Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cheering for Phil!

Yesterday, I got a call from a police officer. He didn't identify himself as such immediately. He mentioned that he had gotten my phone number from my friend Phil Rowe, who is a fellow filmmaker. He staggered through his first few sentences while I waited for him to ask me for a favor. Perhaps he needed an editor, a 3D animator, or someone to do some web video thing. This is what I have grown to expect from conversations that start with "I got your number from..."

This would have been great. I could use the extra cash these days. I'm saving up for something big. Actually, anything other than what followed his awkward introduction would have been great: "Are you related to Phil?"

I wasn't prepared to answer that question. Something inside of me said that the answer he wanted to hear was "yes," but my hesitation caused him to inform me that he was a police officer and that my friend had been involved in a car accident. The gravity of this situation gave me the sudden urge to tell the truth. I was not related. But I gave him information on how to find a relative (his daughter). After that, I couldn't get any information out of him, other than the fact that he was in Boulder. I offered to help in any way that I could and let him know that I was close, if they needed anything. He simply told me that he had my information and would have the hospital get back to me if there was any news.

And with that, he left me hanging. I contacted Carl, who is also very close to Phil, and told him what had happened. He called the emergency room. They told him Phil was discharged. What a relief! Seemed like our friend was involved in a minor accident and walked right out the door! I spent the next four hours in this blissful and ignorant state of mind.

We got home that night and were somewhat concerned that we still could not get in touch with Phil. I called the emergency room back, telling them that I was just confirming that he had been discharged and that I was trying to get more information about what had happened.

"Rowe? No. He was not discharged. I'm sorry someone told you that. He is in surgery right now- in Intensive Care. His condition is listed as critical." My stomach dropped as my world got slightly smaller and blurred. How could this be? How could they mistakenly list someone in critical condition as "discharged," which is the opposite of said state?

I couldn't think to ask any more questions. I poked and prodded as much as I could, but the person with whom I was speaking admitted that she did not know any details. I hung up and told Carl the news.

We quickly made phone calls to see if any of our other friends had any information, but it was the first anyone else had heard about the situation. Not knowing the details was killing us, so we called back and asked to be transferred to someone who knew what was going on.

The story pieces came together: Phil had experienced a massive heart attack while driving and ran his car into a tree. He was undergoing heart surgery that was expected to last six hours.

Carl and I drove to the hospital. We knew that we could not see Phil while he was in surgery, but we wanted to try to get as much information as we possibly could and to have a "presence" there. Luckily, Carl is a much better liar than I am and when asked what his relation to Phil was, he quickly and simply answered: "adopted son."

"I'm with him," I grinned, stupidly. It worked. We are now officially family, which made things easier until his daughter arrived today. We were given the whole story. Turned out our dear friend needed a one inch tear in his heart fixed as well as a triple bypass surgery.

"It's a miracle he's alive," the surgeon informed us.
"That's interesting," I replied. "Yesterday I got a fortune cookie that said 'You will soon bear witness to a miracle.'"

She showed me the goosebumps on her arm.

After hearing the details and bonding a bit, we all agreed that Phil was quite fortunate, and had a good, strong heart.

The next day, we visited our groggy friend. We quickly informed him of his adoption of Carl, lest we be kicked out of the recovery room. He smiled and nodded at the news, clearly glad to have a son. Incidentally, his daughter is happy to have a brother.

I had been working on a costume for Halloween. I was going to go as the indestructible cheerleader from "Heroes." I had studied her costume and made it from scratch. I was prepared to singe it and put some fake blood on it to make it look like her famous train wreck adventure. I never got the chance to do this. I also never made it to the party I was supposed to attend.

Not wanting the costume to go to waste, I decided to give it a purpose. I post a picture here. Cheers for Phil! I wish him a speedy R-E-C-O-V-E-R-Y!!!

update: this post was delayed in publishing. I've had very little free time. For a couple of weeks, recovery was difficult for our friend. I am happy to report, however, that, as of 11/30, he should REALLY be discharged in just a few short days! This past month has been... interesting. I've exchanged glances and short words with so many different people at the hospital. We all share a bond. It's a bond that we should, perhaps, remember to carry with us beyond the doors of the hospital. No matter what happens in between, we are all bound to birth and death. Hospitals remind us of this humanness and the emotions I have encountered have run the gamut of human capacity- from the frazzled woman I witnessed yelling about the "incompetence" of the hospital to Carl, who along with the nurses and doctors make up the most amazingly patient and helpful people on the Earth. With this, I am filled with a renewed desire to experience life to its fullest. And also to never smoke a cigarette again in my life...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Views From Views

The world of experimental film has become a very interesting place for me lately. More words on that later. First, I wanted to post some pictures that I took at my screening, which took place on October 7th.

The setting: The Walter Reade Theater. This is where the Views from the Avant-Garde portion of the New York film festival plays. Before the programs start, we all gather in the gallery. I was very pleased to see that the program in which my film was playing was sold out:

I recognized a few faces, but as I said, I feel that I have become estranged from this world. A group in which I once felt so at home and seemed so welcoming to me seems at once elitist and alienating to me now. So I did what any normal person would do. I went to the bathroom with my iPhone to do some quick e-mails and take photos of my fish purse:

What? Wouldn't you do that?

After bonding with my fish, I decided the two of us needed to get to the theatre before the films started:

So yeah. Then the films started and I stopped taking photos and playing with my toys. Great program. Great films, all around, actually. I've exhausted all of my past strength to write detailed critiques about avant-garde films, though. I might write about a couple yet... It just always took a great deal of effort to write about these works and I kind of felt that the energy was lost. Again, more on that later.

I was kind of surprised by how many of these works were digital this year. Much of the experimental film world has been fairly "anti-video" for a while. With the exception of the occasional hiss at the video projector (yes, someone actually hissed), it seems like this "rule" might be beginning to bend (this is the avant-garde, after all- we're supposed to be all about bending the rules). Though I have been doing a lot of video work lately, my film was shown on 16mm. Unfortunately, the 16mm projector bulb was having "issues" which resulted in my already dark film being projected MUCH too dim. I've grown out of my "artist throwing a fit" stage and have accepted the uncertainties of working in the medium I have chosen. Besides finding it somewhat unfortunate, I simply let it go.

Besides, there was a director's party to get to and wine to be had:

Lots and lots and lots of wine!!

I really didn't drink all that much wine. I just liked the way my phone's camera handles reflected light in low-light situations. Now, for stars (the movie kind that don't emit their own light making them actually uninteresting subjects for my camera phone):

Jason Schwartzman!

Not really. I thought it was him, but I'm really bad at the whole "identifying people" thing. But I swear this is Wes Anderson:

Huh? Huh?! Forget it. I have no real pictures in this category. They actually kicked us out rather early, but this being New York, we just moved to a new bar.

Most of these folks are filmmakers whose films were in the Avant-Garde program, but I will spare them from being identified by my text here (that makes it Googleable and, let's face it, some people don't want a fuzzy strangely-lit picture of themselves popping up on the Internet when stalkers Google their name).

Finally, I snapped a couple of photos of graffiti outside of the restaraunt. A friend of mine asked me to snap a couple of shots because she thought it was beautiful. I agreed:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

These Little Town Blues... and Nicole Kidman!

I love New York. I wish I could live there again, but I know better. Living in that city really took its toll on me. I might live there if I didn't have to make a living there, but as it stands right now, that's not happening.

A friend of mine had put the movie "Ghostbusters" in my head, so I was taking pictures of the various places in the film:

Ray: "Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947."
Venkman: "You're right, no... human being... would stack books like this."

Gozer? Who's Gozer? And what's he doing in MY ice box?!"

"Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say 'YES'!!!"

I arrived at the festival office to collect my credentials, hoping to see a film or two (because, you know, film festival). It turned out that I wouldn't be able to see most of the feature films. The films that were playing over the weekend we were there were the so-called "popular" films, with stars like Nicole Kidman:
Oh, wait. What? Was that actually Nicole Kidman? Gee, I don't know, let's get a closer look:

Why, I think that was, in fact, her. Better look again, just to make sure.
Okay, these pictures kind of suck. I mean, I think the bluriness is kind of cool, but not when you're trying to prove someone's identity. That was Nicole, just take my word for it (yeah, we're on a first-name basis now because she walked in front of me). Yes, she is beautiful in real life. Also, she smells like roses. No, not like rose perfume, but like a bouquet of roses. It was a little surreal.

Earlier, I had to squeeze by John Turturro on my way out the door (who does not smell like roses). We had not reached the level of fame required to stay in the press room for the photo ops. I said, "screw that" and made our own little photo op:

Courtney Hoskins, director of "Snowbird" and "Gossamer Conglomerate" at the 2007 New York Film Festival for the premiere of her latest film "The Counter Girl Trilogy."

Carl Fuerman, director of "The Box" and "Oft Not" in attendance at the 2007 New York Film Festival.

And then we were really kicked out.

The press conference was for Noah Baumbach's new film "Margot at the Wedding," starring, obviously, Nicole Kidman and John Turturro, but also Jack Black (who wasn't there, but I've already "met" him, so whatever), Flora Cross (of "Bee Season," which was an excellent movie based on an even excellenter* book), and Jennifer Jason Leigh. There are others, I'm sure, but I didn't see the film, so I don't know much about it other than what was posted there. I'm sorry I missed it at the festival, but I'm looking forward to it.

Incidentally, Jennifer Jason Leigh and I must have similar-looking hair. Perhaps we even look a bit alike. When I exited the building, there was a brief moment of excitement resulting in a couple of pictures, but that passed as soon as it was determined that I was no one. And I KNOW they didn't think that I was Nicole Kidman- the only other famous female at the conference.

In all, quite a first day in the City!

*new, real, legitimate word

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Air travel joys

I had a nice hotel room with a big, fluffy bed in Chicago, so I was a bit sad to leave it, knowing I would be crashing at a friend's apartment soon, imposing myself on their lives like any good former New Yorker would.

Sigh. I quickly got over it, though. I was, after all, heading to New York- a city dear to my heart and always full of excitement. I was also heading there to attend the New York Film Festival, where my latest film was going to be screened. I could get over the loss of a fluffy bed and pool.

Nothing, however, could ever make me happy about Chicago O'Hare (well, except for the UFO sighting (a video here), but that's neither here nor there- oh yes, puns intended).

Traffic to the airport was awful. For some reason, the cab driver seemed to believe that if you alternately slam your foot on the brake and gas pedals, the car would either fly over the offending vehicles, vaporize them, or somehow alter the spacetime continuum, making it possible to get to where you were going on time. Needless to say, none of those things happened. I got to the airport only an hour before my flight, though they "recommend" two.

I quickly learned that in the world of overbooking, "recommend" translates to "require." I was too late to check in and was bumped to a later flight, flying standby. Still, I flew out, eventually, and the trip out of the city was at least visually interesting.

Arriving at Newark airport turned out to be a mistake, however. $85 to get to Brooklyn? Ouch...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Rest of Chicago

After three days of the Adobe MAX conference, I started craving art for art's sake, rather than art that is design which is supposed to maximize profits and provide a better, faster, and slicker "user experience." I didn't have time to go to the Art Institute of Chicago, which is unfortunate. I've been there once and wanted to return to the Joseph Cornell collection. I did get a picture of it from the outside, however:

I also got to walk around the city a little bit. Alone with my iPhone full of great music and its little camera, I was inspired by many city scenes:

I fell in love with that mirrored sculpture. I love photographing reflections:

This is a really cool water sculpture. The face towers are actually video images (that's my one complaint with my iPhone- no video) lit by little LEDs within glass or plastic bricks of some sort (see the bottom photo):

I really like Chicago. I think it's a beautiful city. I wish I'd been able to see more of it on my trip (as well as visit some of the folks I know who live out there)!