“The object of a question is to obtain information that matters to us, and no one else.”
- Sean Connery as William Forrester in "Finding Forrester"

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

It's a Sickness

For those of you who know me, or have been following my posts, know that I am a movie person. I've always loved movies of all kinds and, over the past 5 years or so I've made for myself a respectable collection.

I noticed back when I was in college, though moreso after I got my own place after graduation, that I have a bit of a habit going. For some people, whenever they feel depressed or overwhelmed, or just plain bored, they reach for food - or whatever the "comfort" object/substance may be. For me, it's movies. They are my mode of escape from the world in which I live. Whenever I get bored, lonely, and/or depressed I head out to peruse the shelves of DVDs and will almost always pick up at least 2, if not more. It's my own little piece of the OCD pie.

Today was no exception. Around noon I was thinking to myself, "I have 8 hours until The West Wing, I could go anywhere, do anything..." What did I do? You guessed it: I ran down to the video store and picked up some movies. Generally, I give myself a budget to make sure I don't overdo it. Often, I see so many that I want to get that it makes for a really tough decision and I have to set some aside for next time. Well, recently I made up a wish list of movies I want to get, and damnit if so many of them were just sitting there. It made the decisions extra hard this time. I went through a number of configurations trying to get the best mix of movies and still be within my budget. I got it down to deciding between two movies and I'd be all set. Just then, I saw another movie that I'd been looking for for a long time and picked it up too. Now that I was sure to be overbudget, and not wanting to put back two, I got all three - on top of the others.

After all was said and done I got 7 new movies. To my credit, though, most of them were $9.99 or under. My spoils this time around include:

What can I say? I'm a movie person...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Friendly Reminder

For those of you in the US - aside from anyone in Arizona, Hawaii, parts of Indiana, or some of the territories - remember to turn your clocks back one hour due to the return to Standard Time from Daylight Savings Time tonight at 2am, or so. I wouldn't want you to be late for anything tomorrow.

Enjoy your extra hour! Do something fun and different with it!

A Good Day

After spending a couple of weeks out of town working, it was good to have today off. I caught up on some sleep, ran a few errands, reconnected with an old friend (after about 2 years), and went to a late movie with a good friend.

This past week has been a smooth, yet difficult one, to be kind. I spent 3 days with a group of, let's just say, interesting people. (I'll decline from using the group's name to protect our business relationship.) This past week was their annual statewide gathering and we provided their projection needs as well as produced a short video slide show of one of their more important functions. Aside from that, and the wonderful feedback we received from those in charge and those assembled, it was a strange time. From what I can gather, the main purpose of this event was to formally introduce people, thank everyone for saying wonderful things about you when you were introduced, dress up in fancy evening wear, and report back on similar - though smaller - gatherings across the state. And there I was right in the middle of it. Exposed. In a way only a cameraman can be.

I found it hard to sleep. With the rather uncomfortable bed, the spirited late night conversations that echoed through the entire hotel, and the haunting images as I dreamt of being in that room sitting through a never ending series of sessions which accomplish absolutely nothing. (It reminded me of my General Conference experience of dreaming about debating petitions, stemming from nonstop committee meetings, plenary sessions, and speaking only in Robert's Rules for two weeks.) That definitely does not put one in a restful state.

I felt somewhat claustrophobic the entire time. My camera position placed me on the aisle with participants on all sides - well, three sides mostly, though during some of the grand processions I was completely boxed in - and I didn't have much room to move. I felt entirely under-dressed and like I was constantly being watched. Thank God it's over!

So anyway, back to what made today good... At this horrendous event, I ran into the mother of an old friend from high school. We didn't go to the same school but we were both a part of our conference's CCYM. We became fast friends because of the excellent meshing of our senses of humor. We're certainly not a lot alike in many other ways - he's a heavy metal guitarist and I'm not so much, etc. - but we were inseparable at meetings and events. Let's just say that we caused a lot of trouble. Anyway, his mom told me that he was back in town working and I decided to drop in to surprise him. And he was shocked. We were only able to catch up for about an hour but we're definitely going to set something up for later next week.

Afterwards, I drove across town to meet up with another friend to see The Weather Man with Nicholas Cage. I was somewhat expecting it to be a somewhat corny, feel-good movie but I didn't anticipate just how funny it was going to be. I don't really see Nicholas Cage as being a comedic actor, though he always has some humorous lines in his movies, and there was some real depth to the character too. There were some portions that I think it could've left out but it was certainly an enjoyable movie.

All in all, today was a good day. Just what I needed. As I've said too many times, I've been longing for friendship. Not to diminish the meaning of any of the relationships I have with any of my friends out there, I'm glad that I have added another to my circle. (Though, when considering local friends, it's now somewhat more like a triangle when it used to be a line segment.) There have been some downers this week too: the husband of a person I've worked with passed away suddenly and I missed the funeral because I was out of town, and my dad's childhood home was pretty much lost in a fire. But, in an attempt not to end everything on a negative note, with all the ups and downs in this cycle of life I feel as though I am beginning a gradual incline and it is a welcome change from the lows of the past weeks.

I can't wait to see what the next steps will bring.

Friday, October 21, 2005

One of Those Moods

I've been in one of those moods today. You know the one: you're not tired but you feel really lathargic, you're not sad but your not excited about anything, you're not alone but you feel lonely. It came over me today and I haven't been able to shake it.

I live a fairly solitary life. As I've said before, though I don't want to be repeating myself, I don't do a lot of socializing and spend most of my free time watching movies and tv or hiking by myself. My post from earlier in the week has kind of stuck with me since. I spoke of not feeling like I had the kinds of friendships I want/need/hope for - with very few exceptions. I was reminded this week of a comment an ex had, which I wrote about before in the old journal on my website. During one of our conversations I mentioned that I was going to see a movie over the weekend and she asked, "which one?" and I told her and she followed up by asking, "who are you going with?" to which I replied, "no one, just me." She couldn't have been more shocked. She couldn't imagine how someone would go to the movies by themselves. "That's so sad, " she said - though, not in a pathetic sort of way, just...sad.

I've always been sort of a loner, I guess. It hasn't been by choice, necessarily - though I would sometimes rather be by myself - but going solo has liked me. Because I'm such an introvert and, says my mom, I have always been able to occupy myself I haven't had to rely on other people in order to enjoy a show or movie or hike. Don't get me wrong, I would almost always prefer to do those things with others. But I've learned to make do and entertain myself.

Also, something that has got me thinking about my own loneliness was finding out that another friend of mine - a younger co-worker from a camp I used to work at - has recently set a date for his wedding next March. Now, this guy is one of the nicest I've ever known and I am so happy for him. But, like other singles, I'm jealous as hell too. It's coming up on the 3rd wedding anniversary of another pair of (younger) co-workers from the same camp who got married around the time I was in Kenya. And a pair of clergy who used to be my counselors/youth advisors recently got engaged too. (Again, so happy for them.)

I get tired of hearing the lines, "there's someone out there for you," or, "when you meet the love of your life, and you will," or, "you've still got time," or, "I read the average age for men to get married is 27, so you've got a couple of years." It's not that I dismiss the support of those who say that to me, it's just that it's not helpful. When I went to the movies with my parents my mom said to my dad, "I guess there will be no necking," (since we were sitting together) and I said, "not unless you find me someone too." It reminds me of another time when I drove my dad to the theater to meet my mom for a movie after work and she thanked me for bringing her date, to which I replied, "if you wanted to thank me, why didn't you bring me one?" I'm not trying to sound depressing, I just know that when the timing is right you have to take advantage of the moment and deliver the funny line.

I'm not sure where I was going with all of this but I'll just finish up by saying that even though I'll meet her someday, I don't feel like I can say that I know that I will. Sometimes I fear that I will never meet her and I'll be like this indefinitely. And there's nothing anyone can really say to change that. After all, who knows for sure that the contrary will happen?

I hate not knowing...

Film Review: North Country

To get away and relax between two very busy weeks, I took off early and joined my parents at the movies.

North Country starring Charlize Theron is the powerful story of a woman who only wanted to make a good life for her children. Facing obstacle after obstacle - an abusive husband, an emotionally absent father, and a rebellious son - Josie Aimes decided to start her life over and took a job at a northern Minnesota mine. From the very first day, Josie comes to realize just how tough her job is going to be as she makes her way through a hostile male-dominated workplace in the early 80s. After repeated acts of sexual harassment and assault, Josie takes matters into her own hands and sues the company for its treatment of all of the female employees.

Based on the true story of a landmark sexual harassment case, North Country is a heavy film to watch. Nearly every male character - aside from burned out lawyer Woody Harrelson, compassionate father figure Sean Bean and a few other minor parts - exhibits the despicable traits of sexism, often making it very frustrating to watch as a seemingly unending barrage of offenses are thrown at the women of the movie. Aside from Theron's strong-willed, yet vulnerable portrayal of Josie Aimes is the wonderful supporting role of the ever-amazing Frances McDormand as the wise union rep who takes Josie in.

The film is told in a broken format where scenes from the trial are interwoven with episodes of Josie's experience as well as the unfolding story of a high school trauma. This style is adequately done and does not get in the way of the story. One of the only negative aspects of the film, from a storyteller's perspective, was the final couple of minutes - prior to the "where they are now" paragraphs that one is accustomed to seeing at the end of these docu-dramas. This short scene seemed unnecessary and took a little away from the climactic, though somewhat predictable, courtroom scene and subsequent denouement.

Some viewers have said that this movie is a poor attempt by Hollywood to present the issue of sexual harassment and doesn't do enough to represent the realities - particularly by "seeing a beautiful woman uglied" in "a typical courtroom drama with manipulative music and adorable children". Sometimes the realities of life are just too harsh to be fully explored through film. While North Country may not do justice to the graphic nature of what actually happened - or, sadly, what may continue to happen elsewhere - it succeeds in saturating the viewer's experience with the issue and bringing it to the forefront of your mind in a way somewhat reminiscent of Philadelphia.

The film has a solid cast and script but its Oscar-worthiness may fall short of some expectations. I enjoyed this movie - inasmuch as one can enjoy a movie about sexual harassment and assault - and definitely recommend it without reservation. Look for Theron's reliable vulnerability and courage alongside McDormand's impressive performance.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Last Friday I came to a good stopping point with what I was working on so I decided to call it a day. My dad had a late-day meeting and my mom was home from work so we had the chance to sit down, just the two of us, and chat for about an hour before my nephew was dropped off for the weekend.

My mom and I have always had a special bond. I wouldn't say that I'm her favorite - parents don't have favorites, right? - but we've always been pretty close. When I was younger, my dad would have evening meetings at the church and my brother would always be at Boy Scouts or some school rehearsal so it was pretty common to find my mom and I hanging out together. (This is probably why I like movies so much and why I'm more sensitive than your average straight man.)

We talked about our earliest memories: her, around 2 years old with her mom churning butter in the kichen and killing a snake that was going after and my uncle, and sheep in the front yard (her early years were spent on a ranch in Colorado); and me, cuddling up in a blanket my mom made for me when I was about 3 or so. I listened as she talked about how strict her mother was and how little privacy she had was relished, even during nursing school and after she moved into her own apartment. At that point, we began talking about relationships some. She told me something that I'd never heard before, that even though she enjoyed her freedom and had fun being by herself - given the control of her mom - she often felt as though no one liked her. It was interesting to learn because I've found that I feel that way a lot too.

I don't think it's a self-esteem issue because I am both conscious and proud of my gifts and talents and see their value, but particularly in college and since I often felt like an outsider even in my own circle of friends. With few exceptions, I didn't feel as close with my friends as they did with each other. I felt as though I wasn't worth - to them - spending time with. For example, on more than one occasion I invited friends over for a movie at my place on a Friday or Saturday night. The usual response was, "I've got too much work to do." I took them at their word and, generally, spent the evening alone. However, the next morning at church as we related our weekends these same friends would share that they didn't get any work done because their floormates or another friend invited them to a movie or something after we I had invited them. The other thing that seemed to happen a lot was when I would find out after the fact that a group of my friends got together and did something and never thought to invite me.

I may have mentioned it before sometime but whenever one of the group would travel abroad for a semester the rest of us would make them a journal filled with pictures and messages and reminders of home. Every year, without fail, we did this. Except one. When I left, I got a card. They said that it was a busy time of year and they couldn't take the time to get to it. The thing is, though, they were all busy semesters.

I don't want to throw myself a pity party or anything. There were a few people that took the time to be a real friend to me. One friend would always call me to come over for a movie and/or some serious UNO. Another would meet me for lunch once a week and we'd hang out after our fellowship group met and she had to stay and work. But, more often than not, I felt like I wasn't good enough as a friend for them. And I don't know why. I don't think I did anything to offend anyone. I know I have a pretty sarcastic sense of humor but only one person ever mentioned it to me when I said something wrong and we worked it out easily. I don't know what it was.

Now, there are a handful of people from college and from Semester at Sea that I still keep in touch with. Whenever any of us travel we send postcards and we keep up with birthdays. It's funny how it's the simple things that make you feel loved.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Losing Autumn

The golden yellow hues and the rich painted reds of the leaves, against the background of greens of every shade, marks the time of year that was made for me.

For as long as I can remember, autumn has been my favorite season. Being a very visual person, the fullness and range of earth-tones in the trees, in the scattered leaves on every lawn and pasted to the asphalt down every street moves me in such a basic way. I appreciate the colors of spring flowers, the brightness of summer greens, and the pristine blanket of sparkling snow in winter but there's just something about the fall.

Aside from the beautiful foliage, the flavors and aromas are wonderful as well. I love the taste of apples. Whether it's apple juice, apple cider - hard, or not - even the smell of the damp leaves in the air transport me to a very relaxed and home-like place. Every year I wait for the first hint of my favorite smell. It's not from a single source and it's hard to fully describe but it's something close to a combination of wood fireplaces and the smell of snow. (Hey, I'm from the northeast and I was born in January, of course I can distinguish a smell of snow.)

This year, though, has been a little different. For the past week or so it's been overcast, cool, and rainy in this neck of the woods. The fall colors were also at their peak last weekend. With the clouds, the rain, and the wind I wasn't able to see much of the colors. What are usually vibrant hues have been shifting towards dull browns. It's been so dreary out that I feel like I've missed out on autumn.

Sure, it's still officially fall until around December 21st, but the thing is, fall doesn't last too long in this part of the country. I have known years when our first snow began to accumulate on, or even before, Halloween. With the heat and humidity that lasted deep into September, and a little bit of early October, it feels like we're beginning to move on towards winter, skipping the nice, cool, sunny autumn and going right into the dark, rainy, cold autumn. I'm sure we have some nice days left before the 5-6 month white curtain comes down but it feels a little like the moment has past. But I'll certainly take what I can get as the days march on towards the cold.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Day in My Life

I was thinking last night just as I headed off to bed that my next post would be a day-in-the-life kinda thing. Now, since I was just heading off to bed when I decided this it could be a good idea or a bad one. In any case, I decided, so I'm doing it.

Here is a typical day for me:

  • 7:30am (too damn early) - alarm goes off - NPR on the radio - snooze button is hit
  • 7:39am (9min isn't nearly enough) - alarm goes off, snooze button is hit
  • 7:48am (9min still isn't enough) - alarm goes off, grumbling occurs
  • 7:48-8:05am-ish - turn on ABC for GMA, eat a bowl of cereal, do various "morning" activities, continue grumbling
  • 8:05-8:10am-ish - get dressed, grab stuff for lunch, wallet, keys, etc., lock up and head to parking lot
  • 8:11am-ish - turn key (the car runs better that way), head for the highway
  • 8:30am-ish - arrive at work, put lunch elements in the fridge
  • 8:30-8:45am-ish - greet dad/boss and catch up on things as he waits for his first cup of coffee, still some grumbling
  • 8:45am-ish - turn on computer, check email, weed out the junk
  • 9am-ish - begin to address any issues from email or begin working on first project
  • 9ish-noonish - work on stuff
  • noonish - lunch
  • noon:30ish-4:22pm-ish - work on stuff
  • 4:22pm-4:35pm-ish - say hello to my mom when she gets home from work
  • 4:35-5pm-ish - finish up stuff
  • 5pm-ish - hang out with parents for a few minutes
  • 5-5:30pm-ish - finally head out to the car to head home
  • 5:30-6pm-ish - arrive at home; get mail; remove watch, wallet, keys, belt; turn on computer, check any email that may have come in during the past 20mins since I left work
  • 6-7pm - watch Malcom in the Middle, prepare and eat dinner
  • 7-8pm - watch The West Wing on Bravo, or American Chopper on the Discovery Channel
  • 8-11pm - watch various programs - dependent on daily schedule
  • 11-11:30pm - watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central
  • 11:30-midnightish - check email, read blogs, general surfing
  • midnightish - bed, comence grumbling
  • midnight:30ish - finally fall asleep
  • **REPEAT**

Yeah, so that's pretty typical.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Weekly Rant About My Life

I've been feeling a bit off lately. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I haven't been myself. I'm tired, burned out, unable to focus, unmotivated, uninspired, and somewhat restless.

I've been writing and re-writing this post for the past 40 minutes and I can't seem to figure out what to say without sounding too depressed or whiny or pathetic. There's just so much that's been bouncing around my head and so many emotions that have been battling within me that I'm just getting weary. I'm confident in my religious choices but I don't want to deal with any of the potential confrontation that may be coming up next week at an event. I'm glad I live in this apartment and not my last but I feel a bit removed - even though most things aren't that different. I've been excited about some things with work but I feel so uninspired. I'm so happy when I get to spend time or talk on the phone with friends but the feelings wear off so quickly... too quickly... I long for love and companionship but I always seem to come up short, and my solitude has gotten to be so comfortably familiar. I want to do things but I never know what. It's so frustrating and I wait for the day when my life will take a turn, no matter how slightly, towards some progress, any progress, just so I know that things are starting to get better.

I ache for that day.

Thank you for putting up with my ranting.

Friday, October 07, 2005

First Look, Part II

Here's an advanced look at the art for our upcoming dramatic project. We will be reshooting it once we're on-location with the actor. But you'll get the idea.

We've done some more development of the story and I think it's heading in a very powerful direction.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

First Look

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, one of the main thrusts of the company I work for is to produce helpful, quality resources for groups and agencies, such as religious organizations, and to tell good stories. In as many years, we've put out three dramatic productions which we have written, directed, produced, etc. , two of which have garnered awards - we're waiting to find out if the most recent will be so honored.

It's that time of year again when we begin the brainstorming phase of preproduction and we sit down to develop the story. After narrowing down the overall theme - spiritual giftedness - with the annual conference resource ministries team, it is our task to come up with the plot and script. Today my dad(boss) and I spent the latter part of the afternoon hammering out many of the subtleties of our main character and his journey through the plot. Though I won't spoil it by talking about it too much here - you'll have to get your own copy HERE when it becomes available next June - I think we made a lot of really good progress. There are still a few scenes that need to be added to help the story flow and most of the dialogue needs to be articulated but I'm excited about where it's headed.

I think what makes me excited is the fact that I'm excited. Lately, I've been in a bit of a rut - I still am - and haven't really been too excited about anything and this is a welcome change of pace. In previous years as we've worked on these projects I've felt a little more like an outside observer, offering input here and there as it was asked for, during the writing phase. This time around, however, it's been refreshingly different. Today was the real beginning of the project and I was in there from the start as we came up with who the character would be and how his gift would be allowed to shine. (I actually chose what his gift would be, which thrust us into the quite active development of the plot.) We got into a lot of the psychology behind the man and, I think, have really begun to weave it all together quite well. I'm glad to be taking a more substantial role.

It's going to be a drama, but we're going to add some humor to it too. It's a very personal story and deals with some delicate issues, particularly in the character's background, so there is some weight to it. But we're going to try to lighten it up with spots of humor here and there.

I know it's me talking here, and I may not have the most objective view on it, but every year we feel like we're getting better and better with the dramas we put out and even though we're in such an early stage, I already feel that this one has the potential for being even that much more powerful that last year's.

"Soup Questions"

About a month ago, as a NAPP member, I was in Boston for the Photoshop World Expo. There, I picked up a copy of Create Magazine. In an article on company branding I came across 50 Eggs Productions. When developing her company name, Mary Mazzio decided to draw from her favorite movie as inspiration. "50 eggs," for those who are unaware, is a reference from the classic film Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman. In the film, Newman's character undertakes the challenge to eat 50 eggs in one sitting. His success in doing so is a great image for overcoming difficult tasks and adds credibility - he lived up to his promise that he could do it.

In a similar vain, I thought I would draw from one of my favorite movies to name my blog. It has long gone without a name, beyond my website url, and I thought it deserved one. A few posts ago I shared my movie nerdiness and it only seemed appropriate to use that as my starting point. The Godfather is perhaps my favorite movie (it's at least very near the top of the list) but it is also one of the more quoted movies out there as well. Another favorite of mine is Finding Forrester with Sean Connery. I won't get into a description of it now, but there is a scene where the protagonist asks Connery's character a series of questions: why he doesn't have to stir his soup at home, if Connery ever goes outside, etc. Connery's response to the second question is, “That isn’t a soup question is it— it fails the basic criteria of a question in that it does not solicit information that is important to you.”

I found the idea of "soup questions" to be rather fitting. Here, I often write about things that aren't really all that relevant to anyone else but are a part of my quest for answers and meaning and purpose - with some breaks for whimsey as well.

I like it anyway.