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Friday, November 30, 2001

A picture of Rita Hayworth

I don't like my apartment very much. It's very cold, and when I turn on the heater in the living room, it gives off a burning smell. Maybe something bad, but I know it's just cat hair.

I'm tired and I should really go to bed, but I suspect I'll work more on C++.

I did HTML at work today. I made a form whose fields change dynamically when the user makes a few choices. When the user clicks "submit" the browser turns the form values into a coherent email. That's a neat trick that KJ showed me; if you call the form from a VBScript file, you can get around the Outlook security issues (IE won't allow you to create an Outlook object from the browser).

Other movies:

People Will Talk Cary Grant and that pretty woman from State Fair, Jeanne Crain. Plus Sidney Blackmer, one of my favorite character actors. You see him in everything from High Society to old Shirley Temple weepies; he even did a Charlie Chan movie. Are actors today that flexible?

Oh yeah, the movie... very funny, way ahead of its time. I can't believe they made movies like that in 1951. It has a young pregnant unmarried woman, and advocates people thinking for themselves. Practically unAmerican.

This Gun For Hire Very tough Alan Ladd, good villains. The ending was pretty weird stuff, though. After killing a whole bunch of people Ladd suddenly gets all patriotic. That was weird. And the musical numbers are really clumsy. The first one -- Veronica Lake's audition for floppy, fussy Laird Cregar -- looks like it was being performed in a public library. But I liked the portrayal of corporate heads as greedy rapacious fucks. It was like a holdover from the 30s, as if Studs Terkel were hired for rewrites.

There's another weird character actor: Laird Cregar. He died young (28). He wanted to be a leading man, so he tried losing 100 pounds, suffered complications, and died as a result. I haven't seen some of his famous movies, but I plan to. I'm going to become one of those weird movie people who knows all the character actors. (As in: "Oh my god, it's Eddie Bracken!")

Les Girls Silly George Cukor movie with Gene Kelly, Mitzi Gaynor and Kay Kendall. In court over a libel suit, two women tell their story of how the other had an affair with Gene, and Gene has to take the stand (of course) and straighten out the incompatible stories. Fun. Kendall is funny and sweet, and Kelly is his usual hammy self. Now Mitzi... I never knew what a fox Mitzi Gaynor was. She is much foxier here than she was in South Pacific. Mitzi!

Monday, November 26, 2001

The restless nature of what it is I'm doing. I wish I understood more about myself and what it is that I am really trying to do. Sometimes it's like the central contradiction lies just beyond my fingers. It has something to do with avoiding failure. Nothing worse than failure.

Recent movies:

The Deer Hunter Terribly sad and beautiful.

Beautiful Creatures I liked the actresses. But the portrayal of men as drooling sex-obsessed idiots could have used more subtlety.

Spellbound Gregory Peck woodenly faints into Ingrid Bergman's arms. She's pretty sexy as the love-struck psychoanalyst. He's gaunt and really annoyed me. The movie drags in the second half, too much bad Freud (in the 40s it was cool & edgy to be "in analysis"), and the murder seems a little far-fetched. But the penultimate scene, shot from the point of view of the killer's gun-sight, is very good.

Heist Just ok. Strangely predictable. And Ricky Jay dies! Not fair, David Mamet.

Sunday, November 25, 2001

I'm really tired, but I wanted to write something.
:: Have been listening to Radiohead's Amnesiac and I really don't think it works.
:: I shouldn't take Ivy to museums because I always think she's going to respond a certain way and my own expectations make it harder for her to just have fun.
:: Sometimes I don't eat enough. I put off eating because I want to do something.
:: This vacation I did fewer "constructive" things than I thought. But I had fun. A lot of movies. And slept!

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Sometimes when I hear techno, I am reminded of how far I am from the actual music as it is created. I mean, I went to one rave, if you could call it that, back in the early nineties. It was in an abandoned building in the Haight, with strobes going and people every damn place. The sounds system pumped bass, people padded around in drunken stupors. I wasn't that impressed. But it's likely I was going to something that had nothing to do with actual warehouse parties. It may have been a one-off by inexperienced kids, or, even more likely, it was thrown by someone like me, someone who didn't know about the music and wanted to capitalize. I had a friend who actually went to those parties, and I suspect she owns a music vocabulary that I can only approximate. I mean, I hear that trance stuff and I think I get it, but deep down I know I don't.

Monday, November 19, 2001

Sometimes there is nothing better than listening to Sex 14s play songs that I really like. Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris, Eric Dolphy, Loudon Wainright, Gavin Bryars... the list goes on. He's introduced me to so many things. Man!

Funny how you connect with very simple things and they make more sense than any book on film theory you could read before bed. And by that I mean the kind of book that spurs your head to dream of arguing with Alfred Hitchcock, insisting to him that sequence shots are better than repeated cuts. (In the dream, he replies that film is a medium of understanding, not a representation. "Cinema is form," he used to say (I mean, he actually said, in real life), "the screen ought to speak its own language... an acted scene [is] a piece of raw material which must be broken up, taken to bits, before it can be woven into an expressive visual pattern." Of course, he was wrong about that.

I should be working on my C++, but I'm finding it hard to concentrate. Maybe because Sassafrass lost her front tooth last night, and she was so cute about it, maybe I'm just missing her.

Friday, November 16, 2001

I have a little Excel file that I use for balancing my checkbook. It has different worksheets for different kinds of transactions: one summary sheet; one for ATMs; one for checks; one for upcoming expenses; one for looking down the road a few months at a time. That sort of thing. And it has been very handy in doing little functions to figure out what I can and cannot do. But it's starting to get a bit unruly, and it doesn't port very well, as I'm carrying a floppy wherever I go to keep updating it (at work, at home, at work, etc.). A brittle system, that. So part of me wants to get ambitious and build a a password-protected PHP database with web GUI that makes it easy to add stuff. But I don't have an ISP that can house such a thing (although David has graciously offered his site). Plus, databases can be such overkill. I like my little Excel document because it's so malleable. So I'm sort of confused about which way I should go. Maybe I should start by spec-ing a small, Access-based database and see how well I like that.

These are things I think about when I'm driving to work. I really need to get some books on tape or something. The radio bores me to tears. I don't have a CD player in my car, and I'm sick to death of my tapes. It's basically NPR versus the lame music stations that have wattage that reaches east of Pleasanton (which means no KALX). I read somewhere that commuting more than one hour usually takes its toll after a while. I take about 45-50 minutes on an average day, so I'm almost pushing the envelope and shouldn't complain. I'm lucky I have a job, and that I have a car, too!

Thursday, November 15, 2001

Ok, better, the brain is better. Last night I saw King Crimson at the Warfield with David and Lance. KC was very, very good, better than when I saw at the Fillmore ~1 year ago. The best word to describe is heavy. Although the venue's sound was a little muddy, the band played with ferocity, especially on "The ConstrucKtion of Light" and some of the new tunes. In one of the new songs, the band's wired, fistful-of-bullets intensity mad eme think my brain might split into smaller parts.

Do you ever email old friends and ask them how they are doing? I do it a lot and sometimes they don't respond. Maybe you take them so off-guard that they postpone a reply. When I get an email from an unexpected corner of yesterday, I hit reply almost immediately, just to see what the hell I might say. But the friends who aren't writing me back may just have better things to do than email me.

I talked to my boss and he is happy that I am aspiring to be a programmer. Not a good market for it, though, as Matt can tell you (scroll to the bottom of his post; it's really getting bad in the NCal job market if the star of Metafilter can't get a permanent gig). I know that I will never be a first-rate programmer, but as long as I am enjoying myself, it doesn't matter that much.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

The depression is hanging on. It's directly related to my perfectionistic tendencies. I really have a problem with doing well. When I do well, I feel stupid. People like me see success as a euphemism for "avoided complete failure again." So I court failure whenever I can, and words like stupid and idiot crawl between my ears. Sometimes I really miss nicotine.

Monday, November 12, 2001

Depressed. Very sad feeling. I don't have the ambition or motivation to do anything. I wish there was something that could make me as energized as I was on Friday. I think the sadness is strange because rain usually makes me so damn happy. I think I'm without direction today, and that always bothers me. Even though I have a lot to work on, a lot to do. I guess the limits are daunting to me. Limits

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

:: It came down to all of them seeing the world as it was supposed to be.
:: I'm trying to learn about classes in VBscript, but I have a lot of busywork to do this afternoon, and then I'm going to see Pinback. So I don't have a lot of time today or tomorrow to do actual work.
:: Listening to mp3s of New Order, Leonard Cohen, Cocteau Twins, At the Drive-In and Kraftwerk. Feeling continental. Or something.
:: I need to remember that sticking up for loved ones is good, being partisan is a good thing
:: So what if other people are wrong because they are sick and crazy? You still have to fight them.

Monday, November 05, 2001

Weird sadness, feeling that I'm not fitting in.

Friday, November 02, 2001

This is minutiae of the worst kind: I love binder clips, and my company doesn't stock them anymore. They use bulldog clips, which are fine, but they stick out at the top of your folders and become unclipped when papers are moved around. There is a completeness, a complete weltanschauung to the binder clip. Its blackness, it's compression of loose ends, the way it makes the uneven and uncollected somehow bravely unified.

I know, I know. It's been a slow day here. For fun, I was emailing Robin links to Diagnosis Murder fan sites (links I won't subject you to here). I think I scared her for a while.

Thursday, November 01, 2001

Oh, jeez louise, we had to hear that chip sales fell 2.5 percent in September. Remember that old hip-hop chant, "how low can you go..."?

Here's how to create haiku.

Here's one:

On a Sunday with clouds
We flew two kites
Wind, string, pink tails


And another

A stream of water
Hands, red and hot
- drops leap to my shirt



Why have I discovered so late in life what everyone else knows? What makes me such a good target for those who would take advantage? Why does saying no makes me feel resentful and guilty?

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." -Helen Keller

Rented Horror of Dracula last night. I had been wanting to see some classic Hammer films, and this one is considered one of the best. Most of the classic Dracula elements show up: the cross, the garlic, and the blood. Renfield doesn't appear, and the whole thing takes place in eastern Europe (which is slightly incongruous when people have Cockney accents). The script zips along with economy, and the acting is quite good. But as someone raised on John Carpenter and Phantasm, my fear level was not so great. Perhaps not enough gore. I was fascinated how sexy it was: Hammer wanted to accentuate Dracula as a living, breathing evildoer, not a creature of magic, so they brought the sexual subtext to the surface. When the young girl waits in her room for Christopher Lee to appear, she straightens her bedsheets. The scene plays without irony. Dracula is young, strong, and all appetite.

Next on my list is Suspiria.

Talking to my sister always gives me perspective.

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