Saturday, July 30, 2005

Takin' a Ride

A new 60-room brothel is being built in Berlin in time for the next World Cup Soccer match. According to a spokesperson: "This is no flash rip-off joint where clients are taken for a ride."

Well, um, they kinda are.

Good Marketing

Overheard in line at Starbucks:

Late 20-something Male One: Is it a sin for me to solely go to the high school cheerleader carwash because they were in bikinis?

Late 20-something Male Two: No. It's good marketing.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Double Features

The Sports Guy has a great column over at ESPN.com Page 2 about Wedding Crashers and Bad News Bears. He went to see both and was hoping to sneak into the second one. But the theater he went to had ushers at EVERY DOOR! What fun is that!?

I worked at a movie theater in high school, until my boss "put me on call." It was her way of getting rid of me without having the guts to fire me. Well, she was a friend of the family, and actually became related to me a few months later via marriage. The great thing was that I still received full work benefits, e.g. FREE MOVIES. Yeah, I know the $3.35 an hour I was making was great, but the free movies (plus you could take a guest) meant cheap dates throughout high school.

Another great part was that Chief Running Miles, who also worked there, would "suggest" to the boss that she give me a call whenever they were short an employee. Her response was always "We can find someone else." But he'd keep asking!

So I know all the theater tricks. Like don't buy the large tub of popcorn, it's barely larger than the medium. It's an optical illusion, while taller it is actually thinner. And don't get popcorn if you go to the first show of the day. It's leftover from the night before. And if you must get it, ask specifically for the fresh stuff from inside the popper.

In grad school I actually worked at a theater, too. At first it was to actually pay the rent etc. But after 6 months of working with high school kids and slacker 20-somethings, I decided to get a part time job "in my field." But I stayed on at the theater one or two nights a week for - you guessed it - free movies. Maximizing the "Hours Worked to Movies Seen" ratio was key. There were actually 3 or 4 of us older, professionals who worked weekends just to get free movies. And since we actually HAD good customer service and were fast sellers, we always got prime box office shifts. Sold tix to a bunch of Seattle-area celebs those years, including most of the cast of Northern Exposure, and my favorite, Bill Gates and his then girlfriend Melinda.

Now, I rarely make it to the theater, maybe once or twice a month. With tix prices up, concessions spendy, and the cost of a baby sitter, it turns into an expensive night. Oh, I'm not complaining too much about the concession price, because I know from experience that that is the only way the theater actually makes money. The box office money is distributed on a sliding scale, with the film companies getting the bulk (upwards of 90%) during opening weeks and the theater get shafted. By the time the ratio changes, no one is attending those shows anymore and they are on the way out.

But I am still pro-sneaking into a second show.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Take a Hike

Literally.

An Oregonian reporter and photographer set out this past week to hike the entire Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail. They are posting a daily blog via satelite phone and PDA. An inagural article appeared in the Sunday Oregonian introducing the trek.

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon is one of the most important memories of my youth. I've done, in sections, the whole PCT in Oregon...save for the stretch from Ashland south to the border. Why, after 20 years, I haven't knocked off that section I don't know. I started the summer between 5th and 6th grades, doing the stretch from McKenzie Pass south to Willamette pass. About 78 miles in 7 days. A group of men and boys, and the occaisional woman, from our church did a section every summer.

That first year was tough. I had a crappy backpack, and besides I was 11 and walking 78 miles! But I grew up a lot in the year after and had little trouble with the trek between 6th adn 7th grade. That summer we finished 110 miles in 10 days, from McKenzie Pass to Timberline Lodge. Even did the first half of the trek without my father, since he couldn't make the first part due to work. Our good friend Ken was my surrogate dad those first few days. I have so many memories from the six or so summers I spent on the Pacific Crest Trail.

The PCT still lures me back on occaision. The summer after graduating from high school a bunch of us did one of my favorite stretches from Santiam Pass across Three Finger Jack toward Mt. Jefferson. That summer we cut down and looped back.(That might have been Chief Running Miles's last backpack trip, his knees were killing him that trip...) A few years earlier, a group of jr. high kids, including me, had ventured across that stretch led by my dad and Ken. There was still snow on Three Finger Jack and we were slipping off the trail every other step. We ended up improvising a trail down the mountain to a lake (Santiam Lake) that we could see in the distance, and completely changing our route. Pretty exciting for an 8th grader.

Two years ago, my friend Jason and I did a loop around the Three Sisters which incorporated the PCT as the southbound part of our loop. We did it in three days and it was one of the toughest hikes I've done. Last summer, I did another three day hike...which turned into two days due to rain, that incorporated the Eagle Creek Trail. While not "officially" the PCT, every trail guide suggests that hikers take this small offshoot because it is a spectacular trail.

I sometimes dream about attempting the whole route from Mexico to Canada. Only about 800 have completed the whole thing. But that takes 3-4 months and at this point in my life it isn't a reality. More realistic might be knocking off Oregon in one straight stretch, like the Oregonian reporter and photog. Then maybe Washington...One can always dream.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Moving Pictures

Early this year, I finally completed my first screenplay, a 120 page murder mystery I'd been working on for a couple years. It actually started as a mystery novel, but after attending a seminar on writing books and screenplays, I decided to change it to a screenplay.

The realization came after I asked the two presenters - one an author, one a screenwriter - how you know which your idea should be. They replied with this advice: If you see the action in your head, it's probably a screenplay; If you enjoy crafting the perfect sentence or paragraph, it's probably a book.

Now that I've finished, I need to attempt to sell it. In a conversation with a friend of mine who is also trying to break into writing, and who works in Hollywood and actually has contacts down there, I expressed my concern with the screenplay not selling and, having spent four years or so on this story, feeling like it was a big waste of time. She suggested making it myself.

Well, I don't have that in me. And the complexity of the story, the number of extras we'd need etc., makes it fairly cost prohibitive.

But the suggestion got me thinking. So I decided to take a short story I'd written years ago - and which basically sucked as a short story because I didn't develop it well - and work it into a short movie. Then, I'd work with a friend to try actually make the movie. I wrote it keeping in mind the need to keep filming simple. There are two main characters, and just two ancilary characters. It takes place, basically, in three main places, with a couple minor scenes in other locations.

A couple weeks ago, we shot our first scenes, and I have to admit that it was pretty exciting to see your writing come to life on the screen. We still have 4-5 days of shooting, and who knows how much editing, to go. But we are both optimistic that we can get it done over the next couple months. Then, we plan to enter it into film festivals.

Hopefully, it will help me not only sell my other screenplay (and future ones), but it will help me learn to be a better screenwriter, having helped make a movie.

I'll try to keep everyone updated on how it is going.

Oh, and we need a title. There is a working title - Final Fish - but none of us are crazy about keeping it. The story is about a grandson and grandfather, and the valuable relationship they develop while fly fishing. As the grandfather lies on his deathbed, the grandson remembers important lessons he learned from his grandfather as he sits bedside. If you have an suggestions, feel free to share.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Random Thoughts

Some quick random thoughts because it's 11:35 and I need to go to bed:

1. Started swimming a couple times a week, well I've gone once but the plan is to go on Tues. and Thurs., which is why I need to go to bed. I am swimming with a friend of mine who swam competitively in college, so he's helping with my technique and training. Which is good, except I have lazy technique and but doing things right I have to work harder. I am being lobbied to join a couple buddies on the Cross the Columbia swim Labor Day weekend, but not sure I have 1.1 miles and the Columbia River in me yet.

2. Chief Running Miles (link to right) has some great stuff on Dr. Maverick. Check it out, and check the link to Operation Clambake and TomCruiseIsNuts.com.

3. Downloaded the latest Kelly Clarkson album from iTunes tonight. My girls love Kelly. And, really, she is the American Idol.

4. My neighbors dog bit me Tuesday morning as I was walking to the swimming pool. I told her that if that dog gets near my girls there is going to be trouble. Should have kicked that little pipe cleaner.

OK, off to bed.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Scientology: Bringing America Together

Very funny piece from Willamette Week, Portland's lefty weekly, outlining Beck's bachelor party plans for his Scientologist buddy, Dr. Maverick, er Tom Cruise.

That's the great thing about Scientology, it's bringing America together. Whether you're a left wing wacko or a right wing nutbag, we all think Scientologists are crazy as hell.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Kick

Music is a powerful art form, one that can instantly bring back a memory, feeling or time in your life. I was reminded of that this morning when, before heading to work, I grabbed my copy of INXS Kick to listen to on my drive. I'd been interested in listening to it after watching the first two episodes of ROCKSTAR: INXS, the new Mark Burnett reality show. (Speaking of Planet dwellers, Mark Burnett is close to Planet status).

As soon as the first drum beat of Guns in the Sky came on, I was transported back to the summer of 1988. This was one of the CDs we wore out that summer while working at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, painting buildings, cleaning bathrooms, empty garbage cans, and unloading large dead sea lion corpses from the back of a truck. Steve Miller Band's Greatest Hits is on that list too.

So I got to thinking about what albums or songs remind me of different points of my life, and here are a few:

5th/6th Grade: Queen ("Another One Bites the Dust" for example...)

Jr. High: Def Leppard Pyromania; Night Ranger Midnight Madness ("Sister Christian" etc.)

High School: Van Halen; Led Zepplin; Beatles (esp. Rubber Soul & Sgt. Peppers; Crazy 8's; Guns & Roses Appetite for Destruction

College Early Years: Def Leppard Hysteria; Crazy 8's again (finally seeing them live); Replacements; The Alarm; U2 Rattle & Hum

College Later Years: Soul Asylum ...And the Horse they Rode in On; Pearl Jam 10; Nirvana Nevermind; REM Out of Time; U2 Achtung Baby

To be continued...

Planet Status Confirmed

Lance Armstrong confirmed is status as being From the Planet in today's Tour de France stage. Simply outstanding.

Many thought the T-Mobile team, which has "contenders" Jan Ullrich and Alexander Vinokurov, could alternate attacks and take out Lance, but they were no where to be found. Lance dropped them on the last climb, and now Ullrich is 4+ mins back, and Vinokurov is an amazing 6+ mins back.

As Lance said after the stage, there is plenty of riding left. But so far he's been burying his rivals on the roads of France.

Simply outstanding.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Gardening at Night

"Gardening at night has never worked." R.E.M.

Our neighbor across the street started gardening in her front yard yesterday around 2p. We noticed because it was "family yard day" at our house where my wife's siblings come over and help with major yard maintenance, so we were pulling weeds, spreading bark, etc. We then do a day at their homes.

The first odd thing about our neighbor's gardening is that she was working over, by hand, the same 4' x 6' plot of dirt that she'd been working long hours on since mid-June.

About 6:30p I left to go over to my brother-in-law's to watch the Tour de France. She was still digging.

Returned about 9:45p. She was still digging.

Went upstairs at 11:20p to get ready for bed. She was still digging.

Watched Ebert and Roper until midnight, turned it off, and before getting in bed I looked out the window. She was still digging.

1. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? or,
2. Hitchcock's Rear Window

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Hey!? Where's My Team?!

That was Lance Armstrong's response today during a couple attacks at the Tour de France. What was supposed to be a fairly mundane day with a small climb (the race's first) ended up being pretty exciting. Alexandre Vinokurov, one of Lance's chief rivals, attacked a couple times on the hill climbs and Lance had to chase him down - solo. Without his team around to support him. Just moments before, my brother-in-law and I were commenting on how strong Discovery team looked. Then, when Lance really needed their help POOF! they were gone.

Lance held on to the Yellow Jersey, but he was clearly perturbed about his team's effort. The interview after the race was classic, Lance carefully choosing his words but said "For what ever reason I was left alone..." and "we'll be talking tonight..." then he was gracious by adding that he also had an off day. But it was obvious he was going to chew some ass at the team dinner that night.

See the video here.

Click on "Lance Armstrong Interview After Stage 8."

It's worth the watch.

Tomorrow the hills get steeper and longer, should be sweet!

Don't forget to check out Chief Running Miles's Tour de France viewers guide, scroll down to the entry from last week for the link or click the hot link to his blog in the column on the right.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

6-4-1-5 Minor

It's a chord progression. And one that apparently equals a hit song when used in the chorus. Or so says John Mayer in his June column in Esquire. His short little columns are actually pretty interesting. I stumbled on an archive of them tonight when I Googled "John Mayer" in search of his bio and found the fan site www.j-mayer.org. I was watching his Soundstage performance on PBS, which is excellent. Tivo'd it, too, so I can record the audio down to CD.

Anyway, back to 6-4-1-5. He rattles off a list of hit songs that use the chord progression in the chorus, and talks about how even if you can't remember the lyrics you can hum the tune. Songs including:

Sarah McLachlan's 1997 hit Building a Mystery;
Joan Osborne's theologically light One of Us;
Avril Lavigne's Complicated, followed by her Don't Tell Me 2 years later;

His conclusion?

"So what is it about the chord progression minor 6-4-1-5 that makes it so infectious? Music theorists will tell you that the wavelengths of each chord fit together mathematically. But I just think people know a hit tune when they hear it."

Good article, read it here

I like John Mayer, enjoy his music. I think one of the reasons I really appreciate it now is that it reminds me of my good friend Kevin Wing who died two years ago this September. He first turned me on to JM. The last time I saw Kevin in person he had stopped by my house on the way up north to a conference in British Columbia. I was giving him a copy of the bootleg FoW show I had made in Portland to listen to on his drive up, and as return Karma he offered to let me borrow something from his CD collection. I tried to borrow his John Mayer CD. But he refused. Wouldn't give it up. Said he had to have it for the drive. Kevin was a good musician, and one of the few people I've come across in my life who shared a similar view of the power music can have, and to whom music was very important. His endorsement of the musicianship of John Mayer meant something. I think John Mayer was one of the last concerts he saw, too.

Oh, he did let me borrow a CD, U2's Unforgettable Fire. I never had the opportunity to return it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

It's All Coming Together

Watching last night's Letterman, a rerun from mid-June which I Tivo'd so I could see Foo Fighters. His main guest was Nicole Kidman, and Dave did his usual job of treading into territory that made his guest uncomfortable, including Nicole's good friend Russell Crowe's assault of a hotel worker with a phone. When he tread into the subject of Dr. Tom Cruise, Nicole's eyes got real big and she sidestepped the question. Later, when the subject had changed to Nicole's family, she revealed info that is VERY interesting when you connect the dots.

Her father is a bio-chemist and psychologist.

Now remember that Dr. Tom's recent rantings about Scientology and psychiatry have included his opinion that there is no such thing as chemical imbalances in the brain that require medication.

Would have been fun to be a fly on the wall at the Kidman family Thanksgiving when Tom was in town.

Tour Viewing Guide

Big Tour de France fan, but unfortunately I don't get OLN (Outdoor Life Network) which shows each stage. So I usually go to my brother-in-law's house to watch it on his big screen projection TV, which is sweet. But I can't go every day, so I asked Chief Running Miles last year to provide a Viewing Guide to the must see stages. It was a tremendous help, so he did a 2005 version which is on his blog

Chief is actually far more knowledgeable than I when it comes to cycling, he worked in a bike shop, rode competitively, even developed special software for timing races and does that "on the side". So his opinion is gold. Read it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Independence Day

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." --Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776

Fishing with the Dead


Testing out the photo feature after seeing a pic on Chief Running Miles's site...This is a pic of me after a steelheading trip with Jerry Garcia. See, he's not really dead, just relocated to a beautiful NW state.

Kidding. That's my uncle. But he could be a stunt double for either Jerry Garcia or Rob Reiner. He's in prison most of the time...he's a chaplain in a California boys prison.