Celluloid Smudges

You know you’re a film buff living in a film town when you can watch an indie film and your experience with the storytelling is diminished because you’re distracted by all the fingerprints of independent films.

You’re watching the drama, but in your mind, you’re backtracking and imagining all the location decisions, the directorial compromises, the just-get-it-dones, the editorial chops for time, and all the bylaws you have to comply with just to get accepted into the indie film festival circuit. The story is good, but you can see where it was altered just to fit some extra-fictional benchmark, like keeping within budget, time, or location. Y’know?

I find the same thing with many independent movies I see — especially those produced in the 90’s at the height of indie films. I’ve seen it in “Julian Po”, in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, in “Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael”, and tonight in “The Tao of Steve”. Having gone through a miniature semester in movie production back in college, that’s just enough to bring my attention to the pre-production, principal photography, and post-production phases of an indie film. I’m more aware and cognizant of what choices are involved in telling a story cinematically, especially when money and time are major concerns and short-cut choices have to be made. The film gets more terse, more quaint, more…twee. The big-ticket box office blockbusters don’t have that problem, and that’s unfortunate.

I just want to get back to the naiveté of watching movies as stories, but somehow, I don’t think that’s possible. Perhaps it’s true: what is seen cannot be unseen.

Follow Sprite

In college, I played “Hexxen” on my friends’ computers (“Hexxen” was technologically between “Doom” and “Duke Nukem 3D”). But, instead of playing the game to win, I would end up wandering around the world and following the various environmental elements, such as the random autumn leaf blowing around, until that graphical sprite no longer existed.

It gave me a stronger sense of space, and in so doing I managed to keep a virtual leaf alive and blowing around much longer than its programmed lifespan allowed. This was somehow more interesting to me than the actual goal of the level.

In essence, my intervention meant that much more to that leaf than it did to my own gameplay. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.


I hate Facebook as much as I hate many aspects of and activities in my life.

The first step would be liberating myself from Facebook, but I still need it. You know, just in case I miss something.

It’s the same reason why I keep going to the same coffee shop every goddamn day (sometimes twice or thrice). You know, just in case I miss something.

There’s just that random chance of a benefit that keeps me on the hook for more. I guess B.F. Skinner’s theories on operant conditioning are correct after all; the rat will keep pressing the paddle in the Skinner box with more predictability if you give it a randomized chance of getting a food pellet. If you give a pellet on every press, it will get bored and do something else, safe with the knowledge that it can always get a food pellet when it wants.

And it is with this knowledge that habits are encouraged to form. That piece of my soul that hopes for something that is just outside my grasp goes all the way back to childhood and youth. It’s a part of me that sees a beneficial change and actually believes it’s the hopeful prayer to an intercessory god that caused it. Random chance, coincidence, keep praying, keep attending, keep believing, keep visiting, keep clicking, keep dreaming, because something is just around the corner. I can just feel it. Keep believing!

That’s a part of me I want to kill sometimes. That kind of hope is an addiction. An addiction! There are better ways to live, more certain ways to live. More deterministic. More certain.

First Listen with KD5RCA

This weekend, I had my first experience with a VHF repeater. Looked up the repeater operated by the Four States Amateur Radio Club in Texarkana at 146.620 MHz. Didn’t make any contacts (because I don’t have a license, obviously), but I did get to hear some actual chatter and get a better sense for the protocol of on-air contacts. Even managed to listen in on their club meeting held on-air — a total happenstance discovery, but there’s no reason why radio clubs shouldn’t have their meetings on-air. Neato!

Aside from the club meeting on Thanksgiving night (I assume that’s because it’s a Thursday), there was a little bit of chatter during the day and early evening, but after night-night time for these old grempers, the repeater’s pretty quiet except for the automated Morse and voice announcements.

I hope the radio clubs in Austin are a little more…active.


Everything is a symbol
Everything means something
Everything is a reaction to that which was a reaction immediately before.

And here I am, flying in my porcelain teapot over the fields of Orion.

From a distance o’er your red grass where you’re
Reading holy scripture from your matchbook turned to page 12
Stoking your love, Stroking your hate.

Mouths empty within the deafening roar of eyes and tears cryin’.

Distended throats and extended fingers
And stented hearts bleeding sick from time
And indelicate frontal lobotomies.

And we, drooling away memories over empty plates and static TV fashion.

Your palpable taste for noise
Distraction from common cause, common pain
He said, she said, we said, you said, nothing said.

Marching bands fighting to the death, their brass cymbals crashin’.