Saturday, May 19, 2007

96 degrees of separation

Who would've thought being by the equator would be so stinking hot?!

It's in the nineties with a bazillion percent humidity. I brought undershirts but voted against it later today because I wanted to stay cooler then look dryer after the meeting rush for the day was over. In an attempt to re-hydrate I kept grabbing water and was instantly infatuated with a lovely beverage named "Pocari Sweat." The salesman didn't see my constant humor in a drink actually named sweat, especially in my state of drippy stinkyness. It presented a whole list of questions just like everything else here that's foreign and bizarre and lost in translation. What is a Pocari and why is it's sweat so much better than drinking my own? Why am I paying for this privilege? Apparently it has something to do with it's ability to be an "ion supply drink." Does that mean it takes care of any static cling or potential lightening strikes in my digestive system? I found the true purpose for an ion supply drink is to make sweat bead up on my head-hood and roll off without leaving water spots. Excellent!

I was also happy to see another culture embracing the Monkey King. Our production manager for the pilot shoot in China kept thinking and talking about how much I had in common with the monkey king. She would mention it to friends and make comments based on my actions. I assumed the connection was purely physical but apparently the king is a mischievous super hero who straddles the dimensions between God and humans, thinking amusing others and himself is better than steady work. I can respect that. Of course the monkey king legend is throughout southeast Asia and talked about in many, many cultures. I shouldn't be surprised to bump into him and am proud to be associated with the title.

I had a dorian smoothie today for lunch. I knew what I was getting into but still wasn't prepared for the parade of aroma. If you're not familiar with the Dorian fruit, it holds nature's strongest smelling warning broadcasting of how inedible the meat of the fruit is. It doesn't really need it. The body alone is rock hard and spiky. I found it uncomfortable to hold one because it's so sharp.

Even with ice, sugar and other dessert filler the smoothie smelled like someone made a margarita by wringing out sweat socks into a glass and frosted the rim with sulfur instead of salt. It tasted more like an iced three egg omelet with extra onions and garlic. Not knowing the difference between a course and a condiment I saved a pile of red mish mash on my plate for last and popped it down in one big spoonful.

Apparently this is an inferno of delight ("Sambal Asal" if you're Indonesian) that is supposed to be spread throughout your plate to add burning goodness to your rice and other foodstuffs. The dorian ice drink was the only available extinguisher so I chugged it down and had an afternoon of burps that consistently tasted like something fermented in the bottom of my digestive tract. Not a flavor and smell you want coming from the front porch of your taste buds. It was made to escape out the back door.

The only other thing I found more amusing than the "ride the wild panda" children's ride is the rickshaw driver who apparently did enough winning laps around Jakarta to secure a Pennzoil endorsement. The competition is obviously life threateningly fierce but it looks like it's earned him custom clear taillights, a jacked up suspension and slick racing tires.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Squirrels w/a Million Dollar View

I'm on my way out to Jakarta, Indonesia for a spur of the moment prsentation. We're looking for funding in this China project I'm working on and one of the partners has contacted someone he's done business with in the past who has the ability to bring in millions of dollars. He agreed to take a meeting and invite some other investors so I'm in L.A. on a long layover.

Got up at 4 AM, arrived in the city of angels around 9 and started the ritual I like to do with long layovers. Picked up a rental car and had breakfast at Dinah's off the 405 and Sepulveda. Then I dragged my friend Dave to the Sunset strip and we checked out all the guitar shops. Sam Ash, Carvin, Mesa Boogie, the collectors room at Guitar Center, on and on.

We had a great lunch with my friend Lauralee Farrer who's the editor of publications at Fuller in Pasadena and talked about movie projects she's working on. Shared sympathy for a 35mm film based feature she'll be paying off for the next year that's come to a dead end, the juicy documentary about free trade here and in Africa that she's editing, the state of the Scrapped and the stuff I've been shooting in China.

Shot down to Santa Monica for a visit with D.David Morin to have the stereotypical LA dinner at Musha off Wilshire and 4rth. Sushi, sake and then drinks and coffee on the promenade. Lots of fun to catch up with him, hear more about a suspenseful who-dun-it feature he's gearing up for and pretty much had a whole day of feeling like some kind of movie guy hanging out in LA. :0)

Two crazy things I saw were a great singer selling CD's in the street. Spectacular voice, no record deal but working on it. I forget what an entertainment industry mecca this place is and the caliber of talent hanging out in the street.

The other thing was the squirrels that I've never noticed living on the bluffs next to Santa Monica pier. They have some of the most expensive real estate of any squirrels on the planet. Sitting there watching the waves roll in I saw a mamma pop her head up, then slowly four more tiny replications creeped up and scratched around in the dirt.

Returned back to LAX late in the evening to catch our 1:40 AM flight to Tai Pei. Nobody at Malaysian Air seemed to be in a huge hurry so we sat in line for several hours checking in while our departure time came and went. Three hours of sleep then up at 4:00 AM, long day layover in LA ( that's what happens with a short notice flight and connecting two airlines ) then back on a plane and taking off about 23 hours later only to cram my big butt in a seat for 14 hours straight over the pacific, then another 6-7 hours worth of flying and brief layovers in Kuala Lampur then eventually Jakarta.

Long day of traveling. Three days of meetings and presentations with some people then back on the plane to do it all over again in reverse. Jakarta to Kuala Lampur to Tai Pei to Los Angeles to Dallas / Ft. Worth to Minneapolis.

That's life in the media biz of the global economy. Living on your charge card and booking the cheapest flights you can find, living the life of a rock star on the budget of a street performer until you get your big break.

PS> I you want to use some western style toilet paper in a Malaysian airport you better make sure you have some Malaysian change in your pocket or you're sh!t out of luck. ;0)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Silver, Gold and Burgandy Screen.

In a search for a distributor for Scrapped I ended up meeting and talking with some people from Shadow Creek Studios here in Minneapolis. They're a new, hip, more artistic startup division of an established, professional and diverse Braun Media ( BMS Digital. )

I was invited by Chris and Josh who head up Shadow Creek and are also film makers themselves to the premiere of their new release "It Came from Another World" which is the kind of 50's era monster movie that these two specialize in.

It was funny, it was campy and the people watching was almost as much fun as the movie. I'm pretty much a hermit and like sticking to myself. I watch movies at home but was reminded of the energy that peaks when you're in a theater and see a movie as an event. Hearing people laugh at funny parts made me laugh even longer. Hearing the surprise of a mass of people made me jump a little higher and the best part was I could just show up and enjoy myself. No running around wondering if everything was going to work properly.

The evening festivities were at "The Heights" theater just North of downtown Minneapolis. It's a restored tribute to the 40's era of cinema with all the trimmings. If you live here in the Twin Cities you might want to check out their upcoming one week run of Gone With the Wind shown on a real 35mm print so you're getting the full on retro movie experience for $8 a ticket.

We filed into the theater, watched a preview of upcoming Shadow Creek projects, watched an old school Popeye cartoon and the movie kicked in, then mixing and mingling with cocktails and food. I snagged a picture with Chris Mihm the writer, director and editor of the project but was only able to get a distance shot with Josh Craig the star and co-conspiritor in the onslaught against corporate media. ;0)

Sorry, my face does weird things in front of cameras...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lunch in Canada

With a spark of decent weather I was inspired to sneak off for a quick bike ride last weekend. A business partner for this China project was in town from San Jose, CA all weekend so I didn't think I'd have chance but he took some other meetings Friday night and Saturday morning so a brief window of time opened up.

Friday morning I thought it would be nice to get out in the northwoods and have lunch in Canada. I finished up some work, swapped out the seat, tank insert and "tour pack" storage bag on the bike then took off in a hurry. Didn't check the weather, didn't pack much ( just overnight right? ) but remembered to bring extra CD's, socks and rain gear just in case. I got to use it right away...

The weather kept getting colder and clouds turned to sprinkles then gave way to rain. My biking buddy Walter and I used to say when driving in the rain, "well... you can only get so wet" but after a few years of driving to Sturgis or other out in the middle of nowhere trips with just wet jeans, soaked shoes and a jacket it changed expanded to "but you can get really, really cold." I ended up putting on all the clothes I brought with me.

It was a total re-charge for my system to be able to get out in the woods with not too many cars around and open up the throttle for long periods of time. Coming back down to 2 lane speeds of 60 mph feels like crawling but helps you enjoy the scenery. :0)

One fine example of the upstanding urban centers of northern Minnesota is Orr. It has the convienience of having the bank, the grocery, the laundromat, the butcher, the gas station, the A&W and the bait shop all under one roof. The parking lot also shares the public access for the lake. Wonderful! We've got so much lakefront property up here we can build a gas station on it. Minnesota is called the "Land of 10,000 lakes" but according to some surveys and websiteswe've got 15,291 lakes of 10 acres or more, almost 5,000 square miles of water. ( Click here to check some other not so interesting info. )

With my three layers of clothes I made it to Canada for lunch. You know you're in the great white north when you see a Robin's Donuts, eh? Funny thing about the border crossing. Canada was guarded by a charming 20-something young woman who must have weighed about 105 pounds ( 47-48 kilos ), was very pleasant and suggested a fabulous Chinese resteraunt. No line at all. Returning home to the motherland involved 2 armed guards at my checkpoint behind two lines of several cars, interrogation and eventually being detained while my bike was emptied and inspected. I was asked on three seperate occasions if I "Had any knives, firearms or any other weapons in my vehicles or on my person." I've cleaned up my act a little because of business meetings with corporate raiders related to this China thing. Even with no earrings and sideburns and a grandpa style bike I still seemed suspect. Do I look like some kind of pshychotic gun toting nut job?

So this is where my federal tax money and massive budget deficate is going... and there wasn't a border patrol on duty that didn't look like he spent plenty of time ammassing an extra 60 pounds of mass at Robin's Donuts in Fort Frances.

I scrambled to Duluth in the dark and rain to stay at my mom's place and check in. I don't think I've been there since we shot the Scrapped scene last year. We talked about her mothers death and her families oddities that pop out durning the stress of loosing a loved one. Then we found a common interest in the TV show "Lost." Crazy.

Took off the next morning in the rain with a temp reading from a bank sign at 41 degrees. ( 5 degrees centigrade ) It was better than having to drive in snow. Just made it home in time to shave, put on a tie and make it to a lunch meeting. Life is good.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Birth of Scrapbooking?

I received an email last week that got we wondering were the surge in scrapbooking started. This email was typical of many I get asking why I didn't put someone's particular product, style, region or them personally in Scrapped. This was a double header because it also combined the emails I get about where the birth of the full on, popular, product laden scrapbooking movement started.

"I understand that you've included a lot about Creative Memories, but I wonder some things, too, since I've never seen the movie. Did you also include anything about how the industry started, with Marielen and A.J. Christensen's store Keeping Memories Alive as the pioneer scrapbook supply store (from back in 1981)?"

"If you didn't include anything about the first store in your movie, would you be okay with filling my curiosity in about why not?"

When I was writing the script I kept finding conflicting reports about Latter Day Saints in Utah going acid free in 1976, Rhonda Anderson jump starting the scene for the general public two decades ago and other claims to fame. You can actually find documentation of people scrapbooking in the 1700's. Should they be discounted as early scrapbookers because they didn't have technology or understanding of acid / lignon free products? Especially if nowadays people embellish a 12 x 12 page with anything the cat dragged in. ;0)

What about Thomas Jefferson or Samuel Clemmons who actually had a patent for self adhesive scrapbook pages 135 years ago? Put that into terms of the technology at the time and he was as advanced as anything today in my mind.

What are your thoughts on this? What do you know? I want to hear what you think. It's probably an unanswerable question but I'd like to hear the perspective of some hard core croppers.