Friday, May 29, 2009
Hot-Blooded, Check It And See
May has proven to be my own personal cold and flu season. Having gotten over the rhinovirus a couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd paid my dues for the year, but it turned out it was just the flu lining me up for a clean shot. In the morning I was fine, out running errands, in the afternoon I started feeling a little funky, and by nightfall I was up to 103F and reduced to little more than an animal shivering under a blanket. All my usual methods of controlling a fever worked poorly at best, and for several days I couldn't get much below 101. I don't know if it was the dreaded H1N1 or just a garden variety influenza, but I'm calling it my swine flu either way, because that virus was badass enough to deserve a title. It was literally the sickest I've been in a decade.
So I spent the entirety of last week in bed struggling against a stubborn fever and doing not much else. Not reading, not writing, not watching TV, not fucking around online, just laying in bed sleeping about 18 hours a day, and staring at the wall for most of the rest. After a week, feeling considerably improved, I attempted to go into work, and discovered that within that context, a wide gulf can separate "considerably improved" and "fit for work." Apart from the wooziness and my inability to regulate my own temperature, several days of violent coughing had absolutely shredded my voice (which now, ten days after first getting sick, is still fragile and comes and goes), rendering me unable to speak. And as my mother can attest, if you can't talk, you're not much good to anyone in a work environment, yourself included.
But it's mostly over now. The voice is still rough, and my right ear is cut off from my brain by a small, unmoving lake of snot. The cough is going to be with me for weeks. At 33 I am robust enough to shake it off, but it's easy to see how a bug like that set loose among the very old or the immunocompromised could be catastrophic.
Anyway, that's been my
I've developed a recent thing for typography. I mean, in retrospect, it's been an obvious passive interest for a long time -- nothing I particularly want to pursue, but something that piques my interest whenever it comes along. It seems to me that there are picture people, and there are word people; I know for sure that I am very much the latter and almost not at all the former. I can appreciate pictures, and I can definitely appreciate others' skills with images, but for me, the picture part clicks only superficially, if at all. I can tell a good image from a bad one, but as far as understanding the differences between the two, I'm lost. Even hand-holding me through the process will only get me so far; the synthesis just never forms in my mind. Words, I get. I got them early, I got them deeply, I grok words. I'm more often careless with them myself, but if you drop a really masterful composition in front of me, I can understand how it works, why it works, and can make some good, educated guesses about the processes used to write it.
So maybe typography, then, is my bridge between two disparate styles of perception. Maybe I like it because it adds another layer of meaning to something I tend to take for granted. Maybe I like it because it offers me a handhold on the slippery world of images. Maybe I like it because, if you can look past the words, letters are just cool. And sometimes it's good to see them treated as beautiful in their own right.
I'd say that well-designed, well-chosen black letters against white space is probably one of the loveliest things humans have ever created.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Does Andy Live?
Today (well, okay, technically yesterday, as late as I am getting to this) is the 25th anniversary of the death of Andy Kaufman. According to at least one website, he's still alive
Personally, I don't buy it. And that website is the biggest reason why.
It would be wonderful, delightful, heartening to think that he'd pulled it off, that he'd faked his death and gone to ground waiting to re-emerge, or not, at some future date. But this far on, that almost seems too obvious for Andy. I mean, to "die" and then reappear after one year or three decades would be interesting, and sort of cool, but really, where's the fun in it? For him or for us? And wasn't that always the ultimate point with Andy? The fun?
The person who slapped up that website is blatantly obviously not Andy Kaufman, and doesn't even seem to especially understand Andy Kaufman. Which is either the best evidence that it really IS Andy, or the best evidence that not only is Andy gone, but that even if he reappeared, he'd be irrelevant now.
Put it this way: if that really were Andy Kaufman, then I'd just as soon Andy stay dead. If that was what he became, then he's outlived his usefulness to us anyway. But the better joke, the more sublime joke, is almost certainly also the reality: that Andy died of cancer 25 years ago today, and all these years later, we're still doubting.
I mean, that's pretty fucking funny.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Possibilities Are Endless
As I write this, I'm at the end of about 48 hours sitting in this apartment. I wish I could say I was the first on my block to contract swine flu, but it turns out to be a garden variety cold, if a particularly unpleasant one. Fortunately it came over me at the beginning of a long stretch of days off following a couple of months of constant, hectic activity, so a couple of days of convalescence was something I could both accommodate and enjoy, apart from the sniffling and spasmodic coughing.
Some people's lost weekends consist of drugs and booze; mine are made of rhinovirus and streaming episodes of Heroes
Just under a month into the new job, I'm beginning to see its potential. There's nothing remotely cool or glamorous about it -- I'm there to teach, and to help people make really, really bad TV shows. But driving back from a shooting location over the weekend, P. and I got a chance to talk a bit, and we were experiencing the same reaction: elation. There's none of the usual bullshit in this environment, no ego or attitude, just excitement of people doing something they thought they might not be able to do and finding it manageable, and an intense earnestness about the work. It's so easy to look at what they produce and laugh at its gracelessness and ineptitude, but I would take my earnest students over every creative classist in the city.
The class I was with this last weekend was shooting a short piece on a local comic book artist, a guy who's about to see his best-known work released as a movie. The week prior to that I'd been with a class shooting a studio piece with a different comic book artist, less well-known but very talented. Next weekend we're working on a piece about urban farming, and that unit, I believe, is working on getting a quick spot in with our scandal-ridden mayor (in conjunction with the organic garden they just planted outside city hall), but we'll see if that works out. I've already met the mayor twice anyway. The point is, this is actually not a bad spot from which to meet interesting people, both in the classes themselves and during their productions.
And then, as well, I've got access to the entire station -- the 5-camera studio, lots of good field equipment, a mobile production van, lists of people who want to work on productions, blanket shooting permits for the city and county... why, there's not much a girl couldn't do with all of that at her disposal.
This job isn't what I was hoping for when I left film school, but finding myself here, I'm realizing that it could become a comfortable spot that offers me a lot of possibilities and a lot of resources. It leaves me enough time and energy for other things; it will, hopefully, provide me with enough income to maintain my cozy, if simple lifestyle; it should help me accumulate all of the solid production experience I've constantly felt I lack in the years since I left school; and it offers me access to all the tools and toys I could reasonably ask for. That is to say, it offers me a lot of freedom. I like that.
The summer will be bumpy, since that's when the media education department is undergoing some top-to-bottom restructuring -- P. and I were hired in anticipation of that, as part of the station's plan to subsequently expand the department. I'm not going to be able to get really comfortable just yet. And I still have a lot of work to do -- I have to prove what I in turn have to offer. But so far things are going well, and I'm working from only hopeful assumptions.
In completely unrelated news, the Mandelbrots -- remember them? -- seem to have vanished. Following the last round of discoveries, I managed to get John (the intelligent, swollen one) chatting about movies on the phone a few times at work. Nothing much, but chit-chat -- he was so eager to talk, although while I was on the floor I was pretty restricted. But I managed to get him, barely, to send a couple of emails to one of my numerous addresses telling me about his screenplay. It was all just by way of establishing some sort of connection, building some thin bridge to see if it led anywhere. And then he just stopped. And Eunice never came back in, nor did Mark. They stopped ordering DVDs, and nobody's heard from them since. With two of the three suffering major physical ailments and the third apparently incapable of caring for himself, anything could've happened. Or nothing. It's sort of a shame either way.
Otherwise, things are comfortable. I'm beginning to glance tentatively towards the future, buoyed by the sensation of my retail-deadened soul beginning to stir. It turns out they grow back, who knew? Not soon, but on the horizon, I can see interesting things coming. New developments tend to bring new growth. Maybe a fresh round of significant connections? Maybe new collaborators, new projects? I'd like to dust off my passport sometime in the next few years, maybe. There are endless possibilities. We'll see what comes.