, because no way in fucking hell am I touching any food, anti-bacterial or not.

Relief comes at the border, when i get a chance to use the bathroom at the customs station. But before that happens, I get the same treatment that Michael Sincinski did in Toronto -- customs agents that take their cue from Atom Egoyan's Ararat.

"I'm going to a theater festival in Vancouver."

(Suspicious) "What's a theater festival?"

(A: it's a small intimate gathering of terrorists and subversives, of course. What do you think it is, moron?)

"Are you renting a car?"

"No."

"Well, how are you getting there?"

"...Taxi...?" (They do have those there, right?)

I'm not giving the right answers or something, and she pawns me off onto Immigration. That goes a little smoother, and then I'm back on the bus.

2. GRAND THEFT GRANVILLE

Finally, I get to Vancouver, hop in a taxi, and get to the hotel on Granville Island, where the entirety of PuSh is located.

Granville Island is kind of weird.

First off, it's not an island. It's clearly connected to the land. Here's a Google map. See? Not an island.

Next, it used to be an industrial district, but in the seventies (I'm told) was changed into a arts community. Now, that's cool. All the warehouses and industrial buildings have been converted into theaters, artists' studios, shops... there's even an arts school (the Emily Carr Institute) that I'm told is quite good.

Unfortunately, though, these kind of spaces weren't intended for pedestrians. There's usually one walkway for the pedestrians on one side of the road, but that will quickly end with a line of parked cars blocking your way. You have to cross the street to continue, and there's always cars driving down the street. And not really slow, either. But the space itself, the way it's been appropriated, seems to scream that, yes, this is a place where you can walk down the middle of the street. You know, because we're all about the arts. I constantly found myself imperceptibly wandering into the street, only to realize that I was going to get my ass run over real quick if I didn't get over to the other side, pronto.

Later, when Cathy and I went to find the Quizoola! space (more on that later), I hit upon what Granville Island was like. We were wandering the streets, and a cement truck drove past and out of sight. And then a minute later, another one drove past. Then another. Was this the same freakin' cement truck? Where were they coming from? I looked around and saw the other cars that were always there, seeming to enter Granville Island and circle it endlessly, always in your way.

Oh my god.

They're spawning, just out of visual range. Ever play GTA: San Andreas, and been to that industrial section of Faux Angeles, the one that sits out on the ocean? That's where I was. I was in Grand Theft Auto.

3. I SUCK

I check into the hotel. I can see the condominium-bedecked skyline across the river from my room, confriming that I was indeed in GTA. I felt like I was on the first island in the first game, trying to escape from the mob to the bright neon of the Yakuza, and separated from it by a impassable stretch of water.

(Well, admittedly, it's not that far across at all, but for GTA's mute hero, it may as well be infinity.)

The room was advertised as having free internet access. But, to my surprise, it isn't wireless. It's an ethernet cord. That seemed strange -- isn't this the 21st century? -- but I go with it. I plug it in. Doesn't work. I open some system configuration panels, but since I suck, I have no idea what to do. There's a 1-800 help number, so I swallow my pride and call it. I get a guy named Kevin. Now, Kevin's helpful, but there's this odd tension between his natural personality and his job as a faceless support tech. Early on, I suggest that maybe I'm having trouble because I'm using an American computer in Canada, and he makes a crack about how there isn't a draft yet. But the rest of conversation, he starts every answer with a very long pause and a "Yes, sir" or "No,sir". I sense that Kevin wants to break out of this formality, but can't, because of training or fear or a fat, balding, cigar-smoking boss breathing down his neck. I try to respond to this humanity, but the formality that he broke through in the beginning returns and locks him down. You could practically hear the clichéd "ka-clank!" sound.

He tells me to try something. I do it. Doesn't work.

He tells me to try something else. I do it. Still doesn't work.

I make self-deprecating comments. Long pauses on the other end that never culminate into a reply.

This goes on for at least fifteen minutes. I'm about ready to give up. I don't really need the internet access. I can make do without it.

There's another long pause, and I'm about to hang up. It feels like a problem that just can't be solved, and I feel silly talking to this guy, sitting on the floor of my hotel room, with a piece of machinery that I clearly don't understand.

Then he asks a real simple question. Is this one checkbox clicked on in the systems preference panel?

Why yes. Yes it is.

Click it off. Can you access the internet now?

Why yes. Yes I can.

There's another moment of silence, but I can pretty much hear his thoughts through the phone, because they're the same as mine.

They go: Oh, you're fucking kidding me.

I thank him and hang up. I suck.

Posted by kza at 01:06 PM

January 02, 2007

Kza Live!

Hey folks, merry new years, etc.

Just letting people know that I'll appearing in Forced Entertainment's Quizoola!, at PuSh, Vancouver's International Performing Arts Festival, on January 10. I'll be, like, answering questions and stuff. Come up if you can.

Posted by kza at 09:34 AM

July 22, 2006

Hey Folks...

There's a number of you out there whom I owe an email or four -- some of you, I owe blog entries and script pages. Just wanted to say that I got a temp job last week and I'm still in the process of getting my shit together -- I used to have a bunch of free time (er, all day, really) to deal with this stuff, but now I have, at best, a couple hours each day, and I usually just want to go to bed when I get home. Hopefully I'll figure it out soon. Or the temp job will end. One or t'other.

And fuck it's hot.

Posted by kza at 06:43 PM

July 11, 2006

Goodbye and Hello

(Note: Comments have been closed. That's another reason for this post -- the fucking spam. If you'd like to contact me, use my gmail address. Hunt around, you'll find it.)

So, I managed to keep this blog going for almost 2 1/2 years, which aint too shabby in my opinion. Wrote some stuff, some good, some bad, some what the hell. Met some really cool people through it -- some even moved up to Seattle just to bask in my glow. (Or at least, that's what I tell myself.) And I certainly hope to maintain those relationships in the years to come.

Unfortunately, it's time to bid adieu, at least to hlhsm in its current form. Two big reasons:

1. Both Martin and I have decided that, while we're serious about our nascent writing careers, we could afford to be a little more serious. We have a site, Spitball!, devoted to that, and it needs more attention than its getting right now. While both of us like writing about film, we know that being film critics, whether it be amateur or (god forbid) professional, is simply not what we want to do. Anyway, I enjoy the work of my friends (and the work of the cats I admire) enough that I feel that getting my opinion out there just isn't that important anymore, not when they're putting out so much good film writing and criticism. Especially when, nine times out of ten, if someone wants my perspective on a movie, I can point to someone else's review that says exactly what I would say.

2. And then there's two -- or should I say three? My wife, Amy, is pregnant! Ten weeks pregnant, to be exact, but we've only known for about a week now. (It's a funny story -- maybe I'll tell it sometime.) The due date is February 5th, and the little Beeson is either Laura Mae or James Geoffrey. (Make your predictions in the comments!) So, yeah, I'm a little busy right now. I'll be lucky if I can get in any writing time, actually.

(There were supposed to be some ultrasound pictures here, but I can't remember how to put them up. I suck.)

So while this blog will still be here, and has a pretty good chance of becoming the He Loved Him Some Baby blog, as far as film writing goes -- no more. If I have the itch, I'll scratch it over at Listology. Or at Scott's. Or Steve's. Or Greg's. Or Chris's. (One "s" or two? Can never remember.)

Thank you, everyone, who took the time to read my scribblings these past two and a half years. It's been fun. Hope y'all stick around for wherever I go next.

(P.S. Ummm, I think SIFF 2007 is probably out as well, for the obvious reasons.)

Posted by kza at 09:36 PM | Comments (5)

June 07, 2006

Best. Movie-Related. Blog Post. Ever.

"She rode a horse."

I'm glad I didn't read this in a public place. I about lost it.

Posted by kza at 02:05 PM | Comments (4)

May 31, 2006

No Tengo Dinero

If you've navigated here from Socialretard or Heyrocker's page, then yes, the rumors are true -- Kza aint SIFFin this year. The reasons are numerous, but they can be adequately summed up in the titular phrase. But seeing how the above two have taken to SIFF like ducks to water, I'm making a pledge right here and now: Not only am I going to SIFF next year... I'm saving up for the Full Series Pass. Plus the Secret Fest.

Yeah.

So while I'm out getting a job, why not enjoy the following SIFF links?

As mentioned earlier, Socialretard and Heyrocker are on the scene. But also check out Roya's blog, where she also keeps an Audience Watch. (There's a short film, maybe a documentary or PSA, in there somewhere, guys.) She's also started a public Flickr page with SIFF photos -- I feel like I'm there, sitting for hours! Ken Rudolph is the king of crazy SIFFing. Vern usually sees a few titles in between Seagal sightings. Shawn Sylvian is there; unfortunately, Kyle Smith appears not to be. The Stranger has things, no doubt ribald, to say; Fuck the Seattle Weekly, hurry up and die already.

Oh, and the main SIFF page is here.

Posted by kza at 12:16 PM | Comments (4)

January 25, 2006

Spitball!

Over on his other blog, Martin announced our new joint venture. I'm crossposting it here, because, well, I'm supposed to be hard at work on an important new entry in said joint venture, and it's hard to say what he said any better. Anyway, isn't that what all those political blogs do -- copy and paste each other? Daddy wants a piece of that action. And now, ladies and gentlemen, we present: Spitball!

My partner in screenwriting, Kent M. Beeson, had a great idea. Why don't we document the writing of a screenplay live on the internet? Everything about it--every conversation, every bit of back-and-forth, every fight and every success would be out there for the world to see. Such a great idea can't be passed up, so after much time of plotting, planning, we quietly began working on our site in December, started writing regularly in January, and are now continuing with our rollout. So, ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to announce to you--the newest addition to the Hellbox family of blogs: Spitball!

Besides the fact that I believe we're on the only people around attempting this, we decided to go for broke and are releasing the entire work--including the finished screenplay--into the public domain with a Creative Commons No Rights Reserved license. No matter how good, or awful, this work turns out to be, it will belong to everybody. Our hopes are that by removing the profit incentive we will get a more honest and interesting dialogue happening about our writing, the work itself, and especially between the people who will come visit us.

In addition to the blog--essentially a dialogue back and forth between Kent and Myself (who have taken on the monikers of some famed baseball spitballers--Urban Shockah (him), and Burley Grymz (me))--we have a forum where people can hang, talk and diss us any time they choose.

Check it out, and tell us what you think. Spitball! is open--let the games begin.

So tell a friend! Then tell two more! And then come on over for the rootin'est, tootin'est screenplay blog around!

Posted by kza at 08:45 AM | Comments (2)

January 12, 2006

i'ma call you suckas out

Has everyone seen the Onion A.V. Club's Inaugural Film Poll?

If not, check it out. More importantly, if you haven't sent in your Top Five, I aint askin', I'm tellin' ya. (All right, all right, I haven't done it yet either, but I wanna watch The Island and Funny Ha Ha first.)

Even More Importantly, I'm callin' on the following people to send in your Top Fives. If you want to post said Top Five on your blog/site/ass/whatever, alls the better, but it aint required. Now, the following people have been Called Out:

Scott Black
Steven Carlson
Greg D.
Matt Lotti
Martin McClellan
Socialretard

Be there or be octagonal, punks!

Posted by kza at 05:50 PM | Comments (8)

January 01, 2006

Happy New Etc.

So anyway, eight days ago (I'm writing this on the 9th) he loved him some movies turned two years old. Pretty crazy that I've been doing this for that long (even if not exactly regularly).

Well, time for some changes, per usual. First, I'm going to try and blog every single film I see this year. I'm aiming for short, Scott Black or Matt Lotti-style capsules, but since my logorrhea know no limit, you know how it is. But actually doing this seems like something that needs to be done. You know the mantra: I need to write more, I need to be up-to-date, I need to freeze-dry my opinions for the edification of future generations. And towards that end, I'm going to put in a placeholder for each film I see and on the date I see it (as of this writing, you can see some of these already), and to further press myself into actually following through, I'm not letting myself watch any more movies if there are more than three (3) unblogged entries.

Let's see how long this lasts.

The other big thing is the upcoming debut of a brand new blog, run by two rapscallions known as Burley Grymz and Urban Shockah. More info -- and a URL -- to come. Swing batta batta batta swing!

Posted by kza at 09:12 PM | Comments (5)

December 29, 2005

jonathan rosenbaum is teh roxxors

From Slate's 2005 Movie Club:

What David [Edelstein] reported earlier about an irate communication from a reader who wanted him to write simply about Munich "just" as a movie—in other words, to betray even Spielberg's intentions and reduce the movie to its Indiana Jones dimensions—I had to laugh out loud, because I've been getting blinkered letters and e-mails like that ever since I started writing for the Chicago Reader in 1987. But I hasten to add that I get far more letters and e-mails that actually engage with what I'm writing about, and that's justification and vindication enough for me. It also explains why I haven't returned to Slate's Fray ever since I caught a few ugly glimpses of it a few years back. When people in such places bitch about any of us critics writing about movies they haven't seen, what they're really saying is that the only new "information" they find permissible—and please note that we have to keep "information" in quotes—is some form of advertising. For me it parallels in an eerie way Bush tries so hard to limit what we can say about the occupation of Iraq. What they all should really be writing and saying is, "Don't tell us anything we haven't already heard." To which I can only reply—or would reply, if I was back in the Fray—"Please roll over and go back to sleep. The rest of us are having a fruitful discussion."

Thank you, J.R.

Posted by kza at 01:58 PM | Comments (2)

July 19, 2005

i'm back, baybeh

So some regular updates should be arriving soon. My laptop's operation to remove a malignant CD drive resulted in total amnesia in the patient, so I have my work cut out for me to get the old girl where she was before. Also, I was hoping by this point to see exactly what a "frog march" looked like, but alas, non.

Posted by kza at 11:03 PM | Comments (4)

June 29, 2005

going offline

Sending in the ol' laptop for some repairs, so I'll be offline for a few days. I could use my wife's computer, but I've been spending enough time online as it is, and I have a bunch of movies to read and books to see. Er, I mean... No, that's probably right.

Posted by kza at 02:37 PM | Comments (1)

June 24, 2005

a funny thing happened on the way to Batman Begins

So last Saturday, my wife and I walked down to the Majestic Bay to see Batman Begins (rating: 80, btw, although the usual suspects demur). On the way there, we pass by the awesome new Ballard library that opened about a month ago, and I notice a sign in the lobby that read AUDITIONS. Huh, I thought, wonder what that's for. My wife asks if I want to go in and get info, but I want to get to the theater early -- I mean, it's Batman. I figure if the sign's still there when we come back, I'll inquire within.

So we get out of Batman Begin Again, very pleased, and head back home. Passing the library, I see that the sign is still there. Nothing better to do, so why not see what's up?

Now, as some of y'all might know, I'm not a complete newbie when it comes to acting. My degree is in theater, and I've plenty of plays under my belt. I've also done some stuff in front of the camera -- this is the biggest, although that's more of a "performance" than acting per se. But despite my experience, I've spent most of the last decade focusing on my writing, and while I've always loved acting, I never thought of it as "what I do". But writing is, of course, very solitary and very mental, and the onus of seeing a project through is completely on the shoulders of the writer. Actors, I think, have it a bit easier; they need only concern themselves with a single, intense task -- their role -- and the responsibility of the production, as a whole, is ultimately in other hands. There's a kind of freedom in slavery for the actor, and it's a kind of freedom I haven't tasted in a long while. So why not audition?

Why not, indeed?

So we go into the lobby and I read the audition scene, presumably from the screenplay they intend to film. It's funny, about a boss berating his employee -- kinda Coen Brotherish, I thought. The library has a small meeting room next to the lobby that can be rented for free, and it looks like they're auditioning someone, so I start filling out the questionnaire thingy. Now's when I start to get nervous, because I'm unsure how I should answer questions about my past experience. It's all a little... old, and it's not like I have URLs memorized for recent stuff like above.

But then the assistant director comes out, and asks if I'm auditioning. I say yes, and she asks if I made an appointment.

Um, no.

See, turns out the auditions were for people who answered a call board through places like 911 Media Arts. It wasn't for anyone who wandered in off the street.

Oh.

I turn bright crimson and feel like a complete jackass. I cross my name off the call sheet that I signed ("everyone else had signed it!" I reasoned), hand her the questionnaire, and thank her for her time.

But wait. Am I an actor? she asks. Do I have experience? I tell her I do, and since there's a lull in the auditioning process, she thinks maybe I can squeeze in. Do I have a monologue prepared?

Um, no. (And now I feel like a jackass times two.)

I go into the room and meet the two guys making the movie. They seem pretty cool (impressive), young (intimidating) and they seem to have their shit together (impressive and intimidating). I introduce myself, and tell them about my Project Greenlight experience, which seems to go over well. They tell me I can start reading the scene whenever I'm ready. I've read it through three times by that point, and have a good idea how I want to approach the scene. And then I realize that my mouth and throat have gone totally bone dry and I can barely talk. One of the guys gets me a glass of water, which was incredibly kind, but fuck... now I'm at Jackass X 3.

(Oh, and then I ask, "Was I supposed to have the scene memorized?" Well of course not, and I kinda knew that, but I'm so nervous and so embarrassed by this point that I feel the need to try and head off any more potential embarrassment... and embarrass myself once again. Jackass X 4.)

So then I read the scene. It's a comedy, but I like to approach that kind of material, not wacky, but with some seriousness, since comedic characters generally don't know they're in a comedy. It sounded i-ight to my ears, but may have been too low-key and underplayed. Would it even register as acting?

There's a short moment of silence, and then they say it was very good. They briefly describe the character I'd be good for, then I shake their hands and thank them once again for the opportunity, and my wife and I head back home.

For most of the day, I'm a little freaked out. At first, because I'm still royally embarrassed by the whole "walking in off the street" thing, but then, later, because I start second-guessing my performance. Should I have gone "bigger"? I don't know these people -- are they just humoring me? I just thought of something I could've done for a monologue -- why couldn't I have thought of it then? A week previous, on Dinner For Five, I saw Jason Lee talk about auditioning, and how awful it is, and I think I felt a little superior. Clearly I had forgotten what it was like. Imagine smashing your ego on the floor and then kneeling down to pick up the pieces in front of everyone. That's auditioning. Even though I know the truth -- that it's grueling for the people on the other side, since they're terrified that they won't find the right people they need -- somehow, it's no consolation.

By Wednesday morning, I'd calmed down, and since it'd been four days and I hadn't heard anything, I figured I got passed over and that was that. Ready to go with life.

But then I check my email, and see that something came in late the previous night:

"We enjoyed watching you perform and would like to invite you back to play the part of the lab partner in the film Douglas. It is a fun part and we think you would fit it wonderfully."

Holy shit.

I've been cast in a short film.

Small part? Big part? Don't know, and don't care. I'm gonna be in a movie!

Once again, thank you to the people at Frankenhuffer Productions -- Alisha, Ty, and... Matt? (Oh shit, I can't remember the other guy's name. Jackass X 5.) I can't wait to get started this August, and I hope that I can be an asset to your film.

I'm really looking forward to this. I haven't really tried to do anything creative outside of a comfort zone of collaborators I already know very well. I love my comfort zone with all my heart, but I've never really tested myself with a group of complete strangers. Can I hack it? I guess I'll find out. Wish me luck.

Posted by kza at 01:54 PM | Comments (11)

June 16, 2005

feeding the fish

...else I got a dead fishbowl.

Oh, and apparently:



What Classic Movie Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com

Um, okay.

Posted by kza at 09:53 PM | Comments (8)

April 15, 2005

my new theme song

Courtesy of HTML in tha House. (Thanks, Martin!)

office take
a style by partake
kza archives html may
climax of hooray
didn t know better i
saw and what i lye
org kza archives cat tv
the wit and vision

the foot tall monster
at the chutzpah behind each mar
return false
com cgi bin mt comments waltz
minutes being a character piece
got a genuine reaction cerise
center span class calendar
hollywood lottery and i ajar

WWW DOT HELLBOX DOT ORG IN THA HOUSE
WWW DOT HELLBOX DOT ORG IN THA HOUSE
WWW DOT HELLBOX DOT ORG IN THA HOUSE
WWW DOT HELLBOX DOT ORG

Posted by kza at 01:55 PM | Comments (3)

March 31, 2005

Paul Giamatti to star in new M. Night film

You got your chocolate in my hackwork! You got your hackwork in my chocolate!

This is all-or-nothing. Either it's Giamatti's first Oscar nom, or his first truly awful performance. Also sprach FanBoy.

One more thing: The plot sounds like it could be a remake of Night Tide, which is i-ight in my book. Just wish Night Moves wouldn't churn out these scripts so fast -- The Sixth Sense worked because it was clear that years of effort went into it.

(Confidential to Matt: I'm not really a knife guy. More of a purple nurpler.)

Posted by kza at 10:20 AM | Comments (8)

February 27, 2005

quick, henry, the predix!

Less than an hour before this stuff is moot. Actually, it was moot long before that.

Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby. DING DING DING! I'd prefer Sideways, and I don't think Aviator will be seen as good enough (but will get its award below). Also, M$B is, despite what people pro- and con- might say, a Crowd Pleaser(tm), and that clinches it in my opinion. Edit: Nope, didn't have it backwards.
Best Director: Martin Scorsese. ERRRRNNNT! It's better than Gangs of NY, Polanski and Eastwood have theirs. Edit: I'm gonna have this completely backwards, aren't I?
Best Actor: DING DING DING! Paul Giamatti. No wait, that's not right. I meant: Paul Giamatti. Damn it, what's wrong with my fingers. I'm talking about the guy who played the blind R&B singer. You know -- Paul Giamatti. Edit: Congratulations, Paul.
Best Actress: Hillary Swank. DING DING DING! I'm a firm believer in The Formula, as created by Scott Renshaw. Prove him wrong, Academy, prove him wrong.
Best Supporting Actor: Thomas Haden Church. ERRRRNNNT! A showier role than Morgan Freeman's. Are they really going to give Freeman an Oscar for narration? A: Yes.
Best Supporting Actress: Virginia Madsen. ERRRRNNNT! I'm probably wrong on this one; it'll probably go to Cate. I love her, but c'mon. Edit: C'MON!.
Best Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. DING DING DING! Oh, they fuckin' better. Edit: Okay, Academy Awards, you may continue for another year.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Sideways. DING DING DING! Probably the only one this movie will win.

Update: Thelma Schoonmaker wins for editing! I was not more than twenty feet from her, just a couple weeks ago! I could've asked her a question, but fortunately I realized she wasn't Verna Fields and she didn't edit Jaws!

Posted by kza at 03:52 PM | Comments (1)

February 21, 2005

this is 4 tha shorteez

No new stuff yet, but the urge to blog... rising. Until then, some shout-outs to the film geeks out there that make it all worthwhile:

Again, if you haven't checked out Martin's No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better., do so. He's tearing shit up, and giving good marks to a Cassavetes film. Kza approves. Oh, and why not see what Christine's been drawing, while you're there?

Start spreading the news... Cineblog is back, baby. And I'm not posting the link just because Greg has been kindly carting my fat ass downtown and back for several weeks to see Michael Powell movies.

Scott Black's day for night has gone through more iterations than Doctor Who, but that's what makes him so lovable. And if you're a movie, you'd best bring it, cuz the man is tough.

Dread Pirate Steve Carlson has forgotten more about grimy cult movies and trashy sexploitation flicks then you've even tried to remember, beeyotch. Find out just how much over at The Ongoing Cinematic Education of Steven Carlson.

I've searched for years for the filth in Matt Lotti's film.sm.to, but no luck. Stay for the reviews, tho; there's at least one guaranteed to make you scream in frustration. That's the man's brilliance.

Socialretard: player of pool, death metal enthusiast, and his music-fu is unstoppable. He's also realized that Film Lovers Are Sick People.

The mysterious Quack Corleone made an offer I couldn't refuse: read his(?) thoughtful film criticism at The Duck Mafia or find a swan head in my bed.

When Luke isn't constantly updating the eclectic popthoughts, he's organizing movie clubs, writing printworthy record reviews, and composing list after list. Fuckin' slacker.

Finally, a list like this isn't complete without the King of Lists, Jim Biancolo, inventor of Listology, the real Friendster, far as I'm concerned. If you've never been, go. Keep on rockin', Jim.

ALSO!!!

I've probably forgotten to mention a lot of people, but it would be criminal to not mention Stennie, Queen of Turner Classic Movies. Well, TCM doesn't have a queen, but they should, dammit. If it's in black and white -- hell, even if it isn't -- she's probably seen it.

Posted by kza at 10:47 PM | Comments (8)

February 01, 2005

nothing to see here, folks

Instead, why not check out what's happening over at No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better? Tear it up, M!

Posted by kza at 10:53 AM | Comments (1)

January 18, 2005

time out, seattle

I've been working pretty hard on this blog for the last couple weeks (hopefully, y'all have noticed), trying to write ~200 words for each movie I see. Well, the real world has reared its ugly head, and the blog's gonna have to take a back seat for awhile. I'll still be keeping my film log updated, and I may throw a few words up here to keep the "empty goldfish bowl" look away. Also, I plan on finishing the entry on I ♥ Huckabees, although any insight gleaned from it will be purely coincidental.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO COMMENT:

If you're having trouble posting a comment to this blog, it may be because of the URL box on the form. Either leave it blank, or eliminate the "http://" bit. I keep forgetting to ask Martin about this. Maybe he's reading [rubs magic lamp...]

Posted by kza at 01:28 PM | Comments (3)

January 01, 2005

Happy New Birthday Year!

Not only is it a new year, but it's also he loved him some movies' birthday. Yes, it's actually been a year since I crawled up from a cave in Mountlake Terrace and started this blog. And it's been a pretty cool blog year to boot. Let's see: Met some totally amazing and cool compadres-in-cinephilia (Scott, Steve, Matt, Dan, Chris, and his alter-ego, Chris); got in contact with friends from the Old Country (Hey Nate! Hey Jess & Matt! Hope to find that tape soon!); discovered Listology and its super-cool creator, Jim; and Martin and I made the Project Greenlight Top 100 with our script, Yellow (and wrote two drafts, as well).

Hopefully 2005 will be as good. Although I have some goals for the new year, I'm trying not to call them "resolutions"; as Mary cruelly informed me while in Brighton this year, 80% of all resolutions fail, if you call them "New Year's Resolutions". So, anyway, goals. Here's a juicy quote from January 3, 2004:

"So, anyway, I hope to see at least 50 movies in the theater this year and get back into the swing of things.

Heh. Well, I only saw 24 movies in the theater in 2004, about two a month. A lot of that had to do with a lack of funds; that shouldn't be the case this year. But more than getting out of the house and away from the DVD and TiVo, I want to make an effort to see more limited-run foreign films. There's at least three good places to see non-mass-market fare in Seattle: The Grand Illusion, the new Northwest Film Forum theater, and the Seattle Art Museum, which also programs a lot of classic films, as well. Let's see if I can give them some of my business this year.

Addendum, five minutes later: I just discovered that SAM is having a frickin' Michael Powell retrospective, including I Know Where I'm Going!, Black Narcissus, Peeping Tom, The Red Shoes, the never-seen-by-me Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, and one of the best movies ever made, A Matter of Life and Death. I damn well better do this. Maybe Martin can whip me into shape.

Posted by kza at 10:39 AM | Comments (5)

November 23, 2004

back in the u.s.s.a.

Okay, made it home from Brighton, England. Good trip. Some difficulties. Now I'm half-way home, as I'm back at my parents in Tennessee for a week. The cat really missed us. Still a little tired, but hope to get back in the swing of things, with some reviews (Yongary, Monster from the Deep is on deck) and a more-or-less chronological report on the trip. Pretty ambitious. We'll see.

Posted by kza at 02:35 PM | Comments (1)

November 06, 2004

are we there yet?

Hey folks. Before we could go to England, we had to do something about our cat, whom well call Pza. We didnt want to leave her at home, where shed get lonely, even with someone to check up on her, and no one in our area could really take her for such a long period. (There's two meanings there; both apply.) So we did the best thing we could: we brought her to Tennessee so my parents can look after her. Lucky, lucky parents. It seems like shes just stopped growling. Needless to say, she hasnt been too happy about it so far.

(I should note that Pza is a good cat, the sweetest kitty in the world, but she is a bit xenophobic and set in her ways.)

Well be here until Monday, and well come back here for a week or so after England, and do something for Thanksgiving. Hopefully, this wont mean eating Thanksgiving dinner at a casino buffet, but it very well may.

We saw The Incredibles today. Better than A Bugs Life, not quite as good as Monsters Inc., but to be fair, its a bit different than the usual Pixar. Not totally different, just slightly skewed towards the action/adventure side of things. Its a bit of a slow-roller unlike, say, Monsters Inc., it doesnt keep up a frantic pace -- but it eventually gets there. Elastigirls signature scene at the villains base: not the scene of the year, but certainly in the top 5.

Posted by kza at 09:45 PM | Comments (5)

November 04, 2004

i'm leaving the country

No, not because of that (but I'd be lying if I said the thought didn't cross my mind). No, I'm off to the U.K. to attend the premiere of The Somnambulist and hopefully start laying the groundwork for a feature version with Mary, Queen of Cinema. I'll try and keep up on the blog, email, and my Listology lists while I'm there, but I have no idea what kind of internet access I'll have. I'll be back at the end of the month or so.

Unless the country's a complete mess by then...

(Oh, and one last thing: Monorail Recall is denied. Suck it, Seattle Weekly. Suck it dry.)

Posted by kza at 12:48 PM | Comments (5)

October 01, 2004

previously, on "he loved him some movies"...

I've been stranded on a tropical island with a polar bear.

No, wait, that isn't it...

Lemme find my notes...

Here we go:

Yellow: The big news here is that v2 was read by our super-secret Contact in the Industry, and she liked it! Hooray! She had a number of very good notes for us, and Martin and I are going to spend the next few weeks incorporating said notes and (hopefully) skinny it up a bit. If v3 passes muster, Our Contact may pass it on to other people in the Bidness to read. (Our Contact has a production company, but specializes in movies that don't involve people being crushed by art installations.) Baby steps, to be sure, but I'm incredibly excited.

The Somnambulist: A little background: Back in 2002, my friend and artist extraordinaire came back to Seattle from the U.K. to visit, and brought with her a BAFTA-winning cinematographer with her. She had the crazy idea to shoot a short film (not video, either, but film), and wanted me to write something to shoot. I came up with a modest story about a guy who keeps waking up in the trunk of his car every morning with no memory of the nights before. So money was raised and the film was shot. Unfortunately, one person in our crew was a jackass and a number of shots were unusable because of her. (The work of the BAFTA guy was impeccable, though; it looked fantastic.) It was pretty much impossible to put the film together the way it was written, and that was pretty much that. Or so I thought.

Mary is much more tenacious than me, though, and kept working on it. Because the U.K. is so much cooler when it comes to these things, she's gotten a whole lot of money to finish it in a new way: as a generative film, meaning a film that changes its narrative structure with each viewing, through some kind of random element.

So, these past few weeks, I've been working on the footage with Mary in an attempt to make it work. It's going to be silent (oh, let's not get started about what happened to the soundtrack), with intertitles written by me and a music provided by Laurence Collyer, the Diamond Family Archive. It's a bit like reconstructive surgery, and while the end result may not be conventionally pretty, it'll work, dammit.

Anyway, the point is, there's money in the budget to bring my wife and me over to England to (a) finish the work, (b) premiere the work [see below], and (c) start work on the next project, which looks to be a full-length version of The Somnambulist, in both traditional narrative and generative forms. We'll be gone for a couple weeks in November. (Cue Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge".)

The new version of The Somnambulist will premiere at the By Hand Festival in Brighton. If you're interested in submitting a film or video, check out the press release:

The BY HAND FESTIVAL is seeking submissions for its short film/video festival in Brighton, England.

We welcome submission of short films, videos, animations, experiments, thoughts or ideas on miniDV, DVD or PAL VHS. (miniDV or DVD preferred).

WE ARE MOST INTERESTED IN SHORT SILENT FILMS.
By "silent films" we simply mean films without a soundtrack. The reason being that we commission local bands and composers to create and perform a soundtrack to your silent films. Those performances are recorded (and a copy of the tape or music can be provided if your work is accepted).

There is no submission fee but, as a result, we cannot return materials submitted. So, if you would like your materials returned, you will have to send a self-adressed envelope along with 5 or $10 to cover postage from the UK.

Send all submissions to:

By-Hand Festival
PO BOX 455
Brighton BN1 3ZY
England

For more information
Email: info@byhandproductions.com

More about what we are looking for:
The byHand Festival exhibits independent and experimental short films and videos from around the world (often presented with original scores composed and performed live by local bands). We accept all genres of film and video but particularly welcome silent or un-scored short films and videos.

Our primary emphasis is our "New Talkies" initiative (where local musicians, bands and composers create and perform soundtracks for films submitted as silent works). We welcome experiments, thoughts, re-edits and even fragments for that scheme. If you are interested and have questions, email us.

Work can be produced in any year.

TiVo: I am TiVomandias; look upon my digitally-taped movies and TV shows, ye mighty, and despair!

And just like Alexander, it may send me to an early grave. Hopefully, I'll find time to say something about all the stuff I've been watching before my demise, other than (number)(number). [Go here for said (number)(number).]

Posted by kza at 11:30 AM | Comments (4)

September 09, 2004

Yellow Alert

Significant risk of impending rewrite.

We had the reading of Yellow, draft two, last night at the Rendezvous, and it was great fun. Hearty "thank-yous" to all of my friends for lending their voices: Kirk, Todd, Valerie, Christine, Jolie, Cory, Morty, Kyle, Laurence, and Mary, who was sick and coughing but read all the stage directions anyway. (Well, I didn't give her much choice, really, but moving on...) Afterwards, we went down to the Rendezvous' performance space and watched Laurence, as The Diamond Family Archive, play some avant-space-folk and blow everyone away. (Laurence probably hates labels, but I really don't know how to describe his music.)

So the consensus between Martin and I is that this draft is overwritten, and that that is actually great, since it means cutting rather than adding. I think the structure is pretty sound, and now it's a matter of boiling it down to its essence. The script gained about 10-14 pages from the last draft, and for whatever reason that reminds me of that Family Guy joke with the neutered, grotesquely obese Brian: "I love chocolate but I can't eat it because it'll make me fat."

Other observations: Sharpe is great with a British accent; too many characters laugh at each other's jokes; too many characters "examine" each other.

So, I now invite everyone across the multiverse to read the new draft. Just drop me a line when you'd like to read it.

Posted by kza at 10:50 AM | Comments (5)

August 18, 2004

the clown show is on hiatus for re-tooling

Gonna take some time off from the blog for a little bit. A bit too much on my plate right now: I got not one but two friends coming into town in the next couple weeks (one from California, one from the U.K.), I need to prepare for a semi-public reading of Yellow that's coming up soon, and I recently started work on a new screenplay that's taking up about 75% of my brain. I'll still be watching movies -- I have six from the library that are sitting on my cable box, staring at me -- and you can check here for the ratings as they happen. But no capsules for the time being.

Posted by kza at 09:27 PM | Comments (3)

August 02, 2004

iBook Went Down

I'm back, after having a little computer difficulty, something that seems to happen every 6-9 months. (Go to Apple and look up "Logic Board Repair Program" for more info on my woes.) Supposebly, they've got this little kink worked out, and even updated my OS to make sure it works (why couldn't Tiger be out?). That, unfortunately, doesn't make me a bit less paranoid.

Yellow, Mark Two, is complete and was sent off to Meet The Opportunity about a week ago. I think it's a 100% improvement on the last draft: a more thought-out story, better dialogue, new and improved characters. It's also, like I wrote earlier, probably 80% different from the first version, so I really don't know if people who liked the old one will like this. All of y'alls out there who want to read it need only let me know; however, I'm not going to send it out until we've had a reading, which won't be for a week or two. I really want to hear it first.

In other news, Entertainment Weekly gave Spike Lee's She Hate Me an "F". Not surprised in the least, even if I think it's a bit better than that.

In totally unrelated news, my wife and I went to Taco Bell the other day and discovered that there is now a Blue Dew. Oh sure, it's called "Mountain Dew Baja Blast, a Tropical Lime Storm", but there's no way people aren't gonna call it Blue Dew. Although one site has compared the taste to that of Scope, I liked it; very similar to the first Sprite Remix. But then, I'm naturally biased towards Dew anyway.

Posted by kza at 01:08 PM | Comments (1)

July 06, 2004

404 error -- blog not found

Looks like the blogging will be light for a couple weeks, as Martin and I dive into the second draft of Yellow. I'll still be watching movies, and I'll try to keep the weekly updates, but an opportunity has arisen and Martin and I have to make the most of it. Wish us luck!

Posted by kza at 10:46 PM | Comments (10)

June 03, 2004

ballard, bitches!

That's right folks -- I'm Back in Ballard!

Yeah, y'all can only wish you lived in Ballard. Me, I'm living the dream, baby, the DREAM!

I got the Majestic Bay to the south, the library to the west, and Quizno's to the east, all within walking distance. To the north of is a little piece of nowhereland called Mountlake Terrace that can blow me.

Ballard, y'all! I can go over to Todd or Kirk and Word's any time I want, and throw rocks at their windows. I can buy the new Franz Ferdinand from Sonic Boom (walking distance) or get a iced mocha from Tully's (walking distance) or hop on the bus and be downtown in 15. And if they ever build the monorail--that's right, walking distance.

However, nothing's ever perfect. My phone connection in the new place is hinky at best, so this'll be the last update until I figure out what's wrong. (I'll be lucky if this entry even posts.) Hopefully, we're talking days and not a week.

And if you're someone In The Know, I'll send out the new address and phone number shortly.

Peace Out.

A short history of Ballard.

A guide to what's cool in Ballard.

Posted by kza at 11:01 AM | Comments (4)

May 14, 2004

anybody in the audience ever see "The Mouse and His Child"?

I thought I'd see a few more movies this week, to have something to write about, but that didn't happen. Instead I've been busy reading the screenplays of fellow Project Greenlighters, thinking hard about the next draft of Yellow, and stressing about moving out of Mountlake Terrace and back to The Promised Land, a.k.a. Ballard. If we're lucky, maybe my wife and I will find time to see some big movies we missed, like Kill Bill Vol. 2 or Hellboy.

Anyway, in lieu of some kind of review, I present a link sent to me by Martin. Enjoy, and don't stare for too long!

Swirl.

Posted by kza at 11:19 AM

May 11, 2004

one of those stupid late-night thoughts

Lindsay Lohan's fan club should be called either "The Riders of Lohan" or, better still, "The Lohirrim".

Posted by kza at 02:33 PM

April 27, 2004

that was awesome

Remember when this blog was updated semi-regularly and was about watching movies? (see punchline above.)

[Who started that meme, anyway? Was it Vern? MD'A? Someone else?]

Anyway, I hope to get back on track as soon as this three-minute Project Greenlight video is put to bed. I understand that they want to see if we can scramble and get out shit together in a short amount of time, but really, four weeks (instead of two) would've been better. For me, at any rate. Especially since I want to pull off Gondry-esque tricks.

But anyway. The blog is going back to being updated on a semi-never basis for another week or so. Maybe when the video is done I'll post some stills, thereby disillusioning our millions of fans who think Martin and I look like Luke and Owen Wilson, and not the Trix rabbit and Benny Hill.

Posted by kza at 12:01 PM | Comments (4)

March 17, 2004

coloring-in another number on the calendar

Not sure if I'm gonna be updating much in the next week or so. I'm trying to finish another act of my screenplay (not the PG3 one), as well as get a jump-start on the next Kza/Martin collaboration, AND read another PG3 competitor's screenplay. (Note to Martin: my Spidey-Sense tells me we've got a contender.) Oh, and did I mention that they're announcing the Top 1000 PG3 screenplays in about eight days?

So, my mind is elsewhere, but I wanted to get some random stuff down, if only to let people know that I haven't completely given up. Yet.

Current Movies: The only new things I've seen in the past week are The Company and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Short version: I liked both, but one is for completists only. I may get around to a legit entry on one or both, I may not.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Dawn of the Dead: This one's a no-brainer. (Heh heh, I kill myself.) As it should be plain by now, just the very notion of humans vs. zombies creates such a frisson with me, that it'd be almost impossible for me to not enjoy it. I mean, you'd have to have, I don't know, anti-talent to fuck something like this up.

Walking Tall: Hey, I'm as surprised as you. Here's the root of this, I think: I remember watching, several years ago, some WWF special on MTV. Before each commercial break, one of the wrestlers would give some spiel about something or other, and they were all terrible, bad at reading the teleprompter, evincing no charisma or even a reason to exist. Except one: The Rock, of course. I'd never seen him before, but he was clearly a star: comfortable in front of the camera, charismatic, a keen intelligence flickering behind his eyes. It was obvious the WWF was too small for this guy, and I've been rooting for him to break out ever since. Unfortunately, the only movie I've seen him in is The Scorpion King, which stung me and we both drowned, but then, perhaps that was just the movie's nature. So I'm hoping this is the one that really breaks him. If the screenplay is fast and witty, and the direction competent, I think it may.

Endless Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: High hopes for this one as well, but I felt even more stung by Human Nature -- in fact, I stopped the DVD thirty minutes before the end cuz I just couldn't take it anymore. I have a theory, and it is mine: If the content of your movie is really strange, then the style of your movie should be as plain as possible; conversely, if the content is very pedestrian, then the style should have full license to be as weird as possible. Human Nature tried to have it both ways, and as a result, felt completely unreal, like it was beamed in from an alternate universe where believable human behavior was a superstition or something. I never gave a fuck about what was going on, and boy, does that get tiring. So hopefully Endless Sunshine (as the TV ads call it; what, are voice-over guys paid by the word, or something?) will be different, but David Poland's recent article has given me doubts.

Edit: Eternal Sunshine, Eternal Sunshine. You know, guys, you are allowed to point these things out...unless you like it when I look like a doof.

Posted by kza at 12:15 PM | Comments (18)

January 17, 2004

ce n'est pas une mise jour

Hey hey, thirteen days of complete, uninterrupted service. Not bad; in fact, better than I would've wagered.

I've been sidetracked by a number of projects, thus the absence. I recently fired up the engines for a re-write of a screenplay that I've been working on for 4 years (!) now, and I'm gearing up to take a stab at the (possibly) upcoming Project Greenlight 3, heaven help me. It would be easier if those two projects were one and the same, but, alas, they are not.

Also, tomorrow is the NFL playoffs to determine the Super Bowl contenders. If you don't have a preference, give a little cheer for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts (cuz dammit, if Tampa Bay can't be there, may as well be Tony Dungy's new team).

Coming soon (hopefully): Irrversible, The Butterfly Effect (Starts in a week! Very excited!), and I might see The Station Agent this weekend.

Posted by kza at 02:55 PM

January 12, 2004

Elizabeth M. Tamny

Who is she?

Cuz she just wrote an excellent review of Mona Lisa Smile for the Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum's paper. (Click here for the review.) It's equal parts witty and insightful, and it makes me want to see the movie (which probably wasn't Ms. Tamny's goal, but with writing this engaging, one can't help but want to be "in the know", as it were).

Fantastic stuff. I hope to see more of her work in the future.

Posted by kza at 12:10 PM

January 10, 2004

message to the bluntman

Put down the fucking weed and get your ass to the editing room.

Now.

Please.

Thank you.

Posted by kza at 04:32 PM

January 09, 2004

this is not an update

Hey folks. I'm kinda busy with some stuff today, so the promise I made myself (to update the blog everyday) is being kept on a technicality. I hope to have, in the next week, entries on #1 movie of the year, Gerry and the #0 movie of the year, Irrversible, an entry on Mystic River, some thoughts on Elf and Bad Santa, and, since I watch too much TV for my own good, maybe some stuff on the Upright Citizens Brigade DVD set and a cartoon that's more interesting than it lets on, Totally Spies!, currently showing on the Cartoon Network.

(No one on the Cinemarati Roundtable has even raised an eybrow at putting a movie in a #0 spot. Not that I expect anyone to pay attention to me or anything, but I've never seen it done before. I have a very specific reason for using #0, but I was reminded of a liner note in the first X-Files soundtrack: "Nick Cave wants to remind everyone that zero is a number, too.")

Posted by kza at 03:29 PM | Comments (1)

January 06, 2004

slate's movie club

Slate started their Year In Movies edition of the Movie Club yesterday. This year features Manohla Dargis (Los Angeles Times), J. Hoberman (Village Voice), Sarah Kerr (Vogue), and A.O. Scott (New York Times). This is my favorite Slate feature, and although Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader) and Roger Ebert aren't participating (like previous years), it's been pretty interesting so far.

Posted by kza at 01:23 PM

January 01, 2004

imitation is the sincerest form of laziness

Okay, so I choose this cool looking template called "Stormy", right, cuz it's dark and suggests mystery, you know, like a darkened theater. Not to mention the row of squares at the top that look like sprocket holes. Seems perfect for a blog about movies. And I get it up and running, it looks great, but a bit...familiar.

Well, yeah it's familiar, jackass, it's the exact same set-up Bryant Frazer has for his Deep Focus weblog.

*sigh*

By the way, Dear Reader (or is assuming even one a bit presumptuous?), Deep Focus is a great site. Soon as I figure out how to put links in the sidebar over dere, etc.

Lessee if I can summon my eensy tiny bit of HTML knowledge and put a link in here (and let's see if it works).

EDIT: Nope, that didn't work. I'll have to consult the guru. Hey, ever thought about talking about movies in your movie blog?

Posted by kza at 11:05 PM

clever introductory heading

I hate introducing myself. So I'm not gonna. This is a.... *choke* *sputter* "blog" *cough* *cough* about movies, or at least, that's what's intended, although I suppose time will tell.

I don't know what I'm trying to accomplish, if anything, with this, and I have no idea if I'll be able to keep it up either. It's going to take me months just to figure out this damn program. I mean, I can't even get the template changed to "Stormy", even after following the incredibly simple directions given to me.

Oh, but let me give a huge thank-you to Martin, for setting me up with this thing in the first place. I was all ready to give away $5 a month for the privilege of using a blogging program for dummies; now, I can fuck up for free.

Okay, let's post this thing and see what happens.

EDIT: Okay, that Stormy whatsit is working all of sudden. Whatever, dude.

Posted by kza at 10:47 PM