Thursday, July 31, 2003

Stuff that's no longer funny to me:

1) Robots

This "alternative comedy" staple has, in my opinion, finally run its course. The first robot joke I came across was Ben Gargant of "The State" wearing a "Robots" t-shirt in 1994. That was nine years ago. Nothing is funny anymore after nine years. (Look out, 1994's "Flinstones" movie!) Don't get me wrong. Other folks can make their jokes about robots (with its implicit parodying of old-fashioned technological sensibilities), but as for me, I'm through with it. I have been for a few months now. I'm sooo over robots.

2) Jesus Christ

Imagine Jesus Christ doing something... that Jesus Christ would never do! That is every Jesus Christ joke you have ever heard. You see, it's funny because you're being irreverent towards a widely-established religious figure. Later, we'll poke fun at George W. Bush. And then perhaps the Backstreet Boys. Take that!

3) Mullets

Have you ever noticed how upscale, liberal white college kids are sensitive and progressively-minded towards society's downtrodden... except when it's impoverished whites? Usually, it's wrong to make fun of somebody's lack of money or education... but as long as they're white, it's acceptable. Of course, I'm not calling out for some racial leverage. I don't want the pendulum to swing the other way and make fun of all races or anything like that. It's just that I don't like this snobby detachment that middle-and-upper-class whites take towards their own race. For me, it's as if whites are suggesting that "white trash" are bad people - simply because they fail to achieve "what all whites deserve to have" (i.e. money, education, etc.). And in a way, I think that's a more dangerous racism than your average, run-of-the-mill "ignorant racism." So, yeah. Jokes about mullets and other "white trash" things are not only unfunny, they epitomize the hypocrisy of the priveldged liberal white kid.

These jokes aren't funny anymore.


Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I just got back from fishing with my dad in Pickstown, South Dakota. We got "skunked," which means we caught no fish - not even a fish that's tiny and you throw back into the water. Well, I take that back. My dad caught one fish known as a "mooneye" carp, but apparently they taste gross, so we threw it back into the water. If we can't eat it, we discard it.

This rule also applies to your face. Jerk.

Despite the lack of fish, I still had a really good time with my dad. It's not really about the fishing anyway. It's about spending time together and talking and bonding and all that. And bonding we did. All in all, my dad and I are pretty good at communicating. Yesterday, we sort of broke down one of the last remaining barriers in communication. This is good. This makes me happy.

Paul Rust loves his father.

Last night, my dad and I got food at one of those roadside diners - you know, the kind that look like a cabin (wooden structure, screen door, etc.). Inside, I saw a couple eating dinner in a booth. The man was this really young policeman (maybe 20 at the oldest) and his girlfriend was this 16 year-old girl, wearing skimpy-Brittany clothes sitting Indian style. From what I could tell, the policeman was on a dinner break and his girlfriend joined him to keep him company. It was definately something "you don't see everyday," but I don't know... it was really touching for some reason.

My knees got sun-burnt.

Monday, July 28, 2003

I'm back in LeMars. But soon enough, I will pick up my duds and scoot again.

Tomorrow, I'm going fishin' with my pops. Somewhere in South Dakota. Pixton, perhaps?

Whatever the case, it's bondin' time for Poppa Bob and Sonny Paul. We get up early. We fish. We swim in the lake when it gets too hot.

When my dad jumps into the lake for a swim, he'll stand on the edge of the boat and fall back-first into the water. Right before he does it though, he says, "I'm gonna' take the Nestea plunge." It's pretty funny. I hope he does it again.

Today, I'm continuing to shoot the movie. I got less than two weeks to shoot around 20% of the movie. Hold onto your fingers and keep your butts crossed.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

I'm in Iowa City - shooting da' movie, hanging out with friends.

The shoot has been going well. All of it has been with Emily Yoshida who is portraying Natalie in the movie. Today, we shot a scene in a hot, hot attic. It was humid and steamy. Emily and cameraman DJ persevered though - even without any promise of superstar glory or monetary pay. They are troopers and I am forever in their debt.

Tomorrow night, I'm going to my friends Chris and Aprille's plays. This will be the first play I have seen since May 1989.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Omaha was fun. I hung out with Omaha citizens John Henry Muller and his wife Denise - in addition to fellow expatriates Brian "Fetus" Langel, Jake "T-Shirt" Livermore, and Emily "Bet Your Bottom Dollar" Light.

While there, I saw The Eels in concert. It rocked. The best thing was that The Eels do different renditions of their songs while performing live. So they rocked out on "Novacaine for the Soul" and slowed things up on "Last Stop: This Town." Plus, their new sound (they go thru different incarnations) was that of a "bar band." Really raunchy and skronky and good. They ended with four encores. Four encores. And surprisingly, it made sense. It worked.

I'm leaving for Iowa City in a couple hours. I'm going to see my friends' plays and shoot some stuff for "David Mows Yards."

Sunday, July 20, 2003

So, remember how I was freaking out about my movie on my weblog a few hours ago?

Well, tonight, I watched "America's Funniest American" (my movie from last summer) and realized how much this year's footage has improved - in acting, in technical efficency, etc.

And that's really been my main goal with this new movie to begin with. So I feel better.

Of course, I still have a waaaays to go and I'm sure I'll be freaking out many more times, but for now, I'm relaxed.

Rest easy, America.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

I'm freaking out about the movie.

I feel like I still got so much to shoot and so little time.

And I haven't been editing as much as I should.

And I'm unhappy with the footage. Turns out the wide-angle lense that I thought would make my movie look better actually makes it look worse. All foggy and distorted.

And I realized that I'm in every scene of the movie.

Every scene.

That's draining enough as an actor, but for a writer and director and editor and crew member as well? Jesus. That's rough.

For example, when I'm acting in a scene, I'm not really "acting." My mind's still split into other roles. I'm trying to suit my performance to my writing sensibility (is the performance working thematically?), my directing sensibility (is the performance working tonally?), and my crew sensibility (is the performance technically sound - not going out of frame, continuous for editing?).

So, in the end, I'm giving a bad performance... which makes everything fall flat anyhow.

I took on too much and now I'm paying the price.

I'm going to Omaha tomorrow for a couple days to visit friends and watch The Eels in concert. Maybe the rest will do me good.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Paul Rust is dying.

This morning, my mother was in a local shoe store during "Ridiculous Days" (LeMars' downtown sales extravaganza that has prices so low, they are positively... RIDICULOUS!). A man came up to her and... well, this is how the dialogue went...

MAN: How's Paul?
MY MOM: He's good.
MAN: Really? He's good?
MY MOM: Yes.
MAN: Because someone told me he was ill. And there's a benefit being held for him.

Yes. I am dying.

Actually, this benefit is the one I mentioned in the last blog. I'm setting it up to raise money for my movie. However, once this entered LeMars' small-town rumor mill, it soon became that I was dying a slow and painful death and I needed money for hospital costs. I wonder what disease I have.

Mind you, I'm not angered by this. I love the rumor mill. It has brought me much happiness throughout the years. Every person I look at in LeMars, I get to have a sordid story. It's great.

The funny part about all this though is... I found out that I really am dying. Seriously. Yesterday, the doctor told me I have cancer.


And Reyes Syndrome.


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

So far, with my movie, I have shot 18 60-minute DV tapes. And I'm only halfway (or a little more) done with the entire project. That means, I could potentially have 35 60-minute DV tapes to edit down into an hour-and-a-half movie.

This will be difficult.

I don't understand it. Last year, with "America's Funniest American," I only used 10 tapes total. And I don't think "David Mows Yards" will be any much longer. Although, I kind of understand why I have so many tapes. I've been doing a lot more takes of scenes with this movie than I have previously.

This is both a blessing and a curse during editing. It's great because I get to have a broad spectrum of performances and I can pick the best one, but it's bad because... for the same reasons. It's too many choices and you end up having to go through each one carefully. And it's maddening trying to choose the best one.

Yesterday, I began setting up a show that will help raise money for my movie. It will be in LeMars at the Museum stage. My Business Failed in Three Weeks (the band I'm in) and a couple other local high school bands will be playing. Hopefully, it will make me some cold, hard cash.

Plus, it's a live rock show. Which is always fun.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

If you didn't know, since my return from California, I have not worked a single day of labor. Until August 9th (when I get back to Iowa City for RA training), I am willfully unemployed.

Today, I realized that this will be the last time in my life that I am in such a situation for a long while. After all, once college is finished in next May, I will need to get a job and eventually a career and that will last me until retirement (which is far, far away).

In other words, this is my last month of "no-work" freedom.

Needless to say, this frightens me. I hate working. I mean, I know nobody likes it, but seriously... work is the one thing that completely drains me of spirit. Depresses the hell out of me. Burdens me.

And I don't mean that in a lazy sense. I could be a student for the rest of my life and be happy. And I could keep myself busy with my interests forever. But work... goddamn. And the pay is no "pay-off." I haven't felt the desire for mass amounts of money to appreciate striving for it with a job.

I don't know. Maybe I'll find a job I love. I like the RA thing. I mean, I couldn't be that for the rest of my life or anything, but I enjoy it now - mainly because it isn't a "punch-in-and-spend-your-time-at-a-designated-area-for-an-alotted-amount-of-time" sort of job. And there's also some sort of value to knowing that you're influencing people with your job - instead of just making them ice cream and london broilers.

Friday, July 11, 2003


Somebody told me I look like this guy.

I agree.
This, my friends, is the major tenet running through my life:

Restraint v. Passion.

Yes. It's true.

It's in everything. My relationships. My "work." My... everything else.

I continually have to choose between the two: Do I... a) Share every one of my damp secrets and insecurities with people? or b) Avoid all that and live comfortably?

Because there's lovelies and pitfalls to either choice. If you open yourself up to folks, you're "being real and upfront" and taking risks and that's exciting and "how life is meant to be lived." But then... there's the chance of looking too earnest or self-obsessed or overly confessional, which leads to a lack of mystery (which is heresy in my surrounding youth-and-university culture that's obsessed with broody broodsters)

But then... with the second choice, I can... yes, live comfortably. But pretty unsatisfied.

It's like this. I can either:

A) Make a movie/Write a play/Sing a song that's earnest and somewhat-serious and although it may personally satisfy me, I'll be completely embarrassed by its honesty in five years


B) Make a movie/Write a play/Sing a song that's fun and somewhat-silly and... although I won't fall flat on my face, I'll feel unfulfilled by the entire experiene.

I know there's a happy middle-ground. I just can't seem to find it.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Today, I continued shooting with Karen Schroeder, my high school teacher in Advanced Speech and Honors English. She was also my Large Group and Individual Speech coach, too. Karen, in fact, taught me a lot about acting and performing and whatnot, so it's cool that I get to act with her now. She keeps insisting that she's "no actress," but she's been doing well.

I've edited a couple scenes for the movie already. Last night, I finally completed a scene that had been giving me trouble. It was ridiculous. It took me a total of 12-15 hours (over three days) to edit a single, two-minute scene. I reeeaaallly hope that it's because I'm rusty with editing and wasn't a sign of the future. I mean, I was being "particular" (a.ka. "picky") and stuff, but I hope I cool off for the rest of the editing. I don't want it to take that long for each scene.

The bad part is... I may end up re-shooting that scene in the end anyway. Of course, I'll only do it if there's enough time when all the shooting's done. I can't waste my time with somewhat un-necessary shooting.

It's just a struggle, trying to picks shots that are good performance-wise, but also work technically. A lot of times, you end up having to sacrifice one or the other. And there's the whole issue of pacing and rhythm, which I consider "the lifeblood" of a scene and if you don't get that right, then the whole thing sucks.

Do you hear that, students? Professor Rust says rhythm is "the lifeblood of a scene."

What the hell do I know?

Saturday, July 05, 2003

On the 3rd of July, LeMars held a downtown concert at a new performance stage. The Knack was playing! Jake, Brian, DJ, and I went. It was a good rock show, but as with all these sorts of things, it was depressing as well. You know, the "Puppet Show and Spinal Tap" sort of thing: Old guys playing rock; disinterested people idly watching.

It also sort of bummed me out that The Knack never took off after "My Sharona." There's so many of those great mid-to-late-70's power-pop bands that should have been long-lasting international superstars, but never were (i.e. The Knack, Bay City Rollers, Big Star, etc.). You can also see this with a lot of great current power-pop groups that don't get the respect they deserve (i.e. Superdrag, Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, etc.).

This always surprises me, too, because everybody's favorite band (The Beatles) started off basically as a power-pop band. It's obvious that everybody loves power-pop. Why don't they show it more often? Jerks.

Survivor was playing after The Knack, but we left. Who cares about Survivor?

Instead, we went to "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." Maybe it was my initial lowered expectations, but I thought the movie was awesome. Throughout it, I was jumping and shrieking and laughing and cheering. Goddamn. One part has The Terminator firing a gun with one hand... and holding a casket in the other! Yeah. It's that good. Death to "The Matrix Reloaded." Long live the new flesh of "Terminator 3."

4th of July was... whatever. It rained, so we didn't get to watch "Skyshow" (LeMars' fireworks display) at the fairgrounds like we've done for the past 10 years or so. Annually, my friends and I go to the fairgrounds (that's where they fire off the fireworks), wearing red, white, and blue. We yell out patriotic slogans every time a firework goes off and generally act obnoxious. A lot of LeMartians are there. We ruin their time.

This year, we made signs to hold up during "Skyshow." They said stuff like "Fireworks!" and "An Eagle" and "Hy-Vee!" Unfortunately, we never got to use them.

Today, I bought a zebra finch for the movie. Shooting with Karen Schroeder (my former high school teacher) begins on Monday.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Last night, I went on my first run since I've been back from California. As usual, I ran down at the public school's track around 2 am. It's great at that time. No one else is there. The air is cool. There's no hot sun out to destroy you. Unfortunately, they were doing construction on the track and the gates were all locked up. But that didn't stop me! I jumped that fence like a cat burgular!

You know, I don't even know why they prohibit the public from running on the track. There was nothing wrong with it. I think the asphalt (or whatever that is) is still a little loose and granite-y, but that's it. I mean, I could run on it.

In fact, I ran a little over 5 miles in about 40 minutes. I am Carl Lewis and Dr. J! It felt great. Exhausting, but great. As cheesy as it sounds, the few times I know I'm alive and experiencing life is when I'm running. My legs burn. My arms throb. My heart pumps an ocean's worth of blood. When I got done running, I laid out on the track, looking up at the stars and letting the night air enter my lungs.

When I got up, I had asphalt granite stuck all over my back. That kinda sucked.


Yesterday, shooting continued with "David Mows Yards." It was with the neighborhood dog Stanley, a basid (?) hound. It was a very long day. 92 degree weather and an untrained dog. Geesh!

Major "props" go to my right-hand man DJ Ruden. Without him, the whole day would have been a disaster.

Thanks, Dr. Ruden!

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Early Monday morning, around 5 am, I woke up unexpectedly. My ear felt murky and heavy and weird. I put a couple of my fingers inside and felt around. It was wet. All around.

I went to the bathroom to check it out. When I turned on the light, I saw blood all over my fingertips. Looking in the mirror, blood was smeared all over the left side of my face. My ear was bleeding profusely. This was clear.

I started dabbing it with toilet paper, hoping that it would sop it up, but it just kept bleeding. So I decided to go back to bed. Who cares if my brain was hemorrhaging, right? After all, I was tired. I had only been asleep for a little over an hour and I had to get up in a couple more. For some reason, it didn't bother me not knowing why I was dying.

Then I realized what it was... a zit in my ear had popped. More so, exploded. My ear was filled to the brim with blood and pus.

Is this gross to you?

The next morning, my mom cleaned out my ear with q-tips and hydrogen peroxide. The cotton on the q-tips were all black and gunky. Yay! Black and gunky!


In an unrelated note (or a fiercely related note, if you please)... that night, at midnight, my friends DJ and Li'l Steve and I crossed the border and went to Zort's Fireworks in South Sioux City, South Dakota. (In South Dakota, fireworks are completey legal). DJ and Steve bought their fill of fireworks, but I did not. You see, I am not a fireworks man. They scare me. I can't even light a match without crying. In fact, the few times I tried smoking cig-a-rettes, I had to have somebody else light the cigarette for me because I was too scared of fire.

SIDENOTE: One time, in the winter of 1997, I tried smoking a cigarette and it made me throw up Chili. And I hadn't even eaten chili. What?

The best part about Zort's Fireworks was the weird Hong Kong-imported fireworks. They had really horrible/amazing translations - product names like "It's a Party Time," "Baby Boomers," and "The New York Thing." And they'd have really odd pictures on the box to represent the fireworks, too. It was generic photos of people in business suits, sitting in offices - sometimes looking stressed out. Why did the Japanese think this had anything to do with fireworks? They are so dumb.

They did, however, have the foresight to name one of their products after one of America's most-beloved cultural phenomenons. That's right. "Blond Joke." You heard me. One of the fireworks was named "Blond Joke."