Monday, December 1, 2008

my own private wizard staff

Today in my film class we watched My Own Private Idaho by director Gus Van Sant. It was one of those films that you want to watch the second the credits begin to roll. The film isn't for everyone, by any means, but is really quite interesting if you give it a chance. The performance that River Phoenix gave in the film reminded me a little of Emile Hirsch's in Into the Wild. Apparently there is a portion of the film that is based on the first part of William Shakespeare's Henry IV.

My professor was talking about how the film is on the cusp of being incomprehensible. He went into a spiel on narration and how no matter what you do to a film there is always a beginning, a middle and an end. The film is also about a narcoleptic, which causes the storytelling to be a little chaotic. Sleeping every night gives you a pretty simple narrative for your day. You separate it into these different parts (beginning, middle and end) without even thinking about it. People also do this with their lives. It's ingrained into our skulls to turn absolutely everything we can make sense of into a narrative. Even our dreams, which may not have any rhyme or reason, will be processed through our consciousness and end up with some sort of coherent story. Time itself is so difficult to grasp because humans keep trying to apply a narrative to it. Maybe some things just are.

Keanu Reeves, who had a fairly prominent role in the film, wasn't that bad compared to some of his roles. My film teacher sarcastically remarked that "if he didn't exist, you'd have to invent him." I did learn that Mr. Reeves doesn't own any possessions. He just lives in hotel rooms and sits on his money. One time his sister got cancer and, to keep her mind off things, he bought her a horse farm. If he doesn't need money then why does he do so many terrible movies? Maybe some people do different things for different reasons.

On Saturday night my friends got together and had a LAN party. We held it in the basement of the house that Andrew's dad is trying to sell. LAN, for anyone who doesn't know, is an acronym for Local Area Network. This is when several computers are connected to a small network. On the network you play multi-player computer games with each other. I don't really like it that much but it is a fun social gathering.

Unlike most parties that are held by college kids, LAN is drug and alcohol free. Instead of Miller Lite, we drink Mountain Dew. We did this thing that people refer to as "Wizard Staff". This involves taking beer cans (or, in this case, soda cans) and duct taping them together as you drink them. The goal is to have something that resembles a wizard staff that is about your own height. This process makes sense with beer but drinking that much Mountain Dew seems a little foolhardy. Probably a good way to contract ulcers.

I took this picture of Ross Lippman, a good friend of mine, for his senior yearbook picture. The trick to taking a great picture (not that I am calling this picture specifically great, just great pictures in general), as I learned from National Geographic, is to take a whole lot. If you take enough pictures, one of them is bound to be a keeper.

Speak easy,

Today's Playlist:
Love: Part III (or When Optimism Is Enough)

1. Elliot Smith - Thirteen (New Moon) *Big Star Cover*
2. Feist - Mushaboom (Let It Die)
3. Ben Folds Five - Kate (Whatever and Ever Amen)
4. Weezer - El Scorcho (Pinkerton)
5. Azure Ray - If You Fall (Hold On Love)
6. The Robot Ate Me - This Love Is Waiting (Carousel Waltz)
7. Iron & Wine - Flightless Bird, American Mouth (Shepard's Dog)
8. Magnetic Fields - Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side (69 Love Songs)
9. Son, Ambulance - Katie Come True (Oh, Holy Fools)
10. The Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) (Funeral)


Anonymous said...

Sorry, it's my German business sense that makes me want to correct all errors, such as this:
You describe LAN as an acronym for Local Area Connection, but wouldn't the acronym then read LAC?
Context clues tell me you probably meant Local Area Network.

I'm only punishing you because I love you.
-Miss Jay Jeannie Green

Neil Everett said...

Thanks steph, I usually try to catch that kind of stuff early on.

Dell Smith said...

I recently picked up the Criterion edition of Idaho. I've always like that movie. Interesting that you're studying it in school. It wasn't even made when I was in film school. The film meanders and I could do without all the pseudo Shakespearian bullshit (yawn), but I really love the mood the flick evokes. Those shots out West. Roads headed into the horizon. The elliptical storytelling. River Phoenix, forever doomed. Roadtrips to Europe.
The DVD comes with a booklet of interviews and essays about the film. Perhaps it would enlighten your professor so that the movie doesn't come across as incomprehensible.

Selina said...

So how tall was your wizard staff??