Memorial Day weekend

I am really sick: eyes watering, nose running, throat burning. My sinuses and chest are so congested I feel like I'm breathing through one of those coffee straws. A lot of people at school seem to be sick; one professor just canceled a class tomorrow morning. It's odd to see a cold seize hold around school when the weather is 70 degrees and sunny every day.

I have not slept as much or as regularly this quarter, and this weekend was really packed. Perhaps the lack of sleep has compromised my immune system. Whatever the cause, here's a sick day worth's of content.

Saturday I spent as 1st AC (assistant cameraperson) on a classmate's shoot. Since this was a reshoot, we had the luxury of a 2nd AC, and it made life a lot easier. Last quarter we had one AC per shoot, and that's a lot of work for one person. You have to load and download film, take focus measurements, guard the camera, swap lenses, check the gate, clean filters, move the camera into position, swap the camera from sticks to dolly and back, pull focus, keep a camera log, set the T-stop on the lens, run a stopwatch on shots to calculate how much film was run and how much is left, mark and clap the slate, write camera reports, and more. It's a very technical position, but I enjoy it. The day started early, with a 5AM alarm buzzing in my ear. When I got home at the end of the day, I told myself I'd take a quick nap and then head out to meet up with a few friends. I woke up at 5AM the next morning.

Sunday was spent at a wedding in Laguna Beach. I know nothing about the city other than what I'd seen on a few episodes of that MTV show of the same name (that show was shot beautifully on Panasonic Varicams, I believe). I'm not sure the city had any say in the matter, but that show forever cemented that town's image among most of America as the place where wealthy, self-absorbed teenagers ply their Machiavellian schemes to climb the social ladder.

Monday, on a last-minute suggestion from Mark, I attended the last day of the Star Wars convention at the LA convention center (the official title of the event was Star Wars Celebration IV). I consider myself a moderate Star Wars fans (enjoyed eps IV-VI, watched eps I-III out of devotion), but next to the types of fanatics you'd imagine at a gathering like this, I felt like Paris Hilton at a Mensa meeting.

At one T-shirt booth I asked a vendor if she had a particular Boba Fett t-shirt in large.

"Which one?" she barked.

"The second one from the right, top row?" I replied, taken aback by her hostile demeanor. She looked over her shoulder and then back down at some book she was reading.

"That's Jango Fett," she muttered, and paid me no further attention. Oops.

This being the last day of the convention, the schedule was very light on Lucasfilm-generated content. Most things to see were created by vendors or fans, from droids, action figures, and models to fan films and costumes. One room featured dozens of decorated Darth Vader helmets, much like the ubiquitous cows that appeared on city sidewalks a few years back. Darth as Lady Liberty? Or the Unabomber?

At another booth, as I looked over some artwork, a boy of about 8 or 9 years old walked behind me holding a yoda lightsaber, one of the ones that lights up and makes lightsaber sounds when swung through the air. A booth clerk, in his early forties, stopped the boy.

"The yoda lightsaber?" nodded the man in approval. "Strong choice."

"It's my first one," said the boy, beaming.

"That one's very light," the man explained. "Good for people who use a one-handed fighting technique, like me." He proceeded to demonstrate with some shadow-fencing, but one of his parries smacked me in the back of my head.

"Sorry, man," he said.

"Easy there, Jedi," I said, rubbing my head.

I watched a couple of fan films in the screening room. The ones I saw were all 2005 award winners. "One Season More" is an animated short that imagines Luke Skywalker's yearning to leave Tatooine as a musical number. It has the suitable mix of love and satire that characterizes the best of fan homages. It's one portion of Star Wars The Musical. This year's winners and entries can be seen at AtomFilms.

No plans for a new Star Wars movie were unveiled, but one welcome bit of news was the announcement of a new CG series from Lucasfilm Animation: The Clone Wars. Here's a sneak peek. I really enjoyed the last animated series, Star Wars - Clone Wars, Vol. 1 and Star Wars - Clone Wars, Vol. 2. This looks to be in that style.

Tuesday morning and early afternoon I spent at Disneyland with Alan, Sharon, and my two nephews Ryan and Evan. What do Disney and Lucas have in common? Both appropriated stories and built entertainment empires. Lucas took strands of Japanese film and set them in another universe (Lucas was originally supposed to direct Apocalypse Now, and Star Wars is his version of that movie, about how a small force--the Rebels--can overcome a larger force--the Empire--through sheer force of will). Disney took Grimm's fairy tales, which were indeed grim, and gave them happier endings and an animated life.

Since the last time I visited Disneyland, over 10 years ago, the most apparent change is that the price of admission has more than doubled. But seeing it all through my nephew Ryan's eyes helped me to appreciate just how enduring a piece of culture Disney built. He was so excited he was a live wire--no nap needed on this day.

While sitting with my nephew on It's A Small World, he almost jumped out of the boat he was so pumped up. That ride doesn't look like it's been updated one bit since my parents took me on it when I was a child (I thought perhaps we'd see young children in India answering customer service phones, or Chinese kids sewing Nikes, but the ride retains its idyllic view of the world), and yet it still kills with youngsters.

Something I wondered while wandering the park: what happened to the Mickey Mouse Club? Why isn't that show still running? Look at some of the talent that came out of the sixth and seventh seasons of the most recent incarnation of the show, which ended in 1994: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling. That's the pop music equivalent of the 2003 NBA Draft that produced Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, among others. The Mickey Mouse Club was so competitive that Jessica Simpson and Matt Damon failed to make the cut. I'm not sure why they ceded that space to the likes of American Idol. If Disney doesn't bring back that show, I hope they've at least retained the services of the casting director/talent scout.


I miss walking the streets of NYC. Google Maps Street View allows me to revisit old favorites. Here's my old apartment.

Microsoft Surface, coming Winter 2007, is one of the early products pointing towards the gesture-manipulated touchscreen interface seen in Minority Report.

An upcoming June software upgrade will allow it you to watch YouTube videos on the AppleTV.

The 2007 Cannes Film Festival winners. From what I've heard from folks who attended, the lineup of movies was very strong this year.

Christopher Nolan is going to shoot some of The Dark Knight in IMAX format. Most features that have been projected in IMAX theatres are simply 35mm films blown up. Since they weren't framed for the IMAX theater, I find many scenes incomprehensible unless you're sitting in the back row. Audiences viewing The Dark Knight at an IMAX theater will see the movie switch aspect ratios from whatever the 35mm aspect ratio is to 1.43 to 1 when the IMAX scenes come on screen.

Based on Gallup Polls, America is willing to elect a black or a woman for president, but if you're gay or an atheist (or both, I presume) your time has not come.

Darren Aronofsky disses the DVD for his movie The Fountain. It doesn't have a commentary, but Aronofsky has said he recorded one himself and will post it online soon so you can listen to it while watching the movie.

as many of you can tell it is light on the extras as compared to my previous dvd releases.

everything at the studio was a struggle.

for instance: they didn't want to do a commentary track cause they felt that it wouldn't help sales.

i didn't have it in me to fight anymore.



niko, my friend who did the doc on the dvd came up with a novel idea.

we recorded a commentary track ourselves.

we're gonna post it on a site soon, http coming soon.

you can play it and watch the flick and hopefully you'll enjoy it.

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