the awesome/terrifying freedom

out here, somewhere, figuring it all out.

ebert maintains that games will never ascend to the artistic level of film or literature, which i find boggling, considering that many literati would contest whether or not film belongs in that category in the first place. ebert's main argument is that "video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control." not being a gamer, ebert doesn't realize that in the best games, the choices available to the player are very specific.

he also says "to my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers." while it may not represent the ultimate potential of the form, i believe the beginning of gaming as a serious art came with 'myst,' in which the choices presented to the player were moral conundrums, teaching as much as entertaining, and was as much about 'experience' as it was about 'playing.' games are becoming the new mass media version of performance art, in which the player is now audience participant. it's exciting to think about, especially as the tools of game creation become more widespread.

as generations grow out of childhood, their artists find opportunity to bring legitimacy to the mediums and forms scorned by their parents. we can see this in the way that george lucas and steven speilberg brought legitimacy to saturday morning serials through their treatment of 'indiana jones.' we're seeing it now with the hailing of the comic book and the rise of graphic novels. we're seeing it with rap and hip hop, and we'll see it with video games. we may not have a 'citizen kane' yet, but it's arrival feels imminent and certain.

perhaps, like 'kane,' the true paragon of the form already exists but will not be appreciated for some time. perhaps it is 'myst?'

aids aids aids aids

saw a few movies this weekend.


chris columbus told the cast that "this is going to be the most important film i'm ever going to make." sadly, chris' most worthwhile contributions to film remain the screenplays to 'gremlins' and 'the goonies.'

which is not to say that i didn't enjoy the film. rosario dawson did an amazing job, and actually made me wish that some of the other roles had been recast as well (roger). it just isn't right seeing 30somethings in these parts, whether they originated them or not. it's no longer a film about east village scrubs forming a family and trying to survive. with older actors, it becomes a comment on that existence, told by adults who were once those children. as a result, it loses much of its urgency and relevance. it was frustrating that for everything they got right, the other foot would fall, and slip. the split screen with roger and mark during 'what you own' placing a windblown roger in the santa fe desert? so lame. it just killed one of the best songs in the show. what i did like was 'tango maureen,' which effectively expanded the song in an interesting way - a large ensemble dance number with an intricate three way tango worthy of 'chicago.' also, 'la vie boheme' successfully transferred the energy of the theatrical staging to film. so, why did other numbers fall so horribly flat?

i think one big mistake, and rob marshall knew to stay away from this in 'chiacgo,' is to never have characters sing while walking from one location to another. just cut to the new location. it's a musical. we're already suspending disbelief, and using a verse as 'travel time' is a waste. the 'phantom' movie suffered deeply from this. in rent, 'out tonight,' and 'take me or leave me' became more about moving from room to room than communicating with another character. also, fade to black after every song? easy, uninspired, predictable, cliche, by rote, and very very far from what a director striving to make 'the most important film of his life' would conceive. i just want to picture for a minute what a visionary like darren aronofsky would have done. we needed a gritty world through which the optimism of the play can blossom - not a glossy faux east village that only compounds artifice upon artifice.

what's sad is that because of the drought of movie musicals, filmmakers are having to relearn the medium once honed to a science by the 50's studio system. study west side story, sound of music, wizard of oz. all surefooted and unapologetic. only rob marshall has been able to do it again. here's hoping bill condon can do it with 'dreamgirls.' i have little expectation or hope for 'the producers.'

anyway, i did cry. because 'i'll cover you' is brilliant and works on it's own merit, and jesse l. martin is great.

but like the first 2 harry potters - i rarely felt like i was watching real moments of communication. like 'evita,' i was watching the cast album 'acted out,' which is fine, because the cast album is good, but still. i want more.

it's interesting how none of the commercials give any hint that 'rent' might be largely about characters affected by aids. even in interviews, it seems the cast has been instructed not to discuss it. when rosario dawson was on the today show, she described the film as 'well, really, it's essentially, about, you know, measuring your life in love.' oh, rosario.

thus ever for tyrants!

astonishingly brilliant. so sad that we all have to wait until '07 for more 'rome.'


tiny addendum: wolf creek is actually in helvetica black, running scared is in gotham. but they do illustrate the growing trend.

oh jesus

church to gays: send us your repressed, unadjusted homos. yeah, that's real likely to reduce incidences of molestation.

gay cowboys!?

have you read 'brokeback mountain' yet? do it. now. it'll take you 20 minutes, and you'll be crying by the end. brilliant. the story is so good that i'm apprehensive about the film. i'm really worried that the beautiful selectivity of the short story will be marred by filling in 'missing' elements, and ruining its exquisite ambiguity. but read it and watch the trailer again - it includes every major image from the story. i just hope this fares better than 'the hours,' which had great, unanimous buzz going in, but left me almost totally disaffected. (mostly because no early reviewer would admit that meryl streep had turned in her worst performance since 'she devil.' thank god she redeemed herself that year with 'adaptation.')

there's been some anticipation about controversy over this film. i honestly think there's going to be little to none. some wyoming bigots have spouted on about how innapropriate it is to portray gay cowboys - i just love how homophobic people are so threatened by the gay sexualization of masculine images. it really must be terrifying, that policemen, bikers, cowboys, soldiers, construction workers, and um, indians just might be gay.

i am a ravenclaw

top of the potts

remember when the litmus test was "are you a matt or a ben?"

the new one: "are you a cedric or a krum?"

cedric is lovely, he's the prince. krum is the jock. i am most definitely a krum. yum. poor guy only got one line in the whole movie, and he could just barely spit it out, which they kind of make a joke about later..

saw a midnight show on 84th and broadway last night. i live in brooklyn. got home at 4am.

this takes me back to when i waited 6 hours to get tickets to the midnight show of 'the phantom menace' way back in '99. i had waited 16 years to see that film and nearly fell asleep at the screening, thanks to lucas' clunker. i'm happy to say that i enjoyed 'goblet' enough to never check my watch, think of checking my watch, yawn, or ponder that 'i'm usually in bed by the time this film started, and here i am on the upper west side at 2am.'

the average audience member was 19 years old, male, cute, and not necessarily gay, making these kids about 13 when the books came out. no doubt about it, harry potter is the new star wars, and as i hoped, this film, like the book, does for the series what 'empire strikes back' did for star wars - matured the characters, expanded the world, raised the stakes, and deepend the breadth of the story.

it does try to pack a lot of stuff in, perhaps too much. it puzzled me why they spent precious time with rita skeeter when they left out hermione's revenge against her - better to cut the entire subplot. i understand the difficulty in doing so, as miranda richardson's performance was spot on. but that time could have been better spent beefing up the emotional impact of the post-graveyard scenes.

newell directly expands on the world cuaron built in 'azkaban.' it's gritter, filled with characters who have stories that extend beyond their screentime, and is so wonderfully selective in its moments. maggie smith's every utterance is golden, as is alan rickman's. there is so much genuine humor in this film, that, between laughs i was mostly just grinning at how damn right they got it. i don't understand why so many of the reviews have criticized daniel radcliffe's performance, saying that he isn't growing into much of an actor. are you serious? i never saw a false moment. in fact, it's quite remarkable how much radcliffe stays out of the way of the story. he does his job, keeps it simple, and has many great honest comic moments - i mean, c'mon people, have you already forgotten about hayden christensen??? radcliffe is olivier compared to him, and he's been asked to play many of the same notes here that christensen butchered in 'clones.'

sidenote: this class at the atlantic theatre company has really been an inspiration. it's focused on practical approaches to bettering yourself as an actor. things you can actually do, like using their brilliant repetition exercise to engrain the habit of focusing your attention off yourself and on the other person (rather than 'work on emotional accessibility! NOW!'). attention placed on one's self is, i think, the seminal cause of bad acting. it's the reason madonna has never been credible in a role. she's never actually talking to the other character. a part of her, however small, is really still talking to the camera, and when we detect that, everything she does 'in character' is a lie.

back to potter: i really want to hear how the film plays to someone who hasn't read the book. does any of it make sense? some major plot points fly by with only passing mention. is it enough to pick up all the details? does it matter? fans of the 'azkaban' book talked on end about how the climax of the film was shortchanged - whereas i missed nothing i didn't know was supposed to be there. in fact, the third film turned me on to the books in the first place.

can't wait to finish up the next 2 books and catch up with everyone else..

this is why

apple is the best manufacturer/innovator of new products.

the new trend

thankfully, trajan is finally, FINALLY, moving out. there's now a new signal of an important film.

love the onion

jennifer hudson!

holy crap this is awesome. she is brilliant, and a worthy successor to jennifer holliday. plus, adapted and directed by bill condon, this looks to be really really great. there were rumors that jamie foxx was pushing for fantasia, who is also brilliant, but she doesn't have the right voice for effie. hudson has it all, right down to the jennifer holliday crazy eyes.

in other news, 'the woman in white' was atrocious. we left at intermission. the set was expensive looking, with moving walls and all the backdrops done with 3d animated projections. but the big problem was that it looked like all the characters were running around in 'house of the dead' or 'myst' (the original myst from 12 years ago). the whole thing reeked of tired artists desperate for relevance by slapping on a 'new' technology that actually makes the show look like it's firmly rooted in 1993. you could feel the production team patting themselves on the back for coming up with something so innovative, unaware that the average 12 year old has seen more detailed graphics on their xbox.

which is not to say that the set couldn't have been used in better ways - it's a fantastic blank canvas that could suit so many shows - it would be perfect for 'shrek: the musical,' or even 'chess.' but not this.

another problem was the music. i can honestly say that the woman's cell phone ringtone that went off halfway through the first act was the most tuneful thing i heard all night. usually cellphones infuriate me, but this was met with a welcome smile. lloyd webber doesn't actually write music anymore. he throws his hands down on the keys, fixes his determination that whatever noise it happens to make is the 'hook,' and repeats it ad infinitum, hoping to convince his audience that yes, any string of notes can be considered a melody.

can't wait to see the times review.

speaking of atrocities, today is the 27th anniversary of the star wars holiday special. i'm downloading a copy, and cannot wait to experience the horror for myself.

happy life day!

on stagnation

boy have i been feeling down in the dumps. not sure why. trying to work my way through it. type type type, try do something at least.

i've found two very cool blogs about the latest in the goings on with apple:

the unofficial apple weblog and the cult of mac blog. both very good, and both understand what it means to be a macfan.

now this is interesting: network ratings for 'lost' and 'desperate housewives' have dipped ever since the shows have become available on itunes. even if you don't have a video ipod, it's totally worht $1.99 to catch up on 'lost' without any commercials.. does this foretell a future in which even network shows will work similarly to cable? if people are willing to -pay- for their shows rather than sit through ads, the advent of itunes just might change everything.. the boundaries between network and cable may begin to blur..

tonight i'm going to see 'the woman in white,' which i'm anticipating as a craptastic disasterpiece. see that logo? trajan trajan trajan. full report tomorrow.

monkey time

the russian kong posters are great.

cool stuff

just in time for the movie, i finished harry potter 4. fantastic. it's the 'empire strikes back' of the series.

the score for 'goblet of fire' is fantastic. gone are the tinkling bells, patronizing arpeggios, and muddled whimsical tuba theme that john williams crapped out (his score for the third film is better, thanks to having an actual director). the new score repeats the william's theme only once, playing it on soaring strings. you can almost hear doyle's irritation at having to include it, and then feel his excitement as he creates something new and better. i've always been a fan of patrick doyle - who scored kenneth branagh's best films: much ado, henry V, and my absolute favorite: dead again. his harry potter score bears much in common with 'dead again's:' sweeping, romantic, operatic in scale, full of solid, mature themes, and most of all, it's the score of a taught suspense thriller. i can't wait to see this film.

started reading 'a field guide to getting lost,' which was recommended to me by emily after a deep conversation centering around WTFAWGTDWTROOL. what the fuck are we going to do with the rest of our lives. the book is lovely and insightful.

went to the 'out 100' awards at capitale. took a date. he hated nearly everything about it, excepting the open bar. 'we're not really standing in line so we can stand around and watch gay people give awards to gay people for being gay are we?' i had no answer. i was irritated that he would so deeply criticize an event i had invited him to, but was also really attracted to his frankness and lack of interest in the 'gay world.' turns out defamer had similar things to say. looking forward to where this might go.

i put 'the birds' on my ipod. i hadn't watched it since high school, and i'm astonished by just how good it is, and just how good tippi hedren was in the role. it's so subversive in its sexuality that it hardly feels american. i can't think of another film that so eloquently parallels an unexplained animal attack with an unspoken sexual competition between mother, daughter, jilted lover, and newcomer.

speaking of the ipod - i discovered the coolest hidden feature of itunes: lyrics. if you control click a song title, you can access tons of features for each song - track order, edit album art, etc.. but who wants to go through and find lyrics to every song in your library, then cut and paste them into that window? look no further than pearlyrics, a super cool program that will automatically find the lyrics for every song in your library and automatically upload them into itunes. brilliant. fucking brilliant - especially if you are like me: a music first, lyrics later kind of person. click the center button as you listen, and after it scrolls past the album art, you can read the lyrics as you listen on the subway.

i'm sure it's out there, but a similar widget that downloads album art would be awesome, too.

after having it a month, my feelings about the 5g ipod are still very strong. because it now holds movies, the machine feels even more an extension of the owner. it's not the ideal way to experience new media, but it's really fantastic for watching old favorites. steve jobs was right when he said that video wasn't ideal for the ipod because it requires full attention - whereas music can be a background activity. i would never watch a full movie on my ipod, but i love watching snippets of my favorite films, a few minutes at a time - and noticing things i never saw before, like:

indy's gay student, who, in 'raiders of the lost ark,' sheepshly puts an apple on his desk then bolts out the door. probably the only hint of gayness in any of the movies (aside from the willie scott anything goes tapdance number).

the opening shot of the birds incorporates an ingenius invisible wipe that seamlessly transitions from an outdoor location shot of tippi hedren crossing a san francisco street to a studio set of the outside of the bird shop.

on my ipod:
the birds
north by northwest
indiana jones trilogy
empire strikes back
king kong 1933
citizen kane
six feet under series finale

la notes

as the plane gets closer, hills rise up, little clouds clinging to the tips, with residential scatterings around their bases.

then the basin opens up and it's row after row, square after square of people and studios and houses and cars.

so much time spent in cars, which everyone who lives there seems to have accepted. new york conversations center around apartments and subway lines. l.a. conversations are about highways and houses.

this is the one my friend celeste lives in. it's an apartment, comprising a quarter of this building, really, but by new york standards, that's a house.

what struck me is how similar the l.a. city experience is to driving down colfax in denver.

the streets are wide, buildings are generally not taller than 3 stories, and the neighborhoods shift startlingly between decidedly ethnic and decidedly ritzy. on the way to celeste's place from the airport we stopped at van's, one of l.a.'s big supermarket chains. i'd nearly forgotten what it was like to get all your shopping done in one place. or to buy more groceries than you can physically carry for 4 blocks.

palm trees palm trees palm trees..

immediately after flying in, celeste, her roommate carla, and i got into costume and drove up to their alma mater, CalArts, for the annual halloween party. a halloween with a bunch of art students at the school 'LacArts' was based on in 'six feet under?' awesome. and the party certainly lived up to expectations. it was filled with russels and jimmys and anitas. anyway, crazyness. celeste and carla kept saying how lame it was, and how it's usually much much better, but i had nothing to compare it to. i hadn't been to a party this big in probably 6 years. the costumes were really great - art students, you know. i wish i had brought my camera. a popular costume at the party were 'team zissou' members - of which there were about 8 or 9. i liked the idea, so i stole it for sunday's costume party.

on saturday we drove to santa barbara to visit my genius friend adrienne, who was in the midst of heavy research for her doctoral dissertation on the legendary halloween celebrations on isla vista. adrienne is one of my closest friends from junior high, and the star of 'what lies below.' we had a lovely dinner, during which she gave us the full history of the isla vista halloween celebration, then took us on a litle walking tour around the shopping district where celeste and i could shop for costume items. the two main costume shops were packed with college students, with lines extending down their respective blocks.

adrienne asked me to take pictues of the line for her paper, but i stupidly did not think to take any pictures of us, which is typical of me. i'll get a million shots of a microscopic rock on the beach and not one of the people i care about or actually came to see. maybe i prefer the memory?

the next day i smartly handed the camera over to my friend sonya's gorgeous child, latreal, who's acting career is quickly eclipsing all of ours, having landed a national saturn commercial earlier this year. celeste surprised me at brunch by inviting just about everyone from UF who now lives in l.a.. it was great seeing them again and talking with them, finding out what their lives are like out there, how much acting work they're getting, how they survive, and most importantly, if they like it.

(at left is celeste, latreal, and sonya at brunch.) the life of an l.a. actor is much different. in new york you audition and audition and hope to get a showcase, which might get you an agent, who might get you another showcase or regional production. what you make doing these things will either be a) nothing, or b) just barely enough to scrape by. eventually you might land on or off broadway, but there are only a handful of those productions each year to hope to be cast in.

(this is stephen, who was in my grad class at uf.) in l.a. you have the vast (desolate, depending on your perspective) landscape of tv and film to troll for employment - and with an ever expanding number of channels, hours to fill, and commercials to punctuate those hours, there's just a lot more work to be found. now, holding up a tube of toothpaste is hardly artistically comparable to acting in an original play in nyc, but holding up a tube and saying no lines at all has the potential to support a career for half a year, if not more. so let me rephrase: there's a lot more paying work to be found.

(this is kevin, who was in a brilliant ad for netzero, featured in this slate article.) in addition, the cost of living is lower. you have to deal with the expenses of having a car - gas, insurance, repairs, sure - but it's offset by the substantially lower rent; lower rent that also comes with much much more space. and a lawn.

this is dajuan, who i also went to UF with, and who i went through a lot of gay growing pains with. it's great to see him doing well, and seeming so much himself.

the whole affair was celeste's bid to seduce me into moving to l.a...

we spent the rest of the day driving around the city, looking at the various neighborhoods, walking in and out of fun shops to finish up our costumes. i found excellent light blue pants for my zissou costume at a thrift store on melrose. that night celeste, her new awesome husband chad, carla, and carla's friend george and i all got ready and headed off to a giant party in some warehouse. the pic is about as fuzzy as my memory of the evening.. that's chad as 'disco stu.' i didn't get to see much of chad at first because he was working long days on the set of 'gray's anatomy' as a featured doctor/extra.

monday. brunch. driving. sightseeing.

i decided to take a jog around celeste's neighborhood. several miles away was the six feet under house, which i knew i had to see. it's in the middle of a nice, predominantly hispanic residential neighborhood. it was clear that this was just a residence, and that people do live there, and judging by the car in the driveway, they were home. as i lurked around, snapping pics, a woman came out and took out the trash. she didn't say anything. must be used to this.

playing dead in the walkway.

now, if you've watched the final episode as many times as i have, you'll know that there is a certain important driving sequence at the end. on my jog back to celeste's, it was cool to see the exit claire takes to get on highway 10, just a few block from 'their' house. i love when shows are geographically correct.

on my jog i also got to see the 'real l.a.'

that evening: a party at dajuan's house and the west hollywood parade. dajuan and his friends had dressed up as the desperate housewives. dajuan was of course alfre woodard, though his costume could also pass for whitney or oprah. celeste, chad, carla and i got back into costume, but after sunday night, it was just too much. we only stayed an hour. the parade was 250 thousand people in the street in costumes - it was like the pearl street mall crawl back home (the way it was before it became sanitized for familes and then dissolved), except multiplied 250 times. i'd love to do it again, but get there early, grab a table at a street cafe and watch the people go by.

tuesday. venice beach with celeste and chad.

thank you both for being such amazing hosts.

i have the blogosphere to thank for my friendship with john dolan, who took me out tuesday night to la's 'beige,' which is apparently just like ny's beige - except we were going on the day after halloween, and the swanky place was pretty empty owing to a city-wide hangover. i did however meet mr. dolan's blonde, gorgeous, talented roommate and fell instantly in love. alas it was not meant to be. it was really great seeing john, though.

wednesday. on the plane. heading back. my camera battery died at the beach, so i couldn't take pictures of the glittering new york skyline as we landed at 9pm. it was stunning, but added to the strange melancholy i felt the entire flight. was i going home? what is home anymore? how have i become so complacent in my life? would a cross country move revitalize my creative juices? my ambition?

something died in me this year and i'm not entirely sure what did it. a lot of it has to do with nearly killing myself to produce a play, see it become a success and then see little of that success myself. i wonder if i never dreamed big enough as a kid. i only ever wanted to move to new york, to work in theatre. i never pushed for more, and once i got those things, once i had moved here (which once seemed impossible) went equity and produced plays - what next? i need new, bigger, seemingly impossible goals or i will dissolve. then there's also the inescapable pang of age, a weight that only gets heavier with time. as winter approaches, i know i need the sun.

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  • 5: the man of genius

  • 4: blunders & absurdities

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  • 2: what lies below

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