Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

a [downtown] christmas story


i'm not exactly sure how many times you have to repeat an event in order for it to become a tradition, but i feel i may be on the verge of one. last week the orpheum theater had a showing of one of my all time favorite christmas movies "a christmas story". now, i know very well that come christmas, i'll have my fill of this movie when tbs runs it's annual "24 hours of a christmas story", but there was something exciting about seeing this classic on the big screen, i couldn't pass up. so, just like last year, my friends and i gathered to enjoy a cup of coffee before hand and than walked to the theater. leaving the frigid temperature of the sidewalk behind us we entered the lobby and found it decorated for the holidays. making our way into the theater we found the place filled with people! not finding enough seats on the floor to accommodate all of us, we headed to the balcony. as the movie played it was obvious most of the audience had seen this movie no less than 2,000 times before, as most of the funny parts got laughs before they happened. however i'd like to think there were a few "newbies" in the crowd, a few lucky individuals seeing it for the first time on the big screen.

this movie is wonderful on so many levels, which is no doubt the reason it' s a classic. first of all, since it came out in the early 80's, it's always been a staple in my christmas experience. i remember discussing the "frozen pole" scene with friends during recess, wondering if one's tongue really would get stuck. i also had "that" christmas during my youth, when all i wanted was a b.b gun, hearing the famous "you'll shoot your eye out" line over and over. being older i now appreciate different aspects of the film. how the very simple story line developed into such a full story with the use of creative and rich narration. how the fairy tale, norman rockwell-esque setting plays backdrop to the more familiar family settings we all know, such as a father cussing at a broken furnace, but most of all, i enjoy how the movie captures the timeless feeling of what it's like to be a kid during christmas.

leaving the theater with my friends that night, and walking the streets of downtown, i couldn't help but get a little sentimental norman rockwell-esque christmas feeling myself. spontaneously running into, and catching up with some other friends, who had come out to enjoy the movie as well, on the street, only enhanced this feeling.

so, this whole, downtown-christmas-coffee-movie-at-the-orpheum-thing, may not be a tradition yet, but i'm thinking it needs to be. maybe next year, i'll make it official.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

[buying] under the influence


i'd like to send a warning out to anyone reading this. please, please, do not, under any circumstance, peruse craigslist while under the influence of nyquil.

last week i came down with a little 24 hour bug/flu/cold. feeling it coming on, i left work early, went home and immediately took a shot of that sweet, sweet green nectar of the "get some rest so you can feel better" gods, named nyquil, and fell asleep. waking later that evening, before the full effects of the nyquil had worn off, i decided to surf the interwebs for a bit. i made the usual rounds... local news, flickr, facebook, blogs, hulu...but eventually wondered into, what i feel is, the "garage sale" neighborhood of the internet...craigslist. not nearly as classy or cute as the artsy neighborhood of etsy. no, here in craigslist you got to be careful. lots of weird characters around these parts. you gotta keep your wits about you, this is not a place to enter "hopped up" on anything...let alone nyquil.

the problem, i quickly discovered, is that everything looks amazing! everything's a deal. i had no idea what i would do with "a beautiful poem in a frame" but it sounds nice, and it's free! fill dirt? i don't' even have a yard, but there's three free dump trucks of it just waiting to be nabbed! how could you turn that down. luckily i had some sense about me, that is until i came across the listing of a "mid-century modern couch" before seeing the picture, i was in love. reading the description only made me fall deeper. thoughts like "you already have a couch", "how will you get it in your apartment?", and "what are you going to do with your old couch?" never entered my head. how could they? my mind was busy entertaining visions of me chatting it up with betty draper on my newly acquired couch, during the chirstmas party she would no doubt want to host in my apartment this year. i e-mailed the seller, said i would take it, and went to bed.

i awoke the next morning feeling much better. i checked my e-mail and found a letter from someone i didn't know, telling me what time i could pick up a couch.

"what!"

reading further down, and finding my original letter, i began to remember a few fuzzy details from the night before. i decided to go look at it, but only after a friend said he could go with me. craigslist can be a scary place to exchange anything, and i wanted back up. luckily for me the sellers were incredibly nice, and the couch was in great shape. they turned out to be a young couple who were huge "mid-century" fans, and are constantly finding and selling pieces. we loaded the couch in the truck, and hauled it into the apartment.

now, although everything worked out fine, and i'm thrilled about the amazing deal i was able to land, what scares me is the realization that i was one, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, nyquil-dazed e-mail away from having 3 tons of fill dirt in my living room.

be careful out there kids.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

an early december[ist]


i make no attempt to hide the fact, that for the better part of my life, i avoided reading, writing, and spelling like the swine flu. only recently have i discovered an appreciation for these arts. that being said, any literary discovery i make, some of which should have happened around the fifth grade, i enjoy sharing. please humor me.

the other week, i literally stumbled into a reading event. i was trying to figure out how to make the most of a saturday night, when my friend karen called and informed me, she was downtown at the orpheum about to listen to an edgar allan poe interpreter. hearing my hesitation to attend a reading of this poet, she mentioned it was free, to which i quickly began walking to the theater. upon entering and after stumbling on the front steps, i was handed a pamphlet and a free book of edgar allan poe's poems! i was informed by the free-book-hander-outer, i was taking part in the national endowments for the arts "big read" program, with the goal being to restore reading back to the center of american culture. there's no way she could have realized it, but getting me in the door should be considered a huge success for the program.

walking down the isles, i found the crowd to be a mixture of older literary types, teen aged emo hipsters, and a handful of people obviously here to receive extra credit in a reading class. i knew them well, i only received the grades i did in my high school reading class by attending every book signing barnes and noble offered that semester. i found a seat next to my friend and awaited the performance. the lights dimmed and from behind the curtain appeared david keltz, a well known poe interpreter dressed like poe himself. he spoke as the author, discussing events in his life, and reasons behind the poems he wrote. they were dark and morbid, but somehow...still very beautiful. i recognized "the cask of amontillado" and "the tell-tale heart", only because it had been required reading in high school, but that night, i found myself slowly getting into the readings, not because i had to, but rather because i wanted to.

with each story poe explained more about his life and poetry. to paraphrase badly from what i remember, poe wanted to fill his poems with emotion, and he felt there was no emotion more complex than those surrounding death, especially of a loved one. to turn those mix of emotions into poetry is one of the most beautiful things a writer can do.

he than started a reading of "annabel lee".

something magical happened. as he read "annable lee" i made a discovery! themes of love, death, deception, murder, suicide, and revenge all put into beautiful verse, the name annabel, a kingdom by the sea! these were all decemberists songs! from that instant of realization i couldn't stop making connections, and i hung on every word.

i have no idea how much of a fan colin meloy is of poe, but these two lyricists share a lot of the same themes. in meloy's own music catalog, he mentions the name ann, or annabel several times, even having a song titled "annabelle leigh". in"oceanside" a character named annabel is seen reclining by the ocean, creating a similar image to poe's character. poe also uses the phrase, "kingdom by the sea", which is almost the same way meloy describes l.a. in "los angeles, i'm yours".

i'm very aware this isn't a new discovery, as anyone familiar with poe would have noticed this upon hearing any decemberists song. the shock is also less, knowing meloy majored in creative writing and would be very familiar with stories of the macabre and other dark romanticism works, of which poe wrtoe in. meloy is simply bringing this genre to the forefront of culture again, only this time with a catchy indie-folk beat behind it...which i'm eternally grateful for.

before i go, here is poe's "annabel lee" which to me, is just as beautiful as my favorite decemberists song.

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love -
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me
Yes! that was the reason
(as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we
Of many far wiser than we
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In the sepulcher there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Monday, November 09, 2009

[basement]archaeology

with my grandmother celebrating a milestone birthday the other week, the whole family made a trip to western kansas to celebrate it with her. after meeting up with everyone and enjoying a late lunch, we ended up at my grandma's house to chat. now, ever since i can remember, i loved venturing down into my grandparents basement. when i was younger, i was on a constant search for my dad's childhood baseball cards, which he swore were down there, somewhere. now, as an adult, i go down there just to marvel at the mid century relics still stored down there, paintings, lights, amber colored screens, and radios from another era. i'm sure most grandma's basements are like this, but it takes on a whole new level of amazement when it's from your family, items sometimes identifiable in old family photos.

however this last trip down put things in perspective a bit. like any good museum, the collection is constantly growing and changing, and for the first time, i started noticing items i have memories of, back when they were on the main level. most notably the table i use to eat breakfast at while i watched grandpa play solitaire. items, that to my cousin's kids (the youngest generation in the family), look just as ancient as the old frigidaire did to me.

...and yes, i did look for the baseball cards, and no, i still haven't found them.



Wednesday, November 04, 2009

the [key] to any acting career


if you've been reading this blog for a while, you may or may not remember some years ago, i had the opportunity to be an extra in an independent film shooting in wichita. you may or may not also remember the story of how i was promoted from just an extra to cashier #2!

well...after years of waiting, the film finally made it's wichita debut the other week! it was the opening movie for the tallgrass film festival held every fall. over the years i've kept in touch with a handful of the other extras. there's something to be said about a group of strangers stuck in a room together with nothing to do for ten hours but play cards...it bonds you. anyway, upon hearing it was showing, we all bought tickets so we could enjoy the film together. while the movie played, we would point out when we saw each other in the background and marvel at ourselves on the big screen. i, of course, anxiously waited for the cashier#2 scene in the hardware store. halfway into the movie, it came. the lead actor walked into the store and approached the cash register. my heart pounded...this was it...my big screen debut! this would be my "brad-pitt-in-thelma-and-louise" moment. i waited for the camera to change angles, wondering the whole time how i would look! i waited...and waited..and waited. the angle never changed. the lead actor tossed some change on the counter, picked up a package off screen, and than walked out.

yup...cashier#2 had been cut.

my big moment had ended up on some editing room floor. as the next scene took place, i was left wondering if my expression had not been right? was my motivation wrong? had i not conveyed the feeling of being a cashier in the early 1900's. did my face not transmit to the audience how important this package was? did my character not further the plot enough? the obvious answer was, no, it did not.

my disappointment didn't last long as i found i had made it into a few background shots, for a total screen time of about half a second. even with minimal face time, the whole experience was worth it. after the film, the director kevin willmott and lead actor wes studi stayed to answer questions before everyone headed to the opening night gala. after the event, my friends and i went out to eat and continued discussing films and future auditions. the night ended with me feeling very full of myself, ready to move to hollywood. as i went to start my truck, trying to figure out how to get ari gold as my agent and who might fill out the rest of my entourage, the key broke off in the ignition, rendering my truck unable to start. i walked home that night, alone, in the dark, with thoughts of my own series quickly vanishing. i called a locksmith the next day. he tinkered around and eventually got the other half of the key out. as i looked at the bill he handed me, which, being on a weekend, was extremely high, the total was a very familiar number.

it was, almost to the dollar, the same amount i had been paid for two days of work as an extra.


this kind of thing never happens to ted danson.

Monday, October 12, 2009

like [ellen] in the movies

last weekend, after years of trying to make it, i finally attended a match of the ict roller girls. now i wasn't in the best of health, but late saturday, as i was starting to come out of my nyQuil induced coma, a friend suggested we watch the ict roller girls take on springfield. thinking a little trip outside my self-quarantined apartment might do some good, i said yes.

if you keep track of the box office, you'd know last week and movie called "whip it" came out. a coming of age story about a girl and the sport of roller derby. i'd like to tell you the whole reason i went was to support the actual home grown, local sport, instead of hollywood, that there's no need to pay to see some fictional commercialized story of the sport, when the real life event is taking place in my own backyard. however, i can't say that, it just happened to be a coincidence.

i sat through the entire match, and didn't understand one moment of it. all i know was there were a bunch of girls, on roller skates, beating the crap out each other, and somehow points went up on the score board. which, if you think about it, is the general plot line of any sport. none the less, it was very entertaining, and it was a blast to photograph.










Thursday, October 08, 2009

singing in the [mud]

last weekend i traveled to texas to attend the austin city limits festival. now i rarely schedule or commit to anything more than two weeks in advance, however, to receive a discount, i had ordered the tickets a year ago, which created twelve months of anticipation for this festival, and it was well worth it. not only was the weekend spent catching up with wonderful friends, but it was filled with great music, delicious, new cuisine, and inside jokes that make absolutely no sense now that the weekend is over. however i did want to highlight a few of the more memorable moments.

-thursday night in austin included drinking old fashioned cocktails, a discussion and impersonation of a french ex-boyfriend, and an odd chat with a holistic healer, who informed me i was an old soul
-coffee and breakfast every morning at quacks 43rd street bakery
-hearing great bands i knew of, and new ones i'm now addicted to
-volunteering to pick up and recycle bottle's and can's around the park
-rain on saturday, mud on sunday
-watching the decemberists play while it drizzled
-dancing in the mud to girltalk
-late night dinner at "the good knight"

there was however one situation that deserves a bit more than a dash and a few words. now this situation wasn't funny at the time, however looking back on it now, is slightly amusing, and slightly amusing is all i ever hope for with this blog. with it raining all day saturday, sunday found the park to be one giant mud pit. it was gross, it smelled bad, and walking was difficult. just a few feet into the festival that day, my flip flops broke. the upward force of my feet trying to break the downward force of the suction of the mud, was too much for them, and they gave out. to be honest, i'm surprised they had lasted this long. they were in fact the five dollar flip flops i had purchased my freshman year of college to avoid having my feet touch the bare tile in my dorm hall showers. as i picked up my shattered shoes, i decided they were just a small sacrifice to pay to the concert gods and i pitched them, going the rest of the day shoeless. being barefoot wasn't bad at all, as most people ended up that way eventually, what i didn't count on was the rock filled, gravel infested, broken glass scattered, two mile trek back to our car that night. it didn't take long for my mud covered feet to get bruised, cut, and sore. hobbling along, wondering how long i could take the agony, out of the corner of my eye, sitting along the sidewalk i spotted none other than a mud covered pair of shoes! as i approached the abandoned shoes, i found they were indeed big enough to fit me. my feet were screaming to put them on, however my head was filled with total disgust. i had no idea who's shoes these were and what type of foot fungus may or may not be inside waiting to attach itself to my feet! eventually my heart sided with my feet and i placed the rubber souled petri dishes on my feet. the only comfort i had was the thought of driving directly to the nearest pharmacy to pick up the largest bottle of industrial strength "fast actin' tinactin". although they were a few sizes to big, they successfully got me to the car. safely in the back seat, i promptly kicked them off and on to the sidewalk where hopefully they ended up helping some other shoeless sap make it to their car.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

sept[ivities]

if there's any weekend during the kansas year, that always seems to deliver perfect weather, it would, without a doubt, be the last weekend in september. the heat of the summer is over, and the cold of winter is still a few weeks away. the mornings are brisk, the afternoons are sunny and pleasant. the leaves are just begining to hint at their forthcoming change in color, and if you're not suffering from allergies, i'd swear you could smell apple pie in the air. this all combines to create a few short days where the entire city seems to yearn to be outside. it should be no surprise than, that some of the best things to do in wichita take place on that weekend, and last weekend was no exception. not only was there a high school reunion to attend, but wichita also hosted the komen race for the cure, as well as the wagon masters chili cook off. with the weather as perfect as could be planned, i, along with most of the city, spent the majority of the weekend outside.

if sunburns are an indication of a good time spent outdoors...than i had a blast.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

[fair] weather fan

there's a reason people pay to see concerts, competitions, performances, and sporting events. it's because it's always exciting to watch or listen to a performer, excelling in whatever it is they do. as it turns out, states are no different. california and colorado are wonderful as vacation spots, the east coast states have their history and tradition, wisconsin has it's cheese, and delaware has it's.....um.....ummmm....well, i'm sure it has something.

my point is, last weekend, i found out what kansas excels at. as it turns out, having state fairs is our business, and business is good. now, that's not really much of a stretch when you think about it, we're an agricultural state, and the state fair is a celebration of all the agricultural achievements over the course of the year. however, last saturday, as i enjoyed the unseasonably beautiful weather, somewhere amongst the dairy fresh ice cream, the sheep shearing demonstration, the draft horse pulling competition, and the seeing the grand champion largest pumpkin, i looked around and found myself extremely proud of my home state.