Archive for January, 2005

Oh, and about De-Lovely

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

We watched De-Lovely last night under the misguided notion that it was a good film. What a disappointment!

Looking for a bio-pic about a show-biz type at the end of his life? Pass on De-Lovely and watch All That Jazz again instead. You’ll thank me.

Whattorent.com

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

I read about whattorent.com recently and am just now trying it out. It puts you through a little personality test first on the theory that most movie recommending agents are biased toward film geeks. Of course, I am a bit of a film geek, so it may be a moot issue, but the recommendations have been pretty good so far. It’s giving me lots of Fellini and Scorsese, most of which I’ve seen, but that’s pretty astute.

One objection I have to it so far is that it doesn’t separate violence from other “adult content.” I have no problem watching John Waters films or any other bizarre underworld stuff, drug references are no big deal to me, and language is just language. But I’d like to be able to separate that from violence as in, say, war movies. I appreciate that there are many great war movies out there, such as Platoon and Apocolypse Now, but I simply cannot imagine myself getting through them or, more to the point, getting through the night after watching them without nightmares.

Anyway, other than that, I’m quite taken with it. Try it yourself!

Garden State meta-review and filmmaking in general

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

We watched Garden State last night. I was a little nervous that the topic of parental death might be too hard for me to watch, but since it was billed as a comedy, I decided to take the risk. I’m so glad I did. What a delightful, refreshing, and engaging film that was!

I’ve seen several reviews comparing Zach Braff to Woody Allen. I don’t see the similarity, other than the fact that he’s Jewish — is that all it takes? To me, Braff appears more as a disciple of the Mike Nichols school of filmmaking, and that school can never have too many disciples. Every scene was beautifully lit, every shot was thoughtfully composed, every nuance in the story accented and supported by the surrounding detail. Very Mike Nichols indeed, but also very Sam Mendes following in Nichols’ footsteps, and Braff is young enough to have been influenced by even someone as young as Mendes.

Incidentally, I just happened upon Braff’s blog, with his latest entry about a week ago. There appears to be an LJ feed set up for it, too.

Before I wrap this up, while surfing for links, I found a great Mike Nichols quote on expressive filmmaking (emphasis mine):

I’ll tell you a very quick principle that I have come to believe is almost the most important principle of all of this: I worked with Dan Dailey long ago, directing him in a version of The Odd Couple, the play, and he told me that when he was at MGM, when he was a big musical star at MGM, they got lessons in everything. They had movement and they had voice and they had speech and they had telephone. And I said, “What did they teach you in telephone?” And he said, “In telephone you learned that if you were about to do a scene in which you get bad news, answer happy; and if you are going to do a scene in which you get good news, answer sad.” And I think of that as the MGM telephone principle. It’s amazing how often it comes up. It comes up in almost every scene-namely that you don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens. And the harder you are running in the opposite direction when it happens, the more expressive and interesting and colorful it is when it happens.

Outbid on the house

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

We heard back a few days ago that a serious renovator had outbid us, but the seller wanted to keep ours as a backup offer. This renovator was going to be doing his own inspection, so we’d know in a few days whether he’d be backing out.

Jenkins insisted that there was still a chance that he’d do just that, at which I wondered aloud if we’d want it when he was turning it down. She reassured me that his decision was going to be based on whether he could turn a quick buck on it, not whether he could — as we would — live in it for a few years, fixing it up gradually while building equity.

Anyway, he decided to proceed. And Jenkins says the sale is pending already so he must be paying cash.

So, to recap:

Within one day of its listing on the market, we got to see and bid on a house that ended up generating dozens of offers in a few short days. And ours was the second-best, beat out only by someone who clearly does this for a living and makes a great deal of money at it. That tells me a lot about the savviness of our agent. At least we’re finally working with the right person. The right house is sure to come sooner or later.

Being argumentative, my subconscious, and Daryl Hall

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

I think my subconscious is trying to prepare me for success in music. That’s why I keep having bizarre dreams that include run-ins with celebrities.

I just woke up from a dream in which I was one of the facilitators at some kind of conference retreat in a cabin by a beach. It must have been a long dream — I can vaguely approach some of the outlines of what happened earlier on — but the parts I remember were right at the end, just before I woke up.

I was supposed to be facilitating a session on some new or obscure language acquistion method (, I suppose this had something to do with your post the other day and our subsequent exchange) that basically insisted that everyone speak like Tarzan at the beginning: “Me Kate, English, teacher, you?”

To my great relief, my coworker Jill, who was one of the other facilitators, offered to take that session for me at the last minute so I could go lead her session on “Being Argumentative.” Why was she letting me lead it?

Because Daryl Hall was sitting in the room, ready to begin.

When I started the session, I had a little dream-within-a-dream where I saw myself beginning the session by admitting to being a huge, huge, HUGE fan of Daryl’s. In my mini-dream, it was obvious what a huge, huge, HUGE mistake that would be. I snapped back to “reality” and began the session by asking for intros around the circle. Daryl was clearly grateful to be being treated like everyone else.

Incidentally, shortly after the session began, a man I recognized walked by and a woman’s head with no body floated by beside him. I recognized the head, too, and said hello, and she and I chit-chatted for a minute before I turned back to my session. I have no idea what that section of the dream means.

From the “eschew obfuscation” school of communication…

Friday, January 28th, 2005

Quite possibly the most brilliant piece of technical writing I’ve seen all minute:

Yes/no
The “yes/no” data type can have two values: “yes” represents the affirmative and “no” represents the negative.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

We made an offer on another house yesterday morning. It’s going to be a tough one and may even turn into a bidding war. If that happens, we’ll step out. We already raised our offer yesterday afternoon to meet their asking price, but that’s as far as we want to go. It’s a great house (well, it will be after someone gives it the renovation it deserves), and Karsten and I are very hopeful, but we don’t want to get carried away and bid too much since it needs a lot of work.

But if you can spare any good luck wishes, we’d love to have ‘em!

Because I just went GAY all of a sudden!

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

I hope doesn’t mind me pimpin’ him, ’cause this is one of his best essay/rant things yet.

Burberry coat victory!

Monday, January 24th, 2005

Remember the Burberry coat I bought for $20 at a thrift store? Well, I listed it on eBay last weekend, and the auction ended tonight.

It sold for $104.39.

Rock on!

We went to a mall? / Burberry coat!

Sunday, January 16th, 2005

Karsten and I went to a mall yesterday.

Let me just say that again.

Karsten and I went to a mall yesterday.

We set foot in a mall maybe twice a year. But I saw in the Scene that there was going to be a Health and Fitness Fair at Cool Springs Galleria, and it sounded potentially interesting. So we went.

The fair was underwhelming, actually (although I did find out about Team In Training, which raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society — I’d still like to find something more targeted at melanoma*), but we made the best of our time at the mall, enjoying a quesadilla in the food court, and Godiva chocolates afterward.

Oh, and I got a makeover at the Benefit counter at Hecht’s! The consultant did a pretty good job, but I think I looked a little like a ho (I said that for you, ) when she was done. I had to pop into the nearest restroom afterwards and mop off about half of what she applied, but then it looked quite nice. And I admit, I learned a trick or two, and this Dr. Feelgood product that they have is really quite impressive for troublesome skin like mine. I was also pleased with the results of the BeneTint cheek & lip color (she only used it on my cheeks) — it had a really natural glow. Oh, and their brushes feel heavenly, but that’s because they’re sable. (The consultant claimed that they’re cruelty-free, but I’d love to find a non-animal-product set of brushes that feels that good.) Anyway, their stuff is definitely priced out of my current cosmetics budget. I may figure out a way to work Dr. Feelgood into my budget in the future, though. Surely I can make do with fewer shades of lipstick in exchange for the appearance of smoother skin. :-)

Karsten had fun browsing in The Buckle. I think something like five people have recommended that store to him, including, if I’m not mistaken, . It was a great recommendation — he definitely found some looks he was into. Now if only they’d go on a really, really good sale… like 97% off, or something. (We’re used to paying thrift store prices for clothes, remember?) But yeah, I’d totally love to see him in something like this. Yum.

After leaving the mall, we were all psyched for clothes, so we went thrift shopping. We each found some good stuff, but get this: I found a Burberry wool coat! I immediately thought “eBay!” It was $20 and I couldn’t decide, given the condition it was in (a few marks, no stains or anything, otherwise pretty good), if it would sell for much more than that. I bought it just in case, and checked eBay as soon as we got home. While the winning bids for Burberry coats are all over the place, I think it’s safe to guess that the lowest I should get for it is at least $40 or $50. Yay!

Take that, Cool Springs Galleria!

* Whoa. I just searched and found this page which is a walk that was taking place in Lemont, Illinois — where my sister lives. How weird. Doesn’t seem as if it’s still taking place though. I’ll have to keep looking.

State of the Kate

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

It has been brought to my attention by multiple people that I haven’t been posting. Thank you, multiple people, for missing me. :-)

I’ve been trying to keep focused on work while I’m at work, and to stay productive when I’m at home. One of my goals this year was to cut down on LJ and email use, after all, and I’m doing it. I set up a series of filtered friends lists that capture varying degrees of keeping up: the narrowest includes just a few close friends about whom I always want to know the latest. And the rest are increasingly broad. When I find myself with a little bit of time, I hit the personal friends list and read up. I try to comment, if I have enough time. If I have more time, I’ll hit the next broadest list, and so on. It seems to be working. I just haven’t been good so far at keeping my own journal updated within the pinched time constraints.

Anyway, here’s what’s going on in my offline world:

I’m working like a fiend. More to the point, I think I’m working like someone with something to prove. It isn’t that the hours are longer; I’m just hell-bent to get as much out of my day as possible. I don’t know if my motivations are healthy, but my results are great, so I’m not questioning it much.

Since my massage last Friday, I’ve actually been able to run again! I put in a slow 30 minutes (just under 3 miles) on the treadmill Monday morning and gave myself a day off Tuesday, just doing yoga/stretching/ballet at home before going to Starbucks (see next note). Then I ran another slow 30 minutes yesterday, and gave myself this morning off with just some pilates/stretching at home. Tomorrow I’ll run another slow 30 and take the weekend off completely. Then, if I’m able to, I’ll start a low daily mileage plan on Monday, with some strength training on low mileage days. I’m psyched! For the first time in four months, it looks like I might actually be able to run the half-marathon at the end of April.

I went to Starbuck’s Tuesday morning and, in ’s studious company, I worked on a million billion things. It was a super productive morning, even with the pleasant distraction of popping in to get his triple-shot whatever-it-is he gets that gets him buzzin’ like a nuclear generator, baby. :-)

Karsten and I are screening realtors. We want to find someone who can help us find a good investment house. Our thinking is that, whatever property we buy, we’ll renovate and flip it within a few years, and we’d ideally like to work with someone now who’ll work with us long term as we become more serious real estate investors.

Karsten finished a complete draft of the melody that goes with my favorite of all the lyrics I’ve ever written. I’ve been hearing sections of it while he’s worked on it, and I thought he was on the right track, but now that I hear it all together, I just love what he’s done with it. I almost cried when I heard it. It’s taken him a lot longer than most songs have because I think this style was a little bit alien to him. I wrote the lyrics and the dummy melody with a decidedly Hall & Oates influence, but it’s meant to be able to be covered as a pop-country song. I could hear in my head how that would work, but I had a bitch of a time getting it across to Karsten. Happily, he did something different from what I came up with, and, of course, it’s far better. It still needs polishing, but this one is getting demo’ed for sure. I have the MP3 of his scratch vocal demo on my Clie, and I’ve probably listened to it 20 times today. :-)

I say “thanks so much” at work a lot. I wonder if hears me saying it and if she does, if it makes her wince.

Friday evening miscellany

Saturday, January 8th, 2005

Karsten’s quote of the day lifetime:

“She’s having a happy fit in my pants!”

***

Got a massage today at Nashville Sports Massage on Church St. I went there to see if the guy could help me with my lingering hip troubles. He really dug in, and tonight my hip hurts, but maybe in a good way. I’m going to try running again mid-next week, so we’ll see.

***

Met with another lender today who offered a great deal, so we completed the application and other paperwork. We’re approved for more money with less down at a lower interest rate. So now we just have to find a new realtor and a new house.

***

Karsten is experimenting with bourbon. (Thanks a lot, and . ;-) ) The other day, he bought 1-ounce bottles of Woodford Reserve and Bulleit, and tasted each one tonight. According to him, the Woodford Reserve has a “harsher mouthfeel” (I taught him that word, thank you very much) than the Bulleit. The latter, however, is emphatically wonderful, apparently.

***

Oh, and my masseur? Also a songwriter. Welcome to Nashvegas, baby.

Scene It? and Napoleon Dynamite

Sunday, January 2nd, 2005

Karsten and I went over to ’s place last night to play Scene It? — and won, that lucky bastard. ;-) No, he obviously knows his movies — credit where credit is due — but he did get a couple of lucky rolls of the dice, too. And Karsten was the least lucky, dice-wise. After the game, we read through many of the questions and became increasingly frustrated with how easy that game is for a bunch of film buffs like the three of us. Too easy. I want an obscure film edition of the game with real challenge, like “name three directors who’ve made Dogme 95 films.” Now that would be a fun game. :-)

Anyway, afterwards, we watched Napoleon Dynamite, about which I’d been hearing glowing praise. I was expecting something really offbeat and excellent. It was offbeat, but I think it fell pretty short of excellent.

Thing is, I love quirky. I’m a big fan of quirky. True Stories is, after all, one of my favorite films. Napoleon Dynamite was quirky, but I dunno, it just didn’t have it all together, and I didn’t find it as funny as it could have been. It borrowed heavily from True Stories, significantly from Jim Jarmusch (especially Stranger Than Paradise), Ghost World, and postmodern cartoons like “Beavis & Butthead” and “South Park” (in fact, Karsten made an interesting comment that he thought this film would’ve worked better as an animation, and while I agree that that would have satisfying, I also think that approaching this film as an animation made into live-action may be key to appreciating it), but in the end, it just didn’t have the witty spark that each of those do.

It’s not without its merits, though, and I hope Jared Hess keeps at it. I think he’s onto something cool; I just want to see him take it further.

Prosody and God’s Will

Sunday, January 2nd, 2005

Something about that Martina McBride song “God’s Will” (written by Tom Douglas and Barry Dean) gives me chills, but it’s not the lyrics, interestingly enough. I find the lyrical story a bit of a turnoff, actually, since I’m not a believer. But that chorus melody and the cadence and internal rhyme resulting from the repetition of words like: “I’ve been searchin’, wonderin’, thinkin’, lost and lookin’ all my life” and “I’ve been wounded, jaded, loved and hated, I’ve wrestled wrong and right” — it just gets to me. I love well-placed prosody, and I love me some good-sounding words, even if what they mean as a whole doesn’t grab me.

Edit: the very end of the audio clip on Amazon.com has the very beginning of the section I’m talking about.

2005 Priorities and Resolutions

Sunday, January 2nd, 2005

One of the things we do on my team at work when we’re setting goals for a time period is to determine what our areas of focus (or “pillars”) for that period are; in other words, what overarching categories of activities take priority. In my personal life, the pillars for 2005 are pretty much the same as they were in 2004:

Improve my nutrition. In 2005, I think this means making it a priority to buy and prepare produce with more regularity; cook with beans more often (I love beans!); eat more raw veggies; snack on celery sticks and carrots instead of pretzel sticks; drink a little more water and a little less coffee and hot cocoa and beer.
Improve my fitness. I’d hoped that 2005 would be the year to run my first marathon, but, sadly, my lingering hip pain says I won’t be running anytime soon. So instead, this probably entails a continuing focus on non-impact cardio, resistance training, and yoga/pilates/dance.
Improve my finances. In 2005, this probably entails either buying and renovating a house (for long-term financial gain), or starting a business (whether it’s a consultancy or a restaurant or whatever) and trying to make money while watching our spending.
Improve and advance my songwriting. In 2005, this means making time to write more often, finishing more songs, setting money aside for demos, and pitching songs to people who have the ability to get them cut.

In general, it seems like most resolutions fall into two major categories: tasks or projects to accomplish, and behaviors to change. Here are four of each.

Tasks or Projects to Accomplish

Pitch at least one song to at least one publisher/producer/songplugger. It may sound like I’ve set the bar too low on this one, but I’m just trying to make this as attainable as I can. Implicit in that statement are quite a few prerequisite tasks: get a recent song demo’ed, make a bunch of phone calls until we get an appointment with someone, etc.

Research viability of opening a pizzeria/restaurant with . Even if we don’t decide to take it any further than talking about it, I want to be sure we’ve considered what it would take and how we might do it.

Bulk up my “scrap-files.” I don’t keep a scrapbook; I keep a file cabinet with a hanging folder for each year and filing folders for different memorable events or periods. I’d love to find some time to go back and write some memoirs and file them with the photos and other mementos. I also want to organize some of it into pages. Someday there may be a series of scrapbooks, but for 2005, my goal is just to add some depth to the files.

Visit my parents for short trips every few weeks or months. This year looks like it’s going to be tough for them with my dad’s cancer and neurological condition (whatever it is determined to be); I need to be there as often as I can to offer help and support.

Behaviors to Change

Spend less time on personal email and LiveJournal. At work, I obviously have other things that need doing, and I’m not interested in being a slacker. At home, I should be using at least some of that time to write songs or read or clean or organize or hang out with Karsten and the kitties.

Use LiveJournal for more productive purposes. If I’m going to use it so much, I might as well be using it to stir some creative thought or organize myself, even if those are private entries.

Listen and pay attention for song ideas. They’re everywhere, and sometimes I’m in the place where I can hear them around me. I need to be in that place all the time.

Load and unload the dishwasher more often. It may sound like a trivial thing, but I leave it up to Karsten 99% of the time, and I know he despises being in the kitchen. I love being in the kitchen, and I usually don’t mind doing the dishes. He does plenty of other household chores; I should pick this one up.

And of course, like any goals, these are subject to change.

Happy new year, everybody.