Category Archives: adventure

the sweet smell of success

You can borrow your friends’ houses or build a fake restaurant in somebody’s basement once. You can convince actors, even good actors, to work for free once. You can steal time in an edit bay once. You can quit your job and let your spouse support you… once. The myth of the clever, resourceful no-budget filmmaker remains charming only because most people outside of L.A. aren’t actually friends with a no-budget filmmaker. Or, to be more honest in the nomenclature, a leech. All the things that make no-budget filmmaking possible are essentially favors. And everybody’s willing to help a friend out once, especially if it’s to set that friend on a career path — even one as improbable as becoming a Hollywood filmmaker.

But imagine if you had a piano-playing friend who came to you every couple of months and asked you for a couple hundred dollars to help him rent a piano. You might justifiably wonder aloud why your friend didn’t get a job playing piano at a hotel bar down by the airport — at which point your friend would sigh and shake his head and turn away from you irritably. And you would probably begin to see piano music as less of “an extravagant gift from the heart” and more of a goddamned nuisance and egotistical waste of time. Which is what most independent filmmaking, let’s be honest, probably is.

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Posted in adventure, filmmaking | 4 Comments

since this blog is mainly read by my friends and family anyway….

The Lady Friend and I got married today. It was awesome. Three terrifying days of work, with my father, the world’s most proficient amateur caterer, as field marshal, and it all came together amazingly well. There was a moment about … Continue reading

Posted in adventure, community, marriage | 4 Comments

things you may or may not want to watch, depending….

Disney’s new big-screen nature-doc spectacle, earth, is actually a condensation of the BBC/Discovery Channel small-screen nature-doc spectacle, Planet Earth. But hey, nothing wrong with that — Disney stays profitable, a bunch of British nature photographers get to move to slightly more comfortable London flats, and we all benefit from the gentle but clear lessons about disappearing ice floes and expanding deserts. But earth is peculiarly Walt Disneyesque — no, not because it features fluffy polar bear cubs and ducklings taking their first flight, but because everything gets eaten.


One of the first images we see in earth is that of a lonely, starving male polar bear slowly making its way across a sunless Arctic waste, migrating instinctively toward better hunting grounds. That image is everything one needs to know about the worldview of both Walt Disney and the studio he founded; as Edward Rothstein wrote in a review of Tarzan in the New York Times,

Disney films — from “Snow White” to “Mulan” — have almost always been about outsiders, like Tarzan, seeking a home in an inhospitable world. These figures are rejected, isolated, alien, the victims of jealousy, snobbery, banality and hatred.

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Posted in adventure, filmmaking, nature, philosophy, science, the environment | 2 Comments

asian market of kickass

The Lady Friend and I recently decided to jump into the world of Asian supermarkets. We did this because we like Asian food and because we are adventure-seekers, but also because we are jobless hobos who wake up at noon and therefore miss things like actual farmers’ markets.

So we scoured the internets and found that Yelp is pretty postive about California Market near Western and 3rd. It’s a pretty cool place — when you pull into the parking lot, young ladies in paramilitary garb and red neckerchiefs try to hand you literature. Well, not us, because we’re white, but if you’re Korean you can go down there and find out what that’s about.

And the inside is pretty cool, too. It’s where old Korean ladies go to find things like coarse salt for pickling cabbage and where young Korean ladies go to buy prepackaged pickled cabbage. It’s also where discriminating young white hobos go to find the really good ramen.

But of course the Lady Friend and I like to cook, so we were there primarily for the raw ingredients. And here’s where my hippie paranoia began to spiral out of control, because as soon as I saw the GIGANTIC (and surely genetically tampered-with) Fuji apples on display, like a gang of grapefruits trying to get into an apple party, I began to feel like I had fallen out of my carefully cultivated bubble of organic-food wholesomeness and into a dystopic nightmare of Frankenfood imported from the Third World. Why is all this food so cheap? It’s never this cheap at Whole Foods. What’s wrong with it?? I began sifting through all the fruits and vegetables that had labels, confirming my own worst fear: many of them were from China.

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Posted in adventure, America, California, community, economics, filmmaking | 3 Comments

the state of the state

So the recession of the 1970s led to a throw-the-bums-out dismantling of the government in the 1980s, fuelled by a surprisingly robust collective resentment of government’s most visible institutions — the DMV, the IRS, and the school system. I’m not convinced that most Americans really understood the economics of trucking regulation or savings-and-loan oversight. But they did understand their own personal experiences with public institutions, which by the late ’70s and early ’80s had become unpleasant, frustrating, and often quite costly. So voters gave fairly sweeping authority to President Reagan and, later, Newt Gingrich, allowing them to deregulate and privatize all kinds of things, not based on whether it made good social and economic sense to do so, but based on a highly personal anger towards a system seen as both hopelessly incompetent and full of knaves.

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Posted in adventure, America, California, community, democracy, economics | Leave a comment

strange things seen on the 10

Because I own a pickup truck, I had to drive across town to have my vehicle weighed for the labyrinthine State of California registration process. I mean across town. On the way back, I saw an official-looking highway sign for … Continue reading

Posted in adventure, California, community | 2 Comments

it begins anew

The RPM Challenge starts today. The challenge is simple: record an album of at least 10 tracks or 35 minutes, by any means necessary, in 28 days. I took part last year on the recommendation of my friend Chris Dahlen, … Continue reading

Posted in adventure, community, music, web 3.0 | Leave a comment

a bicycle built by two

The Bicycle Kitchen is one of those things that makes me glad to be living in L.A. A not-for-profit “educational center,” the Bicycle Kitchen will not — as I heard the employees patiently explain perhaps half a dozen times while … Continue reading

Posted in adventure, California, community, economics | 2 Comments

how to watch brakhage

Are you three minutes into a feature-length film about a guy and his dog climbing a hill? You might want to pop open the laptop and see what awards this thing’s won. Also check the running time. A hundred more minutes to go, eh? Well, now might be a good time to read about how this film fits into Brakhage’s first mature period.

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Posted in adventure, filmmaking | 2 Comments

a whole sort of general mish-mash

For a couple of weeks I’ve wanted to write something about Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. Like his Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, Slumdog is all about movement — dizzying, breathtaking, rocketing movement through the slums of Mumbai. Boyle’s is a spoiled, childish camera; it craves novelty and excitement, and it’s attracted to extremes. But as soon as it finds one startling image, it gets bored and looks for another one. So we’re shoved like the blade of a plow through torture, riots, children covered in shit, children dressed up like avatars of the gods, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, a British company’s call center where Indian street urchins fake Scottish accents, the view of Mumbai from a half-completed skyscraper, a death scene that seems like it dropped in accidentally on its way to a John Woo movie, and, finally, one of those awesome Bollywood musical numbers that makes everything all right.

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Posted in adventure, America, filmmaking, linguistics | 2 Comments