Thursday, May 17, 2012

Suddenly and without warning

I have returned to blogging! Largely because I am indignant about this week of a) my birthday; b) the corresponding Giants game and alcohol fest; and c) my brother's wedding, which is taking place RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the first time I have actually managed to lose some frickin' weight in the last few years. There was awhile back in 2010 that I was doing pretty well losing weight. Then all went to hell, and now I have had to lose that same weight again. I'm doing ok. Tiffany and I are going to Weight Watchers and I have started bringing lunch to preschool, which helps because they feed the preschoolers Full Fat Everything (such as real butter, etc, not like junk food).
Or perhaps I'm just indignant that my brother's wedding, which will be very small but will still feature photographs galore, decided to sneak up on me when I have only lost about half the weight I wanted to lose before said photographs.
Or perhaps I am annoyed that I gained all this weight to begin with, and that I will probably gain it all back when I go eat in the frickin' dorm all summer. While I would like to say that it's easy to eat only over-cooked veggies and not go out to get beer with friends every night, it is not. I don't have that kind of willpower. Friends say "let us go to a movie and eat an entire bag of Peanut Butter M&M's amongst the three of us!" and I say "Hell yes!" rather than "Oh, no thank you, I'll just bring along my Vitamin Water."
But anyway yes, my brother is getting married, and I have this cool new dress that I want to look totally badass in. I'll let you know how that all goes. It will be a tiny wedding at the Muir Beach Overlook in Marin, and I am going with Jessy (Taylor's fiancé) to get our hair blow-dried that morning, which means I have to decide what kind of blow-dry I want. Options include "beachy" "straight with volume" "sleek," etc. Input welcome.
This is my dress: I look nothing like that model in it, but I still love it. Here's the question: Do I wear red, gray, turquoise, or black shoes? I feel like black is the boring and obvious choice, gray is fun but subdued, red is great but my red shoes aren't the best ever, and my turquoise shoes ARE the best ever but the style doesn't quite fit the dress. Gah! Help!
In other news, yeah, now I'm 29. Which is Old. I thought 28 was Old, but I was wrong. I would love to be turning 28 again. I am 29 and I live with my parents and am not meeting my full earning/job potential. Wheeeeee. My brother got all those "successful life" genes, apparently.
How are all of YOU?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stream of Consicousness Oscar Post

Starting at the beginning and going along as the show goes...

I AM SO GLAD BILLY CRYSTAL IS BACK. Thanks, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, for being so incredibly bad that they could convince Billy to come back.

Karl Swaybo... seat filling at the Oscars for 59 years? I want that job! I'd be REALLY GOOD at that job. Probably not actually a real job, though.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU'RE GIVING OUT CINEMATOGRAPHY FIRST? WHAT THE FUCK, OSCARS? Oh, and of course Robert Richardson won. Hey, at least I predicted it, even if it wasn't the one that I wanted to win. And at least Richardson called them out on how lame it was that they put it first. How degrading to Cinematography! Richardson's speech was short and sweet, but I do hope they get over this whole "let's give it to the most visually lavish and effects-heavy movie possible!" kick they're on soon.

Hey, at this point I'm 2/2 in predictions! I put my predictions on Facebook so people could publicly ridicule me for them.

What is this pointless montage for? Just to remind us all of how much we like movies? Iconic Movie Moments? Stupid.

It's kind of nice that they have stars talking about each of the people who did makeup and costumes and such. Why didn't they have that for Cinematography? Geez. Cinematography is so shafted this year! WTF. Also this little bit about stars' first movies is cute.

Sandra Bullock presenting Best Foreign Language Film and her joke about "speaking Chinese" was... dumb.

A Separation! I guess now I will really have to see it. It's so hard to want to go see a movie about a marriage breaking up that will probably be very sad. Pretty awesome that an Iranian movie won, given all that's going on between the US and Iran.

Hurray! Octavia Spencer! NICE DRESS too. And they gave her a standing ovation! Cute. I hope The Help wins the two actress awards but nothing else. Definitely doesn't deserve Best Picture. Awww why is she apologizing? She's so cute. I love her.

MUPPETS! I <3 MUPPETS. However, odd that Cirque Du Soleil is performing at The Oscars. Just cause it's an artsy medium doesn't mean all other artsy mediums are invited. I like Cirque and all, but not thrust upon me when least expected.

Rango won! Well, so the two awards I really cared about split- one went good, one went meh. If Lubezki had won Cinematography it would have been, like, the best Oscars ever.

Emma Stone is embarrassing. Also, she looks like a lump of yarn.

Dude, Christopher Plummer is a class act. I want him to thank all 7 von Trapp children. I'm glad they're letting him talk! Taylor says they don't cut old people off... it's pretty true.

Does anyone else think it's weird that the band is up in the boxes?

I am not a fan of the continuing jokes about Kodak going bankrupt. Poor Kodak. The movies wouldn't exist without Kodak, you'd think someone would step in to help them out.

"To all of you, please accept me because I've got so much love to give." Crappiest acceptance speech yet.

Flight of the Conchords guy wrote the Man or Muppet song! I had no idea. Somehow the fact that those two worlds collided makes me really happy.

I would love to go in the Kodak theater some day. It looks so grand and beautiful.

Girl From Precious, you may have had the best line all night: "THe fact that he was a freaking alcoholic- WITH ONE FOOT!"

I have gotten bored with this broadcast, and thus have stopped commenting on things. Lalalalalalalala oooh Best Director! This should be interesting... oh snore, Hazanavicius... clearly now The Artist will win. Lame.

The In Memorium montage is always my favorite. That sounds weird, but it's the one tiny glimpse of humanity in this giant show full of Hollywood glitz. Plus it highlights a lot of people no one knew died, like sound people and camera people. That's a good thing- they don't get enough recognition. Too bad what they do get is posthumous.

Natalie Portman looks amazing. Red dress and diamonds is a good look for her. This is kind of weird though, having her address each of the Best Actor nominees directly... she keeps looking back at the teleprompter, it's very inelegant.

God the sound on this broadcast is awful.

Oh gee, The Artist won. Shocking! Kind of a snorefest of an Oscars. I have zero witty comments. The end!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Things to look forward to

I haven't written in this thing in ages, but the introspective wanderer in me wants to start again. I have a couple potential projects up my sleeve, and a couple potential trips (although I'm still saving, so who knows when they will really happen), so I'll try to stay on top of things, for anyone who is still actually around to read.

If you're still around: hi guys! Thanks for hanging in there!

So, just a couple things to be excited about in the next few weeks:

1. Next weekend, Charlie is coming to visit! Not me specifically, but all his friends in the Bay Area. He is my cute Italian friend from Northwestern, Kevin Cannon and Nazan's old roommate from Turkish house, as exhibited on the far right here:


As you may know, I LOVE VISITORS, so this is exciting.

2. In the same vein, Kevin Welch is coming to visit in two weeks, to work on a project we have cooked up with Adam. We are going to talk to some people who may be able to help us out, and part of this involves going up to Sonoma and Napa, which always makes me happy. I was up in Sonoma last weekend to have lunch with my cousin Whitney and then take her to the airport, and the leaves changing on the grape vines was just about the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I am so frickin' lucky to live in this place, where everywhere I turn there's something that makes me happy to be here.

Anyway! End schmaltzfest. Kevin being here will be lots of fun, if for no other reason than I will have someone to go to movies with who actually knows things about movies. Maybe I can drag him to the new Herzog movie (you know, the one about the death penalty that everyone else refuses to see with me)!

3. There *might* be a cast and crew screening of Friend of the Bride, the feature I shot in September. My first feature! It will be un-color-corrected and un-sound-designed, but! My first feature! I hope it's good! It has the potential to be really funny and touching, and I'm not so much worried about that stuff as I am about hating my own work when I first see it... I always hate what I shoot the first time I see it cut together. I later get over it, of course (especially since for this one I had about 3 lights, no lighting crew, no focus puller, and no prep time), but still... I'm NERVOUS! Excited, but nervous.

So those are some good things. Hurray for good things. Hope everyone's doing very well and that the holidays are shaping up nicely =)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

for September 11th

I have a lot of catching up to do on this blog, as it seems I always do. For now, though, I'm going to just do what probably every other blogger in the US is doing today- remembering September 11th, 2001.

I've heard a lot of stuff on NPR recently about the attacks, and people's opinions of them then and now. A lot of testimonials and position pieces. They all seem to say the same thing: that feeling of terror still feels present and immediate, as though ten years haven't passed at all. It's very similar for me, but linked to all sorts of other fears as well.

That summer of 2001 was my last before college. I spent it working at Pacific Primary and then at the Leakey Foundation; at a certain point all my friends went to college and I was left behind, taking the bus to the Presidio every morning, listening to Graceland and generally feeling sorry for myself. All my friends were gone and I didn't know what was awaiting me once Northwestern's quarter system finally started. I was due in Evanston on September 14th.

My dad woke me up on the morning of September 11th by saying something dramatic and confusing along the lines of "Cameron, wake up, New York is under attack and we're driving to Chicago." It made no sense until I stumbled into the TV room where my mom was watching the news coverage. I remember being stunned, and crying when I began to think about all the friends I had in New York, just starting college- were they ok? They were, all of them. One of them IMed me later that day and asked me to let her mom know that she was fine. I don't remember a ton of details of the rest of the day, to be honest. I watched the news. I called Ana and wished her a strained "uh... happy birthday?" I packed up my life in San Francisco, because as Dad said, we were driving to Chicago. The airports were closed and would be for days.

We left the next day for a three day drive across the country. It sounds naive and overly-simplified, but 9/11 and that 3-day drive kind of marked the end of my sheltered childhood. Not that I wouldn't continue to be pretty damn sheltered at Northwestern- it's more that I started to realize then how big the world was, how many people hate us, and how different my life would be from then on. Starting September 12th, I wouldn't live at home anymore, or be monitored 24/7 by my parents. I would make my own decisions and feed myself and get myself to class. I would meet people with points of view that I'd never even fathomed- Republicans! The Midwest was crawling with them. Hell, I even ended up dating a Libertarian that first year in college. Driving through states I'd never seen up close- Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and finally Illinois- peppered with American flags and "united we stand" banners everywhere you turned, I got a sense of the country I'd lived in my whole life. I rode in the back seat listening to the news reports, buying a newspaper at every truck stop, feeling incredibly disconnected yet in awe of what was happening to the country. I had my camera with me (of course) and took some photos that I still love of what we saw on the way:

big sky in Wyoming

Before 9/11 I had a pretty small worldview, no matter how cosmopolitan, worldly and open I thought I was. I had great friends and a wonderful family and the most uncertainty I'd ever dealt with was not knowing where I'd go to college. After 9/11, I found a whole new world. I made new friends who introduced me to the film industry, I dated boys, I explored Chicago, I visited new cities and towns; I lived in a world that was constantly uncertain, constantly thinking that maybe the Sears Tower was next, always a little afraid to board a plane. I still live in that world today. It's a weird feeling, to look back and know that that's the day your life changed, not through any direct involvement with the attacks on the East Coast, but because of what it set in motion. It feels like it's been a lot longer and not very long all at once.

I don't have much that's profound to say about it all, about the sacrifices made and the unspeakable loss of life. I still cry when I see images from that day, and I'm not even always sure why. The bottom line is that on September 10th the world seemed pretty safe, and the next day everything was up in the air. I still have no idea where my life is headed, but I'm glad to be here, and I'm grateful for all the people who are fighting to keep me here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

on Father's Day

One of my favorite memories of my Dad from when I was a kid would happen every now and then on a weekend, or in the summer, when my brother and I were really bored. He'd strap both of us into the passenger seat in his pea-green 1970's Toyota pickup truck, we'd hit the road, and he would let us take turns navigating- "turn left" "turn right" "go straight," etc. We'd head out into the "unknown," usually in the North Bay or South Bay, and have an adventure. Once we found a house with lots of pink flamingoes in front of it; once we got incredibly lost somewhere near Point Reyes, in the rain, and had to buy lunch from a tiny grocery store. Wherever we ended up, it was always someplace new.

I'm pretty sure that's where the whole "wanderlust" part of my personality came from.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

NEWSFLASH: (Some) Things Have Changed!

So! I am officially not a real resident of Los Angeles. That is to say, I have taken all my stuff (which ohmygod was SO MUCH MORE STUFF than I thought I had) and moved it into a 5x10 storage locker in Glendale, and taken the rest home to San Francisco with me, and now I am basically a nomad. I have gotten sick, in the last week, of explaining to people how well, I am not really in San Francisco permanently YET, or maybe not EVER, because I'm going to Chicago for 6 1/2 weeks and THEN I'll be around for a couple months at the least, but I'm not really sure where I want to be, and blah blah blah I see their eyes glaze over as I'm talking. They don't really care. And who can blame them? The minutiae of my life really matters only to me.

I've been home in San Francisco for about a week and a half now, and while I can't even begin to describe how much I miss seeing Steve and Kirk twice a week, or watching nerdy movies with Brian or my trivia buds or geek sessions with Nausheen and Richard... I love it here. I don't really want to leave. Life just seems so much more NATURAL in San Francisco. Why is that?

I mean, beyond the fact that when I'm subbing at Pac Prim I am forced to eat organic non-allergenic foods. Why is that?

My cousin Tobin, who is Wise, once said that "it's something about the air." So true.

And as my pseudofriend Maggie, tonight at a high school-themed party full of kids from high school (where I felt awkward and was glad that, unlike high school, I am now allowed to drink), said, "San Francisco is not a bad place to be figuring your life out."

Yes. That is what I'm doing. I'm figuring my life out. I'm also still kind of drunk and trying my damndest to avoid typos.

This party tonight! Weirdness. It was for Alexis' birthday, which was officially yesterday, and which was also the 10th anniversary of the day we actually graduated from Lick. Matty P and Will Madison had blown up photos from high school and hung them up everywhere. I wore my class tshirt; Rachel had on her class sweatshirt, and the guys all had some form of letterman or LAX jacket. We are nerds. I'm glad we're all still seemingly proud of going to Lick... it was a good place. Those kids are still so much cooler than me though. Individually perhaps they're not cooler, but as a group they are way cooler. I still don't really know what to say to, for example, Emily Johnson. She started out cooler than me and will always remain cooler than me. The end. I think in general, though, the boys have gotten nicer, which I appreciate. Matt Levy was never really a jerk, but now he talks to me and actually seems glad to see me. Will Madison was kind of a jerk for awhile and now is not. Etc. Alexis and Matty P have always been great. I'm glad they've stayed that way. And I'm glad we have Rachel and Alexis to hold down the high school fort, so to speak.

Rambling! Sorry.

So what else has happened? OH! I went to Texas, finally. May 21st-28th I was in San Antonio with Kevin Welch and Jennifer and their adorable children, makin' a movie. I think Jennifer was kind of annoyed with us for taking over their house (and rightly so, given the tiny children involved), but other than that I think it was a very successful trip. I don't know how it turned out... to my knowledge Kevin hasn't started editing yet, nor perhaps even looked at the second day's worth of footage. I am a touch worried about that second day, because we did a lot without any crew and when we were keeping the actors overtime, which is to say we might have been rushing, and rushing always concerns me. But it is what it is. It was a comedy about a couple who have conflicting fantasies over the breakfast table... it involved a lot of gore (which was incredibly difficult to clean up) and suggestive sex scenes and well, I just hope it turned out well. I really like working with Kevin... he doesn't flip out (or at least he didn't this time) and he puts a lot of thought into his movies, which I appreciate given the lack of thought put into anything by many LA directors. Not my AFI directors- they were great- but other directors that I've worked under, if not for. LA is very product-driven, and that's not how I was raised in the film world, and Kevin is much the same way. Plus we have fun, and that's half the battle.

We spent the first few days doing prep for the shoot, which involved all the usual stuff like shot-listing, but also shopping for production design elements and costumes, as there were no people specifically designated to do that. Shopping for women's clothing with two guys (Kevin and his friend/co-writer Craig) was exhausting. They were confused the whole time, and it was not really the right season for what we were looking for. We ended up with a good outfit for our actress, who looked great in purple, but only after buying about 6 different outfits "just in case:"


Those are our actors, after the fantasy murder scene. They were pretty game for anything, which was great- and it helped that Kevin had unwittingly cast two people who had recently started dating, so they were perfectly happy to hang out into overtime as long as they could be making out in the other room while we set stuff up.

Kevin and I also did a bit of production design on the Welch's kitchen, which consisted basically of this improvised wainscotting:

(the blue stuff, in the back there... whether it looks legit or not I'm not sure, but we liked it)

The hardest part of the shoot, as a DP, was... well there were two things, a) getting "natural" light into the middle of Kevin's long, largely windowless kitchen, and b) getting the EX-1 to have any sort of depth of field. I think things ended up ok on both fronts, but I've barely looked at the footage... hopefully I'll have time to look at it more this summer. About halfway through the first day I just taped an ND6 onto the front of the lens, and left it there for the rest of the shoot to force myself into lighting to a T1.9. Ghetto, perhaps, but I think it worked out.

The crew consisted primarily of Kevin's students from St. Mary's University, who were eager at first but soon realized that working on a film set isn't all glitz and glam and awesome. It's hard work. It was an awkward position- while we needed hands to get everything done, we didn't really have a lot of time to teach them how to do things properly, or WHY we were doing them, so I think they got bored pretty quickly. To be honest, I can't really blame them- I frequently get bored on film sets and I generally DO have a vague idea what's going on. Being clueless would only be more boring. By the middle of the second day (and there were only two days) we had basically lost everyone to made-up excuses like "I suddenly got called into work." Oh well. I hope they learned something... I was able to teach them basics like setting up HMIs and Kinos, and they got pretty good at that. I'd tell them where to set things up and then after they did, I'd run around and tweak things. A few of the girls who were interested in camera stuff got to pull focus on some shots, and they took some great camera notes for me. So, you take what you can get with a free crew. Someday we'll have a real crew and things will be amazing.

Texas itself was not really what I was expecting. Perhaps that's because the Welchs live not exactly IN San Antonio but outside it a bit, perhaps a 30 minute drive from the downtown area. It seemed pretty suburban with a lot of chain restaurants and giant stores. I think my main impressions of Texas come from things like Friday Night Lights and No Country For Old Men, so I imagined it being poorer and less clean. We drove over to Kevin's school to pick up some equipment, and that neighborhood was much more like what I'd been picturing. Downtown San Antonio was a little bit more of what I was expecting, too- the old, preserved buildings and the Alamo were exactly how I had pictured them. The Alamo was really cool; we didn't really spend a ton of time there, because it's just a building and we had a baby and a 3 year old along for the ride, but it was pretty cool just the same. Just what the history nerd in me wanted.




Speaking of 3 yeard olds, I had a lot of fun with Avelyn, Kevin and Jennifer's 3 year old. She is a little firecracker who talks a mile a minute, called me "honey" when she couldn't remember my name, and did a damn good job in the few shots she was in for the film; she did exactly what Kevin told her to do, and looked adorable:


I only wish Noah, the baby, had taken to me in the same way, but he's only 3 months old, so I can't really blame him for only wanting his Mommy.

Anyway, enough about Texas. I could go on and on with details and impressions and general film geekery that I'm sure none of you care about. In two days (HOLY CRAP TWO DAYS) I am off to Chicago, where Tim and I are hoping to shoot a zombie movie next weekend, except for the fact that we are lacking an actor at the moment. My frustrations with that are running high, but I'm hoping against hope that it works out, because we've been planning to do this for at least 6 months and we're both really invested in just making SOMETHING this summer. And then, in about a week and a half, I'll be at Northwestern, and in the dorm, and in one spot for 6 blessed weeks of hanging out with my Chicago friends and David and Jessica and Willa Marie, maybe even including a baseball game with Dave and/or Willa, MAYBE even a Giants double header, and let's just say I'm really looking forward to the whole damn summer. And TEACHING. Is it ridiculous that I've realized so late how much I love teaching? I hope not. I just wish I knew how to turn it into an actual career.

OK! To bed! Tomorrow is the Haight Street Fair, which is pretty much the quintessence of what I love about my neighborhood in San Francisco. You know, the Fair where I unwittingly bought a gay pride windchime when I was 10 because it was a pretty rainbow, and where I first registered to vote with the green party. HEY, WHO ARE YOU CALLING A HIPPIE? Oh, me? Yeah, well, yeah I am.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

my boys

Let's talk about how much I love this commercial:

They're just clearly having so much fun... and I think that's the most expression I've ever seen on Matt Cain's face, except for perhaps the day they won the World Series. AND this was made back before Romo shaved his chin and created the stupidest looking beard in baseball. I love it every single time it comes on.