amd: ballerina escape

Film Festival: Film #1

Saw John Carpenter's new film The Ward today at the film festival. It's about teenage girls trying to escape from a mental institution. The best thing I can say about it is that it made me nostalgic for how well written Sucker Punch was. There was literally nothing clever or scary about this thoroughly unambitious horror film. Even the cast, Jared Harris from Mad Men and a bevy of young actresses from minor roles in various CW/WB shows,seemed bored. Carpenter is supposed to receive an award later at the festival... via Skype! I'm tempted to show up for the Q&A so that I can say, "Mr. Carpenter, speaking of phoning things in, I saw your new movie..."

amd: ass monkey

"Dr. Chandra, will I dream?"

As you've likely noticed, I've allowed this blog to slip into sleep mode. All is well with me. I just found it to be competing for the same mental energy that I was needing for my novel writing. I may well pick it up again some time in the near future, but for right now it's going to have to hibernate.

In an odd and unrelated bit of synchronicity, exacademic who has hosted my images all these years has decided to shut down his website, so all the old pictures have now vanished from the site. Thank you for being my silent partner throughout all this, E. I've really appreciated it.

And thanks to everyone who has read and commented over the years. You've been a great audience.
amd: monkey block

long time, no blog

I've been ignoring this poor blog lately, so here's an update on what I've been up to.

Saw Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World two weekends in a row. Love that movie. Our friend Patsy from Michigan (formerly known as our friend Patsy from Malaysia) came and stayed with us for a while. I made fig ice cream with freshly harvested figs from our tree last week. It's intensely figgy! Saw Dean Wareham play a whole night of Galaxie 500 songs, which was absolutely amazing.

The writing has been going excellently. I think I've averaged 10-15 hours per week this month, which is freaking huge for me. I'm way past the halfway point on the first draft and finally cruising along at a respectable speed. Writing at home is still hard for me, so I've been taking my little netbook over to a bar called Lucky 13 and working there. The good music, surrounding conversations, and ballgame on the tv provide a nearly ideal level of distraction for me. The only potential downside is my waistline, but I've been upping my salad intake and sticking to light beers, so it should work all right.

amd: fishing

a man called zeeke

With K's niece and my brother both home from the hospital and recovering nicely this weekend, I was really feeling like we'd dodged our share of potential tragedies for the year. But then Monday night there was a message on our answering machine. Our friend Dave, known in various corners of the internet as zeeke, had been found dead in his apartment near Salt Lake City. He was only 37.

We had met as residents of an international web forum full of blasphemous, dirty-minded, sarcastic jokesters that oddly evolved into a very real family that's still going strong even though the website that brought us together is long gone. It was hard to break the news to them, but hearing their memories and testimonials about him has really helped me with Dave's passing.

K. and I met up in person with Dave and his wife for the first time in Las Vegas some time back in 2003 and the four of us got along like gangbusters. After that we never went more than a year or two without seeing each other, usually in May. In 2004, he and his wife came out to stay with us and we took them to New York City. In Spring of 2007, K. and I went out and spent some time in Utah with them. They took us to Moab and showed us a great time, even as their marriage was sadly falling apart. And in Spring of 2009, he came out to stay with us and we tried to convince him to move out here permanently, a step he seemed always just on the verge of making.

Dave was as passionate about fishing, hiking, kayaking, sports, dogs, and beer as any man I've ever met, but what he really loved was people. He was passionate about his love for his family and friends. K. says pointed out that when Dave was talking to you, he was always fully present, fully engaged, fully experiencing that moment of his life, and it's true. It's easy for me to think of him as happy go-lucky just because he was so lovable and fun, but that's just a sketch, a cartoon of who he was. He'd had plenty disappointments and worries; he just always made the effort to be positive. He was one of the sweetest, funniest, greatest guys I've ever known.

I'll think of Dave whenever I drink a Yuengling lager, Philly's local beer, which Dave loved with crazy zeal whenever he was visiting. I even have a Yuengling hat that I was saving to give him the next time I saw him.

Dave and I generated inside jokes at a ludicrous rate when were together, silly stupid phrases that—for a time at least—will make me a little sad when they pop back into my head, but remembering Dave will never make me feel bad.

I've been weighing whether or not to go Utah this weekend for the memorial services and the scattering of his ashes over his favorite lake. I'd really like to be there, but the trip would end up costing about a thousand dollars and I'm not really certain what the benefit would be. I think Dave would have rather I spend that money enjoying the company of the living. I can mourn him almost as well from here, drinking to his memory with friends nearby and sharing testimonials of him on the internet with our mutual friends around the world.

If I'm feeling the need for a touch of ritual to mark his passing this weekend, I think I'll do it with a few bottles of Yuengling, just as I would if he were here with me.



I love you, brother.

  • Current Music
    Portastatic - "Noisy Night"
amd: seonna hong

gold lamé wings

Another night's sleep disturbed by dreams about my brother (who should be getting out of ICU today). And as I'm waking up from each of them, my chest is tight and my heart feels as heavy as a bowling ball. Because, of course, while the dreams may seem to be about him, they're mostly thinly-veiled admissions and admonitions of my own mortality.

In the most transparent example, I had one last night where he confessed on his hospital bed that what bothered him most about being so close to death was that he might not get to finish this art project he had in mind. He said he wanted to photograph nudes in a bowling alley wearing gold lamé wings. This is especially funny given that my brother has never expressed a single artistic desire in his life. I assured him I'd do whatever I could to help make that happen.

amd: red pow wow

more hospital talk

Well, we got the good word that the lumps on K's niece were not cancer or leukemia, just a staph infection, which they were able to catch in time. If she didn't get infected at the hospital where she was born, as we suspect, then she might be horribly allergic to something in their house, so drama is likely to continue. We're not sure when they're going to let her home.

My brother's surgeon ended up performing a triple bypass on him yesterday, harvesting veins from one leg, one arm, and his chest to replace the occluded ones. The surgery went well, but my parents are pretty worried that he's going to try and rip tubes and wires out of himself if he's not doped up enough. The sight of him after surgery was apparently pretty horrific as his youngest daughter, who has barely left his side since he went in, could bare to look at him. Poor kid. I can handle seeing a cracked chest, but hopefully the ventilator tube will be out when I get there to visit tonight.

I'm having a lot of dreams lately, but my sleep hasn't been good at all. I wake up feeling more tired than when I went to sleep.

amd: kirsten ulve "ice skate"

hospital talk

Well, K's niece came through surgery great. They removed the bumps and the initial guess is that they're from an infection that got under her skin at the hospital where she was born. Poor little cutie has a big long cut on her neck and bruises around her eyes from having them taped shut. But, with any luck, she'll be be back home soon.

My brother, on the other hand, is under the knife as we speak, getting his chest cracked for bypass surgery. I'm a little nervous about it and of course I've chosen this time to lose my cell phone.

amd: Parisian Primate

the weekend

It's amazing how coming out of a heat wave can make an 89 degree day like today seem an ice cold paradise. Had some sweet bicycle riding the past 16 hours. Bless that little rain storm's heart.

Saturday, woke up and did some a hilarious amount of research in order to write a description of a car for the novel. We went over to Childrens Hospital, where K's newborn niece and her parents are going through nightmare of procedures to diagnose a couple of skin bumps. Then we went over to a backyard barbeque for my youngest niece's high school graduation, on the hottest day of the heat wave, that ended in my brother being hospitalized with breathing problems that seem to be heart related. K and I are sure appreciating our health this week.

Sunday was far more relaxing. K. and I spent a nice morning together, then she shut herself into the air-conditioned bedroom to catch up on some paperwork and I headed out to local air-conditioned bar to do some writing and keep an eyes on the Phillies game. Then we went to a lovely birthday potluck dinner where there we drank cocktails of gin, pureed cucumber and lime juice (so refreshing!) and way too much yummy food.

amd: typing monkey

the novel is progressing

The writing's been going pretty well lately. Since late February, I've been working on converting my extensive notes into prose and I'm now more than halfway done. And that's with a massive lapse from late April to mid-June. So I've fairly realistic reasons to believe I'll actually have the first draft done by the end of the year (which will be almost exactly eleven years from when the concept for this particular novel first occurred to me). There's really no reason why I shouldn't, even though my notes become far less comprehensive the closer I get to the end.

Still, I feel momentum and that's rare for me. Must keep at it though, more dedication, and no more long lapses. I just wish I could make myself write late in the evening before bed. It's a perfect quiet time for writing, but my brain gets so lazy during those hours.

amd: ballerina escape

thoughts about Inception (SPOILERS)

So, I thought Inception was pretty great. I'm not going to bother discussing what it's about, like I normally do, because frankly if you haven't seen it yet, you should stop reading this right now and just go see it. Plus I'm going to spoil some crucial stuff.

***SPOILERS***

I spent a lot of enjoyable time during the weekend kicking the movie around in my head, particularly the kicks themselves. For instance, I'm still not sure why Arthur wasn't kicked out of the hotel when the van drove off the bridge. Can the kick be intentionally ignored? If anyone could do that, I suppose it would be Arthur, who seems both very determined and highly professional (at least when he wasn't stealing kisses from Ariadne).

And then there's that damned top. Was it about to fall or not? It was certainly wobbling. I walked out of the theater wishing they hadn't shown the wobbling, so that the viewer could fully make up their own mind. But in the end I decided that it doesn't matter if it keeps spinning. What matters is that Cobb set it down and left it there, a gesture that clearly shows he's accepted the reality that he's in. Besides Saito totally handled it while they were talking in the beginning, so he could have simulated a false replica.

And I'm pretty sure the kids were dressed in the same clothes as they were in his memories, although I'll need to see it again to confirm that. So, yeah, I am inclined to believe that Cobb is still in a dream. (I also kind of like thinking that Mal really did escape back into reality by jumping off that building and that she hired Arthur and the others to go in after Cobb, with the intention of either rescuing him or incepting him with a dream level he'd could find peace in. Although, admittedly, there isn't much in the movie to back that particular theory up.)

I was surprised for a while that Nolan didn't make the dream worlds more dreamlike, but that was pretty much necessary to pull off the repeated "Am I still dreaming?" cons. And there were a few points where the audience couldn't really know the consequences of what the characters were doing, which drained a bit of the drama. The only thing that really bothered me about the movie, however, was there were way too many shots of people in snowsuits shooting guns in the third level of the dream. Those parts made me feel like I was trying to feign interest in other people playing some multiplayer video game.