on to the next project that will encompass my entire waking life for the next several weeks

Filmtoberfest was this past Saturday, so that explains my: a) lack of blog posts, b) lack of sleep, c) lack of a balanced diet, d) lack of a social life, e) any other number of reason why I’ve been general weird(er).

The night went off with minimal hitches, and they were all technical, so – as the Artistic Director – they were officially Not My Problem. We screened nine films in total: Naked and Pigmalion, two shorts by QLP-alum Juan Riedinger, Jack of Hearts directed by Robert Tunold, Bored Game from 4 Cooks and directed by Daniel Zwiercan, the animated The Other Side, directed by another QLP-alum, Jennifer Guglielmucci, 3.8 Litres Per Flush directed by Christopher Westendorf, The Little Girl directed by Dae-Youn Hwang, Boxed In directed by Kial Natale, and, of course, QLP’s latest, Red Hood directed by Joe Verde and starring Becca Strom and David Quast. So many people came up to me to tell me how impressed they were by the films and by the evening in general, so hopefully this is the start of something special (and a great confirmation that we, QLP, should continue to do what it is we do). I would love to keep something like this going annually, so keep tabs on QLP!

too busy to overthink trivial things so i thus must underthink the extremely important

So I’ve been hectically planning for Filmtoberfest, which lands in approximately three weeks. I’m on schedule, but I can’t help but be stressed to the hilt. Even as I write this, with full intention not to recapitulate the minutia of details about what exactly I need to do, I can’t help but feel as though I need to list everything. But I won’t. There. I’ve stopped myself. Good.

The QLP area of my life has generally been pretty rewarding lately. The Year Without Hockey has been accepted into the Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival in Bay City, Michigan. It’s running October 1 – 4, 2009, so if you’re in the Bay City area around that time, be sure to check it out. I contemplated going myself, but have a myriad of forces working against me. Among their ranks: lack of funds, lack of ability to take more time off work, Filmtoberfest being the very next weekend. Argh. Next time. Next time.

Since this is really exciting news, and since the partner of one of YWH’s lead actors (Dennis Thomas) is a media personality for DCTV (Deneka Michaud), Jason and I are being interviewed a la maison de mes parents ce soir. (I don’t know if that French is correct, but we’re being interviewed at my parent’s house tonight.) Should be exciting! I have no idea when it’s airing, but it should be sometime in the next few weeks. There’s a little, inflated-ego part of me that thinks, “Oh, another interview, how cute,” but that’s really not true. I’m so excited that I almost typed “super excited,” as though I were a fourteen-year-old with freckles and a lisp.

Despite all this pseudo-celebrity activity, I’ve actually felt that utter gaping hole in the middle of my soul that comes with a realization that, despite everything, I haven’t really written anything for a couple of weeks. Those XKCD comics? Brilliant, but an easy way to dodge original content or creativity. Kinda like when the teacher used to call on you in class and you’d respond by asking another question. I have also found this delightful website, overthinkingit.com, which does exactly what every other blog on the internet does, BUT WITH STYLE. I spent the better part of a Sunday catching up on Overthinking Lost. I miss my random insights into things that are absolutely not profound whatsoever. It helps me organize the thoughts I think. My thoughts are always so obscure and chaotic; so Abstract and Random, that by forcing myself to write about them literally forces me to put them in a sequential order, with concrete meaning (I’m not even going to go off on a tangent about Semiotics or Derrida, even though I could, and the randomness of my brain just connected this with a million other Structural vs Post-Structural thoughts). Writing – about anything – is how I organize my thoughts, how I make sense of the world and all its complexities. I think that’s an easy thing to say about all art… and science even. Is the opposite of science faith or art? Or all they just different bubbles on a brainstorming chart, none with priority over the others, just different ideas – with one precarious figure at the centre…

XLII

PS I’ve started rereading Hitchhiker’s

obsessive compulsive sunburns and other hazards of writing outdoors in july

FADE INTO:

EXT. RAJALA FAMILY HOME – TEN AM, SATURDAY.

ASHLEIGH has woken up at her sister’s place. BRIANNE having already left for work, she is sleeping off a late night spent watching random Michael Cera movies. That theme was accidental, not planned, total coincidence (but Nick and Norah is still ASHLEIGH’S favourite, even though he will always be George Michael Bluth to her). She tells herself she will have a cup of coffee outside in the sunshine, feed the cats, then be on her way. She has some errands to run, chores to do, a barbeque to be at later – this should a normal midsummer’s afternoon. While she sits with her coffee, she starts zoning out, thinking about a film premise that Jason and her had tossed into discussion a few years ago and relegated to the One-Day-We-Will-Expand-On-This Pile. So she grabs a single sheet of folscap paper and thinks she will jot down her one or two silly ideas.

CUT TO:

INT. RAJALA FAMILY LIVING ROOM – THREE AM, SUNDAY

BRIANNE has returned home for the last time that day, having gone to the barbeque-turned-Balderdash tournament without her sister. ASHLEIGH is sitting on the couch, using a Physics textbook for a lapdesk, piles of papers and drawings and notes stacked on the coffee table in front of her. Wired on coffee, sunburned across one half of her body from sitting at the patio table in the bright sun all day, right hand aching but powering through the cramps, (Fanboys on for the second time as background noise), literally and utterly unable to stop writing. She is possessed by some sort of demonic muse, surely. When she wakes the next morning the outside of her right pinkie’s knuckles will be swollen from being pressed against the table all day. Hands covered in smudged ink….

It was glorious. If only I can keep this up.

the great beyond of postmodernity

I was reading an interesting article at broken pencil, called Zines Are Dead: the Six Deadly Sins That Killed Zinery, by Chris Yorke. While the article summarized and divided the great cultural change of the late-nineties into six easy-to-read words, each a harbinger of death for zine culture, I think the death of zines can either be summarized in one simple word (“Internet”), or it is so emblematic of an entire social landscape that it is impossible to define.

Whether works of art or frenzied outlets, zines came to encapsulate the look and feel of the postmodern age. They are full of contradictions: intensely individual, yet photocopied into oblivion; falling on any subject or in any setting, but always immediately identified as subcultural; each one new, original, unique, but always appearing as if composed of varying bits of pop culture dissected unapologetically with a hacksaw (hey, wait, that’s the name of MY zine!). They are timeless and timely, meaningless pastiche and meaningful art.

As personal and handmade as they are, zines have always relied on technology, namely the magic of the photocopier. Was their decline and death in the (as Yorke puts it) late nineties, really a death or simply an attachment to another technology? From Xerox to the Interwebs. Is it that the creative/fanboy/activist/artistic/fangirl/political/underground outlets zines provided has simply been replaced by online outlets, such as this blog? If so, is the ordinary zinester satisfied? To me, there’s still a feeling that something’s missing.

I didn’t really understand until I made What I Did On Saturday Afternoon, as I cut and glued and drew and wrote and compiled. Not only did I feel like I was tapping into an unmined source of creative potential, but I felt a thrill in the creation I don’t think I’ve felt since sometime in high school. I felt connected to my work. I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone else, but the feeling of alienation was lessened. There was something in each square centimetre of that photocopied paper that I recognized as my own, that I connected with, that made it feel not only just something I’d written or created, but something that was a part of me. I created that thing in an afternoon, and it felt more like me than the book I spent years writing and months laying out and weeks waiting to arrive in the mail from the publisher.

I’m not sure how coherant the whole thing is, but it makes me think of photographs. This transition to digital imagery, while convenient as hell, still doesn’t make the photographs seem real. Even when they’re printed off the computer, they still seem fake. I need a hand-developed old-fashioned photograph to make it seem like a valid memory. Everything else feels false somehow. Perhaps I am overstating that, but I think there is some truth to it.

oh my god, i’m blogging again

So here I type. First entry. Cigar between teeth gonzo style. This, however, is not gonzo journalism. This is simply me trying to organise my thoughts, which in and of itself is a proverbial strange trip. Let’s see; I can easily breakdown the thoughts that continue to run through my head into five basic groups: (1) Quarter-Life Productions,  (2) Hacksaw, (3) the impending Euro-trip, (4) Work and other general ennui, and, (5) Everything Else.

(1) Quarter-Life Productions

QLP, to be less precise. Well, forget the details of the last two and a half years, how about the last two and a half months. Fuck. What a series of ups and downs. The rollercoaster simile does not do it justice, and thus nothing else will. Last weekend, we launched (Jason says “launched” in his business-like producer-speak, I say “premiered,” wearing my artisan/director hat) our third short film, The Year Without Hockey. The prophetic journey there had its potholes in the road. With a few days before we had to submit the DVD proofs to get them pressed, Graeme’s computer crashed, with everything but the films on it. Argh. And then we solved that problem, but then we had a whole issue where, two days beforehand, our venue tried to cancel on us. Argh. But it worked out. I even got a call the day before, while at work, from CBC RADIO wanting me to do a live interview. After about three hours of shitting my pants, I called in and was on the radio, talking about my film. One third of me felt too nervous and shocked to even react; another third of me felt on top of the world, like the clock on my fifteen minutes just began to tick; the last third of me felt like any second now they were going to call my bluff or realise that I was just lil’ ole me from North Delta playing “movie director” in my backyard with an old camcorder. I still haven’t heard what I actually said, and all I remember of it was hearing everyone I work with crowded around a computer on the other side of the room listening to my interview streaming live off the internet.

(2) Hacksaw

Hacksaw Literary Arts Magazine, to be more precise. The first issue is well underway (“well,” of course, being that oh-so-subjective term used to denote the fact that we’ve started, but still have a lot of work to do in order to be considered “finished.”). At that late stage of “quarter-life,” where QLP seemed really like the beginning of the solution to many of the mid-twenties problems, Hacksaw is a much different direction in which to take my rambling sense of art and aesthetics. The older I get the more I realise the truth in Joe Stummer’s words (see “Everything Else”), “Without people, you’re nothing.” I have been so incredibly lucky to find one person that perfectly compliments myself in making QLP the success it has been so far (“success” also being ambiguously subjective), that to find another that compliments myself in my crazy ‘zine stylings is just so insanely lucky that I feel an array of contractions. Usually when you start a venture such as this, like with any relationship, you usually get a gut feeling right off the bat as to whether or not it’s destined to burn out quickly or to be something long, substantial, and fulfilling. I’ve really only known Taryn Hubbard for less than a year, but she was one of those rare people you meet that you just really click with. I think a week after working together, someone else we work with said, “You guys are, like, the same person!” Day one of sitting beside each other at our menial file clerk jobs and we got on the topic of postmodern literature. The med student sitting beside us said, “I have no idea what you guys are talking about but it sounds really smart.” Not to say that we are, but we can rattle things off to each other without having to worry about context or backstory- those irritating nitty-gritty bits that usually plague a blooming friendship. We have so much in common: interests, histories, values, ambitions. Anyway, cut to several months later, after discussing everything we want to do with our allegedly creative selves, we thought, “Fuck, let’s just do it.” And thus, with a punk-rock ethos, Hacksaw was born. Now, the contradictions appear because everything’s just going so well. The endless riding of waves that swiftly break upon a rocky shore that pretty much sum up anything we try to do with QLP has me prepared for something to go wrong. Everything that seems too good to be true usually is. Where’s the fucking catch? I feel like I’m hunting around for it like a dog who knows he has a bone hidden somewhere in this backyard.

(3) The Impending Euro-Trip

On August 10, I’m going to Europe. For how long exactly is TBD. I bought a one-way ticket to Paris, and (as I’ve rattled off to several semi-interested people) from there I go to Spain, then Morroco, then London, where I meet up with my sister, Brianne.  We board a bus to Munich for Oktoberfest, then on to Amsterdam, where I will celebrate my 25th birthday, and Bri was instructed by my mother to buy me a birthday “cake.” Then, we make our way through Benelux to Paris again to check out Disneyland Paris (the third Disney theme park Bri will have visited in as many seasons), then we bum our way out east, hitting up Italy, Greece and other southeastern countries before arriving in Transylvania, Romania, where we will be in the village where Vlad Dracul was born just in time for Halloween. From there we make our way north, through Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, etc, to Finland, where we have family. While in Finland, I will make a side trip to St. Petersburg in Russia. From Finland, we are going back west across Scandinavia to England once again, where we may or may not spend Christmas. This is the plan, but we know nothing goes according to plan. That might just be the fun of it. Needless to say, I’m a little scared shitless. There’s nothing like jumping in the deep end and learning to swim on the way up. Sink or swim. I’ll probably bellyflop, but that’s always a learning experience, too. I have also made attempts to wean my vegetarian stomach back into the possibility of eating meat. I’ve quarrelled with my ethics over this one, and have decided that as I will often not have any choice but to eat meat or starve, I don’t want “stomach troubles” anywhere in Europe, thank you. I’m also a firm believer in the saying you haven’t really been somewhere until you’ve had the food. Since I really want to learn about the places I’m visiting, in a see-how-people-live way, rather than a hit-up-every-museum way, I will regret it if I restrict myself in anyway. Bri has also used this trip to Amsterdam to similarly wean herself onto weed. I guess we all know our strengths and weaknesses. Anyway, this blog is primarily intended for just this trip, and I’m taking my laptop with me, yuppie-style. If I write anymore about it now, I will just freak myself out. I leave soon, but I have a couple of more weeks before I really need to plan stuff, right? Ha.

(4) Work and Other General Ennui

“I hate the civil service rules,” to borrow a more idealistic phrase from the Clash. Ugh, work. Overall, I like my job, but I often feel that I am simply a cog in a machine. Not even a deus ex machine either, but a bureaucratic, “I process noise-violation complaints” type of machine. I can’t really complain, as I only really have myself to complain to and even then I would want to tell myself, “Suck it up, Princess.” I hate people that complain about our job, but really they are getting paid twice as much as someone with the same job in the private sector, get better benefits, and don’t get in trouble when they take two hour lunch breaks. Our job is sweet in and of itself, and the people I work with are awesome. If I’m not happy, I can get a different job. But I am happy enough. So you want to be an independent filmmaker or start your own magazine? Lesson one: Get a good day job. Done.

(5) Everything Else

Last night I saw Gonzo, directed by Alex Gibney, the new documentary about Hunter S. Thompson, so pardon my reference earlier. I’ve also just got my copy of The Future is Unwritten: Joe Strummer, directed by Julien Temple, in the mail, and have watched that, too. I just finished reading The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town, by Marcus Gray, so needless to say, I’ve been listening to the Clash a lot. A lot. Now this is nothing really new in my life, but I do seem to go in phases. I’m either in a normal phase. Or I’m in a Clash phase. It comes and goes, but the cycles are never really that long. Anyway, I’ve also been watching a lot of old movies lately. I simply mention this because what I currently am watching, reading and listening to often tends to form a frequently referred to wrinkle in my brain. You can’t escape it. I need to get out more. Good thing I’m going to Europe. There’s no point in trying to form some sort of big-picture mentality right now, when it will simply all change in a month or so.