January 2006

We got some fresh snow last night and fortuitously a friend has offered me a pass to ski at Deer Valley today so I’m heading out to get a few runs and take in the snow and sunshine.
Here’s a brief rundown on the films I have seen since I’ve been here.

Jan 21 “What Remains” was a very interesting documentary about a photographer heralded as a US treasure,Sally Mann. She garnered controversy around her first big show called “Immediate Family” in the early nineties.This film looked at her more recent work which revolved around death and decay.Beautifully shot and compelling.

Jan 22 “DeNadie” and “God Grew Tired of Us” were both documentaries that shared one similar aspect, emigrants moving to the USA .

Denadie focussed on the trials that Central Americans trying to escape the crushing poverty in their respective countries experience traveling to the US while passing through Mexico. Many of them travel via train despite having to face horrors from beatings to rapes to extortion at the hands of rail security,police,or violent gangs called the Maras. Gangs that come from El Salvador principally but who are not held in check by the authorities.

God Grew Tired of Us followed the stories of three Sudanese men who at a very young age had been forced to leave the Sudan along with 27,000 other young “lost boys”, ranging in age from 3 to 13, during the major civil unrest that occurred in southern Sudan in the early 1980’s. They trekked thousands of miles across the desert, first to Ethopia staying until it’s government collapsed when they were forced to move once again this time to Kenya.
They landed in a refugee camp called Kakuna for ten or more years until the US opened it’s doors (pre 9/11) to provide some safe haven for them.
It was quite endearing and sweet to watch as they experienced the culture shock of airplane rides,running water,electricity,refrigeration,supermarkets,etc.
With their efforts to improve their lives here through hard work and perseverence they find themselves increasingly isolated from the comraderie they knew from home and learn to juggle their spiritual and emotional survival with their financial ones. Never forgetting the boys back home they stay in touch,send money back and are working to have schools and medical clinics built for them.
An Aside ….not in the screening I attended but at our theatre, two women were so taken with them they each wrote cheques to the tune of 30,000 dollars for the medical clinic John is building in Sudan. WOW

Jan 23 “The Giant Buddhas” was a story about the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in the hills of Afghanistan. It also looked at the larger picture of the why the west didn’t get involved before hand (as in create it as a World Heritage site prior)instead of when it was too late to save them.
“The Trials of Darryl Hunt” searched for the reasons of the injusticeness of the justice system here in the US in Winston Salem North Carolina. Despite DNA evidence proving his innocence Darryl Hunt,an African American, lost trail after trail in the murder of a young white woman. Never giving up he and his lawyer were only succesful in obtaining his release once they found the real killer. Incredible testament of faith on Darryl’s part and perseverence on the part of those who never gave up his cause.

Jan 24 “Unfolding Florence:The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst. A story about an Australian woman who managed to continuously reinvent herself finally landing on her feet as a designer of exceptional wallpaper and fabric, and her still unsolved murder from 1977. It was the style of filmmaking that grabbed me the most. I liked their use of animation and dramatization in a documentary.

“Black Gold” a very thought provoking and disturbing look at the coffee industry of Africa.
Did you know that coffee originated in Ethopia? me neither.
We follow in particular one man,Tadesse Meskela, who has organized a farmer’s cooperative and is tireless in his efforts to improve the lives of the farmer’s he represents.
This film looks at the unbalanced trade practices of the western world. Africa has only 1 percent of the world market. In the last 20 years as other lesser developed countries have managed to move forward some what, Africa has managed to go backwards and receives more aid now than ever before. If they could increase their world share by only 1 percent they could take in 70 billion dollars.
When will Multi National Corporations recognize that a hand up is better than a hand out?

An Aside…the Holiday theatre is going to become known as the charity theatre. In the premiere screening of this film a patron wrote a cheque for 10,000 to go towards building a school for the cooperative’s children.

Jan 25 “The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends” this is a must see.
While it uses Iraq as its starting point, it’s really about the men and women who go do the killing for the rest of us. However the problem is in today’s war there isn’t an obvious enemy…any civilan could be a terrorist… and because of this soldiers find themselves having to deal with the guilt and confusion of killing innocent people. Post traumatic distress disorder is a common ailment that many return home with,yet the army continues to dispute it is truely a consequence of armed conflict and is slow to help those returning with it. Many groups have sprung up in an effort to help where the government they go to war for will not.

“So Much So Fast” It’s incredible what a family will do when one of their own comes down with a horrible and incurable disease…ALS..Lou Gehrig’s disease. Stephen Heywood at 29 was diagnosed and given a 3 to 5 year life span. His whole family refusing to give up hope jumps in and creates a foundation searching for a cure. It’s an compelling journey to follow….and so far Stephen while now in a wheelchair living with the aid of a respirator and a voice machine is fighting the odds and winning.

Animation spotlight included ten short films ranging from 27 minutes to 4 minutes. Some more amazing than others all fun to watch despite some morbid topics. More on these later.(sorry Chris)


So the thing about being new to blogging is that items written can disappear without you even being aware of it. I am distressed to discover a blog I started Sunday and finished yesterday didn’t get saved even though I thought I had. So my descriptions of working the night shift along with films I had seen have disappeared into the thin cyber air! Damn! I’ve been having some internet connection trials which has taught me the hard way that you can’t try to send without a good connection. Oh well live and learn.
I’ve seen some terrific doc’s since I’ve been here. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait to hear about them because it’s time for my shift!

Last night was our first shift which went pretty well for the most part,still working out the kinks with the crew but everyone seems enthusiastic and excited to be here so that’s good! We had a full house in each theatre even the late screening. Tonight we will have a full slate which means we will seat six films over the course of our shift,two of them at the same time.
Hopefully either one will be busy and the other not so busy or neither of them will be busy or the nightmare option….both of them will be crazy…won’t know till I get there….always curious to know what goes on in the programmer’s minds when they do this to us.
I met the film critic for the Oregonian yesterday in our theatre,very approachable nice guy. Forgot to ask him what his picks were for the fest.

I did see a documentary called The World According to Sesame Street, which I suppose could be construed as an informercial for Sesame Street because it was all about their international program called Sesame Workshop where they go around the world creating Sesame Street TV shows for different countries.
However I thought it was very much a feel good film because what they are doing is going out there educating children and promoting tolerance. They are extremely concious of not imposing the American way of life but instead incorporating the cultures and values that the children come from. Giving them programming that relates to their own life experiences.
It did feel like a PBS TV special but hey it’s still a great thing they are accomplishing and if the kids are benefiting how can it be bad?
Especially if they’re teaching them about Aids/HIV in South Africa or promoting tolerance between the Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo,or trumpeting their heritage in Bangaldesh?
More later.

Tuesday Jan 17 – 11:25 am.
So I’m stuck at the Boise Travel Center waiting for Triple A to arrive. Stuck at a truck stop because they can’t fix my flat tire. How ironic and slightly ridiculous . All these big trucks floating around with a full service station for Semis but nothing available for regular cars or SUVs except gas.
Monday I drove about eight and a half hours from Portland to Boise through some treacherous road condtions on a couple of passes between Pendleton and Baker City. Saw a couple of trucks stuck in snow, jack knifed off the road. It took an hour and a half longer to make the drive because of the weather and slow snow plows.
I suspect my flat is a product of truck chains I passed on the road. A number of them were strewn along the route and I definitely drove over some of them.

It figures!

Especially since I slept at a hotel near the airport and when I left this morning I bypassed the Chevron station that sat kitty corner to the hotel thinking I would find gas cheaper along the way. Once on the road I immediatley noticed it felt weird to drive so I pulled off into the truck stop,called Triple A,and discovered they were at the airport Chevron..arrggghh…the choices we make!?
Sure the gas was cheaper but I have just wasted an hour waiting for Mr Chevron to arrive…okay not completely wasted because I got to write but still out of the realm of what and where I had planned to be for the last 60 minutes.
Anyway the guy just came and pumped up the tire and convoyed me back to the Chevron so they can fix the tire.

Soooo now I am sitting across the road from where I slept waiting for the nice guys here to finish up. Just hope I am back on the road with enough time to get me to Park City.
So far it’s going to be a squeak but I might be able to do it!

I twiddle my thumbs or tap my keyboard while Fox news plays out in front of me.

12:40 pm
Turns out it wasn’t a wayward chain but something they called chip rock,just a small piece of triangular razor edged rock smaller than my baby fingernail wedged into the tire. That’s the good news….the bad news is they are recommending with the wear on my tires that it’s time to replace all four tires! Yikes…Shit…not what I want to hear at all!
Now I’m waiting to hear how much its going to cost me…. but you know its bad when the salesmen sits down to tell you. 🙂
I’m actually more concerned about getting there on time but we’ll see if I need to let that thought go for now.
It’s going to be about 120 a tire….plus tax…they won’t honor the Oregon no sales tax that Washington state does…bummer.
So now I wait for them to do their magic.

They did a great job getting me back on the road in less than an hour.

The drive down from Boise to Park City is only supposed to take a little over five hours but with rain, wind, snow,slush, hail, sleet,and unfamiliar roads of wide open stretches coupled with lousy wind shield wiper blades it took nearly seven hours. Here’s hoping it’s clear on the way home.

Friday Jan.20 – 2:22 am
Having said all that it’s good to be back in Park City. They’ve had lots of snow and are expecting lots more over the course of the festival. Yippee!
I’ve reconnected with lots of old friends,caught up with them and their lives, or heard about other pals who didn’t make it this year due to one reason or another.
We finished our two days of mandatory training this evening by leaving the venue as close to set up as we could. Friday is the big day…the first full day of the festival with all the venues running and production scrambling to meet everyone’s needs.

Tonight we were able to see our first film Friends with Money. Very well done,funny and poignant. It’s about four women friends in LA and where they are at respectively in their lives, all in their early forties…some better off then others…but each with their own issues….people issues …or better yet perhaps…perception issues. Either of themselves or each other. More than just a good chick flick as the guys get lots of screen time too.
Looking forward to seeing some good documentaries as well…will keep you posted.

Tuesday night I was so beat I went to bed at 8:30 pm and fell right asleep. For anyone who knows me, I am the consummate night hawk so I was pretty startled with myself but too tired to do anything about it.
Of course so much sleep allowed me to wake up at 4:30 Wednesday morning,uncertain at first what sound had woken me. It was the furnace laboring to click on which it did eventually.
I lay there thinking about going back to sleep,but instead I turned on the light to finish Joan Didion’s book The Year of Magical Thinking.
It resonated in some respects considering dad’s death this past October but what it really made me think about is how I would feel if it were Joe. I’m not ready to be a widow. I mean I’m barely married. Four years in March does not make me a long time bride by any stretch of the imagination…not to me anyway.
I felt for her, all the upheaval she experienced, first with her husband’s sudden death and then all the agony of not knowing whether her daughter would live through her own sudden illness and the long term care it required. I thought I had heard that she didn’t, but that wasn’t what came out in the book, so now I’ll have to do some background checking to see if I missed something.
An odd way to begin the day but satisfying to finish a book so a new one can be started.
Finished also another revision of my script,added some scenes,deleted some others,reworked some others,now I need to go through and read it again to tighten it up some more, before I submit it to the screenwriting contest I have set my sights on.
I felt so good about the work I accomplished I took Jera on his second walk of the day. This time a three miler around Fairmount Blvd with some friends.
Jera can be a little unnerving with his casualness around cars but I have faith in him knowing to stay out of the way. He moves to the side when I tell him.
He’s definitely car conscious having been around them all his life but he’s a bit blase at times.
Went to see the animation movie Wallace and Gromit:Curse of the Were Rabbit last night.
It was very,sweet,poignant and funny, with all the great puns and double entendres the British are so good at expressing. The film preceding was a spin off one about the four penguins from the film Madagascar and their misadventures around Christmas time. Also fun to watch.
I liked that Wallace and Gromit was in an old style claymation format. It must have taken years to complete it. Part of me wished that Gromit could talk and part of me was glad he had to express himself in other ways. I think I’m smitten by him 🙂

Today I go see the doctor for my first post op appointment. Yesterday I took Jera for a walk on my own and found I was pretty exhausted by the time I got back. We went slowly but I still felt bushed when I got back,after I had some dinner I crashed for a couple of hours.
On the walk I noticed my teeth were feeling kind of weird. As if they weren’t exactly attached to my gums. Sounds a bit odd but that’s what it felt like.
I had a call from the anaesthetist last night. He just wanted to check on how I was doing, which I thought was pretty professional of him. When I relayed some of my experiences of the past few days he reminded me that I had undergone a big surgery,emphasis on the big.
I guess I haven’t really absorbed what was done to me. Having sinus surgery sounds so benign,not big or dangerous like heart surgery or opening up your stomach or a mastectomy,not that he compared it to those,in fact I wish I had asked him what he would compare it to just so I could have a better sense of what big meant to him.

Joe’s gone again for a few days with clients. I miss him when he’s gone. This month we won’t see each other much as I’ll be gone for the last two weeks at Sundance, and he’ll be here or traveling himself.
Presumeably my strength will continue to grow, especially since I’ll be walking Jera more often than this past week.
I added some new links to the site this morning,check them out.

Yesterday was the first day I went out of the house for more than getting the newspaper.
We went to visit some friends in the country and took Jera our dog so he could romp around in the countryside. We hiked up off on old logging trail first passing the carcasses of atleast two dead elk. Apparently the hunters field dressed them off the road instead of in the field. Jera could have fit inside one of them…and he’s a big dog.
It felt great to be outside breathing fresh air. It actually stopped raining for the time we were out and the sun even came through the clouds at one point. It was too foggy for a clear view to Rainier but it was spectacular nonetheless.
We took our time getting back but I noticed how tired I was almost right away. We stayed for dinner which was delicious but I was fighting feeling nauseous the whole time.
I had to nap after dinner as I was falling asleep at the table.
I felt badly about being a bad guest but they were very understanding.
When we finally did get home I went straight to bed.
Today Sunday I could barely move from bed. I haven’t taken any Vicodan today but have felt light-headed and really exhausted all day.
I got up to have dinner with Joe and Silas who arrived off his crutches(good to see) but went back to bed almost right away. I’ve been in and out of consciousness ever since.
I’m hoping this week will be a more productive one with the healing allowing me more mobility and less bed time.
got my fingers crossed at any rate!

Wow, after feeling pretty good yesterday,being mobile,doing a few chores around the house, I never expected to stay in bed all day today feeling totally zonked.
Luckily my friend, Ste Jennifer has been around to stay with me while Joe has been away at a partner’s meeting.
She has been a godsend truely! She stayed over last night and is staying again tonight. She has been walking Jera for me,making sure I have food and water,keeping me company, even coming home to check on me over her lunch breaks. I am really grateful that she has been able to be here for me.

Ste. Jennifer is also very attentive to details…today she brought me lunch on a cookie sheet that she had covered with a placemat,included a matching napkin and had bowls of fresh fruit for me to eat,along with apple sauce and water and hot soup and tea and cookies. She thinks of everything!
Presentation has it’s rewards and I did my best to eat most of what was before me.
It’s also been gratifying to have friends check in by phone to see how I’m doing and check on my progress. Thanks Banana(aka Dr Susanne) for the daily calls and pep talks!

My cheeks aren’t feeling so inflamed today but I’ve noticed what a strange sensation it is to have bigger air pockets up behind them. I go from feeling congested to feeling clearer in my breathing. It’s odd how it goes back and forth.
The bridge of my nose feels odd too. Not quite sure how to explain why but it does. This might sound gross but when I look in the mirror up my nostrils I can see more area than I used to be able to, which must mean the doctor cut out or cut away to enlarge the space.
Which probably explains the odd sensations I’m having up there.
My neck is sore from lying in bed at an angle even with the Bucky buckwheat pillow under it to give me added support.
Overall I guess everything is more tender today.
I’ve been taking less Vicodan since I haven’t had a lot of pain,mostly some intermittant stuff. However, I’ve lost track of when exactly I took my last one.
So I guess I’ll have to make it up from here and start again.

I had to miss my friend’s art opening tonight which was a bummer. I had hoped to go but by four thirty when I was still in bed I let it go…sorry Margot I was looking forward to it.
Ste Jenn is back from walking Jera and I can hear her making dinner noises in the kitchen.
Think I’ll get up and see what’s going on for a little bit.

First day back in the land of the living..okay so I wasn’t dead and I didn’t have an out of body experience while I was on the table but it did take me a while to get my bearings post op. I felt pretty woozy and very unsteady when I finally tried to get up for a pee.
I was surprised at how nauseous I felt,I guess from the anaesthetic and morphine combo. Plus…Did you know that morphine can make you very itchy?
I was scratching myself all afternoon,all over my body, after I came to and even part of today.
My throat’s been sore because they intubated me for the general anaesthetic..atleast that’s what I was told. Also my neck was cramped for the same reason. Apparently your body is manouevered into uncomfortable postions that only become more apparent when you wake up.
Mostly I’m having a hard time getting used to the idea of not blowing my nose. I guess it could cause problems by creating excessive bleeding or something,but migod it’s such a natural thing to do when you feel that post nasal drip drip drip going on.
I mean…Who wouldn’t want to expel it?
It feels like I’m running a fever,my cheeks are red and a bit swollen, but overall I guess I can say it was a success.
Of course I’m still congested just like the doc warned me I’d be and I haven’t stopped taking the Vicodan as a precaution against potential pain.
Today’s diet consisted of a blueberry banana yogurt smoothy early this morning,a pudding cup with mandarin oranges, toast and a chai tea late morning, some chicken in the afternoon,a cup of red rose tea at five and pizza tonight for dins. Topped off by a cup of hot Chocolate Smooth Move…which I’m hoping will go into effect sooner than later…if you catch my drift.
So that’s it for today..onward and upward..

So I’m going in for Sinus surgery this morning. Not sure whether I should be concerned or not but I am definitely tired of sniffling my way through the day.
I have confidence in my doctor/surgeon but look forward to the end of the day when everything will be finished.
Friends who have had it, say it’s okay and are happy with their results. It’s just the long recovery period I’m not so keen on. No exercise or travel for atleast two weeks,and I can’t blow my nose for five days…ironic isn’t it?
However I figured I might as well get it done before I head off to Sundance for the Film Festival. So next time you see me you can ask how was the nose job? I can hear my near twin brother as I write that…”and whatta a nose!” But it takes one to know one right Stu?
Anyway,it feels like a good way to start off the New Year. A fresh start in one part of my life, AND, I get to use up my health insurance deductible right off the bat!
(I keep wondering if I’ll ever understand the health insurance system in this country…but that’s for another day.)
time to go

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