Current Mood: discontent
Current Music: Thornhill – Moxy Fruvous – I Will Hold On
Kedron: Works at IBM. He used to be Newton’s officemate. He plays softball on the IBM team with me, and he is now also on the IBM flag football team with me. He works out 6 days a week, and is pretty crazy when it comes to that sort of thing.
Andrea: Matt’s girlfriend. She goes to school at the University of Chicago, which is where she met Matt. She visits Matt a couple of times each year in Austin. She loves Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
On Sunday night, after softball practice, we decided to go out to eat. By we I mean those of us who attended practice — me, Matt, Newton, Rob, and Kedron. There was a great debate about where to go, and somehow we eventually decided on Olive Garden (a compromise, I think, appealing mainly because it was close and offended no one). Anyway, there was a super long wait there (yes, 40 minutes is super long), so we decided to go somewhere else, even though it would mean another debate about where to go. Previously Kedron had been advocating a place called Waterloo Ice House. Newton dismissed it as a “burger joint” and didn’t feel like going there. Kedron suggested it again, and somehow convinced Newton this time. We went there, and it turns out they have 10 cent Buffalo wings every Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday night. While this probably isn’t exciting to anyone reading this journal, it DOES mean that I can eat until I am full for like $2.00. So there. We went there again tonight, and not only did we get tons of cheap wings, but some guy was also giving out free samples of some beer. It wasn’t that great, but it reminded me of an old comedy routine. The comedian was talking about going to wine tastings, and listening to people giving their commentary on the various wines. People would taste the wine and say things like “Sassy, yet pretentious.” The comedian’s comment was “Crappy, yet free.” That’s how I felt about the beer tonight.
Wow, that’s probably the least interesting thing I’ve written in here yet. Screw you, loyal reader(s), no entertainment for you here!
I’m at work. Tonight is a slow night, for some reason. Lately I’ve been busy, but not tonight. Instead I am sitting in my office, dying of heat stroke. I wear warm clothing because the computer lab is freezing, but this means when I sit in my office, it’s sweltering. It doesn’t help that they turn off the AC in the offices at night. There’s a way to turn it back on in your office, but I’m much too lazy to do that, even though it only involves dialing some numbers on the phone…but to find out what those numbers are, I’d have to get a card out of my wallet, and, well, that’s a lot of work at 4:30am.
Last night I watched the movie Almost Famous. Andrea kept telling me it was an awesome movie. Matt’s review was that it was okay. I thought it fell somewhere in between. I’m not in love with the movie, but it was enjoyable to watch. It did have the song “The Wind” by Cat Stevens, which is also played in the movie Rushmore — a movie that I do consider to be excellent in all respects.
I recently bought the DVD of In The Mouth of Madness, a movie which I like. I noticed that one of the special features was a commentary by the director (John Carpenter) and the director of photography (someone else). I decided to check that out last night also (I say last night, but this took place around 4am). I’ll give you my impression of the commentary…
(Opening credits and music begin to roll. The opening sequence is a variety of shots of a printing press)
John Carptenter: Hi, welcome to In The Mouth of Madness. I’m John Carpenter, the director. With me is Jim Q Bumblefuck, director of photography. Hi, Jim.
JQB: Hi, John. Good to be here.
JC: In The Mouth of Madness is my nth film, blah, blah, blah, (general background info).
JC: This scene was shot at an actual printing press. Jim, how did you do the lighting for this?
JQB: Well, it was mainly from the overhead lights, but we set up a few lights to highlight parts of the machinery.
JC: What about the overhead lights — were they fluorescent? Do you remember?
JQB: Yes, they were fluorescent.
JC: I see.
(Scene changes. Next scene is of an ambulance driving up a road to a building)
JC: This is actually a water cleaning facility outside of Toronto. Not a lot of lighting work for you here, right Jim?
JQB: No, the ambient light was enough.
(Scene changes. Interior of a building, looks like a mental asylum)
JC: Here we are inside the asylum. You see it’s very bright, which comes from the sky lights up above. How did you light this scene, Jim?
JQB: Well, the sunlight from above provided most of the light, but we did set up a few 10ks to get good overall lighting.
JC: What are 10ks, for those who might not know?
JQB: Oh, they’re lights that provide the equivalent of 10,000 candles of light.
JC: 10,000 — that’s a lot! What’s the biggest unit you’ve, um, well, whats the biggest one you used for this film?
JQB: I’d say a 12k.
JC: Wow. And these lights are what, incandescent?
JQB: No, they’re actually electrofucktescent.
JC: Okay, okay, so those are all you used in this scene?
JQB: Well, we also used small lights on the actors’ faces, to better illuminate them.
JC: I see, that’s why their eyes appear to twinkle. So the actors are basically having to act while a flashlight is being shined in their eyes.
JQB: That’s right.
JC: Now tell me, do you find it harder to light during the nighttime or the daytime? At night obviously you have to provide most of the light yourself, but during the day you have to fight the outside light, sometimes, to prevent the picture from seeming washed out.
JQB: Well, I’d have to say night shots are easier. But let me go on and talk about the difference for the next 20 minutes…
And so on and so on. I eventually started skipping forward, thinking maybe at some point they’d realize that nobody could possibly give that much of a fuck about how the damn movie was lighted. How wrong I was. About them realizing that, I mean, because I cannot believe that I’m wrong about people not caring. I found a few occasions when they’d talk about something else briefly, but it would always come back to lighting. ALWAYS. And it wasn’t like the lighting guy kept speaking up with lighting information — John Carpenter had to keep dragging it out of him. It was like John Carpenter had nothing whatsoever to say about the movie, so he brought this guy along and interrogated him about the ins and outs of lighting a motion picture. I’d say the commentary broke down as follows:
95% – Discussion of lighting
4% – JC telling us a new scene has arrived, and describing for us what’s going on in the scene, when he must know full well that anyone who bought the DVD and is watching the commentary must have seen the movie enough times to know what is happening.
1% – Brief interludes of somewhat interesting commentary.
Jesus. I mean, I’m not unhappy I bought the DVD, because I like the movie. But really, is there no quality control when it comes to this sort of thing? I’m not a veteran of the DVD commentary scene, so maybe this isn’t atypical. I watched the commentary on Rushmore, and it was really good. The director (Wes Anderson) and co-author (Owen Wilson) did the commentary, and not only was lighting seldom (if ever) discussed, but the entire commentary was filled with interesting comments about the film and the production. I listened to the commentary for They Might Be Giants (a fine movie) also. The guy who directed this movie sounds like he must be around 80 by now. He seemed to remember stuff about the movie, but it required prodding by someone else. I forget who was hosting the commentary with him, but it wasn’t anyone who had to do with the film. I confess that I did not listen to the entire commentary, but my impression from the first 10-20 minutes of it was not very favorable. Don’t get me wrong, it is much better than the “all lighting, all the time” commentary.
I’d like to pause and note that about halfway through the previous paragraph, Netscape crashed. Since I’m at work, I was using the web-based journal entry method. I was pretty pissed off when it crashed. It core dumped, which (for those who don’t know) means it left behind a file that (in theory) would be useful to someone who wanted to debug why it crashed. Usually such files include a complete listing of what the application had stored in memory. I searched the file for some of the text from my journal entry, and found it, amidst a bunch of non-text data. My journal entry was not listed contiguously in the file, and the file was really long, so I had to think back and try to remember what I had written in each paragraph. Then I’d search from some text from that paragraph, find it, and copy it out of the file. I think I remembered everything, but I can’t be sure. I know there’s a command to extract the text segments of a binary file, but I can’t remember it, and it’s tough to get help with this sort of thing at 5:30am. Oh well. Stupid Netscape. I wrote the rest of this in a text editor that is not prone to crashing, just to be safe. I had some good writing momentum going when Netscape crashed, but now it has kinda stalled out, so I’m gonna end this entry.