Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Yesterday, I got interviewed for an upcoming "Daily Iowan" article on the 17th anniversary No Shame show that's this Friday. The interviewer was asking me about my past work and I was talking to him about it. He mentioned how (based on my previous pieces), he didn't know if I loved TV or hated it.

This is something I think about a lot. Not just in the realm of TV either. I have a love-hate relationship with a lot of things. Not people. With people, I'm usually on a sliding scale of mild-dislike-to-love. But with things, I can love it and hate it at the same time.

I compared it to that scene in "Raging Bull" where Jake LaMotta boxes the good-looking boxer and he bashes his face in. Afterwards, LaMotta tells a group of people that when faced with the boxer, he didn't know if he should... and pardon my french... "fuck him or fight him." That basically sums up my feelings towards a lot of things.

For instance, when faced with something like a magic act, I don't know if it's the best form of entertianment or the worst form of entertainment. It's such a schmaltzy, dorky thing and yet... it entertains me to no end. I suppose this sort of ambivalence shows up in my No Shame pieces. I do a lot of things where I celebrate something - just to tear it down.

It's sort form of irony, I'm sure.

And irony... well, that's 500 blogs right there, but... I've been accused of using it in my No Shame pieces a lot. And I'll admit that it is way too prevalent at No Shame. It's irritating for me to see a lack of commitment in performances. I hate - no, mildly dislike - it when "standing outside the piece" is just an excuse for poor writing.

But as for proper irony.... last night, I read some essays on irony and I came across this: Charles Gordon said, "The skillful ironist, one who uses the form as a weapon rather than an instrument of self-amusement, does society a service." And I hate to call myself "skillfull" or see myself as doing society "a service," BUT I know that when I use irony, it's because I'm frustrated with something and I want change. And that's a lot more passionate than some form of bemused apathy.

Besides, my pieces last year at No Shame were nothing but painfully earnest and it wore me out.

Monday, September 29, 2003

A few minutes ago, I finished writing my full-length play "Bubblegum Brigade." It's due on Wednesday for my playwriting class. I started writing PAGE ONE on Sunday evening at 8pm and I just completed the FINAL PAGE right now. So, basically... I wrote the entire thing in 12 hours straight.

The loneliness of a long-distance writer.

I don't know if it'll be any good. I'll give it one more look-sy before I print it out for class. Obviously, it's a first draft of... what? Two, maybe.


Hopefully, it will get produced sometime next semester. I believe my pal Spencer Griffin will direct it. Probably at Public Space One. Hopefully. Probably. Godonaly.

For those of you who are interested, it takes place in a clubhouse. The characters consist of three 12 year-old boys and a 23 year-old woman. There are pranks and such.

I have class in an hour and a half.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

"My Business Failed in Three Weeks" has got another hour before our show. In the meantime, we are playing "Rocky" the videogame. I am not one for videogames. This is evidenced by me recently getting beat four times in a row. Badly. Like my boxer was a really strong guy and the other boxer was an old man. And I still got beat. Super-beat.

This afternoon, "My Business Failed in Three Weeks" spent a $100 gift certificate at West Music. We received it as "pay" for playing a show. That meant we got to spend $100 however we wished. I bought a bass tuner. Jake bought some drum-heads. DJ bought a guitar book.

Also, we all bought white gloves - you know, the kind that conductors wear. We're going to wear them for the show. Everybody will think we're fancy.

If they don't already.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

When I was 7 years old, one of my favorite songs was "Parents Just Don't Understand" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. I don't know why it spoke to me so much. At that age, I thought my parents understood me pretty well. Still do, actually.

Anyway, I recently downloaded and listened to it. I noticed some things I hadn't before. Like... as a kid, when I used to sing/rap along with it, I used to say, "in end of the blue" when Fresh Prince said, "inevitably." I WAS SUCH A STUPID 7 YEAR-OLD!

One of the highlights of downloading the song was that I found another version of it. It was Li'l Bow-Wow and some other junior rapper. Of course, since it was intended for kids in the 21st century, some changes had to be made. The whole section about picking up a 12 year-old runaway was inexcusably exercised. And instead of complaining how his mom bought him clothes from 1963, it's now... 1993. To me, this can only mean: "Jurassic Park" t-shirts and Z-Cavarichi jeans. And I don't know what the problem with that is.

So, yeah... I'm a little disappointed that the original song had to be changed. I'm sure, however, that it was inevitable.

Or in this case, "in end of the blue."

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Whoops. I guess I let this go without updating for a few days. I had gotten better with that, but now I've failed again. New Year's Resolution? Keep up with Weblog. Second New Year's Resolution? Don't make New Year's Resolutions until it's actually New Year's.

Tomorrow, I have to hand in the script for my senior thesis video. As usual, I let it go until the last minute. But also, as usual, I planned out everything in my head, so that when the time came to write it, I'd know what to do. It's not the best plan of action, but it gets me by.

Anyway, my senior thesis is a short fictional video called "Janitor." It's about a man who's only escape from his unsatisfied life is pitying the janitor in his office. It's a comedy.

However... last night at 6am, I decided I totally hate that idea. It sucks. The office thing is PLAYED OUT. And it's all saddy mucky-mook. Blargh. No. I hate that. Blargh... again.

So... I came up with a new idea. It's a culmination of things that I've been thinking about for the past few months. It's about Lost Child centers. And abadonment. And children with their mothers. And men who refuse to grow up.

I'm working on the script right now. I think I can get it done by tomorrow morning - after Intermedia class and the "My Business Failed in Three Weeks" show. Of course, that will take some burnin' of the ol' midnight oil... or as I like to call it, "takin' Meth."

Happy New Year's!

Friday, September 19, 2003

MY BUSINESS FAILED IN THREE WEEKS (the band I play bass and sing for)
at GABE'S OASIS (Iowa City)

You should come to this.

Although I don't think we'll be playing these songs on Tuesday's show, I'll just mention that we've recently written a couple new ditties. One's called "Let's Make This the Best Century Ever!" It's loose and loud. It also has, in my opinion, the best drum part Jake's ever done.

We also got one song in the works called "Three Wolves." The beginning sounds like "House of the Rising Sun." Plus, it's about wolves. Which are the coolest animals in the planet.

Speaking of wolves, if you want to see something of true beauty, do an "images" search of "wolf sketch" in Google. You will be reduced to tears.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

In a few minutes, I'm going to see the documentary "Spellbound" for a second time. I saw it last June in San Francisco and it was incredible. From the first scene to the last, my eyes were all gooey with sad-juice. This isn't a sign of its quality or anything - it's great in addition to the fact that it had the ability to make me cry. But I don't know. It touched me for some unexplainable reason. Maybe it is its mix of optimism and heartbreak. That's quite a combination... and one you don't experience everyday.

It's funny. We were talking about "Spellbound" in my Advanced Video class last week and the instructor commented on how she had the same experience when she saw it. That was kind of neat. I like shared experiences that occur at separate times in separate spaces. It's probably one of the reasons that I like film in general.

For instance, last spring, I found out that my friend Chris and I both saw lady-boobs for the first time in the same movie (long before we ever knew each other). That movie? Rodney Dangerfield's "Back to School," of course.

It is also notable for being the first movie I heard the f-word in. Ah, "Back to School" - thief of my innocence.

Monday, September 15, 2003

On Saturday, I shot some footage for a project in my Advanced Video class. We have to make a "fake self-portrait." I decided to do one where I sit with my girlriend and I talk about how much we are in love. However, as the video progresses, it gradually becomes clear that she is not into the relationship as much as me. And I try to get her enthused.

I, of course, had to ask someone to portray my girlfriend since... you know, I don't have a girlfriend. Her name was Erin - a girl I somewhat knew. But I didn't know her a whole lot, which was good because it added to her awkwardness and discomfort onscreen portraying a disinterested girlfriend. She did a really great job.

This project really appeals to me because lately the thing I've been most fascinated by is people's desire to create/control experiences/feelings/emotions. And since love is arguably one of the most rewarding of spontaneous emotions, it's funny to think that you could force it. But people try.

I mean, I'm sure we've all been in relationships where either: A) we're into the relationship more than the partner or B) the partner's into it more than we are. And I think there's probably a lot of convincing and manipulating and coercing and kidding yourself that goes into that.

"Kidding yourself" along with "People trying to be liked" are the two major ideas that EVERYTHING I'VE EVER DONE has been based on. It's true.

In the end, Satuday's shooting was one of the most fun and satisfying experiences I've had in my short time as a video-maker. It was loose and improvisational and really allowed a sort of freedom.

Also, it was about me - a subject I'm so in love with - as evidenced by these blogs.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Yesterday, I found out that John, one of my best friends (EVER!), and his wife Denise are having a baby.

"Congratulations," I say to them.

If there's one guy who I think would be an excellent father, it's my pal Johnny. He's one of the most decent and genuine fellers I've ever known.

Knowing that some kid is going to have such great parents makes me smile, nod, and fold my arms in satisfaction.

So... John Ritter's dead. And that bums me out.

Because over the past few years, I've grown to appreciate John Ritter more and more. I'd watch reruns of "Three's Company" on Nick at Nite and just laugh my ass off. The guy was so funny. And it was great because it was a really "classical" form of comedy, too - like punchlines delivered in the most perfect timing and pratfalls done so precisely.

And the best part was that he wasn't doing it with a sly wink or a nudge-nudge. This man earnestly made you want to laugh. And he'd commit to it. Fully. And that's really rare to find in comedy after the 1960's.

Don't get me wrong. I love Bill Murray and Steve Martin as much as the next guy (in fact, I probably like those actors more than John Ritter), but it was just refreshing to see somebody who has no hang-ups about wanting to entertain you.

Plus, I can't find a more charismatic actor in films or television. Seriously. I dare you to find another actor who made you want to be friends with his characters as much as John Ritter did.

So, a few nights ago, a friend and I were watching this video called "Strong Kids, Safe Kids," which happened to feature John Ritter. During the video, my friend turned to me and said, "John Ritter seems like a really nice guy." And I replied, "I know!" Then we both agreed how what he was saying was really cheesy and corny, but John Ritter made you believe it. This, in my opinion, is the ideal actor.

Also... this is the most I've ever written about somebody's death in my entire life.

Sorry, Grandpa Ted.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I got the first two scenes edited for "David Mows Yards."

Originally, I had a 45-second bridge between the first two scenes. It was all edited and ready to be in the movie, but I cut it. For one reason, it didn't work rhythmically and secondly, it was this weird excursion trying to explain David's mood/state.

And in my opinion, no audience should get that close to a film's principal character after just two minutes of the movie. Keep 'em at arm's length as long as you can, I say. Just look at "Raging Bull." Why's that boxer so angry? Why's he want to punch things (i.e. other boxers, prison walls, his wife's face)? You don't know! But you get a feeling or a sense of feeling and holy crap if that don't power the entire film.

Goddamn. Watching all those "Rocky" movies made me really want to watch "Raging Bull" again.

I also want to watch "The Ice Storm" again. I've seen it a bunch, but... I'll watch it again. Have you seen it? It's DEAD-ON in its recreation of that weird zone between childhood and full-fledged adulthood where sex is intriguing and scary and gross and exciting.

Because you know, once you become an adult, sex quits becomming those things. Right?


I just realized that I (in a round-about-way) compared my movie to "Raging Bull." Well, that's just not true. These two movies are incomparable.

"David Mows Yards" is sooooo much better than "Raging Bull."

Monday, September 08, 2003

Today, I bought the first two seasons of "Saved by the Bell" on DVD.

5 discs. 40 episodes. 750 minutes.

God is a TV and tonight, I will sit on His lap.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

If you go into Calvin Hall on the University of Iowa campus - to drop a class or get a new photo ID card or whatever - check out the door on the way to the lower level. On the door, there is a sign that reads "Emergency Exit to the Right" or something like that. Anyway, below it, there is this odd clip-art of cartoon children smiling and waving. It's weird.

Anyway, a year ago, last fall, I saw this sign and I scrawled a word bubble above the children's heads. It said, "We didn't make it!" In essence, I was helping Calvin Hall. I was finally making sense of them using such a ridiculous clip-art - you know, suggesting that all those cartoon children died in a horrible fire or something.

My point is... that sign (with my addition)... is still up! After a year! You'd think somebody would take that down by now. Not that I mind. In fact, it's exciting to think that hundreds and hundreds of people have probably read that sign - especially considering that they are standing in a line and when you stand in a line, you look at everything just to pass the time.

More people have probably seen that sign than all my No Shame pieces combined. This makes me proud.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Last night, No Shame was awesome. Great pieces. Big crowd. Energy. Enthusiasm. I loved it.

Since most people find my webpage through its link on the No Shame website... if you're new here, sign my guestbook (there's a link for it at the bottom of the homepage). Or even if that's not the case, sign my guestbook. It's nice to know who's reading this.

Yesterday, I talked to my dad on the phone. I called him to say thanks because he sent me some money in the mail. It was $20 in an envelope marked - "Paul, Here's Some Beer Money - Love, Dad." My dad is funny. In case you didn't know, I don't drink and stuff and my dad's aware of this. In fact, last winter, he sent me $20 in an envelople marked - "Paul - Here's Some Money to Buy Beer and Drugs With - Love, Dad." My dad - what a goof.

So when I called him on the phone, I found out that there's a good chance that my mom, dad, sister, and niece will be going to San Francisco on Thanksgiving to visit my sister Amy. I, however, will not be going. My dad asked me if I was okay with this.

I honestly have no problem with it. It's just the way it works out. You see, my parents were originally going to go (so it'd be a little getaway for them), but then my sister and her daughter got interested in going (which is understandable since they've never been out there). So if I went along, too, it'd end up being this big trip that was never intended.

I just realized that I'm sounding like a total martyr. You know, like, "No, no, no. You guys go and have your fun. I'll just stay back and bum around, I guess." But that's not the case. I'd be perfectly happy just staying here in Iowa City for a week of vacation - with no school work and just working on the movie. I want that.

Of course, by November, I will obviously haven gotten a girlfriend, right? And at Thanksgiving, I will go home with her. And on the car-ride there, we'll take pictures outside crumby truck stops. And we'll talk about the times our grandparents died. And we'll make out while she drives - even if it is in snowy weather.

And then at dinner, I'll have to fake that I like her mother's mashed potatos more than my own mother's. And I'll bullshit my way through a conversation regarding the Minnesota Vikings with her father. And I'll force myself to grin when her little brother points out my big nose.

And as we head back to Iowa City, I'll realize that... yes, I'm a little closer to falling in love with this girl.

Or... I'll find myself in some zany "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles"-like scenario. All the while, I'll be saying, "I want to get home, but this fat guy keeps farting on me!"

Wednesday, September 03, 2003


All my residents are moved in. I've finished helping my friend Louie with his screenplay "Vampire Fiction." I've caught up on three weeks of unreplied emails. And I sent in last semester's No Shame scripts to be put on the webpage.

Which means...

It's now time to edit "David Mows Yards."

It should be quite a challenge. I have 41 hours of footage, which I have to edit down into a 100-minute film. That's about 25 minutes of raw footage for every 1 minute of screentime. Glerp. Glamp. Gloosh.

And oh... on Friday the 5th, No Shame Theatre starts in the University Theatre Building at 11pm. It's $1. Come and enjoy. I'm doing a piece about something I found in my basement.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Well, I did it. Five "Rocky" movies in 11 hours. All of them. In their entirety.

And now for the much-anticipated "Rocky" saga ranking. I order these from BEST to WORST.

1. Rocky
2. Rocky II
3. Rocky III
4. Rocky V
5. Rocky IV

Of course, I could very well order them in this way as well (from BEST to WORST)

1. Rocky IV
2. Rocky
3. Rocky II
4. Rocky III
5. Rocky V

These rankings depend on my mood.

Either way, it was a good time had with friends. And that's what "Rocky" marathons are all about.

Now for some sleep. Some "Rocky" sleep.