Sunday, August 27, 2006

In Which: We Learn that the Law Does Not Appreciate Art

The other day my friends and I were in the midst of creating the first true masterpiece to come out of the amateur film world when the police came and destroyed our chances for an Oscar by interrupting us with the woefully camp line, "Tell me you don't have anyone tied to train tracks."

Let me establish the following facts before going any further:
(1) No one was in any danger.
(2) We were only trespassing a little.
(3) We did not actually have anyone tied to train tracks, and if that's what it looked like to passing cars, then (a) good! that's what it was supposed to look like, and (b) the people in the cars are the same sort of people who will believe you if you tell them gullible isn't in the dictionary. To speak more plainly, they are stupid, and here is why: The phenomenon of people being tied to train tracks by nefarious evildoers must have gone out of style, by necessity, when trains did. This probably occurred around the time when Wilbur and Orville were testing the airplane -- almost exactly one hundred years ago. Therefore we would have had to have been time-travelers if it were to be at all likely that we were really tying someone up in front of a train. As much as I hate to say this, our costumes simply were not good enough to convince anyone less than an utter fool. We had cameras, we had scripts, and most importantly, the kid on the train tracks was not screaming and crying, like you'd expect. He was complaining of back pain, but in no way was he carrying on like a person in such a position would if he were really in danger. Moreover, none of us were dressed as goths.

This was a scene far, far removed from the kind of backroads version of human sacrifice ritual that someone must have thought they were seeing, and had this person applied any reason to the puzzling tableau, they would have realize that, first of all, the railroad gods wouldn't want Kevin on Station Olympus. He is much more entertaining on Earth complaining about being repeatedly made to lie on railroad tracks. Secondly, if we had really wanted to kill someone, why would we tie him up on Friday when the train isn't coming til Sunday? It isn't practical!

But some idiot did not stop to apply reason, and called the police, probably on their cell phone while driving which is a worse crime, I truly believe. The police, when they arrived, came screeching up to us like we'd shot the President and at last they had tracked us down and now they intended to commit police brutality all over the place. It was intimidating, but it also had the air of trying to be intimidating, which was slightly self-defeating. No violence ensued at all. In fact, I don't think they anticipated much of a threat if any, thereby lending credence to my theory that nobody has tied anybody else to train tracks in so long that the police don't even believe it when they see it.

It is important to note at this stage that it has been difficult for me to take the police seriously since the experience I had a couple of weeks ago when I called 911 and waited three hours before someone called me and said, "I drove by and didn't see a problem." This example of total incompetence greatly diminished the respect for law enforcement that Officer Tom from D.A.R.E. worked so hard to instill ten years ago.

It was in honor of Officer Tom that I resisted rolling my eyes when one of the officers proceeded to behave like our collective mom, and lectured us on how we should use our brains. Then the other officer stepped in and said, "So what's your movie about??" (I add the second question mark there because he definitely said it with two.) It so happened that I had written this very scenario into the script, mainly to avoid saving myself the trouble of resolving the plot: the police were simply going to come and make us leave before we finished. It probably occurred to us all that we should ask them to be in it, but nobody was brave enough to actually do it, which I think was for the best, because it was when we were talking about the movie that I felt the situation had the potential to spiral out of control. These police officers were not kindred spirits, creatively-speaking. They were not going to appreciate the finer nuances of our clever production, especially after Matt's attempt the relate the plot included this: "And he's in the fifties, so he's all 'mee-eeee-eeeeeh!'" It struck me then how easily we could have crossed the line into the territory where you deserve to be arrested because you're clearly deranged.

Let me explain. This is the sort of movie where we have to periodically stop and ask each other, "Now, at this moment, am I playing myself, or am I playing myself playing my character playing a character, and if I am, do I show that I know it, and does this other person know it, and do they know that I know it? And after I say my line, does all of that change?" Sometimes we also have to stop and think about what level of reality we are in, and usually we are not all in the same one. It isn't the kind of thing you can quickly describe without saying, "Well, officers, how familiar are you with metafiction?" which is a potentially awkward question because not only will they say, "Not at all familiar," but they will follow that with, "Where did you escape from?" and then probably, "I think you'd better come with us."

Fortunately they were immediately bored once Matt said "metafiction" and went away, but not without the gift of a last chastisement from Officer Mom, who again implored that we use our brains. This annoyed me very much. Even though it's last-minute and severely underfunded and makes no sense and some of the lines were dubbed when one of our actors was very, very drunk, we have to take it seriously, and do what it asks even if it asks for train tracks, and I felt affronted by the implication that we should have been at home watching television.

Actually, when two police officers have just yelled at you, you do rather feel like going home and watching TV is your worthwhile and noble duty. But still, you have to ask yourself, what kind of policing policy allows perfectly innocent trespassers to have their Oscar chances ruined while a rabid raccoon gets to have free reign of western New York even if you call 911 on it. If that raccoon's death scene beats out our exploration of the difficulties inherent in creating a metafictional film in a nation with trains and laws, then I will cast myself as the Dictionary on Film's definition of frivolous lawsuit.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Many Happy Returns, Ivn

Today is Ivan's birthday. Happy Birthday Ivan! To celebrate, I would like to take a look back at an artist's representation of Ivan as a young hedgehog with her friend Simon, who happens to be the artist in question.

By Lindsy I meant Ivan; Lindsy was just a funny name we all used to call her by. Apparently at this age I did not know whether the vowel before the Y was supposed to be an A or at E, so I left it out entirely. Using this logic I will refer to Ivan as Ivn for the duration of this post.

This picture is evidence that though Ivn and I now have a friendship based on Reeses Pieces, Tiny House colonies, a strange interest in Richard Taylor, and Anne of Green Gables, we first bonded over sharing the same terrible disease, a condition called I Have One Disproportionately Huge Shoulder, And So Does Everyone I Draw.

Fortunately, Ivn and I are both cured.

And, irritatingly, I must now go to work and finish this post later.

In the meantime, have a super birthday, Ivn, and congratulations on not having that one huge shoulder anymore.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Never Before Captured on Film

The Lily-Creature. Live. In focus.

Much like the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster, it had previously been known to sit still only at the door while waiting to be let out.

What is it?

It's always happy.
But it's not Michael Owen.

Its naps are never long enough.
But it isn't a three-year-old.

It likes cats.
But it's not an old lady.

It's mangy.
But it's not a mutt.

It looks like a grizzly bear.
But it's faking.

It still smells even after a bath.
And it wants to come inside and sit in your lap.

It's Lucy!

Rosie Rosie Rosie, and More Rosie

Friday, August 18, 2006

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Footy and Simon P., now with Ralph Fiennes!

Simon P. came to visit me the weekend of the World Cup final. Simon P. and I developed an interest in British football while studying at York together in 2004. Actually, my interest dates back to my senior year of high school, but in those days it focused mainly on Michael Owen's ability to look so easily beautiful. These days I am more into the actual game (as well as the staggering number of other beautiful players -- why limit one's self?)

Simon P. and I had been feverishly corresponding about the English team for the entire game, and shared the devestation of England getting kicked out in the quarterfinals, the team having been crippled in the previous game by Michael Owen injuring himself so badly he didn't even make a transparently dramatic fuss like soccer players usually do; he just crawled off the field on his hands and knees. Even were I not in love with him, it would have been heartbreaking.

Then, in the losing game, Beckham got injured and was replaced, and minutes later brainless wonder-boy Wayne Rooney "accidentally" stepped on somebody's, erm, bits, and got a red card, meaning England was a man down, had lost its best strikers, and didn't even have Beckham for corner kicks.

Even so, like the stout-hearted Englishmen they are, our boys made it to penalty kicks . . . and lost . . . to Portugal . . . just like in Euro 2004 . . . compounding the emotional scars I received watching that inconceivably tense match. I won't go into details on that one, but let's just say I can never visit Portugal until I learn how to overcome seething bitterness, and that won't happen until England beats Portugal. Thus it is a logical impossibility that I will ever go to Portugal.

Simon P. and I were quite sincerely undone by this turn of events, but we consoled ourselves by making fun of Wayne Rooney a whole lot, calling him the Freckled Grendel of Footballers, and imagining what it would be like if he ever started playing tiddleywinks. When we got tired of that, we started making fun of Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the Portuguese players, who said he didn't try to get Rooney sent off with the red card, despite all appearances to the contrary. And that turned out to be a lot more rewarding because we'll have to forgive Rooney eventually if we are ever to be happy about any future England victories, and Ronaldo we can hold a grudge against forever with no harm done to the home team.

But Simon P. and I did not only talk about football. Oh, no. We also talked about The West Wing, making a firm decision to rewrite the entire last season. Somehow we also worked Vikings in, and during a trip to Lake Ontario were inspired to call the theme song, "Don't Want No Bug in my Cup", which is a stroke of genius because it meshes so well with Vikings and modern American politics. The opening line of the politico-historical dramedy will be "Behold the shapeliness of my ear." That trip to the lake is a lesson never to mix your friend-groups because the combined weirdness comes dangerously close to unhinging the universe.

After Lake Ontario, Simon P. was taken to visit Ye Mighty Wegmans: The Deluxe Edition. You all know that of which I speak. Pittsford, the Harrods of Western New York. The Holy Grail of Wegmanses. El Wegorado. The Wegmans with Devonshire Cream, and Quark, and Jaffa Cakes, and all manner of cheeses and orange chocolate. Simon P. appeared to be properly impressed, and didn't even think we were silly for taking her to a grocery store to photograph the vegetables like Japanese tourists.

And by the way, I have personally seen Japanese tourists thrilled by a lesser Wegmans, so you know this is the genuine article, the Pittsford Wegmans.

The next day, Simon P. and I watched the final match of the World Cup, during which Zidane made the Freckled Grendel of Footballers look truly unoriginal. Maybe headbutting is more common than I think, but in my opinion probably very few people respond with the instincts of a mountain goat when insulted. After this I have to say I have really high expectations of Rooney in Euro 2008. If he doesn't body slam somebody soon, he will never reach his potential as a real pro at infamy.

Simon P. had to leave on Monday morning, but the bond between the two Simons remains strong! Yesterday Simon P. called me to tell me she was about to see Ralph Fiennes. In a play. Live. Oh, holy mother. I encouraged her to rush the stage and throw herself at him, on my behalf, but she said, "Yeah, and then I would say, 'That was just for my friend Simon.' And they'd say, 'What's your name?' And I'd have to say, '...Simon. But it's not for me, I swear!'" So, doomed by having the same name, there was no stage-rushing. She did get his autograph, however, and now I can say I know someone who's been three feet from a Fiennes, and nothing solidifies a friendship like proximity to fame.

I hope that hat is part of his costume not that anything would look silly on Ralph Fiennes because he would be serious and/or menacing even in a clown suit but still.