Friday, April 21, 2006

GHOTI: Principal Wrapped!

Today Max, I, and Brian Quigley got together to shoot the last bits of major principal photography for the trailer for Ghoti (pronounced like "fish"). When we shot last, everyone was on set except for Brian, who had scheduling issues as the last minute. It wasn't a huge problem... except that Brian's only scene was with Rob, and scheduling issues tend to make shooting problematic.

If there's one lesson I've learned, it's this: if you have the camera (which in this case was almost physically attached to my producer, Max) in the same location as your actors, special props, difficult sets, or unique costumes, shoot as much as you can while your window is still open. Which is why, last time, we shot Rob & Brian's scene anyway, but only with Rob. We even did an OTS (over the shoulder) of Rob from Brian's side of the room. If that OTS shot gets into the trailer, you can boast that you read it here first: Brian's body double was me.

I'm really happy with what we shot and if I can stitch in some killer special effects and titles, and run it through Magic Bullet to make it look like film and give it a cinematic letterbox, then the trailer will really kick ass. Expect to see the finished trailer as a permanent You Tube installment on Myspace!

The next steps are editing the footage together, doing some 3D modeling work for the FX shots, and then rendering animations and designing the titles. Finally, scoring and tweaking the final cut. Watch this space to keep in the know!

And just so's you know...

I'm out of town on holiday for about a week, so I'm holding off on posting for the rest of this month. Next month, however, I have some... "special" stuff planned for this blog, so please check back then. I had planned to roll out my swanky new category sidebar in May (you can see the new Javascript-enabled sidebar on the right in its unfinished state), but my post about Cassidy's birthday prematurely set off that trip wire. I'll aim to have the sidebar 100% functional by May 1st so you can browse all my posts in a more civilized manner.

Without further ado, this coming Monday, I plan to be sipping boat drinks, napping in deckchairs, and finally reading Cold Skin.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

420 Is A Time of Day

Well, Daisy did it again. Thanks to her blog today, I learned—mere moments ago—about the existence of the term "420".

Unfortunately, after reading her blog, the details about "420" were left a little vague, and remained vague even after 10 minutes of Googling. Yes, today is April 20th (4/20), but what does 420 stand for exactly? It certainly had something to do with weed. (What can I say? I'm not a pothead. Nevertheless, I am always curious about social celebrations of all kinds.)

So I went searching for what "420" meant. And here's the best explanation I found:

The term 420 originated at San Rafael High School, in 1971, among a group of about a dozen pot-smoking wiseacres who called themselves the Waldos, who are now pushing 50. The term was shorthand for the time of day the group would meet, at the campus statue of Louis Pasteur, to smoke pot. Intent on developing their own discreet language, they made 420 code for a time to get high, and its use spread among members of an entire generation.

So there ya go, someone's parents out there invented the term 4/20.

And remember this:

There are NOT 420 chemicals in Weed. It's about 315, the num. goes up or down depending on what you're smoking.

4/20 is NOT police code or Maryjane.

And that whole shit about Holland and 4/20 over there being "tea time" for smokers isn't true either.

Ah, but there's more:

To add to the definition regarding "The Waldos," I'd like to note that in an article of High Times containing an interview with the Waldos, one of them told this story: We had heard rumors that one of the member's brothers had planted a pot patch in the wooded area around town. We all wanted to go look for this patch of weed, so we devised to meet each other by the statue of Louis Pasteur after school. We all had after school activities or electives that lasted about fifty minutes, and it took about ten minutes to get from school to our after school activities, and another ten minutes to walk from the activities to the statue. Since there were many of us, we decided that 420 would be a good time to meet so we could go search for the patch of pot. We never did find it, but we had lots of fun getting high while trying to look for it.

Therefore, when they were at school, when they saw each other between classes they would secretively say "420" and maybe give the thumb-and-pointer-finger-to-the-mouth sign to indicate that that was when they would meet to look for the weed patch. Since the Waldos were such legendary potheads, when people who were not Waldos saw this, it caught on and they assumed it was a secret code word for pot.

Never let it be said that this blog isn't educational. So... happy 420!

Post Scriptum: Daisy's reward for introducing me to this bit of arcane knowledge which I'm ashamed to say I inexplicably eschewed my entire adult life—I just bumped Aspen Extreme to the top of my Netflix queue.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Happy 30th Cassidy!

Cassidy's my marketing genius. She used to work upstairs from me when I was at an ad agency in San Francisco. The thing I really cherish about Cassidy and all her friends is their immeasurable ability to laugh. Just watching at Sarah C. or Sarah A. or Jessie or Rufus smile and sing and dance around... shit, you can't help but feel bubbbb-lay inside. I love em all. I only wish they didn't all live in the bay.

This weekend, Sarah turned 30. Which is a major to-do for Cass and her urban tribe. I see myself as the blessed one because Cassidy now lives in Sacred Tomatoes, meaning the party was just down the street. Being my evil partner in film crime, I figured Cassidy has earned the right to own her own set of sharks with laser beams now. Muhahahahahaha.

And really, what 30th birthday party would be complete without a male stripper dressed as a cop? I'd post the other pictures of the stripper here, but honestly—I'm emotionally scarred. You think I joke. I not joke. I emotionally scarred. It wasn't watching Cassidy being stripper-fied that did it, but being compelled to watch the other ladies who volunteered... Cassidy's mom even got some action. Yeah, I'm telling you. I guess all tribes have their own rites of passage.

Happy 30th, girl. Let's rock this town!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Right on time!

Cool. (Check out the time of this post.)

Where New York Times columnist David Pogue latched onto this fascinating factoid, there's no telling. But as randomly useless bits of trivia go, this is definitely worth noting.

Pogue writes: Late tonight—specifically, 123 seconds after 1:00 a.m.—the time and date, for the first time in all of humanity, will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

And, Pogue points out, this moment will never come again.

Well, at least not exactly. In Europe, which renders the date before the month, this singular moment will occur next month, at 123 seconds past 1 a.m. on 4 May. And after that, it most definitely will never occur again.

Actually, I future posted this. In reality, I'm probably in bed trying to stay awake watching the 10th episode of Crusade in The Pacific, about Iwo Jima.

Just finished getting my swanky new desk installed. Phew... I'm exhuasted. Thanks, Doug!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Crusade In The Pacific

For those who don't know, I am a huge World War II aficionado. I mean, big time. Das Boot, A Bridge Too Far and The Longest Day are among my all-time favorite films. Maybe it's because my father fought in World War II, or maybe it's because the brutality of the Jewish Holocaust and Japanese invasions made the lines so clear over who was Good and who was Evil. It was a different time and a different war.


My wife was shopping for a birthday gift for her grandmother last week at Ross Dress For Less. Unfortunately, due to my mother's relentless shopping sprees whilst I was a child, I can no longer stomach being in department stores. Any department stores. My best chance of surviving it is to scout out the nearest techno-gadget section and burrow around for something interesting enough to distract me from the excruciating pain. Oh, the pain...

On this occasion, Ross Dress For Less had a large bin of DVDs at deeply discounted prices. Most of the films in there were crap—I mean, come on, they're being sold at Ross Dress For Less—but I did find a boxed set of documentaries about World War II called Crusade In The Pacific. The documentaries looked interesting enough, but the box didn't have a year listed for when the documentaries were made. I figured they'd been made in the 60s or 70s. There were 24 documentaries in all with a total running time of 600 minutes, so each episode was about 25 minutes long. So how much were they?


That's 37.5¢ per episode. No. Shut up. No matter how you slice it, that's a bargain. (And here's the punchline: Amazon is selling this for $44.99!!!)

So I got the boxed set. The 4 DVDs lingered around the house for a few days while I did other things, and then I put one documentary on for kicks. Turns out these documentaries were made in 1951, which makes them practically history in themselves, since that's only 6 years after the end of hostilities. Remember the melodramatic narrator at the beginning of Casablanca? This is that same type of narration... shit, it's entertaining just watching these documentaries to listen to that guy.

Here what one reviewer on IMDB had to say about it:

Documentary of the old style, something that would be considered propaganda today. Very often the story is dictated by the available film clips rather than the other way around. This documentary series is told with a blustery, booming voice. The intro theme music is almost propaganda itself. Sometimes the facts do surface and are interesting but it can be difficult to wait for them. The enemy is always "sneaky and cunning" the Americans "brave and stalwart". Sometimes the narrative wanders off the topic simply because of available film footage. This is not the standard that we expect today but it is interesting nonetheless.

That's pretty accurate—the documentaries aren't nail-biters, but if you like WWII history, this set of documentaries tell in great detail about many of the most significant tactical battles of the war. This other review on Amazon is a little too flag-waving but better reflects what I feel about this boxed set:

This is by far the best and most comprehensive documentary series on World War II in the Pacific I have seen thus far. It covers the Pacific war meticulously on the land, air, and sea campaigns. It was not made to entertain, but rather to inform. It covers the entire Pacific theater in authentic real films. One should not be disappointed with the black & white and grainy quality of most of the DVDs. They are after all transferred from sources of a bygone era. But the images are often fascinating to watch. They are absolutely indispensable in the recordings of history. Where paper documents alone may fail to inspire younger generations about the desperate struggles against the brutality of Imperialist Japan, this set of visual documents could project an everlasting memory of the Allied heroism that must be remembered for life.

I've gone on quite long enough about my cool little purchase, so this concludes our time for today.

But, to give thanks to those who lost their lives in deposing fascist dictators of their time, here are some sobering facts about the casualties of World War II, courtesy of Wiki:

Approximately 62 million people died in the war, about 25 million soldiers and 37 million civilians, with estimates varying widely. This total includes the estimated 10 million lives lost due to the Holocaust. Of the total deaths in World War II approximately 80% were on the Allied side and 20% on the Axis side. Most were civilians, as a result of the large-scale aerial bombing of cities, disease, starvation, and genocide.

Allied forces suffered approximately 17 million military deaths, of which about 10 million were Soviet and 4 million Chinese. Axis forces suffered about 8 million, of which more than 5 million were German. The Soviet Union suffered by far the largest death toll of any nation in the war; perhaps 23 million Soviets died in total, of which more than 12 million were civilians. The figures include deaths due to internal Soviet actions against its own people. Poland suffered the most deaths in proportion to its population of any country, losing 5.6 million out of a pre-war population of 34.8 million.

If you made it to the end of this, you are truly a like-minded soul. Reward yourself by watching Elem Klimov's 1985 film Come And See about a boy who wants to join the partisans to fight the Nazis in Byelorussia (now called Belarus). Try not to read anything about it, just watch it. Warning: it's in Russian and is shot in such a way that it may take you a few tries before you get into it (it took me about 3 attempts to make it past the first 10 minutes), but watch it all the way to the end and I wager that you won't be disappointed. You can rent it on Netflix, but probably not at Blockbuster. If you do watch it, let me know because I'd enjoy discussing it.